The .32 Winchester Special, also known as the .32 WS, is a rimmed, medium-power rifle cartridge introduced by Winchester in 1901. Developed as a companion cartridge to the iconic .30-30 Winchester, the .32 Win Special was designed to provide improved performance and versatility for lever-action rifles, particularly the Winchester Model 94. Although not as popular as its .30-30 sibling, the .32 Win Special has gained a dedicated following among hunters and lever-action enthusiasts who appreciate its unique qualities and capabilities.
The .32 Winchester Special features a rimmed, bottleneck case that is typically loaded with .321-inch (8.15mm) diameter bullets weighing between 165 and 170 grains. The cartridge delivers muzzle velocities ranging from 2,200 to 2,300 feet per second, depending on the bullet weight and powder charge. The .32 Win Special is known for its moderate recoil, good accuracy, and effective terminal performance, making it a suitable choice for short to medium-range hunting applications.
In terms of hunting, the .32 Win Special is well-suited for taking medium-sized game such as deer, black bear, and feral hogs at ranges up to 200 yards. Its performance is generally considered similar to that of the .30-30 Winchester, with the .32 Win Special offering slightly larger bullet diameters and heavier bullet weights, potentially leading to improved penetration and energy transfer on game.
The .32 Winchester Special remains a respected and valued cartridge among hunters and shooters who appreciate the unique characteristics of lever-action rifles and their accompanying cartridges. While it may not have the widespread popularity of some other lever-action calibers, the .32 Win Special continues to offer a reliable and effective option for those seeking a classic, medium-power hunting cartridge with a rich heritage in American firearm history.