The 432 PD isn't a common carry gun (Travis Pike for TTAG)
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Smith & Wesson and various .32 caliber revolvers date back to 1865 and the advent of rimfire cartridges. In 1878, the company created the .32 S&W, a centerfire micro-sized .32 caliber round. Guns like the S&W 1 and a Half chambered the little cartridge, as did the famed Lemon Squeezers, the Model 3, and more. The S&W 432 PD can easily trace its lineage back to 1878 through the evolution of various .32 caliber revolver cartridges.

The .32 S&W became the .32 S&W long. The little .32 S&W Long is a personal favorite of mine, and I have a number of small I-frame revolvers. S&W produced several J-frame revolvers in .32 S&W Long, including the famed Model 30. In 1984, H&R decided that the .32 S&W Long was pretty good, too, but it could be better. Like a ton of revolver cartridges, H&R created a magnum cartridge based on an established round.

The .32 H&R Magnum is an evolution of the .32 S&W. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The .32 S&W Long moved a 90-grain projectile at a leisurely 750 feet per second. The .32 H&R Magnum amped the cartridge up quite a bit. The .32 H&R features a diverse group of loadings, including Buffalo Bore 100-grain loads that move at 1,300 feet per second. Other more tame options add about 200 feet per second onto the 90-grain projectiles. The .32 H&R Magnum cartridge was designed for micro-sized revolvers. The round wasn’t a huge success, but both the .32 S&W Long and .32 H&R Magnum are still produced.

The S&W 432 and the .32 H&R Magnum

S&W produced a few .32 H&R Magnums. This was mostly kept to the J-Frame series. They had the titanium/scandium 332, the 632 stainless guns and, of course, the classic 432 we have here. It’s worth mentioning they also produced a K-Frame called the S&W Model 16-4 in .32 H&R Magnum. The varied x32 series guns have come and gone in what seems to be fairly limited production, which gives us the check mark to the obscure box.

Smith & Wesson’s tradition of .32 Revolvers goes back to the I-Frame days. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The S&W 432 PD series hit the market in the early 2000s. There were only a few sources online in the early 2000s and it appears the first news of the 432 PD appeared in 2005. The S&W 432 PD model is a J-Frame design with a matte black finish and really beautiful wood grips. On top sits a big XS front sight. This was an airweight design and at 13.1 ounces, it’s quite light.

When you pop the cylinder open, you’re greeted by six chambers hungry for whatever .32 caliber cartridge you want to dispense. That’s right, six, not five. One of the many benefits of going with the .32 H&R Magnum. The hammer is hidden under a hump for maximum concealment and a snag-free draw.

A humpback revolver makes for an excellent pocket gun. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

As was typical of the era, the Hillary hole is on full display and immediately takes away some of the classic stylings of this snub nose. It’s not hard to turn your nose up at the gun and this feature, but luckily, with the latest incarnation of the 432, the hole is gone. That new 432 UC made the market drop out on the older 432s. I picked this one up for 300ish dollars, making it a must-grab.

But Why is the 432 PD Desirable?

The real answer to this question comes down to range time. I hate shooting small .38 Specials. I can’t shoot them quickly, and I certainly can’t shoot them very accurately. I love shooting shotguns, so I’m not recoil-adverse. I just think the .38 Special belongs in guns with 3-inch barrels and longer. In snub noses, it’s just a bit silly to deal with all that recoil and not get much ballistic benefit.

That big front sight makes it easy to snap to a target. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Sure, I can hit the bad guy as long as the bad guy is a paper target. For combat and self-defense, I want something I can very easily hit the bad guy with repeatedly. The .32 H&R Magnum delivers just that. In an Airweight gun, the recoil is minimal. My current load is a Federal 85-grain JHP, and it handles very nicely. Even with one hand, the recoil is minimal. The grips on this thing are super smooth, and it still doesn’t make the gun tough to shoot.

The 432 PD never feels like it’s fighting to get away from me. I shot a Bill Drill, which is six rounds from concealment, into an IPSC-sized A-zone. I can do that in nearly two seconds flat with the 432 PD, and every round lands in a group no larger than my palm. I can’t get that performance from a .38 Special snub nose.

Recoil? What recoil? (Travis Pike for TTAG)

If I step back to 25 yards, I will land accurate shots on an IPSC-sized target in 1.5 seconds from the low-ready. When I load the gun with .32 S&W Long cartridges, it handles like a rimfire gun, and it would be a great tool for new revolver shooters. It’s just fun to shoot. I don’t get tired of shooting it, and my hand doesn’t feel like it got a good high five with every shot fired. I’ve never said that about any other Airweight.

But It’s a .32!

Yep, it’s a.32, but that doesn’t mean 432 PD is not capable. The cartridge meets penetration standards from short barrels with all of its current loadings. It even expands with JHPs somewhat decently. It’s the American curse to assume that handgun projectile size makes much of a difference in terms of man-stopping capability. The difference in projectile between a.38 Special and a .32 H&R Magnum is .045 of an inch.

You get six rounds with the 432 PD (Travis Pike for TTAG)

I’d much rather be capable of rapid and accurate fire with six rounds than deal with the five rounds of .38 Special and the effects of its increased recoil. From a short barrel, I don’t find the ballistic effects of the .38 Special impressive in terms of expansion and penetration. It will certainly penetrate, and with the right round, it expands, but not in an impressive way.

The classic J-Frame design makes it a natural concealed carry option. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The .327 Federal Magnum is another .32. Shooting a .327 Federal Magnum from an Airweight gun isn’t fun, and it’s another cartridge I’d stick to in guns with at least 3-inch barrels.

To me, the 432 PD is the perfect J-frame, and the .32 H&R Magnum is perfect for pocket revolvers. It took this cartridge to convince me that the perfect pocket pistol isn’t necessarily an automatic, but rather a revolver in the right cartridge.

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50 COMMENTS

    • Yes and the 9mak.
      Years back the .32 S&W was used in a lot of target shooting matches.
      Some calibers hit a sweet spot, I believe .32 is one of them.

  1. “As was typical of the era, the Hillary hole is on full display…”

    This is very confusing as S&W still does this. It isn’t about an era unless you want to say ‘modern era’.

    As for the gun itself, I will likely never own anything in 32. Just not a thing worth anything to me. But it is interesting to see articles like this sometimes.

  2. The .32 S&W Long was the first center fire handgun I fired as a youth. They were quite common then.

    My grandmother stood behind me and threw large cans up in the air for me to shoot. When I was hitting them consistent she threw smaller cans.

    It was her revolver. S&W I frame with a 3 inch barrel.

      • She was my maternal grandmother. She had 4 daughters including my mother. She never had a kind word to say about any of her SIL’s.

        She did it to piss my old man off. He did not want me around handguns. Shotguns and rim fire rifles were ok. But he really hated handguns.

          • When my dad was a kid he knew another kid that shot himself with a .22 pistol in the leg. The kid lost a leg.

            When I was about 14 I pointed out that my old man had lost at least 3 friends to car and motorcycle wrecks but that he still drove both. Including one that was paralyzed from the neck down
            Dad did not appreciate my argument.

      • Well, think like Joe Biden and you can have any memories you want.
        Like.
        Back when he rode shotgunm on the stagecoach his grandma drove.
        Tales of Wells Fargo

  3. I’ve carried a S&W 442 since 1991. Or ’93. I forget. It’s iny pocket now. Mitch Rosen holster, Spiegel Boot Grips. It’s a nice little revolver Everyone should have one.

    • During the 327 Federal craze I bought a S&W 632 – a genuine oddball of a revolver. 3″ ported barrel, fullsize grips, adjustable sights, and 6 shots in a J(?)frame. It was a truck gun for awhile while I was working on the road, but hasn’t been out of the safe in a couple of years, due to component shortages to reload a couple hundred “snappy” loadsthat I worked upback inthe day. It’s also the only Smith that I have that wears the shameful HillaryHole, so I must have thought highly of it at the time, and the black coated stainless has survived the usual truck gun beat-down.

  4. And then you realize that any .327 Federal Magnum can shoot .32 H&R Magnum. .32 S&W Long and .32 S&W, making hunting for some obscure .32 H&R Magnum revolver extremely pointless.

    • …If you also realize that it’s exponentially harder to remove the carbon rings from the cylinder holes in a smaller caliber. Due to that fact, I got to prefer downloading the 327 cases rather than using shorter cartridges for practice rounds.

        • yeah, I miss trail boss too … for the 327 I could get a 77 gr. in the 800 fps range and the comp wouldn’t give off any more flash than a zippo lighter. At the other end of the spectrum, AA#7 under a 90XTP could take it up to nearly 1700fps, but with a fireworks show from the comp

      • But the author is talking about .32 H&R magnum and nobody fires those as practice rounds. Heck, they’re probably more expensive than .327 Federal Magnum when you can find them. And if he’s shooting either of the .32 S&W rounds for practice (again, expensive and hard to find), then he’s still going to have the carbon ring issue in the 432, which honestly isn’t that big a deal if you clean regularly after practice.

    • Brodirt, I carry Speer 135 gr GDHP +P in my 442. They’re a bit snappy and this air weight is not cleared for them . Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

      • he definitely doesn’t. my mod 38 is one of the most vicious guns I own. I own an ar pistol in 450 bushmaster that comes in under 4lbs too.

      • “ … don’t mess around with Jim”

        Different song.

        Willie ‘Slim’ McCoy kicked Jim‘s ass.

        “And you better believe
        They sung a different kind of story
        When big Jim hit the floor“

        The problem with all .32s is ammo availability.

        I have a 340PD, .38/.357 is readily available and I don’t mind the flash.

        At the ranges these weapons are designed for, it just might set their clothes on fire which can prove to be a significant distraction to your opponent.

        BTW, Jim’s son AJ is following in his father‘s footsteps.

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o9e6yd2zgNg&pp=ygUPSmltIENyb2NlJ3Mgc29u

        • Jim Croce was Frank Zappa.
          “Frank, your songs are getting to weird we are going to have to change your name.”
          Then Frank starts singing about poodles and come on frenchy snap it. “Okay”, Frank says, ” I want my name to be Jim Crotchy.”

        • minor irritant, if you’re such a wiz with lyrics, why would you name yourself after a negligent father that watched his daughter drown in a mine shaft while seeking his treasure? – you’re even more messed up than we thought !
          By the way, that song has a happy ending, as miner eventually was overcome by guilt and offed himself after being dissatisfied with kissing his other daughter.

            • …. almost certainly !!! Looking for a freebie regardless of cost to others, anything that goes wrong is obviously someone else’s fault – he has to be a “great, great ” granpappy, at least
              ” I remember I dug that mine all alone with muh bare hands, right after I quit driving truck “

          • “kissing his other daughter”

            Just carrying on the tradition of one of God’s patriarchs, Lot got drunk and banged both his daughters.

            “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right? She’s actually always been very voluptuous,” Trump responds. “She’s tall, she’s almost 6 feet tall and she’s been, she’s an amazing beauty.”
            “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

            Oh wait, that wasn’t Lot, that was Donald Trump, sorry…

            • minor49iq…You have a choice…Either go march in a perverted gay pride parade or spend time organizing your anthony weiner photos. After nearly 8 years of democRats concocting lies don’t waste anymore time trying to denigrate POTUS DJT…FJB.

            • The story goes his daughters got Lot drunk for the express purpose of getting pregnant. .
              Back in the day they didn’t say
              You’ve had too much to drink
              They said you’ve had a Lot
              Is the water warm enough Ashley (looking at Daddy)
              Yes Lisa
              ~~~Doo dah doo dah doo dah dodah
              whaaaanggchp~~~
              Computer Blues.
              No Hunter, that’s Lap Top Blues.
              And he cast his nose up into the wind
              Snnnnfff snnnnnfff snnnnf sniffff
              Then he walks on over to the first mate and says”Whatcha got boy”
              Arhg, that ain’t nuthin but a little ole cigarette Capn.
              Let me have a puff,, its alright, it’s alright, it ain’t nuthin but a little ole cigarette.
              And then the Capn walked around the wheel house once, He walked around the wheel house twice and on the third time around the wheel house the first mate looks on over at the Captain and he say
              “You wanna nother toke Capn?”
              ErrrrrRIGHT! ! !
              Trailor parks on fire
              Billy been cooking up something
              If you wanna biscuit come on then
              Billy got it jumping
              Rye whiskey rye whiskey
              Rye whiskey I cry
              If I don’t get some Rye whiskey
              I surely will die.
              Don’t drink to much, just have a Lot.

  5. My steel NEF 5 shot .32 H&R Magnum and I just returned from the grocery. Awful Gun until properly tweaked. Don’t care for the S&W light weight and hammerless, do like the extra round. .32 H&R Magnum? Nasty little round.

        • It includes a hammer, ain’t you never watched them cowboy movies where they hammer up the wanted posters?
          Gosh DebbieW.

        • “properly outfitted includes a hammer…mr. amateur.”

          He was paid for *years* to carry a gun, were you, cupcake?

          Er, *NO*, so STFU…

  6. I bought one of the little Ruger .32 H&R Mag single action revolvers and have shot it a fair amount. No interest in the Smith, but that little Ruger has to be my all time favorite revolver.

  7. I got a Charter Arms revolver in 32HR magnum. Because the Ruger LCR is never available. It’s like big foot. Talked about but never seen. And the charter arms gun is cheaper.

    And shooting that gun is so much nicer than my S&W model 36. Fortunately, in my area, 32 series ammo is readily available. But in small amounts. And that is why I got into reloading.

    The 32 must have still been popular in the 1970’s. Because that was the gun used by Charles Bronson in the film Death Wish.

    One of the best “revenge” films ever made.

  8. It’s unfortunate that so many people think that a military/ police caliber, .38 back then and now 9mm. People believe they need the same 9mm the cops use. When a 32 Smith and Wesson revolver is adequate and easier to shoot.

    btw
    All ammunition calibers will be very difficult to get in the future. Because the wars in Ukraine and in the middle east are sucking up the world supply.

    And to the potheads out there. Perhaps industrial hemp can be used to make ammunition powder. It’s what the Chinese use to make their ammunition.

    Audio 35 min long.

    https://gunsmagazine.libsyn.com/237-news-flash-a-new-ammo-shortage

  9. A “proper” revolver is a balance of weight, size, and caliber. As someone with many family members that were LEOs, and issued revolvers, (mainly the 4″ S&W model 10), I like the idea of a “J” frame size revolver in 32 mag. Also, when shooting a S&W model 36 versus a model 638 and then a 3″ model 60, must agree that the 3″ barrel of the model 60 is far and away a better choice. As an “older shooter”, also like the idea of the ease of cleaning a revolver versus having to strip a semi auto. Yes, I did lose a small spring from a pistol, and more than once. Now if the 3″ – 32 mag Charter Arms, or the new 3″ Taurus 32 mags coming onto the market become available, would consider swapping out my 638.

  10. This comment has nothing to do with this article but this is one of the few places left that you can even leave a comment anymore because the media does not want a rebuttal to their ludicrous behavior. I am sick and tired of the left complaining about what conservatives do when at times it is exactly what they have done and they completely ignore the fact that they are guilty of the same behavior. Their holier than thou attitude while being hypocrites, unethical, immoral, bias, racist, dishonest, and downright liars is too much to take and more people would call them out but the media doesn’t have a comment section on many of their articles.

  11. You can get a Ruger LCR today in .327 Fed Mag that will hold six rounds of .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum, or .327 Federal Magnum.

  12. Kids today…. “It will certainly penetrate, and with the right round, it expands, but not in an impressive way.”

    Research .38 wadcutter. Ballistic #s don’t tell the whole (hole) story.
    Anything that pokes clean holes thru bones is gonna work well.
    Shattering bones is effective minimal effect.

    Look at the holes poked in a paper target by a wadcutter vs ball ammo or hollow points. It is a satori moment in physics.

    Science rules !

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