The 1915 Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector & The .32-20 W.C.F Cartridge

Hello everyone! Welcome to Michad’s Shooting Bench and today I’ll be reviewing the Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector chambered in .32-20 W.C.F (Winchester Center Fire).

The Smith & Wesson .32-20 Hand Ejector

The Smith & Wesson .32-20 Hand Ejector

The Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector is a classic S&W revolver.  Known as a “skinny-barrel Smith”, the S&W Hand Ejector began it’s life in 1896 with the Smith and Wesson .32 Hand Ejector of 1896.  In 1899, The U.S. Military asked S&W to manufacture their Hand Ejector revolver in the slightly more substantial .38 Long Colt caliber.  It was with this caliber that the U.S. Military replaced their aging Single Action Army revolvers chambered in .45 Colt.  Soon after, the S&W Hand Ejector Model of 1899 in .38 Long Colt was found to be lacking in stopping power, particularly when U.S. troops did battle with the fanatical Moro tribesmen, many of whom were hopped up on drugs. This ultimately led to the Army stopping the use of the Hand Ejector and the .38 Long Colt cartridge, and returning to .45 caliber, first in the Single Action Army, and then with the Colt 1911 Pistol.

This circa 1915 Hand Ejector has a nickel finish.

This circa 1915 Hand Ejector has a nickel finish.

The Hand Ejector Model of 1899 lived on in the civilian world, with S&W chambering the gun in their classic .38 S&W Special cartridge.  The gun then became the Model 10 M&P and was the most popular police issue revolver in the 20th Century.

Side view of the .32-20 Hand Ejector

Side view of the .32-20 Hand Ejector

The S&W Hand Ejector was chambered in a number of other cartridges in addition to the .38 Special.  This particular Hand Ejector that I’m reviewing is chambered in the not-so-common .32-20 W.C.F

The .32-20 W.C.F at left, next to a .32 ACP

The .32-20 W.C.F at left, next to a .32 ACP

The .32-20 W.C.F (Winchester Center Fire) began it’s life in 1882 as the Winchester Cartridge Companies’ first smallbore lever action cartridge.  Typically suited for small game hunting, the round has fairly moderate velocity, and is therefore very useful for small game hunting because it destroys very little meat.  It is a bottleneck cartridge, with the name being derived from the bullet weight and grains of powder in the original loading.  The original loading of the .32-20 consisted of a .32 caliber bullet over 20 grains of black powder.  The cartridge can be reloaded, although it is a somewhat difficult cartridge to load for because of the bottleneck case design, and the fact that the brass around the case mouth is quite thin, leading to cases buckling more often than other calibers.

Data Specs for .32-20 W.C.F

Data Specs for .32-20 W.C.F

Black Hills Currently is one of the few loading .32-20 W.C.F

Black Hills Currently is one of the few loading .32-20 W.C.F

This particular Hand Ejector was made in 1915, and is in pretty good shape given its age.  It has been refinished at some time in the past, and at some point the revolver went back to Smith & Wesson for factory work, indicated by the small star stamped next to the serial number.

The Nickel finish contrasts with the Stag grips nicely

The Nickel finish contrasts with the Stag grips nicely

The Hand Ejector was S&W’s first revolver that featured a swing out cylinder, as all their other revolvers to that point had been either of the tip-up design featured on the S&W Models 1 & 2 or the top-break design as featured on the Model 3 and the Schofield.

The Hand Ejector sports a swing-out six-shot cylinder

The Hand Ejector sports a swing-out six-shot cylinder

The sights on the S&W Hand Ejector are very rudimentary, with a simple notch cut in the top strap for a rear sight and a fine half moon style sight blade for the front sight.  This setup can make it very difficult to pick up the sights, especially in very bright situations where the nickel finish washes out the sight picture.

The fine front sight blade makes acquiring the sights difficult in certain conditions

The fine front sight blade makes acquiring the sights difficult in certain conditions

Another view of the rudimentary rear and front sights.

Another view of the rudimentary rear and front sights.

The S&W Hand Ejector was a double-action revolver which allowed the shooter to cock the hammer back manually for each shot (and a lighter trigger pull) or enabled the user to simply pull the trigger and fire in double-action mode.  The Hand Ejector also featured several safety features, such as S&W’s patented floating firing pin, and their hammer rebound mechanism that allowed one to carry the revolver fully loaded without fear of discharge if dropped.

The S&W Hand Ejector, Hammer cocked back.

The S&W Hand Ejector, Hammer cocked back.

The Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector is truly a classic example of early 1900’s Smith & Wesson craftsmanship.  It is a fine revolver, and it is chambered for an interesting cartridge.  While the .32-20 is not nearly as popular as it once was, it is kept alive by enthusiasts who appreciate its low recoil and its moderate performance when a light caliber is needed.  The S&W Hand Ejector, coupled with the .32-20 W.C.F, made for a excellent shooting revolver, the likes of which we may never see made again.

Here is a short video of me shooting and doing a range review on the above revolver.  Thanks for Reading & Watching!!!!

-Michad

 

 

 

What Is Reloading, How Do I Do It & What Do I Need?

Hello everyone! Have you ever wondered “what do people mean when they say they reload their own ammunition?” or “how would I do something like that?” Well, if you have, the following video will definitely interest you.  This video covers the basics of what you will need to reload your own ammunition.  I only reload handgun caliber cartridges at this time, so that is what this overview is limited to, but it gives a good idea of what you will need.  Again, as I say in the video, you don’t need all the things I have to be able to reload; some things I purchased just because I wanted the convenience of using something like the Lee Auto-Prime.  I hope you enjoy the video and I hope you are able to take some knowledge away from it. Thanks for watching!!!!

 

-Michad