Classic Winchester Model 94 Rifle

.32 Special Is No Pipsqueak

Classic Winchester Model 94 Rifle
Classic Winchester Model 94 Rifle

Q: I bought a bargain-priced Winchester Model 94 at a clearing sale on a neighbouring property. It came with a bag of once- fired cases and a die set. I thought it was chambered in .30-30 but when I got home discovered it was stamped .32 Special.
What can you tell me about the .32 Special? How does it compare with the .30-30? What powder and bullet?

Winchester .32 Special Cartridges - left loaded with high-BC Hornady 165gn FTX
Winchester .32 Special Cartridges – left loaded with high-BC Hornady 165gn FTX

Can you suggest one good load for it? I intend using it for pigs and fallow deer on my dad’s property.
Edwin Hancock

A: Not many of today’s shooters have heard of the .32 Special, let alone hunted with one. The .32 Special was introduced in 1902 and was originally loaded with 165gn expanding and FMJ bullets at 2057 fps. However, the round was loaded with a 170gn bullet for most of its life and velocity increased to 2250fps for 1911 ft/lbs of energy. Hornady modernized the round in 2006 by loading a soft-tipped 165gn FTX bullet at 2410fps from a 24″ barrel when the company developed its LEVERevolution line. That bullet is available as a component. RE-7 is the best powder, a maximum 31gn charge driving the 165gn FTX at 2285fps from a 20″ barrel. Use a large rifle primer and although recoil is light, use a roll crimp to hold bullets in place. For all practical purposes, the .30-30 and the .32 Special are ballistic twins.

.32 Special SAAMI Cartridge Drawing
.32 Special SAAMI Cartridge Drawing




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.