H&R .32 Young America, First Model and third variation
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  1. #1

    Default H&R .32 Young America, First Model and third variation

    Hello All,
    I have purchased today a 'H&R Young America Double action' revolver chambered in the .32 S&W. The Gun has the octagon barrel and blue trigger guard with no caliber markings. I found from my research that this is a first model third variant of the 'Young America revolver' manufactured between 1897-1904. It has an early four-digit serial number. The gun is in excellent shape mechanically and the nickle finish is in surprisingly good shape. The nice nickle finish is what attracted me to this rather mass produced revolver, and set me back 75.00 (I know this was too much but I have a weakness for old shiny revolvers).

    Anyway, Also from my research I discovered this gun was made for the Black Powder .32 S&W, So now with my hopes crushed from now not being able to shoot up some .32 S&W made by Magtech that fell my way a while back, I have turned to this forum for help.

    I have compared the revolver to a later smokeless ammo second model that a friend of mine has and I can not see a difference inside or out that would make the earlier first black powder model unsafe with the higher pressure smokeless ammo. Is it really not safe to shoot modern .32 S&W is this old revolver? If so what parts are different to make the earlier model weaker? [Only registered and activated users can see links. ][Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Am I crazy for thinking about shooting the . modern 32 S&W in this old revolver? Isn't the .32 S&W weaker cartridge anyway? I have thoroughly inspected the revolver inside and out and the timing is crisp and in-line. I seriously wonder if the gun has ever been fired in it's 106 year life. If I am way off for thinking this, does anybody know where I can purchase black powder .32 S&W? Any help will appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Old School. NGF Addict!
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    John Fl.


    The metallurgy of that old of a gun is not up to the higher preasures of smokeless powder. You will blow the cylinder up in it.

  3. #3


    If I replace the cylinder with a later model one will then be safe? I know you can't see the difference in the metal of the cylinder, but you think it was that big of a difference in the metallurgy? Does anybody have the actual data of the pressure in lbs. difference between the smokeless .32S&W and the Black powder .32 S&W?
    Last edited by JohnMallory; 07-25-2010 at 07:22 PM.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member NGF Addict! 32 Magnum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Lehigh Valley - Eastern PA - just 15 miles from the People's Republic of New Jersey


    As an H&R collector I have lot's of experiece with owning and shooting most of the H&R models - I have boxes that H&R marked "FOR BLACK POWDER ONLY" with glued on labels, which means to me they realized the difference in manufacturing techniques and over all strength between the pre-1905 black powder pieces (remaining in stock after the swith over) and their newer, smokeless designs. They may look identical with respect to features and outward appearance - but is most cases H&R went from "semi-steel" construction, to "forged steel" construction when they changed over. Semi being more maleable than forged can fail by stretching - when this happens to the frame, the only thing that goes wrong is the flash gap opens-up and/or the timing goes off. When a cylinder fails - pieces fly off. There were other subtle changes made to the lock work and the hardening processes. In the case of their hinged frame revolvers the rear locking system was drastically changed. I have seen antique H&R as well as other manufacturers', .22 rimfire pistols with blown cylinders from using modern .22 ammo. Use of modern smokeless/Nitro loaded ammo in black powder era firearms is a risky proposition. You may get away with it for several or dozens of rounds -OR- it may fail on the first. It's a crap shoot, and I, personally, don't like the odds.
    As to replacing the cylinder - all of these older H&R's were hand fitted before final finish - that is why you will find all the major parts marked with the s/n or with the last two or three digits. These include the barrel/upper frame assembly, the lower grip assembly, the cylinder, the star extractor and the latch, and even the hard rubber grips will have numbers scratched into the back of them. These assembly numbers insured that all the hand fitted parts were put back together on the CORRECT firearm, after final finish. If you were to locate a 2nd Model smokeless cylinder, it most likely would require hand fitting, including star ratchet adjustment to time properly.
    If you really NEED to shoot this or others like it - several manufacturers offer .32 S&W black powder loads for use in the Cowboy Actions side-matches. Do a Google search for .32 S&W blackpowder cartridges.

    Jim Hauff, H&R Collector, Contributing Editor for H&R Firearma to "THE BLUE BOOK OF GUN VALUES" by S. Fjestad
    Last edited by 32 Magnum; 08-10-2010 at 11:34 AM.
    No longer with us

  6. #5


    Thanks for the help. I will not be shooting it. Thanks


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