Colt 1903 best 32 ACP pistols
RF for TTAG

Believe it or not, there are still a few .32 ACP pistols still being made and ammunition for, them too. The .32 ACP was once one of the most popular concealed carry and law enforcement rounds sold, though it’s inadequacies have been laid bare in the modern era.

I wouldn’t suggest .32 ACP semi-auto pistol for concealed carry, and neither would most experts, if you had any choice in the matter. A .32 pistol will work in a pinch, of course, but so will .22 LR, though you probably don’t want to rely on that. Shot placement, as always, matters most, but the evidence has been in for some time that .380 ACP is generally considered the bare minimum for a self-defense gun if you can’t carry a 9mm.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for guns chambered in 7.62mm Browning. Not only are they small and light recoiling, there are some seriously collectible (and cool!) guns in this chambering. For the collector and enthusiast (and the carrier, too), there are some great guns out there.

Here are six .32 ACP pistols that are well worth a look.

best 32 acp pistols
Courtesy US Armament Corp.

Primus inter pares among .32 ACP pistols is and always will be the Colt Model 1903, a single-action semi-automatic pistol with a shrouded hammer. Originally called the Pocket Hammerless, it was designed by John Moses Browning during his tenure at Colt.

It was a very popular carry pistol in the early 20th century in the US and elsewhere, as it found global adoption for civilians, police and military officers. (Al Capone, John Dillinger, and both Bonnie and Clyde were fans.)

If you can’t afford a collectible original Colt 1903, US Armament Corp. began manufacturing them under license a few years ago, so you can actually buy a new one, though it will cost you. MSRP starts at $1275.

Of course, if you want to get deep into collecting, there are a couple of fantastic German models to keep an eye out for.

Walther PPK-L
Michael Sullivan [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
First, of course, is the Walther PP, PPK and PPK/S, models designed to meet requirements for import and sale in the United States under the Gun Control Act of 1968.

The Walther PP pistol series was first offered in .32 ACP (labeled 7.65mm Kurz) and issued in this chambering to numerous police officers and later to military personnel as well as the Nazi high command. (Hitler killed himself with one, which is a pretty good reason to own one.)

The PPK was also famously the concealed carry pistol of choice of James Bond. These days, Walther prefers to sell them chambered in .380 and .22 LR, but vintage models can be found in .32 ACP as well.

BlaqueandBlue at English Wikipedia, from Wikimedia Commons

A related design is the SIG SAUER P230 and P232, which are basically PPK clones though they are slightly larger for better control. SIG made them mostly for plainclothes police, but it did gain some traction in the US concealed carry market.

Just like the PPK, the two-tone stainless finish P230 and .380 P232 are hammer-fired DA/SA subcompact. But unlike the PPK, they have SIG’s de-cocking lever on the grip instead of Walther’s slide-mounted de-cocking safety. Models in .32 ACP are more rare, but since the P232 was in production until 2014, you shouldn’t have trouble sourcing one.

Best 32 acp pistols
Costas-1963 [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
Another model to Czech out is the CZ 83, which was offered in .32 ACP. The CZ 50 and CZ 70 (also .32 ACP pistols) are somewhat common on the surplus market as well, but the 83 is the better buy. First, it uses a double-stack magazine (15+1 of .32 ACP!) and was in production until 2012, so you can get one in pretty decent condition. It has Walther PPK design elements, such as the fixed barrel and blowback operation, but has CZ’s control scheme of a manual safety rather than a decocker.

Beretta Cheetah best 32 acp pistols
Jan Hrdonka from Wikimedia Commons

The Beretta 81FS is still in very much in production, marketed as the Cheetah, though .380 models are easier to find that .32 ACP/7.62mm. The 81 is a double-stack compact, though a single-stack with thinner grip (the 82) can be found on the used market. It holds 12+1 of .32, with Beretta’s operating system.

It’s basically a ⅞ scale 92FS, replete with the open-top barrel and slide-mounted ambi de-cocking safeties. The Beretta 3032 Tomcat can also be had in this chambering if you prefer a topo pistola.

courtesy keltecweapons.com

Of course, some people just want a light weight .32 caliber pistol that goes “bang” and don’t care about history or collectibility. If that’s you, Kel-Tec still makes the P-32 pocket pistol, a polymer-framed internal-hammer double action only mouse guns that holds 7+1 rounds of .32 ACP. The Kel-Tec P-32 has reduced pull weight of under 6 lbs, a decent trigger and a tiny 2.7-inch barrel length. MSRP is an affordable $325, but you’ll find them at retail for a song.

Any other .32 ACP pistols you feel should be added to the list? Sound off in the comments!

68 COMMENTS

  1. Others to be added to the list would be:
    Mauser hsc
    Sauer 38h
    FN Browning 1910/1922
    CZ 27
    FN Browning 1900
    Spanish Ruby (eibar)
    Beretta 1935
    CZ 50&70
    Zastava cz70

    • I’d also add the H&K HK4, H&K P7K3, the Browning Model 1955 (Browning USA’s FN1910), the Remington Model 51 (the Pedersen-designed one, manufactured during the inter-war period), the Ortgies, and the FÉG 7.65mm AP-MBP (Hungary’s version of the PPK with an aluminum-titanium alloy frame).

      For NFA items, the original Welrod and the Škorpion vz. 61 are very, very cool.

  2. I have the Beretta 81 and the Kel-Tec P32. Love them both. I also have the CZ-70, which is as close as I’ll probably get to a .32 version of the Walther PP/PPK (Land O’Goshen, those things are hard to find and expensive when you do!) Would love to have a Colt Pocket Hammerless. 7.65×17 FTW.

    BTW, don’t forget the Seecamp. Superb little .32.

  3. Make sure to read up on .32 rim lock before you go in whole hog on this caliber. It’s a pain in the neck to fix. There are some good hacks online for the Kel-Tec magazines. Never mix different length cartridges in a magazine, stay away from the shorter cartridges, even if they are more powerful for concealed carry, they can cause a rim lock. Ask me how I know….

    • I had that very problem in my P32 with Underwood Extreme Cavitators. Rounds chambered fine, but when they rimlocked in the mag I couldn’t get them unstuck without disassembling the magazine.

      I still keep a Cavitator in the pipe of my P32, but the mag is strictly FMJ. Preferably Fiocchi.

    • I been carrying a P32 as my off duty carry, never had a problem with rimlock or reliability. Though this isn’t something u will go out and fire a 100 rounds with.

    • Yes, the above comment is really stupid. But what you have to understand that Geoff the Goof has never known the pleasures of a woman.

  4. Only .32 ACP I ever owned was a Beretta Tomcat. Never fired it. The idea of carrying a .32 was so alien to me I just sold the thing. Did own a Pocket Hammerless too. 1908 in .380. Martial markings. Mint. Stole it for $400. Strictly investment. Never carried/shot. Traded it to a friend for my first 03A3. Let me see, pistol in weak caliber, or rifle in strong caliber? No brainer.

  5. Before this China flue BS hit, I was going to buy the Beretta 81FS. The European import surplus guns are very cheap. Price wise.

    • Yes, i bought a Cheetah in .32 last winter on Classic, police trade-in, super solid pistol, very reliable, in excellent condition, functions flawlessly. I don’t carry it but i like having it and shoot it fairly often. Wouldn’t hesitate to let a loved one use it for self defense. I imagine they still have them, I may buy another.

  6. 32 ACP CAN be a viable Self-Defense round. Yes, many/most factory HP/JHP loads under penetrate as per FBI recommendations. But an SD concealed carry gun isn’t supposed to pull the duties and FBI agent would want from their sidearm. It is meant to allow the defendee to break the dangerous situation and leave. In that, even non expanding FMJ AND slightly under penetrating HPs are more than sufficient.

    AND, if we look at rounds, like Underwood’s Xtreme Defender, you get FBI penetration depths AND large wound cavities, making it more than capable.

    Because, for some of us older people, with Arthritis, Carpel Tunnel and other kick averse maladies, 380 ACP, PARTICULARLY in small pocket/mouse guns can be too much. I don’t mean for the actual SD situation, as that is do what it takes to survive. But, we should all train, regularly with every gun we carry. That takes rounds down range, and THAT is where that kick and these maladies come into play.

    Even your own article bears out that the Underwood loads are good SD rounds, and these are the old cavitator bullet, not the new, improved defender bullet, that fixes the rare feed issues of the older shape.

    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/ammo-review-lehigh-underwood-make-32-acp-great/

  7. Can’t believe no one’s mentioned the absolute most fun .32 pistol ever…

    https://cdn0.thetruthaboutguns.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_5911-e1514406361459-513×513.jpg

    Yes, even the non-NFA version is a hell of a good time. If you’re not a purist, there’s an adapter to mount an FS1913 brace (and even if you are it doesn’t require any permanent modifications), and if you don’t mind spending $200 for a permission slip, it’s very easy to SBR with the original wire stock.

    Don’t take my word for it, TTAG thinks so too:
    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/gun-review-czech-small-arms-sa-vz-61-pistol-threaded-barrel/

  8. Aren’t most of us laying in supplies for SHFT rather than collecting things less useful for that? Since Feb, I consider ‘will I likely really benefit this?’ on every purchase I make. I gave up on a .50BMG for that reason. It was just too low on the list. I hope I get to it and back to collecting guns someday though.

    • Nah, if I need more than I currently have for SHTF, S will have well and truly HTF and no amount of small-arms ammo will be sufficient. Now’s the time to pick up the fun things that were previously hard to find, but now aren’t moving because people are only buying things that are useful for SHTF purposes.

      • I am trying to stock up on things like prescriptions (beyond 90days supply). I already have solar and wind power enough to run the house, more than a year’s worth of food, improved my door frames, doors an locks, cameras lights etc. One almost certainly can’t likely survive the worst case scenario but you can up to some point approaching it. I am trying to push closer to that point and consider that my spending priority for at least a few more months. “But that’s me, I am an aggressive gambler – “Mr. Vegas””.

  9. I’ve had the 1903 Colt and the Walther pp. For shooting I preferred the Colt. I’m pretty sure the Walther was a safer carry gun. Mine was a West German police surplus model for less than 2 bills. Fun gun to play with.

    Let us not forget that guns can be fun and recreational. They don’t all have to be combat kit.

  10. I’ve never seen a .32 ACP CZ83. Mine, and all of the other 83’s that I’ve handled, is a .380.
    It uses the same mags as the CZ82 which is 9mm Mak.

      • I have 2 CZ 83’s 1 in .380 and now 1 in .32. The .32 is awesome to shoot, I prefer it over the .38. The CZ 83 is a underrated pistol, it has a lot going for it

  11. I really enjoy shooting my grandfather’s 1903 Colt. I take it out and shoot it about once a year. Beautiful pistol. It was manufactured in 1921.

  12. I bought a North American Arms Seecamp clone when they first came out, along with Win Silver Tips to use in it. It came with a cordura belt bag/holster for “discreet” carry, like no one would know wth it was…It’s still sitting in the “holster” on my reloading bench and been there for years, though I don’t remember why. Certainly a dozen other guns I’d grab first if I was in the basement, along with my carry piece.

    I thought the little NAA would be a good carry gun when my Colt Officer’s ACP was too big. Man, that was a long time ago. The Colt is so much heavier than my current Sig P365. The Officer’s ACP seems like it weighs a ton. And I’ll bet the little NAA weighs as much as my P365, seems to. They are/were(?) very well machined and finished.

  13. Ive shot a couple of hundred rds thru my p-32 with not problems also have a feg in 32 its better to have a 32 with ammo than a nine or 45 and cant find ammo for it

  14. I have a PP and a Beretta 81. Great pistols – lots of fun.

    Are they my go-to for defense? No, but few people will line up to be shot by one.

    I have a little ammo for them- just in case. Pretty quiet if you had to shoot indoors.

    With the current climate, 32 acp is some of the only ammo I see online. New shooters may do well to find a Beretta 81 and hunt some extra mags.

    I will get a Stainless Tomcat if I can pounce quick enough when I see them for 350.

    Would love for Beretta to make a poly frame Tomcat with 10+ rounds. It would replace my LCP.

  15. I carry the NAA Guardian as a backup. Nice little pocket gun and shoots well although it can be a bit painful to shoot. Also have an exc Beretta 81 Cheetah in 32 acp. I bought from Classic Firearms for about 225.00 last year. Exc nice shooting little pistol!

      • Oh yes, wait a minute Mister Po-leasman
        Wait Mister Po-leasman

        Please Mister Po-leasman, look and see
        (Oh yeah)
        If there’s a warrant in your bag for me
        (Please, Please Mister Po-leasman)
        Why’s it takin’ such a long time
        (Oh yeah)
        To get caught for that crime of mine

        There must be some word today
        From DA so far away
        Please Mister Po-leasman, look and see
        If there’s a warrant, a warrant for me

        I’ve been standin’ here waitin’ Mister Po-leasman
        So patiently
        For just a cop, or just a SWAT Team
        Sayin’ I been oh so mean.

        So many days you passed me by
        An’ I kept saying, “Come an’ try”.
        You didn’t stop to make me in
        Or try to drag into hail again.
        (Mister Po-leasman)
        Mister Po-leasman, look and see

        (Oh yeah)
        If there’s a warrant in your bag for me
        (Please, Please Mister Po-leasman)

  16. have a Walther PP in 32acp. has good weight, 8 plus one, and really flat. very controllable, and I dont share the concerns that many have about caliber, as it was said , shot placement is king .I did have one rimlock problem once but I just pay more attention when loading and tap the mags . used in close, I have no concerns about it being able to stop someone. I do usually carry a 38 snub, but this gun comes out , gets carried. and with its low recoil I know I can place my shots. and I dont have to worry about it going through 3 of everything that is in front of it. now if you will excuse me, I am going back on you tube to watch more Garbage videos, because I never get tired of hearing them , and never get tired of hearing and seeing Shirley Manson.good day everyone.

  17. Yes the “powers that be” want you to arm yourselves with sub caliber armn’s. The push was made with the 5.56, and the 9mm. The author should think about some stuff before promoting the disarming of America. Old Slow Joe aint getting my vote but a 12 gauge with both barrels going off at once is a gut blowing, heads off, broke my finger Killer. So he’s right on that, only not how to use it

  18. There’s also the Beretta Model 90. Another copy of the Walther PP design. Beretta used an alloy frame and added slide release. It’s got beautiful lines, it might even predates the Sig P230 seires. To me, the sig’s are more like copies of the Beretta model 90. Cheers.

  19. I love how people that have never owned a p32 always feel the need to put down the little pistol. I’ll put in the necessary disclaimer that everybody deems necessary when talking about owning a “lowly” Keltec pistol. I guess they feel that you’re a noob if you own a Keltec so need to prove your manhood by claiming to own others. Yes I have many other more expensive handguns and long guns. I either own or have owned multiple guns in almost every caliber under .500. And guess what pistol gets the most carry time? Yes, the little Keltec p-32.

    And let me tell you why. Using fmj it is flawless in decades of use. I have a gen 1 from around 1999-2000. I just replace springs every few years. I’ve had many .380s and no matter what any of them say, they’re all heavier, and have way more recoil and at least one less round than the p32. And ballistically, a 32acp fmj will penetrate as good or better than a 380 defensive round and will tumble in the target. And fmj does not tend to rimlock. I’ve never had it happen in many years of carry.

    The Keltec p32 is sooooo light. You literally do not know it is there. I can carry it in my gym shorts when walking my dogs and don’t even feel it then. It’s also a very natural pointer. The gen 1 with the angled slide actually has quite usable sights. And with the lack of recoil, follow up shots are waaay easier than 380 or a pocket 9..

    Are there more powerful, better guns? Yes, and I own many. But I’m not going out to start ww3. I just want something on me that if someone is trying to harm me, I can pull out, and create separation from that situation. I am confident that my p32 will accomplish that. I can honestly say after many years, it’s my favorite little pistol to carry.

    • Jeffrey, I could have written the same post as you. A couple tweaks: I fight rust on that thing, due to the way I carry and I never have replaced the spring. Bought this in ‘08 – no problems with it operating. Nobody wants to leak.

  20. Tanfoglio/FIE Super Titan II double stack 12+1 SA/DA, absolute gem

    Bersa Lusber is a beauty, has a top rail on the slide, love it

    NAA Guardian with the flush 10+1 extended mag, pretty sweet pocket pistol, high cap Seecamp-esque

    Taurus 132, from the not so distant past

    Love my nickel CZ VZ 61 Scorpion with black furniture

    I am very hopeful to acquire a Crvena Zastava Mod 83, been on the wishlist a while. The 70 I had was absurdly accurate, any ammo, filthy condition, lackadaisical grip/positioning; nothing could keep that soldier from hitting what I aimed it at, solid groupings always. Also on the dream list; a fully engraved Cheetah. I love .32 ACP. I wish Glock would manufacture one, or somebody, anybody a conversion kit. Kel-Tec has more of a love/hate issue than Taurus, but I enjoyed the P32, never had an issue.

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