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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, found another toy I'd like to buy....

Marlin 1894 Cowboy Carbine in 32-20. Looks and feels brand new except for very minor blueing loss on top of the bolt when you open the action. Just a couple speckles of shiny metal showing. Action still has the "new" feel and is not broken in yet. I looked down the barrel and I think it's ballard rifling. I could only see six lands but the grooves don't look as deep as on my 1895.

Oddly, for a guy who has been reading about guns all his life and owns quite a few (according to my wife, not me) I really know nothing about the 32-20 as a caliber. What does it compare to? What bullet weights are available and what velocities are we talking about? Is it more or less powerful than the 30-30 or 32 special?

This one has some pretty nice wood on it but you have to look to see it. Sort of that subdued figure that I really like.

According to some info I found, they only made 501 of these in the 32-20 caliber. Is that correct? What is a good price? This one is marked $630 but I bet I could get it for $600 out the door. Seems high compared to the usual 30-30 or 35 rem prices but if this is a rare or somewhat collectible rifle, that might be why.

Thanks,

Dave
 

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Dave the 32-20 is nowhere near as powerful as the 32 special or the 30-30. It is a slightly bottlenecked case similar in length to a 357 Magnum. It has been a while but I think bullets around the 90 to 120 grain mark were used. It's probably a bit on the small size for hunting anything but small game, maybe small Deer in a pinch with the right bullets. It's not all gloom though as it has a reputation for excellant accuracy and a can of powder goes a looooong way when reloading plus it's just a fun round to shoot,minimal recoil and no ear splitting boom of its bigger brothers. The one I used to play with was a Savage bolt gun and always thought it would be good to get one in a Marlin.
Let us know how you get on and if you want exact ballistics let me know (all of the reloading manuals would have data for this little number)
 

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My Lyman 47th has data specifically for the 32-20 in a modern Marlin.

Marlin made uncatalogued runs of the Cowboy Carbine Limited (CCL) for the distributor Davidsons. Starting in 1999 with the 41 Mag (1000 made), there were also runs in 44-40 (325), 45 Colt (1000) and the last I have info on in 32-20 (501).
 

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If you can get it for $600, run don't walk and snag it. You'll never look back. Great cartridge in a very scarce (501 made) issue. I traded into mine a couple of years ago, and like it so much that I just had to get a 32-20 single action to keep it company. Stop reading, go get it !
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
f you can get it for $600, run don't walk and snag it. You'll never look back. Great cartridge in a very scarce (501 made) issue.
I was afraid somebody would say something like that....

Problem is, the wife and I just had a real serious conversation a few days ago about getting our debts in order. Things have gotten a bit out of hand over the years with me changing jobs a couple times and a couple periods of unemployment, kids getting older and their tastes more expensive etc etc. We're making good money but just scraping by. A lot of the reason is impulse buys like the above mentioned rifle or some things for both of us or the kids. I keep thinking of a wise saying I heard years ago somewhere:

"Never sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now."

If you think about it that, it makes a world of sense.

I'll have to think real hard about this one. It certainly falls into the "nice to have" rather than "need to have" category.
 

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If you don't want it, TELL US WHERE TO BUY IT!
People on this site would love to have one!
Better yet PM me where its at.
M.
 

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What 80hp said.

To my way of figuring firearms are a pretty good trade for green paper. They certainly hold their value better. That $5 bill might not even buy a gallon of gas in a year.

"Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some... Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."

-John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I put it on layaway yesterday. I had gotten mixed up a little when I first posted though. This rifle doesn't have the fancy wood, just typical Marlin plain Jane. Also, no box or letter with it. I still think it may be "unfired" though. Not for long!
 

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My CCL in 44-40 has plain wood and has been my main deer rifle for the past several years. The box was lost years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm still not sure what "use" this rifle will fit. Seems a bit small for deer and a bit large for small game but I bet it would be just the ticket for my 6 and 9 year old boys to get some great practice in with and sort of transition to the larger rifles in a few years. I'm thinking it might be a fun little rifle for something like coyote hunting or maybe groundhogs. Then again, I've been playing around with my 45-70 loading it way down with the collar button bullets to where it would be an interesting squirrel rifle. The 32-20 would be even better.
 

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The 32-20 would be ideal for the kids to get in some shootin time with dad and to use on small game and coyotes etc.Easy to load for and shorter action etc.A fun little rifle.
 

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I have a 32-20, and a 1894 Marlin, just not a 1894 Marlin in 32-20 My 1894c is a 357 /38 special, and is a nice little rifle. My 32-20 is a old savage sporter in bolt action.

Typically the 32-20 is a little harder to get components for if you reload, and quite a bit more expensive to buy factory ammo for than say, my 38 spl.

I would say the performance of the 32-20 is comparable to the 38spl, as its a bit small for deer, and a bit large for squirrels, rabbits, perhaps a short range coyote, or fox, would be its niche.

Cowboy silhouette shooting would be were the 32-20 would shine. out to 100 meters the rifle shoots fairly flat, and is a pretty accurate cartridge.

Anyway congrats, Good luck..enjoy your new rifle!

C45

For Just plain plinking, I love my 32-20, just the ticket for low recoil, shooting fun with a 32 cal.
 

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Dave Bulla said:
I'm still not sure what "use" this rifle will fit. Seems a bit small for deer and a bit large for small game but I bet it would be just the ticket for my 6 and 9 year old boys to get some great practice in with and sort of transition to the larger rifles in a few years. I'm thinking it might be a fun little rifle for something like coyote hunting or maybe groundhogs. Then again, I've been playing around with my 45-70 loading it way down with the collar button bullets to where it would be an interesting squirrel rifle. The 32-20 would be even better.
That's what everybody says about this cartridge.. too small for deer, to larger for squirrel....HA. Doesn't do anything, but yet keeps hanging on.
I'd call it a 100yd gun to deer size. Accurate, quiet, easy recoil. You need to reload.
It's the gun you keep by the back door when the possum starts poking around your garden.

I call it an "Adult 22"

Several articles here:

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/Default.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, thanks for all the replies everyone.

I've been doing a lot of surfing and have found some good info. I'd love to find a Lee Loader in 32-20 but honestly, I'm not getting my hopes up much. I've had several folks recommend the RCBS cowboy dies but I've not yet looked into them.

Also ran across good writeup from leverguns with a lot of info based on three levels of power (like the 45-70). Here's the link to that one.

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/3220wcf.htm

Sounds like you can get it up above 2000fps in modern rifles. Is the Marlin top of the heap for strength in a lever gun?

Do any of you know the actual bore size of the Marlin 1894 cowboy carbines? From my reading, it appears that the old guns run from about .311 up to about .319 but that some new barrels are actually .308.

Also curious about the chamber length since I read mention of marlin building the old guns at 32-21 instead of 32-20. No idea about the new ones but I'd think that with sammi involved nowadays, the standard 32-20 chambering would be used.
 

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Dave, with my CCL in 44-40, Marlin followed SAAMI specs to the the letter. I expect they'd have done the same in 32-20 as well.
 

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Dave Bulla said:
Well, thanks for all the replies everyone.

I've been doing a lot of surfing and have found some good info. I'd love to find a Lee Loader in 32-20 but honestly, I'm not getting my hopes up much. I've had several folks recommend the RCBS cowboy dies but I've not yet looked into them.

Also ran across good writeup from leverguns with a lot of info based on three levels of power (like the 45-70). Here's the link to that one.

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/3220wcf.htm

Sounds like you can get it up above 2000fps in modern rifles. Is the Marlin top of the heap for strength in a lever gun?

Do any of you know the actual bore size of the Marlin 1894 cowboy carbines? From my reading, it appears that the old guns run from about .311 up to about .319 but that some new barrels are actually .308.

Also curious about the chamber length since I read mention of marlin building the old guns at 32-21 instead of 32-20. No idea about the new ones but I'd think that with sammi involved nowadays, the standard 32-20 chambering would be used.
Haven't heard of any .308 barrels. Mine is .311. .319 is really large. I trim cases to the shorter length that Winchester cases seem to be. Remingtons are longer.
 

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Congratulations! Tell your wife the last two .32-20 1894CL's (plain barrel) sold for $700+ and $900+. Your rifle is certainly worth that and much more.
The CL is a fun gun to shoot. My .32-20 CL will out group my 1894C anytime. I can easily shoot 2" groups at 50 meters with the factory sights.
I have never fired factory loads in mine. They are underpowered so they can be used in old guns and revolvers. For the price of two boxes of factory ammo, you can buy 100 cases and a set of loading dies!
You can exceed 2000 fps with jacketed bullets, but If you want a varmint gun, buy a .22 Hornet. The old 19th. century cartridges were made for lead bullets. I load to 1400 to 1500 fps to keep the bullet above the speed of sound out past 100 yards. Also, I load subsonic, below 1050 fps when I want a QUIET, almost recoil free load.
Dies: You need a 3 die set. I like Lyman dies for the .32-20. The expander die is the key to loading .32-20. The cases are thin and expensive so you want to treat them gently. Forget the Lee Loader, it is too rough on brass. Forget the Lee pacesetter dies, they flair the case neck, but do not expand it. Forget Redding, their dies do not have a 'weep hole' to bleed of excess lubricant, so you will have trouble with 'oil dents' in the shoulders of the cases. My original 100 cases have been loaded 9 times with my Lyman dies.
Brass: I am using Remington Nickel .32-30 brass because that was all I could find. They have survived 9 loadings. I lube them with Lee resizing lubricant. After sizing, I wash them in a little dishwasher detergent, let soak overnight, rinse and spread them out on a paper towel in the sun to dry. With the nickel brass, the primer pockets come out clean. Then I expand them, prime, and load them.
As was said earlier Remington brass seems to be the longest, Winchester, and Starline much shorter. I trimmed mine with a Lee trimmer, but Win and Starline brass would be too short to work with it.
Primers: I have used CCI and Winchester small pistol primers although small rifle primers would work.
Powders: For subsonic loads, I have used Bullseye, Unique and Trailboss. For 1400 fps loads, IMR 4227, #2400, LilGun, and Reloader 7.
Bullets: I started with the Lee 311-100-2R. They work very well. Later, I wanted a more traditional, heavier flat point bullet, so I am now using a Lyman 311008 ( plain base, 118 g, flat point ). I have also used the Lyman 311316 ( gas check, 121 g, flat point ). Though at .32-20 velocities and pressures, I think a gas check is not needed. I lube them with Lee Liquid Alox, and size them in a Lee .311 sizing die that actually sizes to .3115". My barrel slugs at .311. I have had very little leading. Most bullet makers sell flat point, plain base .311 or .312 cast bullets, if you don't make your own.
With a good expander, you only need a light crimp, to hold the bullet which helps case life.
For fun it's hard to beat a 1894CL. The 1894 action was designed for bottlenecked cartridges so the .32-20's feed smoothly. The recoil is light, and the rifle is accurate. It is economical on powder and lead.

"some new barrels are actually .308"
Thompson Center chambered the Contender in 30-20 TC [not 30 TC] for silhouette shooters. This was the .32-20 case necked down to use easier to get .308 bullets. The grove diameter of the barrels were .308, the same as other 30 caliber barrels from TC.
All .32-20 rifle barrels should be close to .311.
M.
 

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Dave Bulla said:
Well, thanks for all the replies everyone.

I've been doing a lot of surfing and have found some good info. I'd love to find a Lee Loader in 32-20 but honestly, I'm not getting my hopes up much. I've had several folks recommend the RCBS cowboy dies but I've not yet looked into them.

Also ran across good writeup from leverguns with a lot of info based on three levels of power (like the 45-70). Here's the link to that one.

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/3220wcf.htm

Sounds like you can get it up above 2000fps in modern rifles. Is the Marlin top of the heap for strength in a lever gun?

Do any of you know the actual bore size of the Marlin 1894 cowboy carbines? From my reading, it appears that the old guns run from about .311 up to about .319 but that some new barrels are actually .308.

Also curious about the chamber length since I read mention of marlin building the old guns at 32-21 instead of 32-20. No idea about the new ones but I'd think that with sammi involved nowadays, the standard 32-20 chambering would be used.
I have a Lee loader here and some other bits and pieces for the 32-20, if you want it send me a PM with your postal etc.
 

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I purchased the redding dies and use the lee factory crimp die... Try the starline brass. It hold up better then the others.
 
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