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.32 Colt Police Positive Revolver

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by tulianr, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    I have a .32 Colt Police Positive Revolver, that I inherited from my father, manufactured in 1911 (the gun, not my father).

    There is an amazing amount of clutter on the internet concerning the appropriate ammunition for this pistol. My understanding, from all of this clutter, is that Colt chambered this gun for a S&W .32 Long, but not wishing to give S&W any unnecessary advertising, produced the same cartridge as a "Colt .32 Police Positive", which is now out of production, as is a Colt .32 Long.

    I trust fellow monkeys over stray internet "experts." Does anyone KNOW, not think, what the appropriate ammo is for this pistol? The pistol is in very good shape, and appears functional in every way, but it hasn't been fired, to my knowledge, in decades. It currently is loaded with some very very old .32 Colt Short rounds, which are probably as much antiques as is the pistol.

    Any assistance would be appreciated.
  2. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    I would tell you to stop where your at....Unload that pistol..Box it up and send it to me for Evaluation...But it's too early in the morning...(y)Nice !!! Got picture's ?
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    My understanding is that 32 shorts were black powder, and that smokeless loads were never sold. You should doubt all I have to say on the subject, I ain't so smart sometimes. But there is a sockfull of knowledgeable folks at the Handloaders Bench, linked on the forum home page that might be able to help.

    On this page, you can find drawings of the long and short cartridges to compare with the loads you have to be sure "short" is really short. Neither short or long is exactly a huge round. Scroll down to find them.

    .32 s&w - Google Search

    If it is indeed 32 Long, then ammo is available.

    .32 S&W Ammunition for Sale Online - Handgun Ammo, Pistol Ammunition
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2015
  4. Silversnake

    Silversnake Silverback

  5. fedorthedog

    fedorthedog Monkey++

    You may want to try a cartridge collectors blog. They will be able to tell you the difference in the rounds in painful detail.
  6. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Thanks for the help guys, I'll look at those suggestions. And Gator, I'll see if I can't get a photo up.

    Silversnake, I looked at that article, and the article highlights part of the problem I'm having. They're talking about a .32 Police Positive Special, not quite the same thing as the Police Positive.

    There was a Colt .32 Police Positive, a .38 Police Positive, a .32 Police Positive Special, and a .38 Police Positive Special. Add into the mix that Colt apparently manufactured a gun, chambered for a S&W round, and the fact that both Colt and S&W produced a long and a short .32, and that Colt produced a S&W .32 under a Colt label, as the "Colt .32 Police Positive" round, and a Colt .32 "New Police" round, and the fact that the dimensions for the Colt.32, both short and long, are not the same as those of a S&W .32, and I'm about as confused as a monkey can be.

    I think, after reading what the internet experts have to say, and sorting through the conflicting information out there, that the round I need is a S&W .32 Long, but I hate to pull the trigger on any weapon when I THINK I have the right ammo.
  7. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    A good buddy of mine is embarking upon the same adventure in the 'Colt .32' revolver. He was given an old revolver that had been in a fire - grips are gone and it has a lot of rust. The bore and chambers are good, and the pitting isn't too bad. He has new grips on the way.
    He believes it uses the .32 SW Long too. He hopes to shoot it eventually, but I told him having been in a fire, I'd just display it.
    tulianr likes this.
  8. Silversnake

    Silversnake Silverback

    I should have looked at that more closely. Thanks for clarifying.

  9. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Not at all. I'm slowly educating myself about all of the nuances surrounding this pistol. I have been stunned at the confusing morass of information and misinformation out there. I've never before run into this much trouble researching a firearm. Thanks for taking the time to help me look.
  10. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    WE need more Youtube moments!

    If and when he does decide to chance the fates and fire it...encourage him to make a youtube clip and post it for the world to see.....we don't have enough face slapping youtube clip moments to endlessly dissect!
    : O [peep]
  11. amandadun

    amandadun Monkey

    Probably a good idea. Yeesh.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2015
  12. Legion489

    Legion489 Shining the Light of Truth

    Well the FIRST thing to figure out is is it a .32-20 - aka 32 WCF (and yes, they made them in that cartridge too) or a .32 Colt./32 S&W are the same. Go to your library and get a copy of CARTRIDGES OF THE WORLD and look them all up.
  13. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Seawolf, tell your friend that is restoring a .32 Colt that it may not fire .32 S&W Longs after all. Mine doesn't. I just ordered a box. They're too large. Apparently, the .32 Colt Police Positive NEW POLICE revolver is chambered for the S&W Long, at .335 diameter. My revolver, a .32 Colt Police Positive (Not a New Police version) will only shoot .32 Colt Longs, at .318 diameter, which are obsolete, or .32 Colt Shorts, which are rarer than hen's teeth.

    I've found a few old boxes of .32 Colt Short on the internet, at about fifty dollars a box, and a lot of suppliers who say that they do stock it, sometimes. They all list it as out of stock right now. I found a custom handloader that I may contact. They say that they will turn out .32 Colt Longs or Shorts. It would be cheaper than buying the old boxes that I've found listed for sell.
  14. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    Thanks, I let him know. So far, the cylinder latch is rusted solid, and he can't get the cylinder open. Cleaned up very well otherwise. Until we get the cylinder open to see the serial number, we can't properly check it's manufacture date. But, he said it's stamped '.32 Police Positive Pocket", or something very close to that - not the common "Police Positive". It may well be the earlier gun in the old obsolete caliber. I still favor making a nice wall display of it, once he's refinished it.
    tulianr likes this.
  15. fedorthedog

    fedorthedog Monkey++

    Great advice to your friend fire takes the temper out of the metal. Ive got an old 32 h and r break top that you can fire 32acp rounds in. It wasnt made that way but they go bang.
  16. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    What has he tried so far to break thru the rust? I've had some success with a soak in kerosene, other times with CLP, and in small cases, 3in1 oil. Then there's the old standby, penetrating oil. Soak, tap gently and repeat until it frees up or you get tired of it.

    Yes, the fire could well have damaged the heat treatment to the extent of making it dangerous to shoot. Were it me, I would do something to it to ensure it would be obviously disabled before hanging it on the wall. That way, no one could get hurt.
  17. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    He's so far tried soaking with penetrating oil, and had it sitting for days in some derusting stuff that Harbor Fright sells. Worked very well getting the other rust off, but the latch acts like it's welded on......
  18. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Any competent Gunsmith, can Rockwell Test the Cyl and Barrel, and determine if the Heat Treatment of those, to ensure that the weapon is serviceable. If not, I would just file down the Hammer Firing Pin, and call it good. You could always restore the Hammer easily with a little welding and shaping. ..... YMMV...
  19. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Don't forget the frame, especially around the threads and the cylinder opening -- Just sayin' --
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