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The .32-caliber revolver came to life in the mid 1800s as the metallic cartridge became a reality. They became popular for their small size and ease of concealment. While .32 revolvers were more popular in Europe than in the U.S., American firearms manufacturer Colt produced the .32 Colt short and .32 Colt long in 1875. The Colt round remained popular in Great Britain, and in 1878, Smith & Wesson produced their own .32-caliber cartridge and matching revolvers.
After the .32 Smith & Wesson cartridges became popular, companies like Colt, H&R, and Iver Johnson began producing small, inexpensive .32-caliber revolvers on a much larger scale. Most historical models are from this era and are distinguishable by their small size and simple design. These revolvers represent an interesting time in firearms design and foreshadow the universal move to smaller-caliber firearms for military, police, and self defense.
Gun owners seeking self-defense revolvers have adopted more efficient and powerful cartridges, but .32-caliber revolvers remain popular collector’s items. These .32 revolvers were often carried, but rarely shot. This means their finish is often worn, but their internal mechanisms are nearly spotless. The .32-caliber revolver had a longer life than most realize and was one of the first capable and concealable firearms in its era.
The .327 Federal magnum was introduced in 2008 as a modern take on the classic .32-caliber revolver cartridge
The first standard-issue firearm of the NYPD was the Colt New Police Revolver in .32 long Colt. The Colt was adopted in 1896
J.B. Sutherland, inventor of the refrigerated railroad car, presented General George Custer with a pair of Smith & Wesson model No. 2 revolvers in .32 caliber
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