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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 07-27-2020, 03:11 PM
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Default 32-20 bulged barrels

I have seen a lot of references to this caliber's reputation for bulged barrels, more so than other calibers.
I'm wondering if it was an ammunition problem or maybe a too tight bore for different ammo or what?
Anybody shed some light on this ?
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Old 07-27-2020, 03:27 PM
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No first-hand experience, just speculation:

My suspicion would be that the relative scarcity of ammo for sale after the caliber’s popularity dropped rapidly after the 1920s may have resulted in a disproportionately high number of folks endeavoring to hand-load.

And that would inevitably result in more people messing up, in addition to those buying into the notion that this was a particularly hot load that could “shoot plum through a man”, and stuffing their hand-loads accordingly, which could lead to other issues.
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Old 07-27-2020, 03:36 PM
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I can't answer the question as to the how and why but several years ago I picked up an early S&W, 4" brl, round butt for a very good price. The seller told me the barrel was bulged but truthfully had he not told me I would have never known. I simply cannot tell and it has no effect on the shoot ability and accuracy. I bought it as a shooter and it has never failed me. Fun gun to shoot.
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Old 07-27-2020, 03:38 PM
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Another thought: The average handgun owner neglected to clean the bore leading to dirty bores and using old ammo that was available sooner or later a squid load was encountered and the next fired round would budge the barrel.
I have encountered many revolvers that was in great condition on the outside but with pitted bores and cylinders.
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Old 07-27-2020, 03:52 PM
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Another thought: The average handgun owner neglected to clean the bore leading to dirty bores and using old ammo that was available sooner or later a squid load was encountered and the next fired round would budge the barrel.
Jimmy—I was duck hunting in a coastal marsh and got one of those “squid” loads. (I thought that just happened to Navy Seals). Turns out too my legs sank down in the marsh to the point I couldn’t budge either. Fortunately it did not effect the barrel of my 870.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:11 PM
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Jimmy—I was duck hunting in a coastal marsh and got one of those “squid” loads. (I thought that just happened to Navy Seals). Turns out too my legs sank down in the marsh to the point I couldn’t budge either. Fortunately it did not effect the barrel of my 870.
Yer killin' me.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:17 PM
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Ralph I don’t know if all the autocorrect/spel checkin’ do dads are a help or a bothersome!
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:25 PM
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I've always believed that bulged barrels were mostly the result of a defective / squib load that stuck in the barrel... followed by a live load. Shooting old and / or contaminated ammo might have contributed.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:34 PM
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I’ve owned quite a few 32/20s and have never seen one with a bulged barrel. I would surmise that there aren’t anymore 32/20s with bulged barrels than other cartridges. For barrel to bulge there has to be bore obstruction. Thinking over the possibles I would write this off as a wives tale. I have seen a few revolvers with bulged barrels, few, and they were all operator error and had nothing to do with cartridge.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:42 PM
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Ralph I don’t know if all the autocorrect/spel checkin’ do dads are a help or a bothersome!
I disabled that function on my iphone.
Trying to throw a spanish word or something the phone didn't recognize resulted in an embarrassing text or a potential cause for
a hasty explanation.
Now I have only myself to blame.
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:09 PM
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Would almost had to have been caused by a squib load - or a reload without powder plugging the barrel - followed by firing another cartridge. That has nearly happened to me several times while firing revolvers, and is exactly why I never shoot rapid DA fire with a revolver. I have read that the old Thompson SMGs were very prone to getting bulged barrels. A shooter would get a squib load that lodged a bullet in the barrel and perform immediate action, causing a barrel bulge.

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Old 07-27-2020, 05:16 PM
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I suspect that in many cases the bulge was from someone trying to fire the less expensive and easier to find 32 Long in a 32 WCF revolver.
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:21 PM
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I cannot prove it by statistics, but I have seen quite a number of 32-20 revolvers with bulged barrels, maybe because I looked for it when I saw a 32-20 ?
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:22 PM
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Ralph I don’t know if all the autocorrect/spel checkin’ do dads are a help or a bothersome!
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:52 PM
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32-20 started in the black power era. As a re-enactor, BP has to be kept dry. Dampness might reduce the power on a load.
I had one squib with PD provided low bid reloads... during training I paid for myself. There was no powder. I was lucky it tied up my M66, preventing another round being fired... although I was ruled "dead" as far as the drill was concerned.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:14 PM
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Most likely unnoticed squib, then the next round is fired...sometimes people are not aware and fire again.

This is something that needs to be discussed more in our hobby to new shooters. I tell them if it doesn't seem right, stop. Keep muzzle pointed in safe direction in the event it does not fire right away, then after some time inspect (safely) the bore. Wood dowel is a tool that should be in the range bag; albeit, this is an uncommon occurrence. Still need more awareness on this point, which does result in bulge barrel or catastrophic failure.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:15 PM
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I will attest to the possibility of handloading error, I was in a hurry to get some rounds ready for shooting the next day. At that time I was crazy about using a sonic cleaner on my brass, I sonic cleaned a load of 32-20 brass and the next morning loaded up 50 rounds to shoot at the range. I did not immediately notice any difference in the rounds and was banging away at a fairly regular pace, single action as is my usual preference. I was into the third or fourth cylinder full when the hammer dropped and instead of a solid bang I got a pop, I recocked the hammer and then thought to myself...that was wierd. I lowered the hammer, opened the cylinder, unloaded and placed a thumbnail under the forcing cone looked down the barrel...dark, hmmmmm. That was my first squib load and the nearest I can figure was either caused by there still be some residual moisture left in that case which spoiled the powder or lack of powder...I have since gotten back in to the good habit of double checking to see if all cases have equal amounts of powder.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHobbyist View Post
... Wood dowel is a tool that should be in the range bag...
Sorry, this is bad advice. A metal rod, just under bore diameter is used to dislodge stuck objects from the bore. A wood dowel, can break and wedge itself into another obstruction. Leave the wood dowels for the muzzle loading group.

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Old 07-27-2020, 06:37 PM
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No offense taken.

Metal works too.

I have never had an issue in countless rounds where this shows up infrequently due to mostly handloads. If there are experiences where this has been an issue, OK. I suppose it could theoretically happen and then be incumbent on the person to notice any wood versus metal. Push forward so the bullet exits properly and not reverse.

Wood was recommended to me by the old timers, because metal could potentially scratch the rifling.

Bottom line in my opinion is this needs to be discussed more and thanks to the OP for the awareness of what likely happened.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:40 PM
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How do your push a bullet stuck in a revolver barrel “forward”?

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Old 07-27-2020, 07:04 PM
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Hey bud, why don't you or I start another thread so as to avoid hijacking this one. It is a good topic and there are many different approaches and factors.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:24 PM
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No doubt in my mind that 32-20s exhibit bulged barrels with far greater frequency than other calibers. Must be due to barrel obstructions but no idea why this caliber would be more prone. Went shopping for a 32-20 a few years ago and saw several bulged barrels. Bought a Colt that had been cut down. Now I wonder why?
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:19 PM
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I remember seeing 32-20 ammo
In factory boxes saying for rifle
Only. But I have only seen 1
32-20 with a bulged barrel and
It was a Spanish knock off.
Back when NRA bullseye matchs
We're the game to play, there
Was a lot of .38 and .357 around
With bulges.
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Old 07-28-2020, 11:58 AM
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32-20 started in the black power era. As a re-enactor, BP has to be kept dry. Dampness might reduce the power on a load.
I had one squib with PD provided low bid reloads... during training I paid for myself. There was no powder. I was lucky it tied up my M66, preventing another round being fired... although I was ruled "dead" as far as the drill was concerned.
Removing a stuck ball from a muzzleloader can be a real project. One isn't always lucky. With muzzle loaders, I would try to blow it out with CO2 or compressed air first. Pulling a possibly live load is really scary since there's no way to work without some part of you in front of the muzzle. I'd suggest steel rods with vinal tubing protectors or brass guides.

The squib I had with the PD issued reload was (luckily) quickly cleared by the range master after the live fire drill was over. I learned a lesson and carried a suitable brass range rod on my key chain after that.
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Old 07-28-2020, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrawHat View Post
How do your push a bullet stuck in a revolver barrel “forward”?

Kevin
You don't. I carry a 5/16"x 8" hex head steel bolt in my range bag for such situations. I wrap the bolt with tape to prevent scratching the bore. I also have a section of .22 cleaning rod, I have needed to use them several times.
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:05 PM
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I've always believed that bulged barrels were mostly the result of a defective / squib load that stuck in the barrel... followed by a live load. Shooting old and / or contaminated ammo might have contributed.
______

I have to concur. A good number of years ago I bought what I can
only describe as surplus 38's After a couple of squib shots I ditched them. Didnt bluge the barrel of the old 38 but could have. I always figured the ammo was old and for what ever reason was contaminated. Hard to say, but I never bought such ammo again and soon there after started loading my own.
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:06 PM
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Barrel obstructions were from the poor jacketed bullets used in the 32-20's. Jacket would stick in the bore and separate from the core. Core strikes target, so you fire again not knowing the jacket is still in the tube.
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:07 PM
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"Removing a stuck ball from a muzzleloader can be a real project. One isn't always lucky. With muzzle loaders, I would try to blow it out with CO2 or compressed air first. Pulling a possibly live load is really scary since there's no way to work without some part of you in front of the muzzle. I'd suggest steel rods with vinal tubing protectors or brass guides."


I shoot firearms from the War of Northern Aggression era with the North-South Skirmish Association. During matches at our home range near Winchester, Virginia, we use scuba tanks with adapters to fit the nipples on our muskets. Point the barrel downrange, hit the release valve and that Minie ball is GONE!

I have used the screw type ball puller to extract a ball or bullet from a muzzle loader. It is a pain. Compressed air is the way to go!
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:18 PM
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Barrel obstructions were from the poor jacketed bullets used in the 32-20's. Jacket would stick in the bore and separate from the core. Core strikes target, so you fire again not knowing the jacket is still in the tube.
A few years ago I got a nice Bisley .32-20 for real cheap because it had a bulged barrel. I had read an article by Dave Scovill about a friend calling him saying he just got a .32-20. Scovill asked him about the bulge in the barrel without seeing it. The guy was surprised He knew it was bulged and he said barrel bulges were very common with the caliber and I think he mentioned the jackets sticking in the bore squibbing the next round being the problem. oh, my .32 is a .44 Special now. The bulge is behind the front sight in this picture before being changed to .44.


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Old 07-28-2020, 03:59 PM
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Did you shoot that Bisley with the bulged barrel before you converted it to .44 Special? I've shot a number of revolvers that had bulges and they shot just fine.

I see you read that Skeeter Skelton article where he mentioned using a Bisley hammer as a bottle opener too.
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Old 07-28-2020, 04:47 PM
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My one experience shooting a bulged gun a VM 38 Special and it made patterns, not groups.
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:05 PM
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Did you shoot that Bisley with the bulged barrel before you converted it to .44 Special? I've shot a number of revolvers that had bulges and they shot just fine.

I see you read that Skeeter Skelton article where he mentioned using a Bisley hammer as a bottle opener too.
I did not shoot it first, but since then picked up an unbulged Bisley .32-20. I do have a Winchester 1892 .44-40 with a bulged barrel and shot it a lot in the past and would again with the lead bullet ammo I have at the moment. the rifle shot just fine with that mid drift bulge.
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:21 PM
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Sorry, this is bad advice. A metal rod, just under bore diameter is used to dislodge stuck objects from the bore. A wood dowel, can break and wedge itself into another obstruction. Leave the wood dowels for the muzzle loading group.

Kevin
As a muzzle loader I take no offense but will differ in respect to always having a well sized dowel for poking out .45acp cases from my 1917 when I'm too lazy to use clips or someone gives me some to shoot while out shooting .45AR and don't want to mess with clips. A pencil will work just fine but I have a dowel with a leather thong attached that is strung onto my range bag for just such a purpose. Muzzle loaders are fond of brass rods, especially with checking the size of a questionable barrel diameter, we drop the undersized rod that is around 12" long down the empty barrel, thoroughly lube the inside of the barrel then pound an oversized ball down the muzzle, after which by alternating the barrel vertically the rod will pop the barrel sized ball out for further examination. Most people new to muzzle loading do not realize that a wooden ramrod is capable of doing more harm to a barrel at the muzzle than brass, wood impregnated with dirt is very abrasive. I've seen barrels with almost a groove worn into the muzzle from sloppy handling with a wooden ramrod. Most of us use a ferrule to protect the muzzle, then steel ramrods are usually the preferred material, I like brass as well. If used properly it is nearly impossible to wear a muzzle loader barrel out with a patched round ball. I've seen barrels with decades of use with the outside surface worn smooth and barrel flats worn while the inside of the barrel looks as good as the day it was rifled, cleaning is imperative.

Last edited by Kinman; 07-28-2020 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:00 PM
Drm50 Drm50 is offline
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A hardwood dowel of bore size is best way to drive out stuck bullet. If you don’t have wood brass or Aluminum is second choice. There are some plastics that are in dowel form , like the polyester Wonder Rod that work good if you can get some that fit your bore.

The mistake made on punching out stuck bullets is fooling with something like a cleaning rod, usually steel. This does two things. One it’s harder and smaller than bullet diameter so driving it into bullet had the effect of expanding like a rivet. Second steel rod may damage bore. Stainless is usually softer than regular steel.

Muzzle loader with stuck bullet are much the same. A brass rod wit 1/8” drill bit to clear a pilot hole is a help to tight ones that bullet puller doesn’t want to grab. I’ve pulled many, many muzzle loader bullets. Most after Bubbas have tried everything else.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:33 PM
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All of you who like wooden rods to push stuck objects out of the barrel, one day it will shatter and the resulting mess is worse than the stuck bullet.

Good luck with your choice.

Kevin
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:35 PM
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...As a muzzle loader I take no offense but will differ in respect to always having a well sized dowel for poking out .45acp cases from my 1917 when I'm too lazy to use clips or someone gives me some to shoot while out shooting...
Punching out spent cartridges is not the same as removing a stuck bullet.

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Old 07-28-2020, 11:21 PM
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There was an article in Gun Digest years ago about this. If memory serves, I believe it had to do with light loads, lack of bullet pull due to thin cases, squib load and subsequent firing of next round. Not a problem with black powder, just smokeless. I will try to dig it up.
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:27 AM
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Interesting about the Colt. I own a old Colt single action .32WCF.

In looking for ammo i found that .32WCF has been discontinued & the replacement is .32-20. Haven't bought any yet, & it is hard to find. Where did you find your ammo? Do you or anyone suggest even going this way?
Lee
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:14 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Originally Posted by Seaark1660 View Post
Barrel obstructions were from the poor jacketed bullets used in the 32-20's. Jacket would stick in the bore and separate from the core. Core strikes target, so you fire again not knowing the jacket is still in the tube.
I saw that happen, although with a .38. The guy didn't want to lead his barrel so he loaded JSPs as though they were wadcutters.

There was one elaborate theory that .32-20 bulged barrels were caused by stuck bullets left by the HV loads' slow burning rifle powder bleeding off through the cylinder gap before the bullet could get out the muzzle. Doesn't sound likely to me.

Quote:
Interesting about the Colt. I own a old Colt single action .32WCF.

In looking for ammo i found that .32WCF has been discontinued & the replacement is .32-20. Haven't bought any yet, & it is hard to find. Where did you find your ammo? Do you or anyone suggest even going this way?
Lee
I believe that "replacement" occurred about 125 years ago when Marlin did not want to put W(Winchester) CF on their rifles.

Here are some sources:
32-20 Win Ammo | Best 32-20 Win Ammunition - AmmoSeek.com 2020
I don't know who Ventura Munitions is but they have their own line and name brands.
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Old 07-29-2020, 01:09 PM
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I will also say that 32-20 Colt SAA amd Bisleys are fairly common with a ring in the bbl.

I still have one that has been cut down from 7 1/2". It still has a ring in the cut down bbl. Maybe it was cut down because of a ring in the 7 1/2" edition, or perhaps it was just a bit heavy.
It shoots patterns not groups in it's present form. But the gravel road condition of the rest of the bore certainly doesn't help.
The $250 price was a good incentive for the purchase however.

It should be a 44sp or 45Colt maybe but I never get around to it .
1923 mfg I think it is.

Some yrs back I had a neat 4 3/4" Bisley 32-20 w/ Ivory grips.,,,ring in the bore.
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Old 07-30-2020, 01:10 AM
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I think it follows along with this thread and I mean to ask earlier, What happens when a bullet enters the area of the barrel that has been bulged or expanded from a previous obstruction(s) that has been removed?

I would suspect that the bullet loses at least a measure of it’s spin as well as contact with the rifling? But then would it be “grabbed back” by the rifling after passing though the bulged area?

I wonder if some guns shoot fine with a barrel bulge—as mentioned by several posters in this thread—because the bulges are insignificant and the bullets path down the rifling is not impeded?

Then perhaps with those that shoot poorly, the loss of contact with the rifling causes bad accuracy?
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Old 07-30-2020, 01:35 AM
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Ralph I don’t know if all the autocorrect/spel checkin’ do dads are a help or a bothersome!
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