Caliber Marking Question
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    Caliber Marking Question

    I posted pictures of a 1st gen SAA with SN 126389 and showed a 'fuzzy' picture of the caliber marking that was on the left front of the TG. That marking was 32 cal.
    I had assumed that meant the caliber was 32WCF, but in reading a section in the Graham, Kopec and Moore book last night, I found their explanation as 'fuzzy' as the caliber marking. They were not clear if the 32 cal marking meant 32 Colt or 32 WCF. Does anyone have an opinion on this?
    I am reposting three pictures of the gun to help. In looking at the cylinder, it appears to be 32WCF, but I assume the cylinder could have been changed. I have asked for a Colt letter on this one, so we will see what Paul S. thinks when he searches it.


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    Wouldn’t that be neat?!?!
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    I thought that I could answer the question for myself by trying a 32 WCF in the chamber and a 32 Colt in the chamber. My problem was I had some 32 WCF cartridges, but I did not have any 32 Colt. I did have a full box of 32 S&W cartridges, so I used that instead. The 32 WCF fit snuggly in the cylinder chamber, but so did the 32 S&W. I pulled out my book entitled "The Peacemaker" by Parsons to check bullet dimensions. It showed the 32 S&W to have a cylinder diameter of .3405 to .314. For the 32 WCF the chamber diameter was listed as .3547 to .314 bottled. The 32 Colt for which I do not have ammo is listed with a chamber diameter of .320

    I decided to see which bullet (lead nose) would fit best in the muzzle end of the barrel. The 32 WCF cartridge (.314) nose totally disappeared into the muzzle. The 32 S&W cartridge (.3405 to .314) nose gave a tight fit. Since I did not have the 32 Colt cartridge which falls between the 32 WCF and the 32 S&W in diameter (.320), I am at a loss to determine the actual caliber of this SAA, but I am leaning towards 32 Colt based on the dimensions and what I read in Graham, Kopec and Moore. Comments??

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    According to Wilkerson and Hoyt The Official Record of the Colt Single Action Revolver 1873 - 1895, there were a total of 56 32-20s assembled in 1888, with only 10 with 4-3/4" bbls. They also state:
    "Fifty four revolvers in .32 caliber were shipped in 1888. As discussed in 1887, the manner in which the caliber was recorded in the records is not at all clear as to the exact caliber of the revolver. The following lists the number of revolvers in each caliber as listed in the records.

    38 .32/c,
    12 .32 Colt
    2 .32 S&W
    1 .32 S&W w/a "S&W Target Ctg" notation
    1 .32 with a "S&W Target Ctg" notation"

    Because yours is "CAL" and not "C", I think it's a pretty reasonable bet that it's either one of the 10 4-3/4" 32-20s produced, or one of the 12 .32 Colts not stamped 32c, produced in unspecified bbl lengths. There's a good possibility that the archive letter won't shed any more light on the exact caliber of your SAA.

    Best regards,
    Last edited by Monsai52; 02-17-2019 at 10:49 AM.
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    Saintclair,
    I'm inclined to agree with you that it is most likely 32 Colt. I have a SAA from 1891 in 32 S & W. It is marked withe 32cal on the left front trigger guard like yours but also has the 32 S & W on the barrel. I would expect them to be the same. As these were both "target" calibers they were usually special ordered. Mine is later than yours and the stamping/roll protocol may be slightly different. According to my books on dates of manufacture, production for the SAA in 32 Colt and 32 S & W was 192 and 32 respectively. Some 29,000 were chambered in 32-20. It seems you have rightly eliminated the 32-20. It's just hard to be definitive at this point on the final two choices. I think "only the letter will know for sure."
    Regardless, you have a nice and rare piece. (I'll attach a picture; hopefully it will blow up enough to see the markings)
    Ed

    32 S & W.jpeg
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    Monsai, Thanks for your great input! I have the Wilkerson and Hoyt book, but I have not looked at that one as yet regarding this gun. As you probably know, the SAA's built in 1888 usually only have the caliber marking on the front left trigger guard. I do know that 44-40's of that era had a small 44 stamped on the bottom of the barrel. My 32 caliber SAA has no caliber marking on the barrel just as was done with 45 Colts of that year. My barrel does have a very distinct 2-line address on the top of the barrel.
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    22Flattop, Thanks for that information. I am hoping that the Colt letter will list the caliber more specifically than 32 caliber. Since my last posting in this Thread, I recalled that I have a Bisley that is in 32 Colt (and so marked). Neither a 32 WCF nor a 32 S&W cartridge will fit into the cylinder chamber of that gun. That puts me back to this subject SAA having to be either a 32 WCF or a 32 S&W.
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    .22, how does yours letter?
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    Quote Originally Posted by saintclair View Post
    22Flattop, ... That puts me back to this subject SAA having to be either a 32 WCF or a 32 S&W.
    Reading further in The Official Record, pg. 200, the last four in the list I posted above, "were all fitted with 7-1/2" barrels." So that eliminates the 32 S&W, which leaves 32WCF.

    Best regards,
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    .22, how does yours letter?
    Rick, mine letters as a 32 s&w. I would likewise think saintclair's will letter with a specific caliber designation.
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