Ballistic Forensics Query, .32 ACP Bullet



Does anyone know 7.65 Browning / .32 ACP bullets well enough to answer the following question?

What US ammunition manufacturer(s) assembled factory loads for .32 ACP using FMJ bullets having gently radiused outer base edges and concave exposed lead bases circa post - WWII to 1990?

Or if that’s not narrow enough, how about circa 1970 to 1990?

The copper alloy jacket on the bullets in question are wrapped around the radius and curled up into the origin of the concavities. Weight unknown but appears within standard expected range. Ogives and bearing surfaces look standard for the common double-radius ogive (similar to the geometry of standard 9mm Luger bullet profiles). Unfortunately I do not have a physical example on hand and do not at present have authorization to post a photograph. I’m volunteering to assist a private researcher in an old criminal case. Your assistance will be much appreciated as I am out of my depth on this point.


Charlie (Anselmo)


I’m replying more to keep this thread open than to answer the question. What you describe is a standard .32 auto pistol bullet, in that era there was little to differentiate between makes, besides which, because it was a house gun calibre, it could be decades older than the crime.
You need to open the story up, there are a lot of old badge wearers and other experts on here who would love to get their teeth in a cold case. Just keep it ammo related, forum rules are strict. Good hunting


Actually, he is NOT describing a “standard” .32 auto bullet, if there was such a thing as a standard one. The bullet he describes is what some call the “metal cap” and is more often associated, although no more common than .32, with the .35 Smith & Wesson Auto cartridge, and some revolver cartridges. They are different from a full metal jacket bullet, that generally goes to the base of the lead core and often wraps around the bottom edges of the core, and of course, different from .32 Auto Soft Nose bullets.

he metal cap is just that - it is about a half or perhaps three-quarter jacket that makes up the nose of the projectile, rather than the base as the "half-jackets most of us who reload are familiar with. It generally, perhaps never, does not enter the case mouth, but rather is held at the case mouth either by a crimp of some sort, or the lead protrusions that go into slots, generally rectangular in shape, on each side of the bullet (two slots) and form a jacket lock. You can see the lead “locks” as the holes they are in go clear through the metal cap. The ones without this feature are sometimes hard to spot, unless you know precisely what you are looking for or locking at.

If I can find time, I will try to address the question of who offered them in .32 Auto, but no guarantees. Most of my answers these days must be made “off the cuff” even though I get myself into occasional trouble doing that with my 75 year old memory.



Looks like my earlier attempt to reply to replies got eaten by a gremlin.

John, I’ve done an inadequate job of describing these bullets. Let me try again.

FMJ, No cannelures. Copper alloy jackets. Lead core. Standard appearance for common FMJ from base to nose. Juncture of bearing surface and base has a more gentle radius than some. Jacket extends a bit farther into base area than many. Exposed lead base that is mildly concave. This is not an extreme concavity, but it is distinct even in photographs.

I suspect they were factory loads and I have a suspect manufacturer, but wonder if there’s any ability based on this description to narrow the possibilities for post-WWII, pre-1990 loads. They’d probably be something common to retailers even in small towns in the 1970s-'80s.

Thank-you. Unfortunately I cannot elaborate further. The case is of great importance to a relatively small number of people, but of no real historical significance on a national level.

I have a related question, but I’ll post that in a separate thread.




Charlie - a good example of why they say a picture is worth 1,000 words. I can picture what you are describing, in general terms though. Your first description sounded, to me, like a good description of a metal-cap bullet, which was used in .32 auto. I guess I leaped upon the words concerning the exposed core, and thought you were referring to it being exposed above the case mouth, which cores of Metal Cap bullets often are, as opposed to full-metal jacket bullets, which are not. It did not sound like a “normal” bullet - that is, a FMJ bullet with the jacket going down into the case to the very base of the bullet. From there, the treatment of the base, or bottom, of the bullet varies greatly from factory to factory. On some bullets, the jack goes to the bottom of the base but does not fold over the edges of the core. On others, it does fold over the edges. Some had flat bases and some have concave bases.

It sounds to me like you have pulled the bullet out of one of the rounds, at least. Your first description, again to me, sounded like you were describing the bullet still completely seated in the case making a normal OAL loaded cartridge.

If it as I think I gather now, that the jacket goes clear down to the bottom of the bullet (the base), then I apologize to Vince for challenging his assertion that you were describing a normal .32 auto bullet, although I still hold to the fact that there are many, many different “standard/normal” bullets for the .32 auto, just as there are for many calibers of ammunition.

To answer your question adequately would require pictures of what you have, and maybe require the pulling of bullets out of dozens of specimens to see who did what. Someone else would have to do that.

Sorry that, as it turns out, it seems I was of little help. The .32 is a favorite cartridge of mine, and because I have a very incomplete collection of somewhat over 1,000, to answer your question technically and correcting would likely be a daunting task. I wish I could do it because I think it would be very interesting, but I have neither the time nor the number of different duplicate rounds to make a meaningful study out of pulling them apart, which of course, I don’t care to do with my collection rounds. Not that I never had, but not in the quantities it would require.



I’ll make a sketch and see if I’m lucky enough to catch you as you swing through the forum again. Actually, I might have to make a sketch, post it on a page of my own website and post a link or address here. For some reason I’ve had difficulty working through the procedure for posting images here. In any event, it sounds like the bullet may be a bit too common in overall design to chase further – particularly without access to the actual physical evidence in review. Always tough applying another layer of forensics, in a sense, to an old forensics investigation.