.32 Special Experimental

I have a cartridge which I believe is a S&W experimental called the .32 Special by Suydam in his book “U.S. Cartridges and their Handguns” on page 312. The dimensions are:

Overall Length: 1.535 Case Length: 1.115 Rim: .376 Head: .336 Case Mouth .336 Bullet .312

Headstamp is U.M.C. 32 S & W.

NOTE: This is NOT a .32 S&W Long. The case is longer and the rim is smaller. The Self-Lubricating bullet is also longer than normal.

Does anyone have any more information on this cartridge besides what is in Suydam?

There is a similar cartridge in the municion.org website.
However the bullet is different than yours.
They say it was derived from the “32 S&W revolving rifle” with the bullet seated outside the case

They list it as “32 S&W revolver XPL”

Also there is a 32 S&W extra long that has a long bullet like yours and the same case lenght ( from municion.org)

I don’t suppose you have a few of these rolling around in your duplicates box, do you???

Guy–Sorry, I do not have any duplicates. In fact, I just purchased mine and do not have it in hand yet (maybe tomorrow). The provnance of the cartridge is such that I have little doubt about it being a S&W Experimental. The person that has them (He has several but do not know how many), got them from Bill Gessner.

Your cartridge has the .32 S & W headstamp with an unmarked copper primer; the one in Suydam’s book is headstamped .32 S&W L with a copper U marked primer according to his description in the text. Unfortunately, the picture in his book is too poor to be able to positively confirm this, although it appears there is an ‘L’ between the 1 and 2 o’clock positions. Or, perhaps that’s just my imagination. Robert Buttweiler sold 8 of these in his auctions over the years, referring to them as the .32 S&W Extra Long, and in one case, also as the .32 S&W Special as Suydam had suggested. All of those he sold had the .32 S&W headstamp and a small copper primer. None of Buttweiler’s were described as having a U marked primer. Assuming Suydam’s description regarding the U marked primer is correct, it would appear that UMC produced these in both smokeless and black powder loads. I wonder if the variation in headstamps signifies anything - perhaps UMC or Smith & Wesson was toying with the idea of calling it the .32 S&W Long Special.

For what its worth, high bids ranged from $90 for a couple of the early ones Buttweiler sold to $20 for the last one - looks like pretty much everyone who wanted one had it by the time that last one was sold.

That this .32 S&W ‘Special’ cartridge might have derived from the .32 S&W Revolving Rifle cartridge is not correct. The case on this cartridge is .336" at the base; the .32 Revolving Rifle case is .346" at the base. I would assume UMC just increased the length of their .32 S&W Long case to produce these.

Guy–I completely agree it did not evolve from the Revolving Rifle round, but it was not just a lengthing of the .32 S&W Long either. The head is quite a bit smaller on the Experimental cartridge. I think the only real relationship is the use of a .32 S&W Long headstamp bunter. So, the head is smaller, the case is longer and the bullet is longer.

Now, we (The Collector Fraternity) need to come to a agreement (until some Official information is found) as to what to call it. Suydam suggests .32 Special, others have used .32 S&W Extra Long. My suggestion is .32 S&W Special (Experimental). What is your opinion?

I find the dimensions of the head and rim of this cartridge at .336" and .376" respectively to be within .001" of a U.M.C made .32 S&W Long case that I measured. I have no doubt that it is just an extended version of the .32 S&W Long (or .32 S&W). Until something more is determined about the origins of the cartridge, I’d think Suydam’s .32 Special, or perhaps .32 S&W Special, would be appropriate.