Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Smith #40: Model 432, 2004.

In 1984 a new cartridge was introduced to revolver shooters. The Harrington & Richardson company, a maker of inexpensive small- and medium-frame revolvers, collaborated with Federal Cartridge to develop a higher performance variant of the old .32 S&W Long cartridge that wouldn't overtax the weaker design of their wheelguns. By lengthening the case slightly to 1.075", they ensured that the new hotter round could not be loaded into small revolvers chambered for the older .32 cartridge and that any revolver with a cylinder window long enough to accept .38 Special could be chambered for the new offering.

Officially named the .32 H&R Magnum, it wasn't long before other companies, such as Ruger and Smith & Wesson, were cataloging revolvers chambered for the "Poor Man's Magnum". Smith offered adjustable-sight K-frames for target shooting and small game hunting, but it was in small J-frame revolvers that the new round showed its best advantage: Where the J-frame in .38 Special could only squeeze five charge holes into the cylinder, the .32 Magnum J-frame was a true sixgun. Not much of a surprise, really, to those who remembered that the "J" was based on the old I-frame, which was designed as a .32 in the first place.

The all-stainless 631 and 632 Centennial fizzled out of production after only a couple of years, and only a very small number of black "032's" were made. Smith made another, more successful, run with the caliber in the late '90s, with the titanium cylindered 331 and enclosed-hammer 332 Centennial, but those models finally succumbed in 2003. They were briefly replaced by the blackened-alloy frame, steel-cylindered 431PD and 432PD for the '04 and '05 model years before Smith & Wesson finally stopped production of .32 H&R Magnum guns altogether after an on-again, off-again run of sixteen years, although overstock caused them to be available from wholesalers almost to the end of 2006.

The revolver pictured above is a Model 432PD, with "PD" standing for "Personal Defense", which is S&W marketing department-speak for "Airweight revolver with blackened finish". It was purchased new in early 2005 for not too much over $400 and has served as this writer's pocket-carry backup ever since. The grips are Crimson Trace lasergrips. Far too new and common to have any standing as a collector's piece, a nice used 432 could probably be found for somewhere around $350 without too much looking.


SpeakerTweaker said...

I'm sure I won't be the last to wonder (though it seems I'm the first in comments. Yay!) if that gun won't be quasi-resurrected in .327 Mag.

I know more than a few folks would throw down for one right quick, myself included.

At any rate, definitely nice gun!


Tam said...

From what I'm reading, a .327 J-frame would probably need to be a AirLite Scandium alloy gun (with the consequent rapacious price tag) or a steel frame.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

.327FM is very nearly twice the pressure of .32H&R, it's *hefty*.

Ruger's propaganda has a 115gr projectile at THIRTEEN HUNDRED FPS out of an SP101.

Rabbit said...

Are the CT grips the be-all, end-all that I hear they are? I've been slowly talking myself into getting a set for the nickeled 36 Dad left me.

Are those the model 305 variants?


Matt G said...

Rabbit, they're so good, that I'm getting ready to get a set, and damn the price.

Rabbit said...

That's enough of an endorsement for me, Matt. Thanks.

Now I feel better about suggesting it to Phlegmmy for her new J-frame a couple of weeks ago.


Assrot said...

Not a bad little plinker. I have a couple of guns in .32 H&R magnum. This being one of them.

Like everyone else, I'm looking forward to getting the new Ruger SP101 in .327 Federal magnum to play around with.

It will probably be a good gun for my wife. She's got rheumatoid arthritis and her hands can't take firing a .38 Special for more than one cylinder full.

I'm hoping the new .327 will pack the punch necessary for a carry gun without the kick and muzzle rise of the .38 special.

For me, if the caliber don't start with a 4, I won't use it for anything but target practice.

For self defense, I want a gun with a lot of big, slow bullets that make you understand what I'm talking about when I hit you with a couple of rounds.

SpeakerTweaker said...

Good point on the .327 Airlight. And the pricetag would be, uh, ouchie?

I, for one, would be giddy as a schoolgirl over one in stainless. And I'm thinking I wouldn't be the only one waiting. JayG over at MArooned has expressed interest in J-Frame goodness in the new FedMag, as have a couple others. I'm thinking that'd be one helluva BUG.

At any rate, the CT grips on your 432 are looking righteous. I trust they are as useful as they are attractive (at least)? I've thought about them for a couple of mine.

Perhaps an Arms Room post on Lasergrips? Inquiring minds want to know...:)


JPG said...

Tams: Perhaps an Arms Room post on ANYTHING?

You already missed TWO Sundays, Sis. I know I'm not the only one who's become pretty accustomed to reading them regularly.


phlegmfatale said...

Was besotted with the crimson trace grips on Peter's J-frame at JPG's house last weekend. Must get me some.

An entire new vista of accessorizing opportunities has opened up for me, only this time, I'm thinking it's going to be RILLY expensive!

I think this 432 is really cute.

Assrot said...

Hmmm... Looks like you're fresh out of Smiths. How about a run on Colts now?


Dr. StrangeGun said...

Tam, if you're out of smiths... perhaps it's time to gather this all up and send it to an editor to have it bound and sold?