At some point, however, there was a gradual rise in popularity in the softer shooting .32 caliber revolvers at the turn of the century.
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The .32 caliber Hand Ejector and its Colt counterparts became standard among police departments around the world, but their supremacy was short lived.
.38 Special revolvers were replacing these small guns by the time of the mobster era in the 1930s.
However, a lack of concealable handguns in the .38 caliber kept the .32 around.
How much do you know about Smith and Wesson wheelguns?
You may already know that Smith & Wesson labels the frame sizes of their revolvers.
The smallest frame size available today is the J-frame like the Chief’s Special.
But what you may not know is that there was once another, smaller handgun on the S&W.
This little revolver, the Smith and Wesson 1896 Hand Ejector (meaning the cylinder swung free, rather than the top-break style of the other revolvers of its time) has the distinction of being first truly modern revolver.
It laid the groundwork for Smith & Wesson’s strong presence in the handgun market that continues today. It’s variants chambered the 32 S&W Long and 38 S&W rounds, which are more known today as target and small game rounds but their accuracy in a quality handgun like the I frame offset their lackluster power in the hands of Coppers in the tough streets of the USA.
Photo credit: Terril Hebert Back in the 1890s, Smith & Wesson wanted to compete with Colt’s monopoly on the handgun market.
Colt’s 1892 Army and Navy models in .38 Long Colt had been adopted by branches of the US military, and many American police departments followed suit.