The .32 Auto, also known as the 7.65mm Browning, was developed by none other than John Browning for the FN 1900 pistol introduced in 1899. This was JMB’s first handgun cartridge and was designed for a blowback compact pistol design but has since been implemented in locked breech designed handguns. Many say the .32 Auto is underpowered for a defensive cartridge. Given the fact the .32 Auto cartridge works so well in a small pocket pistol I thought it would be worth doing a ballistic test to see what was what.
I secured two pistols to use in the ballistic test, the new Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless Pistol made by US Armament Corp and the ever popular Kel-Tec P-32. The reason I used two pistols is the 1903 Pocket Hammerless has a 3.75 inch barrel, while the P-32 has a 2.7 inch barrel. I was curious to see what the 1.05 of an inch difference would make in velocity and terminal performance. Both pistols would serve well for concealed carry but the Kel-Tec P-32 is tiny and very easily concealed. Something else to consider, comparing similar sized handguns the one in .32 Auto usually has one more round in magazine capacity over the .380 Auto.
After securing common .32 Auto ammunition, both defensive and ball rounds, I set out with my CED Chronograph and Clear Ballistics ballistic gel to get the results.
Please click on the chart for a larger version.
The recovered bullets are from left to right PPU, Speer Gold Dot, PMC, Hornady XTP, Cor-Bon Glaser, Fiocchi, Sellier and Bellot. The bottom row was shot in bare gel while the top through 3 layers of denim.
The first seven were shot through the P-32 while the last seven were shot through the 1903 Colt Hammerless Pistol. You will notice by the chart and photos the extra 1.05″ in barrel length made quite a difference in terminal performance. With that said, the .32 Auto did pretty well if you choose your ammunition wisely. Looking over the results and the ballistic gel, I would always go with a jacketed hollow point in the .32 Auto. There was usually some expansion and that did not affect the penetration as much as you would think.
Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless by US Armament Corp review