The .32-20 Winchester, also known as the .32 WCF (Winchester Center Fire), is a historic, rimmed rifle and revolver cartridge introduced by Winchester in 1882. Developed primarily for use in the Winchester Model 1873 lever-action rifle, the .32-20 Win also gained popularity as a versatile, dual-purpose cartridge that could be chambered in both rifles and revolvers, such as the Colt Single Action Army and Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector. Although its popularity has waned over time, the .32-20 Win remains a favorite among collectors, cowboy action shooters, and small-game hunters who appreciate its mild recoil, good accuracy, and nostalgic appeal.
The .32-20 Winchester features a rimmed, bottleneck case that is typically loaded with .312-inch (7.9mm) diameter bullets weighing between 85 and 115 grains. The cartridge delivers muzzle velocities ranging from 1,200 to 1,600 feet per second, depending on the bullet weight and powder charge. The .32-20 Win is known for its low recoil and respectable accuracy, making it a suitable choice for small game hunting, target shooting, and cowboy action events.
In terms of hunting, the .32-20 Win is best suited for taking small game such as squirrels, rabbits, and varmints at ranges up to 100 yards. While it has been historically used for deer hunting, the cartridge is generally considered underpowered for medium-sized game by today’s standards, and more powerful alternatives are recommended for ethical hunting practices.
The .32-20 Winchester is a classic cartridge that holds a special place in the hearts of many shooters who appreciate its historic significance and practical capabilities. While it may not match the power or versatility of some modern cartridges, the .32-20 Win continues to offer a unique and enjoyable shooting experience for those who value its heritage and the charm of the firearms designed for it.