Gun Digest

Ammo Brief: .32 ACP Ballistics And History

.32 ACP ballistics are hampered by a light bullet and middling velocities. Nevertheless, it remains among John Browning's most popular pistol cartridges.

What You Need To Know About The .32 ACP:

Historical Notes
Designed by John Browning for his first successful automatic pistol, the .32 ACP was first manufactured in 1899 by FN in Belgium. It was marketed in the United States when Colt turned out a pocket automatic on another Browning patent in 1903.

The .32 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) is one of the more popular pistol cartridges ever developed. In the United States, Colt, Remington, Harrington & Richardson, Smith & Wesson and Savage chambered pistols for this cartridge. In Europe, every company that made automatic pistols chambered the .32 ACP. It was also used in the German Pickert revolver. It’s known in Europe as the 7.65mm Browning.

Read Also: Classic Guns: Colt Model 1903 Pocket Pistol

General Comments

The cartridge uses a semi-rimmed cartridge case and a .308-inch-diameter bullet. The .32 Automatic is the minimum cartridge that should really be seriously considered for self-defense. In the United States, it’s used exclusively for small, pocket-type guns and is not considered adequate for police or military use. However, across “the Pond,” it’s often used in police pistols and as an alternative—but unofficial—chambering for military sidearms. As a hunting cartridge, it’s not powerful enough for anything larger than small game.

Loading tables generally give the bullet diameter of the .32 Automatic as .312 or .314 inch. It’s actually closer to .308 inch; and this is important if you hand load. Effective small-game loads can be made by using 100-grain, .30-caliber rifle bullets intended for light loads and plinking, such as the Speer .30-caliber Plinker. All major ammunition makers offer this cartridge. Winchester recently introduced a load with a jacketed hollow-point bullet. Other makers have followed suit.

.32 ACP Ballistics And Load Data

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World, 16th Edition.

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