Most folks interested in deep carry choose a micro .380 caliber pistol rather than pistols chambered in .32 ACP. Lehigh Defense’s new .32 ACP defensive ammo should cause reconsideration by those who scoff at the idea of any defensive pistol chambered in that caliber.
A Bit of .32 History
The .32 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) — or 7.65mm Browning as it is known in Europe — was introduced in 1899 as a self-defense cartridge for the comparatively large Browning 1900 semi-automatic pistol. The blowback design Browning 1900 was followed in 1903 by the also relatively large Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol. But one of the most famous guns ever to chamber the .32 ACP round was the Walther PP pistol introduced in 1929.
Over time, the .32 ACP has been chambered in ever smaller handguns, often considered either a last-ditch arm or a deep undercover piece due to the relatively low level of power.
I think the pinnacle of development in the .32 ACP cartridge as a defensive arm has come in the form of the Kel-Tec P32. The P32 holds eight rounds and weighs in at only 6.6 ounces, making it the most easily carried semi-automatic centerfire pistol on the market. But there is still the nagging issue of its chambering.
Enter Lehigh Defense
Lehigh Defense is an innovative manufacturer of custom defensive handgun and rifle ammunition. Each Lehigh bullet is individually CNC machined. While many of Lehigh’s bullets have a conventional appearance from the outside, there are several types unlike any other I have seen.
A willingness to go against conventional methodologies to build an effective self-defense round is the hallmark of the Lehigh company. The .32 ACP Xtreme Cavitator Load is a perfect example of such out-of-the-box thinking.
While the .32 ACP’s performance could theoretically be boosted through a velocity increase, the existence of many older .32 ACP pistols precludes that. Lehigh recognized this fact and realized that a rather radical change in the design of the projectile itself was the only way to safely increase effectiveness.
The Xtreme Cavitator
The 50-grain Xtreme Cavitator bullet is machined from solid copper. It looks unlike any other bullet currently on the market. There is no hollow-point cavity. Instead, there is a square central post that tapers down toward the outside diameter of the bullet. Here is how Lehigh describes the Cavitator design:
The Xtreme Cavitator uses a unique geometry to form a vapor pressure spike at the nose, blanketing the flank of the bullet with a long envelope of air as it passes through the media, eliminating side drag and allowing deep penetration. No, it isn’t voodoo or marketing hype, it’s physics. If you are bored, look up super cavitation torpedoes (the dang Russians were there first). The fact is, all bullets create cavitation. We just created a design with a unique nose and air reservoir groove to accentuate the effect.
They’re right, and my test in a 25-pound block of moist modeling clay proved it.
Xtreme Cavitator at the Range
I had previously test-fired five rounds of the Cavitator load from my P32 at a distance of 20 feet and obtained a 2 ¾-inch group with the holes cleanly cut in the paper, much like one sees with .38 Special semi-wadcutters. This type of cutting from a sharp-shouldered bullet makes it more likely to cut into veins and arteries rather than push them aside.
Functioning was flawless. Muzzle velocity of the .32 ACP Cavitator is listed by Lehigh as 925 feet-per-second — which generates 95 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Don’t let paper figures put you off. Wait until you see the performance. I set up the clay block and backed off 8 feet.
The results were impressive. The clay block measured 9 inches in length. The .32 Cavitator created a gaping 2-inch diameter entry hole, opened to a maximum width of 2.5 inches, then narrowed to a diameter of 1 inch as it exited the block, apparently intact. That’s great penetration and absolutely necessary performance from a defensive bullet weighing only 50 grains. I think it’s an ideal load for the Kel-Tec P32.
Xtreme Cavitator rounds are also available for the .30 U.S. Carbine cartridge. I intend to test some in the future. Other Lehigh Defense loads for pistol include Maximum Expansion, Multiple Projectile, Xtreme Defense and Xtreme Penetrator rounds. Specialized rifle rounds are also available, and bullets can be purchased for handloading. I recommend you check out the extensive line of Lehigh Defense Ammunition.
Lehigh Defense: LehighDefense.com
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.