Sunday, December 29, 2019

Harrington and Richardson Model 733 Revolver

Recently a local gun shop listed an H&R Model 733 revolver with 2.5" barrel for $125. The going rate on seems to be at least $150 to $300, from what I've seen. The 733 is the chrome (early) or nickel (later) version of the blued Model 732. It's marked ".32 S&W" on the barrel, but is in fact chambered for .32 S&W Long.

I've been on the lookout for a low cost wheelgun in .32 S&W Long and this seemed to fit the bill, so I called and had them hold it for a few days until I could go in to check it out in person.

Upon inspection the gun seems to have been fired very little and wasn't very dirty. I ran it through Jim March's Used Revolver Checkout and it passed, with a good lockup and no endshake, so it came home with me, along with a pound of Alliant Reloder 7 powder for use in my .44-40 rifles.

Note the lack of a cylinder catch. To unlatch the cylinder for loading or unloading, you pull forward on the ejector rod.

The serial number starts with "AH", placing the date of manufacture as 1971. It looks like it was made yesterday and had maybe a box of ammo through it.

After getting it home I ran a few patches through the bore and chambers, and cleaned out some corners with a toothbrush wet with FP-10.

One known weakness of relatively early H&R 732 / 733 is a plastic part on the end of the hammer spring guide rod, which bears on the hammer. Before I bought the gun I'd done some research and apparently, it's not uncommon for it to break. I therefore wanted to remove the grips, make a drawing of the part if mine was plastic, and replicate it in brass.

I found a photo of the offending part on Gunbroker, for reference, with the white part being the weak plastic:

Naturally, it shattered when I removed the grips. Just a little bit of lateral pressure on the assembly while pushing the left side grip off managed to break it.


After much cussing, I went online to search for a replacement. Luckily, Numrich has them, in either plastic or steel. Of course I ordered the metal part. It cost $35.99 after shipping. Even with the cost of the part the overal cost of the gun is in line what they go for nowadays at retail. I got the replacement about a week later and it dropped right in.

If you own or acquire any of the H&R double action revolvers I recommend carefully removing the grips to see if it has the plastic or metal part. If it's plastic getting the metal replacement is advisable.

So why a revolver in .32 S&W Long? They are just fun to shoot, in my opinion. Recoil is minimal with a little more pop than .22 Long Rifle.  Where legal, a lead .32 wadcutter or semiwadcutter performs well on small game without destroying much meat. Unfortunately, that doesn't include PA.

The cost to reload should be minimal, too, especially if you cast your own bullets. Based on the data I've seen good plinking and small game loads should use around 2.0 to 2.5 grains of pistol powder (e.g., Bullseye, HP-38, or Unique) which would make a pound of powder quite awhile.

Also, while on the light side for self defense, .32s beat a pointed stick. If it's all you have or can tolerate recoil-wise, a .32 S&W Long wadcutter will poke a ~5/16" hole about 15" deep in a bad guy.

I should be able to put some rounds through the H&R this week, after which I'll post a range report.