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What is the difference between 32 S&W and 32 ACP?

The .32 S&W (Smith & Wesson) and .32 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) are two different cartridges, each with its own characteristics and historical significance. Here's a breakdown of the differences between them:

  1. Origin and History:

    • .32 S&W: Introduced in 1878 by Smith & Wesson, the .32 S&W is a rimfire cartridge primarily designed for use in small pocket revolvers.
    • .32 ACP: Developed by John Browning in 1899, the .32 ACP is a centerfire cartridge designed for use in semi-automatic pistols. It was one of the first self-loading pistol cartridges.
  2. Cartridge Design:

    • .32 S&W: The .32 S&W is a rimmed cartridge, meaning it has a rim around the base for extraction purposes. It has a relatively low pressure and is typically loaded with round-nose lead bullets.
    • .32 ACP: The .32 ACP is a semi-rimmed cartridge, meaning it has a small rim but is primarily headspaced on the case mouth. It operates at higher pressures compared to the .32 S&W and often features jacketed bullets.
  3. Dimensions and Ballistics:

    • .32 S&W: The bullet diameter of the .32 S&W is typically .312 inches, and it has a shorter overall length. It is known for its low power and mild recoil, making it suitable for close-range self-defense or target shooting.
    • .32 ACP: The bullet diameter of the .32 ACP is typically .312-.314 inches, and it has a longer overall length. It operates at higher pressures than the .32 S&W and offers greater velocity and energy. It is commonly used for self-defense and concealed carry purposes.
  4. Availability and Use:

    • .32 S&W: The .32 S&W is less common compared to the .32 ACP and is primarily used in older, small-frame revolvers. Ammunition options and firearm choices may be limited.
    • .32 ACP: The .32 ACP is more widely available and is used in a variety of semi-automatic pistols. It has been a popular choice for compact concealed carry pistols.

It's important to note that while both cartridges share the same bullet diameter, they are not interchangeable due to differences in case design, rim type, and pressure levels. Always use the appropriate ammunition specified for your firearm.

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