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.32 H&R Experience
July 2012
Wade Heim

When my father-in-law passed away last year, my wife was left with a few firearms that had been handed down from other family members, one of which was this Harrington & Richardson 5-shot break action revolver in 32 S&W Long.

Story is that this gun was carried by a great uncle while he was a Deputy Sheriff of Kleberg County Texas.

Overall the gun was in pretty poor condition. The bluing was mostly intact, but rust was bubbling out from the areas that didn’t get blued, such as under the front sight. I suspect this is quite common for unmaintained firearms in high humidity parts of the country like Missouri. This included the barrel which had quite a lot of pitting.

Other than sentimental value, these firearms have very little monetary value, so what would it hurt to shoot it? Now all that was needed was to locate some ammo.

A quick visit to Sportsman’s Warehouse and Cabelas was unsuccessful in locating loaded ammunition or even the dies and brass needed to roll my own. This was all resolved by a quick search on the MidwayUSA website. Within a week I had a set of dies and 100 new Lapua cases. Why Lapua you ask? Because Lapua brass was the only brass available at any of the online sources. Most likely because it was twice as expensive and the minimum quantity was 100 count, more than I would ever need.

Since my goal was to shoot the pistol and not necessarily to extract the highest performance potential, I decided to load at the minimum level per the Hornady reloading manual using 85 grain copper jacketed bullets.

That weekend I met Gerhard and Steve out at Table Mesa for a little moving target practice, and the little .32 revolver went along. I loaded five rounds and took aim at a pretty close steel plate with unsuccessful results. I reloaded another five rounds and moved over to an even closer paper target, and fired one shot…no hole…shot again . . . still no hole. I paused to reflect. This is when I noticed the nose of a bullet just poking out from the end of the barrel. UH OH! Measuring with a small rod, we determined that no less than three bullets remained stuck in the barrel. Once I got home I was able to determine that there were actually four bullets jammed in the barrel. Surprisingly, except for the bullets lodged in the barrel, the revolver looks no worse for the wear. As of today I have been able to remove two of the four bullets entirely, with only the jackets remaining from the other two bullets.

I have concluded that there were three major factors that lead to the blockage. First was the pitted barrel. Second, was the decision to load at the low end of the loading manual guidance. Third, was the use of jacketed bullets instead of lead. All in all, I find myself quite lucky that this incident ended as unexciting as it did, and no one was hurt.

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