Australian .32 S&W Revolver cartridge

For attention John Moss.

You did ask, John.

Cartridge, S.A., Ball, Revolver, .32 Inch

This is one of the least known cartridges manufactured at Small Arms Ammunition Footscray.

From the few surviving rounds we know it is a rimmed brass case, without cannelures, a round nosed lead projectile and a copper primer.
The headstamp is M.F. .32 at 12 o’clock and six o’clock.

We don’t even know what drawings were used, and what manufacturers version these drawings were based on.

We have the records of the Munitions Supply Board report of 1931-1932 which stated that .32 Auto and .32 Revolver cartridges had been manufactured successfully for the first time in Australia.
Quantity manufactured has not been established, and is presumed to be quite small, although it is reported that the Defence Department was offering them for sale to other Departments in 1933. Does this and the following reference indicate there was more than one lot??

The only other reference I could find was that the first lot of cartridges were proofed in a Colt Police Positive revolver.

Any further information about this cartridge would be most welcome, especially if we could view a packet label.



John - Thank you. I do not collect Revolver rounds and usually am not aggressive in seeking information about them, although I maintain files on them, of course. However, in this case, I am very pleased to have that information, since aside from the obvious .380 and .455 Revolver for the standard Webley and Enfield revolvers (I once had a .380 revolver made in Australia, I think, but I forget the maker. I do not think it was Lithgow - seems to me the name started with “A.”) Australia made few other more or less modern handgun calibers. The .32 Auto and .32 Revolver are the only two I know of (not including 9 mm Para in this discussion as Ozzie cartridges of this caliber are so commonly encountered).


Yes, other than the .380 and .455, the only revolver/auto cartridges made by the commonwealth ammunition factories were the .32 S & W and the .32 auto. Not much information on either unfortunately as neither were considered a strictly military cartridge.

I’ve not got much knowledge of data on weapons here, although I naturally have an interest and liking for them. Our various laws have certainly worked against us. When younger, in New South Wales, it was unlawful to possess a military type weapon, and side arms were banned about 1926 I believe.

If your .380 revolver had a serial number starting with A it was probably a Webley & Scott. The only makers of a .380 here, to my knowledge, was the Howard Auto Cultivator company who apparently made a total of 355. They would be marked HAC. This company was taken over by Hastings Deering. Both companies made farm machinery. Somewhere in the old brain of mine is recollection that Hastings Deering made some, but they were rejected. At this point I can’t recall where I saw that info.



JohnK - My revolver WAS HAC. I don’t know why I couldn’t remember that. It has the HAC on the left side of the frame just ahead of the grip, in a trademark form. I seem to recall the letters were intertwined somewhat, but not on top of each other like some trademarks. It was a nice gun. I knew it was rare when I got it. I had it awhile, and then needed some money so I sold it. Considering the giveaway price that the Standard .380 Revolvers by Webley and Enfield broght in those days, I got a big price for it, but of course, like a lot of things, wish I had kept it.


That sure was a nice .380 and relatively rare.
We all have those “wish I hadn’t done that” moments, I probably more than you. But circumstances dictate our actions, so no use bemoaning the past, as I’m sure you don’t.



These posts on Aussie ammo production are great. Keep up the great info John. I am currently working in a remote area so don’t get to read the forum much at the moment but I will be revisiting some of these topics in a month or two when I am back home.
I am personally more interested in the commercial contracts rather than military but its great to see it all listed.

One potential customer for the .32 revolver ammunition would have been the (Australian) Post Master General. I have seen a few .32 Colt revolvers of the Pocket Positive type with PMG and a broad arrow deeply engraved - chiseled would be a more accurate description- into the frame below the cylinder.

I have one in my collection which dates from the 1920’s. Presumably they were used for guarding the Kings mails!

Alan David

Quite true, since Parcels of Gold, Precious stones, and Banknotes were often sent Registered Mail up to the Period of WW II. The Royal Mail (PMG) was the only reliable courier service in Australia.

Just as in the US, where the USMC were used to guard Mail Trains or travelling US Railroad Post Offices which carried valuables across the USA, the use of armed guards was a lesser concern in Australia, and so personnel of the PMG, The Mint, and the Railways were all issued either revolvers or pocket autos for such service. The Qld. Mint & Treasury even had a couple of Mauser C96 Pistols in their Armoury in Brisbane.

Doc AV

While it may be true that USMC personnel were used to guard the mail in some applications, I remember clearly, and have mentioned on the forum before, that Postal Service drivers that picked up mail from the corner storage boxes that at one time were on about every other street corner, at least in San Francisco, were armed. They mostly wore a standard U.S. Military web pistol belt and seemed to primarily carry the Models 1917 Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers in .45 caliber. While I cannot claim memory of the exact holster used, flap holsters of the same shape as the standard U.S. WWI (also used in WWII) holster for these revolvers exist that rather than made in the butt forward (old-time cavalry style) position, were true right-handed holsters that carried the handgun in the butt-rear position, and rather than stamped with the U.S. in an oval on the lid, were specially stamped, also in an oval as I recall, for the United States Post Office. I do not recall the wording even though at one time, I owned one of these holsters.

I do not recall exactly when they began to be armed or when the practice ceased, but I can tell you that in the mid-1940s, when I was in grammar school, they carried these weapons. This was for normal mail pickup.