if recoil is an issue in a small gun (J frame size), than yes it is a viable caliber in my opinion. what ever you might be giving up on the ballistic table to a standard pressure .38spl. , you gain in rapid fire controllability and that all mighty extra shot.
though, it is not a readily available round in most areas as an off the shelf stocked item.
I have chronographed both of the Federal .32 Magnum factory loads in my S&W four inch Model 631. Here are the numbers.
1. 85 gr JHP - 954.8 fps/172.1 fpe
2. 95 gr LSWC - 941.5 fps/187.0 fpe
Last year I bought a new Model 432PD two inch Airweight Centennial chambered for the .32 Magnum. I haven't gotten around to chronographing any loads through it yet. As a general rule, you can expect to lose about 25 fps for every inch of barrel shorter than a four incher. So subtracting 50 fps from the above numbers would give you an approx velocity for a two inch barrel.
The two Federal factory loads are IMO, not really comparable to standard pressure .38 Spl loads. In order to match the effective of say the Federal 125 gr Nyclad HP .38 Spl, you would have to up the velocity of the 85 gr JHP by at least 200 fps. This could be done and I have done it with my handloads. Now you a load that puts out about 250 fpe which matches or exceeds the performance of a standard pressure .38 Spl.
I've read that Georgia Arms produces a "Canned Heat" .32 Magnum load using the Speer 100 gr JHP at a rated velocity of 1100 fps, barrel length unknown by me. If that figure is accurate, then it would be comparable to standard pressure .38 Spl's out of a four inch barrel.
Only had a chance to test 32magnum one time and it was with friend's guns. Expansion wasn't too great but penetration in the wetpack was excellent...... http://www.ktrange.com/articles/a10/a10-21.html
Considering that plain .32acp doesn't get very good penetration from most pistols, the 32magnum should be a good carry round.
Thanks roadster for the ballistics.
T. Lee: great 431 PD with the barami grip and tyler grip adapter. Neither the 431 or the 432 Centennial-type appear in the new S&W catalog, so they may have been dropped due to low sales or something...
OG: Great wet-pack tests as always. Hopefully somebody can donate some of the Fed. 95 gr. lswc and the Georgia Arms 100gr. jhp for you to run tests on.