Mech 8
(enthusiast)
08/03/19 08:33 PM
32-20 Contender

I finally got around to doing some load work for my 12 inch TCA Contender barrel in 32-20 WCF. Most everyone knows that the groove diameter of the T/C barrels in this chambering are actually .308, but almost all of the reloading manuals as well as online resources state that the use of bullets as large as .312 are okay to use as long as you begin below max and monitor pressure signs as you progress upwards in charge weight. There is an excellent article on this site concerning the 32-20 WCF in a Contender, and I must admit I probably read it 3 or more times before gathering supplies and beginning my load work. While I did have a quantity of some Hornady 100 grain XTP's for use in my Marlin 1894CL in 32-20 WCF, I decided to pursue the path taken in the article by using .308 diameter bullets with much better ballistic shape. While searching the MidwayUSA.com website for projectiles, I decided on some Hornady 110 grain V-Max, and a relatively new bullet, at least to me, a Speer 123 grain Gold Dot that lists as being .310 in diameter. The V-Max, being a varmint bullet I reasoned, should expand at the low velocities I could get with the 32-20. The Gold Dot is designed for the 7.62X39 which is a relatively low velocity round, producing about 2300 fps from rifles. I knew I couldn't quite get those speeds, but maybe close was good enough.



Initial loads used the Hornady 110 grain V-Max seated out to engage the rifling in an attempt to fire form the brass to the chamber. I loaded 14.0 to 16.0 grains of W296 in 1/2 grain increments in Starline brass and ignited with CCI 400 primers. Groups were 5 rounds each and fired at 50 yards. The best groups were 14.5 grains with a .509 CTC measurement and velocity of 1766 fps, and 15.0 grains with a .721 CTC measurement and velocity of 1818 fps. I then performed my standard expansion test at 50 yards by shooting through 3 each one gallon jugs filled with water backed up by a box of rags to catch the bullet. I used the most accurate load of 14.5 grains W296 and touched the trigger. The jugs jumped up at the shot, but even 50 yards away I could tell it just didn't look right. I walked down range, and the closer I got the better I could see that the first jug had split from the impact, but the second and third jugs were still half full of water. The bullet had completely penetrated all three jugs, and when I retrieved it from the rags I found that the bullet hadn't expanded at all, only losing the plastic tip. Well scratch that idea, or at least this particular bullet. I was considering giving up on this "rifle bullet" experiment, but I did have some of the Gold Dots still to try. I now had quite a few fire formed cases and was trying to determine the best way to size them without moving the shoulder. Well, it's not much of a shoulder, more like a slope. I wanted a way to keep the case centered in the chamber to achieve the best accuracy with the least amount of fuss. After contemplating using a spacer under the lock ring of the F.L. sizer die, I decided to try using my LEE collet size die for the 300 Blackout. It worked! It would squeeze about the top .200 inch of the 32-20 case to hold the .308 or .310 bullets. The shoulder and case body were untouched. I chamfered the insides of the cases to help with bullet seating, and didn't expand the mouth at all. I didn't have any crushed cases during bullet seating, but I did carefully hold the bullet as it entered the die, and gently seated the bullet. I reran the same load work of 14.0 to 16.0 grains of W296 and the CCI 400 primers, with the only change being the Speer Gold Dots were off the rifling by about .020
inch.



Not certain if you can tell, but the best load was 16.0 grains of W296 with a velocity of 1904 fps and group size of .730 inch CTC. This was looking promising, but now the dreaded expansion test. I had read a review on a website about this bullet needing 2200 fps at impact to expand, but the individual hadn't actually tested them, so I had to find out for myself.



The bullet completely penetrated/exited all three jugs at a distance of 50 yards. It has a retained weight of 121 grains, and expanded to a diameter of .600 inch. I performed the test with a 14.0 grain charge that was going 1777 fps at the muzzle, not the accuracy load of 16.0 grains going 1904 fps at the muzzle. I am not certain what this load is capable of game wise, but I might be very tempted to use it on a turkey, maybe even a small hog. It might even work on our small Hill Country Whitetail doe, providing they are about 50 yards away or less.


Franchise
(Distinguished Expert)
08/03/19 09:48 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Turkey, Javelina, and Tx Wt deer...I can't wait to see you hunt success photos

Chance WeldonAdministrator
(Distinguished Expert)
08/03/19 10:18 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Great writeup! That Gold Dot expanded pretty well. Looks like it'll be pretty ideal for any application you use it for.

45MAN
(Pooh-Bah)
08/04/19 04:37 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

GREAT WRITE-UP

RSW
(member)
08/05/19 01:31 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Very interesting write up.

karl
(old hand)
08/05/19 02:18 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Looks like promising results! Should you want more options, perhaps the bullets used or designed for the 300BO? The 110gn Barnes black-tipped TAC-TX has a minimum velocity for 2x expansion of 1350 with the factory recommending sticking with 1450 or faster for reliable performance. Works very well on deer at ~2300fps. It was one of the lowest terminal velocities requirements I found in a rifle bullet.

S.B.
(enthusiast)
08/05/19 04:03 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

I've finally got around to building one of my Grail guns I sent a K22 barrel to Alam Siegrist and had him rebore it to .32 and rifle it for .32 then mailed an old LEO model 15 a K22 cylinder and the barrel to Andy Horvath to build me a .327 Federal on the K frame. Now, if I only knew how to add my pictures?


Steve


jamesfromjersey
(Shootist)
08/05/19 10:45 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

NICE....

Bob Roach
(old hand)
08/06/19 08:08 AM
Re: 32-20 Contender

You did a very good job on the write up. Looks like you are off to a good start with this project cartridge.
I need to start working with a few cartridges myself. We are down to Three Months till Opening Day of deer season here.

Bob R


Sawfish
(old hand)
08/06/19 03:38 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Good job.

Sawfish
(old hand)
08/06/19 03:38 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Good job.

katcher
(enthusiast)
08/17/19 05:23 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

hey that was a great write up! I too have a 32-20 in a 12" .308 barrel I had made several years ago. I followed Dan B's recipe using 2400 and a max load. I've had very good results with tight groups with the Hornady 110 Vmax and a 90 grn JHP bullet they make. I have not used it for hunting...yet.

Mech 8
(enthusiast)
01/11/20 05:21 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

I finally have some field data to report for those of you that are interested. I have carried the little 32-20 Contender with me off and on throughout the regular season, but never as the primary weapon, only to be used if all the right conditions were met. I wasn't going to use it on a big buck or big hog, but I would use it for a coyote, turkey, spike, doe, or maybe a smallish pig. With the rotation of firearms for each hunt, it just wasn't in the cards. Since the regular season closed last weekend, and the spike and doe season just began, I thought I should try a little harder to use it. My son and I had been seeing several spikes throughout the regular season and knew that they would still be available for the late spike and doe only season. Conditions for the hunt were not the best. It had rained the night before with the arrival of a cold front, and the winds were still gusting to 20 or 25 mph. This makes the deer a little jittery, and worse yet, it stirs up the cedar pollen. With every gust of wind the cedar trees would release a cloud of pollen, and there are a lot of cedar trees where I hunt. Temps were around 48 degrees but felt in the 30's, and my eyes and nose were both running like crazy, but I was determined to stick it out. Shorty before sunrise a doe came by on my left, and 10 minutes after that a doe came by on my right. They didn't hang around, they were just passing through. About 20 minutes after that, I see a deer coming up the road towards me and identify him as one of the spikes we wanted to cull. He was still a little over 100 yards away, but I figured when he hit 50 or 60 yards I would let him have it. Somewhere around 70 yards out he changes his mind and reverses course. By this time I had put my sandbag on the rail of the tripod and had the Contender resting on it, just waiting for an opportunity. At what looked like 100 yards away, he stopped and turned to the South, giving me a perfect broadside shot. I wanted to hold just behind the shoulder, but my instincts/muscle memory kicked in and the cross hair ended up on the shoulder and the gun fired. The deer dropped at the shot and never got back up. I watched him for a few minutes and only saw an ear twitch and a leg kick one time. I gathered my stuff and climbed down. I paced off the distance at 110 steps, close enough to yards I reckon. The bullet hit just where the cross hairs were when I touched the trigger, entering the left shoulder and exiting the right, with foamy blood on the ground behind him.





Entrance wound.


Exit wound.


Chest cavity.


Cross section of spine/chest cavity.

I really can't believe that bullet punched it's way through all that bone and still exited. All in all I must say that I am impressed with this 123gr Speer Gold Dot. I think I'll have to shoot something else.


popo
(journeyman)
01/11/20 07:16 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Good shooting. I have a 10'' 32-20 and 12'' 327. I believe that gold dot would work in either one of them. Good writeup.

cherokeetracker
(old hand)
01/11/20 07:25 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Good write-up. And well done on the deer hunt.

Okie Hunter
(old hand)
01/11/20 10:27 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Congrats.

Franchise
(Distinguished Expert)
01/11/20 10:34 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Speer Bullets Are Great!!!!!

REDHAWK1954
(Pooh-Bah)
01/12/20 07:26 AM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Great shot.

dave thomas
(enthusiast)
01/12/20 02:43 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

nice shot, i really like the speer bullets.

RBO21
(journeyman)
01/12/20 10:43 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Great shooting.

bjlatt
(stranger)
01/13/20 09:02 AM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Since you are using a 308 bore, would this bullet not work as well in a 30-30 Contender?

45MAN
(Pooh-Bah)
01/13/20 10:15 AM
Re: 32-20 Contender

MECH8: I SAW ON THE SPEER SITE WHERE YOU HAD TRIED THEIR .308 150gr BLK GOLD DOT IN A 300 BLACKOUT, BY ANY CHANCE WOULD THE 123gr .310 GD WORK IN A CONTENDER IN 300 BLACLOUT OR 30-30?

Mech 8
(enthusiast)
01/13/20 05:11 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

I have no doubt that the 123gr Speer Gold Dot .310 diameter would work in the 300 Blackout or 30-30 Win chambered in a Contender. I don't believe the extra .002 inch in diameter would create excessive pressure issues, since the lead alloy core on these bullets is relatively soft in order to provide expansion at the lower velocities produced by the 7.62x39. I could see an issue if you were trying to push a brass or bronze solid down a bore that is .002 smaller than the bullet, but that is not the case. Of course I will throw in the normal disclaimer about start low and work up slowly while monitoring pressure signs. About the only issue I could foresee is in the event someone has a tight chamber neck and the extra .002 would cause the case to not enter the chamber all the way, or possibly not have enough clearance to expand and release the bullet upon firing. Unless your barrel has a tight chamber, I don't think there will be an issue. These are just my opinions based on what I have done to date.

Here is some work I did with my Ruger American Ranch bolt gun in 300 Blackout using the 150gr Speer .308 Blackout bullet. I'm just throwing it out there for anyone that might be interested. I was originally going to use the 150gr bullet in my 32-20 Contender, but figured the case wouldn't hold enough powder to provide enough velocity for expansion. I'm not certain of that any more though, since someone over on the 300 Blackout forum tested them down to 1400 fps impact velocity and they still showed signs of expanding. Might be worth trying, I'm still up in the air.


300 Blackout with 150gr Speer .308 Blackout bullet, and expanded bullet tested at 100 yards. Muzzle velocity approx 2100 fps.


A little hard to read, but the best load was 23.0gr AA1680 ignited by a CCI450 primer. Velocity 2114fps, group size .714 at 100 yards.


Comparison of 300 Blackout with 150 grain on left, 32-20 with 123 grain on right.

The rifle has a 16 inch barrel, so velocities in Contender barrels shouldn't drop too much.

The 32-20 is just a cute, neat, easy to shoot, cheap to feed cartridge in the Contender. I had hoped that it was capable of taking deer and other medium game at short range, and it proved that it could, although one test is not enough to declare it so. More testing is needed!


jcp161
(member)
01/14/20 08:14 AM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Nice shooting and a very informative post.

Great performance out of that round on that deer.


Chance WeldonAdministrator
(Distinguished Expert)
01/20/20 10:43 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Good job! Looks like the 32 caliber cartridges are pretty effective with proper shot placement.

Carpe Diem
(journeyman)
01/21/20 06:40 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

I have used my Contender carbine in .32-20 on several deer, but with a considerably different load philosophy. With its 1:10?? twist the 22? barrel can stabilize heavy bullets, so I took the idea of numerous handgun hunters who shoot the .300 Whisper (BO, WTF, etc.) by using subsonic loads. I load the Sierra 220 RN bullet to 1100 fps for an accurate, quiet, low recoil but deadly deer killer.

The long Sierra is stable in flight but once it hits flesh it tumbles immediately, producing very effective wounds. One penetrated stem to stern on a small buck with immediate knock down. On lung shots it takes a second or so, but kills very well. I would use the longer 220 HPBT but that bullet requires a 1:8? twist.

Regardless, thousands of deer have been killed with sub-sonic .308 bullets. Just a different way to skin the cat.


.


wvhitman
(old hand)
01/22/20 12:41 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

I've been preaching the Sierra 220 gr. RN in the .300 Whisper for a few decades. Tumbles great, creates decent internal damage, and very accurate out to 300 yds. Works great on deer, groundhogs, turkeys.
The 220 Sierra HPBT does NOT work , at least, in the Whisper. Not quite long enough to tumble. Get pencil tip size holes all the way through a deer. The few I shot with it took 4-5 minutes for them to die. They gave absolutely no reaction to the shot. I thought I missed them.
The 240/250 HPBT, though, performs really good in the Whisper (that's what JD originally used when he developed the Whisper). Jagged exits, little less internal damage than the 220, excellent penetration, and accurate out to 300 yds.
I haven't killed 1000 deer with the Whisper, but the 115 I've done have given me a bunch of experience with this great round.
You .32-20 guys might want to consider Lehigh subsonics. They out perform the 220 & 240 Sierras.


45MAN
(Pooh-Bah)
01/22/20 03:33 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

SORT OF A DIGRESSION, BUT ALONG THE SAME LINE, ON MY FIRST AFRICAN SAFARI IN 1988 I USED 300 gr HORNADY RN FMJ's IN A 375 JDJ ON PLAINS GAME. I DID NOT DO ANY AUTOPSIES, BUT TO THIS DAY I STILL THINK ABOUT HOW WELL THEY KILLED. I ALWAYS "THOUGHT" THAT WHAT MADE THEM WORK SO WELL WAS THEIR LENGTH BUT I HAD NO IDEA WHY. MAYBE IT WAS THE SAME EFFECT AS WITH THE 220 SIERRA RN IN THE WHISPER?

Carpe Diem
(journeyman)
01/22/20 05:49 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Doc, I assume that your Whisper has a 1:8? barrel. I suspect that the 220 HPBT would be marginally stable in the 1:10? twist of many .32-20s, your thoughts?



.


wvhitman
(old hand)
01/22/20 07:33 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Carpe, oddly enough, I never asked JD what twist I had. He told me initially to use 240/250 HPBTs. They worked, then he encouraged me to use/test other bullets. My SSK barrel shoots everything great from the 240/250 HPBTs to the 170/186 gr. Lehigh fracturing HPs. I also tested a bunch of other bullets for Lehigh with different weights/shapes that shot great, but performed poorly.
Recently a friend gave me some Horn. 200 gr. RNs with a flex tip or whatever. They shot about a foot higher than all my other loads, so I'll not be testing them.
The 220 HPBTs shot well in my gun. The first 2 deer I shot with them at 200 yds. kept on feeding for 4-5 minutes then dropped. They hit exactly where I aimed. I, too assume my barrel is a 1:8.
I don't know if this will translate to the .32-20 sub, but my bullet preference for the Whisper is:
1) 220 Sier. RN (cheap, accurate, deadly)
2) 186 Lehigh fracturing HP (expensive, extremely deadly- 80-90% instant drops/kills)
3) 250 Sierra HPBT Match- not made, but longer than 240, more unstable, tumbles great, kills very well (JD gave me a bunch).
I use these 3 about all the time.


Carpe Diem
(journeyman)
01/24/20 06:26 PM
Re: 32-20 Contender

Thanks Doc. I?ll stick with the Sierra 220 RNs.


.