Why are .38 wadcutters not considered a good carry load?


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NoirFan
March 14, 2011, 11:45 AM
From listening to experienced shooters I get the general idea that .38 special target wadcutters should not be considered a viable carry load, because it lacks "stopping power". What I'd like is a reasonable explanation for this and to this end I've listed some pros and cons I've heard about.

The Pros:
- Most importantly, they penetrate to about 20" in gelatin, exceeding the FBI standard.
- They have very low recoil, which is very important in a snub revolver.
- They cut a slightly larger hole than a lead round nose or FMJ bullet.
- They are cheap, so one can practice with the same load that one carries.

The Cons:
- They do not expand very much
- They are low velocity (but as long as they exceed the penetration standard, does this matter?)

I can't really think of any other disadvantages to the .38 wadcutter, and it seems to me the pros outweigh the cons. Can experienced shooters and concealed carriers weigh in?

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xXxplosive
March 14, 2011, 12:01 PM
I like'em..............."J" Frame.

627PCFan
March 14, 2011, 12:20 PM
I believe you carry what you practice with and I shoot semiwad cutters. Wadcutters will work. Just mind your distance, they drop.

Lucky Derby
March 14, 2011, 12:42 PM
While WC's were not designed nor intended as SD rounds, they do serve that purpose quite well.
I personally don't use them for SD, but I would never fault someone who did.


ETA:
"Shot placement is king. Penetration is queen. Everything else is angles dancing on the heads of pins."

joneb
March 14, 2011, 12:45 PM
I can't really think of any other disadvantages

Wad cutters are slower to reload.

brnmuenchow
March 14, 2011, 01:04 PM
Wadcutters are great for practice and comp. shooting's, and I do believe you should carry with what you practice with. However, they don't as stated before expand in tissue very well and that would make me question their ability in that situation. As for the distance factor they may drop in trajectory at distance, but statisticaly most personal defense firefights happen within 30 yds (per my retired peace officer CHL instructor). I carry the Winchester PDX1 130 gr. JHP .38 Special +P round's, I do practice with it from time to time only becouse it is expensive and can't afford to simply shoot hundreds of practice rounds so every shot counts! I am not for or against using wadcutters for personal defense but I am however against using FMJ rounds for that due to overpenetration (no-expansion) properties. I have continued to hound my father about his carrying .45 ACP FMJ's rounds in his CHL pistol, and his only defense seem's to be "If I have to pull my pistol in a firefight, my first thought is not who is standing behind the assailant, but put the #$x*% down before he shoots me"! That in my opinion is exactly why I wish people would simply take the time and practice with HP, & SP's for CHL purposes. My father believes the same practice and he practices with FMJ's therefore he carries FMJ's. There is no guarantee that even my JHP's won't over-penetrate and injure an innocent bystander, but I at the very least know that I tried simply by my choice in ammo I am using.

snooperman
March 14, 2011, 01:08 PM
Long before we had jacketed hollowpoints , all we used were lead bullets including wadcutters and semi-wadcutters.They were effective on game too.

Guillermo
March 14, 2011, 01:12 PM
A hard cast, blunt nosed bullet is favored by many folks.

In fact, the more I read on the subject my opinion is turning that way. (although I am leaning towards semi-wadcutters like Bwana Elmer Kieth would suggest)

(He CAN be taught!!! :eek:)

BigMak
March 14, 2011, 01:23 PM
I also feel very strongly that a wadcutter with it's "cutting/crushing" and deep penetration would serve fine for self defense.

Their soft recoil is a big bonus.

My concern with target wadcutters is that the lead might be too soft and their sharp shoulders might not stay that way and "cut" like they should.

I'm thinking hardcast like the BB 150gr. wadcutter would be better because of this. However, you're back to heavier recoil and they're costly.

bannockburn
March 14, 2011, 01:23 PM
Got to agree with jibjab in that WC's are slow and somewhat difficult to reload. But I think they do make for an excellent practice round, and they can used for SD if someone is recoil sensitive.

The only problems I have nowadays is that it seems to be in short supply (locally and online), and that it costs as much (or more), than a lot of the SD loadings that are currently available.

I went to a couple of LGS today and none of them had any WC ammo. I also checked a couple of ammo dealers online and the least expensive WC ammo was $18.44/50 (Out of stock), going all the way up to $33.26/50 (in stock). Three other brands which fell in price between those two, were also out of stock online.

Water-Man
March 14, 2011, 01:35 PM
The Buffalo Bore 150gr. Hard Cast Wad Cutter WILL do the job.

snooperman
March 14, 2011, 01:50 PM
in Enon Valley , PA has 38 special wadcutters and semiwadcutter bullets for about $56.00 / 1000, if you reload. Their ammo is about $8.00 a box of 50 with your brass. That said, I agree they are more difficult to reload and takes more time. I used to mold all my wad cutters with wheel weights years ago but now reload by buying the bullets and using 3.5gr bullseye. I also carry the semi-wadcutters and have taken much game over the years with lead bullets in 45 Colt, 38 special , 44 special , and in single-shot rifle 38-55 and 45-70. Lead bullets work fine.

snooperman
March 14, 2011, 02:00 PM
to back of the vertebral column is about 13.5 inches. Too much velocity with a wadcutter may give too much penetration . In a 148 gr wadcutter or 158gr semiwadcutter 3,5 gr of bullseye at 750-800ft/sec is fine for a carry gun.

Japle
March 14, 2011, 02:11 PM
The Pros:
- Most importantly, they penetrate to about 20" in gelatin, exceeding the FBI standard.
Which goes to show that they don't deliver their energy (what the is of it) in the target, where it belongs.

- They have very low recoil, which is very important in a snub revolver.
They have low recoil because they have low power. Is that what you want in a SD gun?

- They cut a slightly larger hole than a lead round nose or FMJ bullet.
Well, they cut a larger hole in target paper. Flesh is flexible. I've shot game with RNL and lead wadcutters and couldn't tell the difference.

- They are cheap, so one can practice with the same load that one carries.
This is important only if you shoot a lot of people.

The Cons:
- They do not expand very much
They usually don't expand at all.

- They are low velocity (but as long as they exceed the penetration standard, does this matter?)
Low velocity = low power.

In a gunfight, you want ammo that will turn the guy shooting at you into a thin red mist. Poking a pencil-size hole all the way through him doesn't seem like the best way to do that.

rcmodel
March 14, 2011, 02:12 PM
I have had a couple dismal failures with a snubby & mid-range wad-cutters when adminstering the coup de grâce on wounded coyotes.

My preferance is 158 grain Keith SWC's.

At least I know they will not glance off a coyotes, or BG's skull at three feet.

rc

mnhntr
March 14, 2011, 02:19 PM
opinions are like ............... well you get the idea. There are no great studies to show that they are not. The wadcutter is a good bullet for just about anything, targets, varmints and SD.

Water-Man
March 14, 2011, 02:20 PM
Low velocity??? I don't consider almost 900 fps out of a snub to be that.

rcmodel
March 14, 2011, 02:27 PM
Most all mid-range match 148 grain wad-cutter ammo will do well to break 650-700 FPS out of a snubby.

rc

Water-Man
March 14, 2011, 02:29 PM
I mentioned Buffalo Bore above.

StrawHat
March 14, 2011, 02:42 PM
The only way wadcutters would not be good is if you miss your target. Prior to loss the memory in my computer I had an article from a Coroner saved in which he commented on his view of the effectiveness of various bullet shapes. He mentioned he carried wadcutters in his 38. If I can find the reference, I will post it as it was an interesting article.

I have used hard cast wadcutters loaded to 900 fps for hunting and found them to be more than adequate.

Steve C
March 14, 2011, 03:37 PM
Wad cutters are solid nose bullets and while solids will kill they are not as effective as modern JHP's that make up for the smaller caliber by expanding and making a larger hole. For target loads WC's are generally low velocity but can be loaded faster with solid base designs.

There is no particular advantage to the WC over the SWC or RN though many imagine that the flat nose bullet do more damage and would be more effective, a position that is not supported by any data or real world evidence. Needles to say if the WC design which has been around for over 100 years had superior effectiveness to other solid bullets they would have been carried by the majority of law enforcement and sold by ammo companies as self defense man stoppers.

If you want ot carry WC's for self defense then go ahead, they're not likely to be any less effective than LRN or SWC but don't think that you are any better armed than with either of those two.

cookekdjr
March 14, 2011, 03:56 PM
I'm sure it has happened, but i've never witnessed a hp bullet fired from a handgun expand. Don't know how many autopsies I've seen, but its a lot. I noticed this and asked some of the ME's who conduct autopsies on gun shot wounds every week if they have ever seen a handgun round that expanded, and none ever had. In all the bullets I've presented to the jury in evidence in homicide cases, none expanded.
Anyway, do with that info what you will.

HGUNHNTR
March 14, 2011, 04:07 PM
In a gunfight, you want ammo that will turn the guy shooting at you into a thin red mist. Poking a pencil-size hole all the way through him doesn't seem like the best way to do that.


I guess you don't advocate carrying a handgun as a concealed carry weapon.

rondog
March 14, 2011, 05:33 PM
I wouldn't be skeered to carry SWC's, especially if I loaded them. I'd make 'em as max hot as possible, for hardcast lead.

forgetitohio
March 14, 2011, 06:14 PM
I have 125GR. LSWCBB in my S&W37 carry.
I use the same for targets with my .357 and 9MM.
I reload and own a chrony so I can control FPS in each gun.

wditto
March 14, 2011, 06:29 PM
Japle said, ....." Poking a pencil-size hole all the way through him doesn't seem like the best way to do that. "......
.
hmmmmmmmm , I wonder why anyone would buy a 9mm then.....guess we'd better inform the Armed Services.....

MICHAEL T
March 14, 2011, 06:42 PM
In days before HP lots of police carried WC or Semi WC they worked better than LRN I carried 158 semi Wad cutters for years . Still carry the 158swchp +p In my J frames

Still have a few of the 148 reversed wad cutters (Big HP) that were loaded hot for close up use .From back in mid 70's .

Cop Bob
March 14, 2011, 06:54 PM
To all the nay sayers I have one question, would you want to get hit with one?

I used to have an assignment where I had cause to read MANY homicide reports, including autopsy photos. I know for a fact that there are more than one that left this life with the assistance of a 148 gr. wadcutter..

They have been carried for many years in snub guns, with adequate results.

Low Power, yep, but they have the weight to get to vitals. They are already opened up to a flat point equal to the bore diameter, and the flat end is cutting vital organs and meat like it does paper. They are close to a .25 or a .32 all opened up, and they have more weight than the smaller caliber. If you don't have speed, you better have weight...

By its design, the wadcutter delivers more shock and a RN ... It is shock that incapacitates... shoot a gallon jug with a RN, then a wad... what you wanna bet which one wins in the splash department?

Shock is putting body fluids in motion, it is energy transferred to matter. RN's push though with less shockwave than a flat wadcutter.. We all know that Ball ammo, while still very lethal, has a tendency to over penetrate..

Notice I said incapacitates, not kill... and that is what we, with a SD handgun are looking for... instant incapacitation. Will a wadcutter stop/shock instantaneously...? Well, in the right place... it can... with placement.. there are NEVER any guarantees when it comes to bullet wounds, they are ALL different..

It will do a better job than a RN in the shock department. It also does a better job in the tissue destruction department a well, cuts like a knife..

2" bbls don't give a lot of room to burn powder, therefore there are not many hollow point rounds out there that are going to reliably open and are not still burning powder at the end of 2" muzzle, therefore the muzzle flash and signature is much lower with wads..A desirable trait in lowlight conditions. Hi-Velocity stuff generally will not reach it potential velocities in a short barreled weapon, therefore most hollow points in a snubbie exit the barrel before reaching their maximum velocities, and usually a LOT of flash.

Slow to reload, not with some of the folks I know.. speed loaders and practice are your friend... Watch any PPC revolver match... or Jerry Miculek...

They are as controllable and comfortable as any round can be in 38.

While they may not be the 1st choice, especially with today's bullets and powders.. they will work...

If you can accurately hit with them, and you can control them, you are comfortable with them, then by all means... dance with what brung ya..

I'm not saying that they are a best choice, but if I KNOW I can put one in the boiler room, and not so sure about hitting with or controlling the latest greatest, loudenboomer... in a 2" gun, gimme the wads...

It would not be my 1st choice, but it is not a bad choice...

When we move up to 4" Barrels... go for a hollowpoint... please

rhoggman
March 14, 2011, 07:49 PM
Bottom line is unless your bullet is going to reliably expand it really does not make too much of a difference. Every shot you take will have a compounding effect on the person being shot assuming you can continue to hit your intended target. HP ammo is not going to help you hit anything, and it is probably more likely than not that regardless of the ammo of choice 1 shot from a 38 SPC is not going to STOP him/her. They might be dead 2 minutes later, but 1 shot will likely not make the lights go out. If you are in fear of your life shoot as many times as you have to to stop the attack.

Cop Bob got it right...... HP ammo's job or intended purpose is to deliver more physiological & psychological shock to the body, not to be a better killer.

If expansion does not happen the intended purpose of the ammo has likely been all for naught.

Over penetration is not less lethal but it may deliver less of the immediate "shock" factor.

Either way if you end up in a self defense situation there is no telling what is going to happen or how someone may immediately react to being shot. I have read many who argue that the initial reaction to being shot somewhere other than directly in the central nervous system (brain, spine) has more to do with the psychological impact than it does with physiological impact.

It is extremely unlikely that you are going to 100% physically disable a human being with one shot; however, their brain may tell them that they have been severely harmed and they may lie down or fall over. It is part of the shock factor..... then again you may put 2 shots (4 holes) directly through their upper torso and they could continue to attack you.

I know from hunting that animals react differently than you would expect even from perfect heart shots delivered from high powered rifles. Sometimes it is lights out, and sometimes they will travel 20-30 yards.

Keep in mind rifles deliver much more energy, and do much more tissue damage than a handgun, so my natural assumption is that if I were hunting with 9mm, 38 SPC, and 40 S&W many more animals would run further and take longer to die even with well placed shots. The amount of shock delivered on impact is significantly less.

rhoggman
March 14, 2011, 08:13 PM
In 38 SPC I personally use 158gr LSWC loaded to +P levels for self defense. I need to find a good source for 158gr LSWC-HP. They were used by the FBI for a long time, and performed well even out of snub-nose revolvers when loaded correctly.

When carrying a 5 shot snub nose revolver you have basically done yourself the favor of at least having a gun. It is no slouch, but not exactly the best choice for self defense in every situation.

I think you always have to be ready for the possibility that your gun may not do the trick. You may have to defend yourself by other means, and should be prepared to do so..... at least mentally anyways.

Practicing shooting is important and shot placement is the most important factor IMO. At least if you lay down some good shots you can expect the game to start changing drastically. Vital area shots may not have an immediate effect but they will likely become incapacitating in short order.

rhoggman
March 14, 2011, 08:28 PM
I can say with a great deal of reliability that I do not want a .36 cal hole going through one side of me and out the other, and that if I acquire said hole it would have a weakening effect on whatever my objective good, bad, or indifferent.

If I were cognizant of the fact that I had acquired a .36 cal hole I would most likely have a new mission: go to the hospital, but I don't really think like a crack head so take that for what it is worth.

Please consult Charlie Sheen for a perspective on what you will likely be confronted with in a real self defense situation. After that interview you will probably understand the value of high capacity magazines, night sights, CT Laser grips, billy clubs, BUGs, and gun-toting companions.

Japle
March 14, 2011, 08:35 PM
Posted by Hgunhntr:
I guess you don't advocate carrying a handgun as a concealed carry weapon.
I carry an XDm 9mm every day. It’s loaded with 9PBLE 115 gr +P+.

I’d like a round that would work like a Star Trek phaser, but I have to use what’s available.
Handgun ammo is seriously underpowered at best. There’s no point making it worse by carrying wimpy target ammo.

Modern premium SD ammo does, in fact, expand reliably. I’ve used my 9mm SD ammo on hogs and recovered bullets had expanded very well. A few months ago, I shot a hog with CorBon .44 Spl ammo out of my 4” M29. I found one of the bullets under the skin on the far side, after it had gone through both shoulders and the lungs. It was expanded to .75”.

Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I was sure I could handload better SD ammo than I could buy from the factories and maybe I was right.
Those days are gone.

oneounceload
March 14, 2011, 08:38 PM
To all the nay sayers I have one question, would you want to get hit with one?


Exactly - too many naysayers need to come out of their parents' basement and stop playing video games to get a does of reality...........you can tell those folks - the 10MM carry guys, who seem to own some 50 BMG as well..........."yawn"

LHRGunslinger
March 14, 2011, 08:58 PM
If you're REALLY worried about stopping power I suggest you handload these full wadcutter hollowpoints. http://customprojectile.3dcartstores.com/38357-Manstopper_p_43.html

GRIZ22
March 14, 2011, 09:19 PM
They do not expand very much

True but remember a hollowpoint has to expand a little to get into the same shape as a wadcutter.

The problem with factory wadcutters is not the bullet design but the velocity is low. Most solid designs will tumble to some extent which enhances the damage it does. Jim Cirillo did a lot of work looking for the "magic bullet". The most effective he found was...the wadcutter. His favorite version was a wadcutter with a cup point that expanded.

I carry wadcutters in small frame 38s. For reloads I carry SWCs. I don't think some rhino roller ++++++P++++++ JHP is going to work that much better in a 2" barrel on real targets.

Waywatcher
March 14, 2011, 09:19 PM
Why are .38 wadcutters not considered a good carry load?

Because they are the weakest .38 load possible, and were designed to put holes in paper.

Old Fuff
March 14, 2011, 09:35 PM
Why are .38 wadcutters not considered a good carry load?

Mainly because that's what the Old Fuff carries in his pocket gun/snubbies; and anything he uses should be avoided at all cost. :uhoh: :D

Frankly, I don't care what other folks use. :neener:

Drail
March 14, 2011, 09:44 PM
Fire a full wadcutter into a couple of water jugs and then fire whatever you think is better for anti personnel use. You may be surprised. I think Old Fuff knows what he's talking about.

rhoggman
March 14, 2011, 09:56 PM
As evidenced by hundreds of gun sites, and thousands of threads I think you can be certain that this debate could go on for ever.

What no one can tell you is how someone else will react to being shot....

Having said that if I were convinced to carry wadcutters I would at least make sure the velocity was up around 800-900 ft/sec.

I'm betting most factory wadcutter loads are of a much lower velocity.

Old Fuff
March 14, 2011, 10:12 PM
Truth in advertising… :evil:

The Old Fuff admits that his use of mid-range/full wadcutter ammunition is limited to lightweight .38 Special snubbies which are usually carried in his pocket. He expects this combination will not be used at distances over 20 yards (most likely 20 feet), and when circumstances suggest otherwise, a standard load with a 158-grain semi-wadcutter is golden. Both shoot to point-of-aim, and the mid-range load offers faster recovery from recoil for a quick-but-accurate follow-up shot(s).

The sharp-shouldered wadcutter bullet cuts a full diameter hole in both paper and people. :eek:

Power isn’t everything… Pick a load/cartridge that matches the platform.

Now back to the regularly scheduled discussion… :)

doc540
March 14, 2011, 10:29 PM
better'n a set of car keys in your fist

but...

there's been a quite a bit of research, engineering, and materials improvement over the years

I carry Barnes Bullets in my snub and hope they discourage men of foul intentions.

Oyeboten
March 14, 2011, 10:33 PM
Of course also, anyone who Loads their own, may saw a convenient "X" maybe 1/4 inch or so into the flat end of a flat end Wadcutter...or, if using Hollow Base, one may load the Bullet with the Hollow Base facing forward, 'X' sawn or not...and or with a Steel 'BB', Ball Bearing, hard Nylon Ball, or whatever in the hollow end.

A 'Cupped' end, .38 Wadcutter, shaped on the out-facing end about as the old .476 Enfield 'Manstopper' or other had been, easy enough to do with the right Mold and or right Plug for a standard HBWC Mold, or, a Swage, or, with a fitted Round Nose Punch, in a Sizing Die, on an Anvil or other stable firm surface.


Climes or conditions in which everyone would be wearing heavy Winter Clothing, best not to have too readily expanding of a Bullet for possible SD scenarios...Summer, or lighter climes or Seasons, as you please.

Loading your own, one may informedly choose whatever FPS as is wanted within the peramiters of the Arm in question, and, select the Lead Alloy for it to behave as desired.


The smaller 115 Grain flat end Wadcutters, of course can safely be accelerated to quite astounding FPS in most .38 Special Revolvers, if one finds that interesting to do.

Or, one can also stack two of them in the Cartridge, using a dimpler or Cannelure to hold the lower one for the proper density, and, elect an appropriate Charge for the weight...particularly if intended for the .357 Magnum.


Lots of variations are possible on the basid Wadcutter theme.

VA27
March 14, 2011, 10:48 PM
I like 'em and it's what I carry in my snubbies. I wouldn't be afraid to carry 'em in my 6" M28 either.

As far as fast reloads go, it's just a matter of practice. Generations of cops learned to load wadcutters quickly from loops or dump pouches. 12 rounds in 10 seconds is a good time to shoot for. From 7 yards you should be able to put those 12 rounds into a teacup.

While that may sound slow compared to today's semiautos, back then the 'statistical average' confrontation was figured at 3 shots in 3 seconds from 3 yards, in the dark.

I suspect that with the proliferation of the semiauto the round count may be higher now, but the 3 seconds, 3 yards and in the dark probably still stand.

Manco
March 14, 2011, 10:56 PM
The Pros:
- Most importantly, they penetrate to about 20" in gelatin, exceeding the FBI standard.
Which goes to show that they don't deliver their energy (what the is of it) in the target, where it belongs.

They don't need much energy because they're efficient with what they do, so who cares? The energy itself is useless without the effect of the bullet, and this type of bullet spends its energy cutting through flesh rather than pushing it aside temporarily--I like that.

- They have very low recoil, which is very important in a snub revolver.
They have low recoil because they have low power. Is that what you want in a SD gun?

It has enough power to penetrate 20", which should be enough. Why put more power into a less efficient bullet that does the same or less actual damage?

- They cut a slightly larger hole than a lead round nose or FMJ bullet.
Well, they cut a larger hole in target paper. Flesh is flexible. I've shot game with RNL and lead wadcutters and couldn't tell the difference.

People can't tell the difference with hollow-points, either. If this means anything (and I'm not absolutely sure), then the load that gets the deepest penetration with the lightest recoil, namely the wadcutter, wins.

- They are cheap, so one can practice with the same load that one carries.
This is important only if you shoot a lot of people.

Needless to say, this totally misses the point. Obviously shooting the same load in target practice as one would defensively should have a positive effect on one's proficiency in an actual shooting.

The Cons:
- They are low velocity (but as long as they exceed the penetration standard, does this matter?)
Low velocity = low power.

Does not matter.

In a gunfight, you want ammo that will turn the guy shooting at you into a thin red mist. Poking a pencil-size hole all the way through him doesn't seem like the best way to do that.

Then you want a bazooka, not a pistol.

Because they are the weakest .38 load possible, and were designed to put holes in paper.

This has no bearing on their terminal ballistics performance, which looks pretty good to me regardless of their intended purpose.

wep45
March 15, 2011, 12:16 AM
148gr DEWC.............a good choice for target practice and SD.

CajunBass
March 15, 2011, 08:45 AM
Fire a full wadcutter into a couple of water jugs and then fire whatever you think is better for anti personnel use. You may be surprised. I think Old Fuff knows what he's talking about.

Did that yesterday. I wasn't using a snubbie, and the milk jug was empty, but the 38 wadcutters I was shooting it with were blowing that milk jug around like a stiff wind. They left a very impressive cavity in the dirt on the other side of the creek. Handy to know if I'm ever attacked by a creek bed or a milk jug, I suppose.

But I bet they'd hurt like fire if one was to hit you.

heeler
March 15, 2011, 08:51 AM
I have yet to find any wadcutters locally to try out in my lightweight Smith M. 37.
I have seen some online but generally they are not that cheap and many times they are even out of them.
In fact I have noticed most .38 Special ammo creeping up in price.
So I just bought a box of Buffaloe Bore 158 gr LSWC Hollow Point that was supposedly made just for the two inch barrel revolvers.

CoastieShep
March 15, 2011, 09:24 AM
So if low velocity equals low power, then a 45-70 isn't really a hard hitting round?
It shoots heavy bullets, at low (compared to modern rifles) velocities.
I've heard many times that hunting with handguns, you want a heavy wide flat nose. Disrupts more tissue than a pointed bullet (in same caliber). Wouldn't that be pretty much the same thing as SD?
While wadcutters might not be ideal, I'm sure they're highly effective.

Madcap_Magician
March 15, 2011, 01:15 PM
In a gunfight, you want ammo that will turn the guy shooting at you into a thin red mist.

Smokes, you must carry a 105mm howitzer in your holster!

Al Thompson
March 15, 2011, 01:54 PM
The .38 Special 148 gr FMJ wadcutter by Atlanta Arms is an interesting cartridge. Shoots well and that copper edge shouldn't deform.

http://www.atlantaarmsandammo.com/products.html

Cosmoline
March 15, 2011, 02:09 PM
For very light weight .38 specials, I think they're a fine idea. Gel tests even with the target level WC loads are impressive. But I'd forget about trying to use a speedloader with them. Just practice hand-loading the rounds using the flutes to index. I just got some dummy rounds from Midway that are almost identical in shape to .38 special wadcutters.

Maximumbob54
March 15, 2011, 02:54 PM
I keep getting a feeling of since they aren’t new then they must be useless now. It only works if it’s the latest dollar every time you squeeze the trigger type ammo. Just like how I hear guys that need .300 Win Mag for deer here in the South. Clearly all the old .30-30’s are just junk now… :scrutiny:

CoastieShep
March 15, 2011, 07:54 PM
Oh come on Maximum, a .30-.30 for today's deer? Those only work on squirrels these days. ;)

NMGonzo
March 15, 2011, 08:21 PM
Hit what you intend to hit with whatever you choose.

S&Wfan
March 16, 2011, 12:35 AM
I'm with Old Fuff. Then again, I'll bet he's got a lot of time in the woods shooting targets of flesh and bone that move . . . and possibly in the service or in law enforcement too.

Wadcutters work great . . . but there's no money in selling lead wadcutter ammunition that most veteran shooters in the know probably reload anyway . . and thus the gun rags and the assigned gun writers wax ecstatic about whatever it is that the advertisers are pushing that month. Heck, I've got about 1,000 bullets of that type right now to reload (both for .38 special and for light .357 work).

Gun control and very fast and very accurate followup shots . . . IN A SNUBBIE mean light-kickin' 38 Special . . . and that's all you need too. As Fuff said, it is optimal for that lethal platform too.

PS: I carry 130 gn. Winchester hollowpoints in my speed loaders though . . . for faster reloads . . . but if I do my part I can easily put all five rounds, exactly at point of aim, into an inch at ten yards . . . and group five shots in less than 2 1/2" at 25 yards, standing/unsupported. I feel confident in my experience and training, both on the range and in the field against targets that move with my handguns.

http://216.77.188.54/coDataImages/p/Groups/415/415871/folders/305468/2452763IMG2500-e2web.JPG

BTW, I also use flatnose lead bullets (300 gr. hardcast) in my main deer hunting firearm . . . my S&W Model 29-5. I've taken a LOT of deer with this gun through the years. All one shot/one kill, as it should be . . . and by far the best field results with HARD CAST, FLAT NOSE LEAD BULLETS! No hollowpoints for me . . . I want good penetration and an unclogged wound channel! No more hollowpoints on deer for me . . . been there, done that!
http://216.77.188.54/coDataImages/p/Groups/415/415870/folders/305851/246434329wholosightcamolamo-e-t.jpg

http://216.77.188.54/coDataImages/p/Groups/415/415871/folders/305468/2448401200911048ptwp.jpg

I

daveinvegas
March 16, 2011, 05:36 AM
Yep, inverted hollow base wadcutters are the way to go.

Loaded a bunch up years ago after reading an article in a magazine.

As I recall, they look like the original Hydro-shoks without the nipple.

I'll post photos if I can find em.

I like the manstoppers, tho.

StrawHat
March 16, 2011, 06:58 AM
[QUOTE]daveinvegas ...Yep, inverted hollow base wadcutters are the way to go.

Loaded a bunch up years ago after reading an article in a magazine... /QUOTE]

daveinvegas,

I tried that load years ago and found it lacking in penetration. Have you tested it? For me and the loads I was using, the expansion, while impressive, slowed the bullet down to where it totally lacked penetration. But for photos, those loads were the ticket.

HGUNHNTR
March 16, 2011, 12:37 PM
Handgun ammo is seriously underpowered at best.

Really? I agree, more is better as long as you can effectivley use the firearm. Underpowered compared to what though, and what is the basis for the comparison. For most folks, walking around with an FAL slung over their shoulder isn't an option. I carry a .380, and I am confident it will allow me to escape or end a conflict if, heaven forbid, I should ever have too.

Ole Coot
March 16, 2011, 04:14 PM
I carry LSWCHP 158gr in my older J frames. I have never heard of any complaints with this load. I don't use +P, don't really think they are necessary.

doc540
March 16, 2011, 04:42 PM
theboxotruth doesn't lie

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot26_3.htm

.38 snub

148 grain wadcutter
http://www.theboxotruth.com/images/26-15.jpg


vs

L-R : Powerball, Hydra Shok, Gold Dot
http://www.theboxotruth.com/images/27-9.jpg


Not scientific, but I kinda lean toward those that expand. ;)

Oyeboten
March 16, 2011, 04:44 PM
One can always experiment in various media, trying different Alloys for inverted-HBWCs, for how much they will expand or how soon.

One can make differing 'Plugs' for the Mold, for having differing angles depths and diameters of dished front or hollow front.


One can modify a Mold to make a semi-RNL form, which is dished or hollow to whatever degree at the front, which will modrate the rate of expansion.


Many many possible options and variations of the basic DEWC or HBWC...

RevolvingGarbage
March 16, 2011, 04:49 PM
I think the Box-O-Truth tests make a great case for 148gr wadcutters as a defense load. It penetrated as much as the Winchester 125gr+P hollowpoint, the whole while cutting at least a .357 dia. hole, and it looks like it even expanded a bit. The 125gr hollowpoint opened up, but only to the diameter the wadcutter started at, and probably only after at least a few inches of travel through the jugs.

That shows that in that test, the 148gr standard lead wadcutter outperformed a 125gr+P JHP personal defense load from a major ammo maker.

Guillermo
March 16, 2011, 07:31 PM
water is not gelatin
gelatin is not flesh
flesh is not consistent as there is a lot of stuff in there of different densities.

hogshead
March 16, 2011, 07:59 PM
I kinda lean towards those that hold together. Nothing but flatnose hardcast in my 44 Vaquero for me. Sure its hunting but I expect same results.

dispatch
March 16, 2011, 08:36 PM
I guess I am "Old School". I use 158 grain FMJ flat nose in my snubbies. I have no idea how much gelatin they penetrate or what "shock" they induce, but I'm prett surey they will penetrate a jacket and will offer the recipient an unpleasant experience.
I really prefer .45 ACP hardball. Just have not found a reiable handgun that's suited for carry.

joneb
March 17, 2011, 02:23 AM
I like a consistent predictable load for my 38 snub, and a load I can afford to practice with.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=119557&d=1271264679

Byron
March 17, 2011, 11:48 AM
In the 70's a bullet company named Tarus produced the original hydra shock.It was a 148 grain wadcutter with the post in the hollow base and designed to be loaded post forward.They were bought out by Alberts who produced the same bullets.I have a small supply left and this is what I carry(a reload). Home expansion tests show excellent expansion and weight retention.Federal bought the rights and started producing jacket more expensive ammunition. I have full confidence in this bullet for personal defense at close range. Byron

451 Detonics
March 17, 2011, 12:21 PM
I have shot literally thousands of pounds of ballistic gel and as a result carry CorBon DPX in all caliber in all of my defensive firearms. I know many say temporary cavity and hydrostatic shocks don't really matter but there are a lot of tissues in the body that will tear before stretching very much and those tears are often pretty strong damage. I have taken pigs and deer with the bullet as well and it has performed in them just like it performed in gel. The initial high velocity combined with controlled expansion and penetration means a lot of energy dumped in the target without waste.

Try to change people's minds about carry ammo is like trying to get a Chevy guy to by a Ford...I carry what I have faith in.

Ala Dan
March 17, 2011, 12:33 PM
I have loaded 148 grain HBWC [hollow base wad cutter], reversing the
projectile so that the HB is in front, for many snub nose .38 Special
revolvers. In some instances, the 148 grain HBWC's expanded to almost
.60 caliber~! I have never had to shoot one into human flesh; but in 10%
ordnance gelatin they work well. ;) :)

snooperman
March 17, 2011, 12:53 PM
Water and ballistic gelatin is not human flesh and bone. One would get better results from actual shootings that is compiled by retired police officers like Marshall and Sanow, who wrote books and articles that occurred over a long time with different types of ammo and handguns.

Japle
March 17, 2011, 08:05 PM
Posted by 451 Detonics:
Try to change people's minds about carry ammo is like trying to get a Chevy guy to by a Ford...

Yep.
And from reading some of the posts in this thread, it seems like some folks would enter a NASCAR race with a 1962 Ford Falcon. ;)

Guillermo
March 17, 2011, 08:32 PM
it seems like some folks would enter a NASCAR race with a 1962 Ford Falcon

it seems some folks jump on what is new because it is new, not because it works any better...or even as well

Old Fuff
March 17, 2011, 10:30 PM
Oh I know... Us old timers don't understand all of this new technology that goes into today's state-of-the-art ammunition. Why some of us (such as myself) think jelly is something that’s used on breakfast toast... :confused:

But face it! What can you expect from a bunch of over-the-hill fogies that are so outdated they still believe in percussion caps, black powder and round balls??? (Fortunately “back when” they were so weak they didn’t hurt anybody). :uhoh:

Not to worry, it won’t be long before we’re all in some bone yard and out of everyone’s hair.

However it is said that there is a relationship between age and experience, but as everyone knows, younger guys always are better informed (about everything) then anyone else. :neener: :D

Guillermo
March 17, 2011, 10:49 PM
once again Old Fuff has spoken and left nothing left for anyone to say

blindhari
March 17, 2011, 11:19 PM
I am an old man now. Fourty years ago a close relative heard dogs in his sheep pen. He picked up a .357 and killed two of them in his sheep pen. County prosecuter charged him with excessive use of a firearm, use of a firearm within city limits, and cruelty to animals for use of hand loaded ammunition of "vicious charactor designed to create great bodily harm". Jury said not guilty on first two and guilty on third. Eventually this was overturned. In the meantime he spent a years salary defending himself for loading cheap handcast wadcutters. Ever since my defense ammo has been common JHP Winchester. Since 357 mag is a little much for me these days, I use my 38special reloads for pratice and hunting, and Win 38 sp 125 grain JHP for concealed carry and home defense. It has always worked for me. Just an off the wall opinion from another old man.

blindhari

Al Thompson
March 18, 2011, 01:05 PM
like Marshall and Sanow

No. Here what should have been said:

anybody but the discredited Marshall and Sanow

Your welcome. :)

S&Wfan
March 20, 2011, 02:42 AM
I don't believe Japle has ever spent much time handgun hunting, nor spent much time in the military.

Saragosa
March 20, 2011, 04:59 AM
When it comes to self defense why compromise? Why not load up with the best self defense round you can buy and practice with something cheap that closely matches handling characteristics? I don't see why there would be any question or debate about that.

Japle
March 20, 2011, 09:08 AM
Posted by S&Wfan:
I don't believe Japle has ever spent much time handgun hunting, nor spent much time in the military.

If that's any indication of your psychic or deductive abilities, I have to give you a big FAIL.

I’ve lost count of the number of deer I’ve killed with handguns, not to mention hogs, javelina, coyotes, jackrabbits, etc.

I’m retired military with 27 years service.

Try looking next time before you leap! :neener:

Japle
March 20, 2011, 09:25 AM
Posted by Saragosa:
When it comes to self defense why compromise? Why not load up with the best self defense round you can buy and practice with something cheap that closely matches handling characteristics? I don't see why there would be any question or debate about that.
Exactly. If cheap softball wadcutter ammo was any good, don’t you think there’d be at least one LEO organization in the country that would issue it?

The only factory ammo I’ve seen that would be worse for SD was the USAF issue 130 gr FMJ .38 SPL stuff they handed out when I was on active duty. I was the Wing Firearms Training Officer and had the opportunity to chrono 5 rounds of that junk. It ran 577 fps and would, literally, bounce off the piece of 3/8” plywood I had my target stapled to.

With all the really good SD ammo available these days, I can’t understand why anyone would pick weak target ammo to defend his life.

Here's the specs for Winchester .38 wadcutter ammo:
Category: AMMO CENTERFIRE
Caliber :38 Special
Bullet Type :Lead Wadcutter
Bullet Weight :148 GR
Muzzle Energy :166 ft lbs
Muzzle Velocity :710 fps

Thanks anyway. I'll pass.

Byron
March 20, 2011, 10:40 AM
Japle, Thank You for your service to our Country. Byron

Old Fuff
March 20, 2011, 11:22 AM
Exactly. If cheap softball wadcutter ammo was any good, don’t you think there’d be at least one LEO organization in the country that would issue it?

Don't believe that many (if any) "LEO organizations" are still using .38 Special revolvers as issue sidearms. The wadcutter ammunition under discussion doesn't work too well in pistols... :rolleyes:

Also those in the law enforcement business have an obligation to go after and arrest the bad guys or gals. Most of us don't.

Anyway, some folks are far more impressed with paper ballistics and jelly tests then I am. Looking back over a long lifetime I notice that today, among some groups, there is a kind of faith that if one has a certain cartridge/caliber/bullet combination, they will somehow always be the winner in any shooting confrontation. However there doesn't seem to be any "real life" evidence to support this beyond "bigger is better," and we've known that even before the LaGarde - Thompson tests that were conducted in 1903-'04 confirmed it.

But larger cartridges usually require a larger/heavier platform, and as a practical matter most of us may not want to lug a big iron around unless special circumstances dictate it would be wise.

Since I put more faith in marksmanship and bullet placement then I do in what looks best in jelly, and I usually (but not always) tend to carry a small pocket revolver, I tend to go for less recoil and adequate penetration at the short ranges at which I am likely to have to defend myself. I am well aware that years ago before our supposedly “high performance ammunition” was available people went about successfully defending themselves with ballistic performance that today’s cartridge junkies wouldn’t give a second look. In the majority of current shooting incidents many if not most are still using “ordinary” ammunition.

But the bottom line is still, “use whatever makes you feel warm and fuzzy." The confidence factor has some importance too. I just suspect that too much of it's misplaced. :uhoh:

Byron
March 20, 2011, 05:19 PM
Having re-read these posts and being in the mid 60's range, I must agree with Old Fluff on his insight. Byron

451 Detonics
March 20, 2011, 05:53 PM
Don't believe that many (if any) "LEO organizations" are still using .38 Special revolvers as issue sidearms. The wadcutter ammunition under discussion doesn't work too well in pistols

When they were using the 38 revolvers they didn't pick the full wadcutter then either.

I believe in using the best I can get my hands on to defend my family...they are more than worth it.

Guillermo
March 20, 2011, 10:50 PM
When they were using the 38 revolvers they didn't pick the full wadcutter then either

REALLY?! I seem to remember my father, chief of police of a small city, did not mandate any specific ammo for his officers.

He carried wadcutters as did many of his officers.

Since all this happened before the internet I guess it didn't happen.

I believe in using the best I can get my hands on to defend my family

And just what is the best?

a "high tech" hollow point that doesn't really expand?

...they are more than worth it.

my family is worth more (to me)

and that which I can shoot the best is the best

Bullet placement is king

22-rimfire
March 20, 2011, 11:08 PM
Wadcutters make nice round holes on paper. But who cares when it comes to self defense. But if that is all I had on hand, I wouldn't necessarily rush out to the store to buy some handy dandy HP's. I would choose a HP for self defense and I don't particularly believe it makes much difference which brand you choose as long as you can hit what you are aiming at.

Pyro
March 21, 2011, 12:10 AM
I carry Magtech HB wadcutters in an old .32 S&W-L Forehand Arms.
I actually found some SJHP that Magtech made, haven't tested them though.
Don't think I'd carry them although they are rated hotter (about 100 fps hotter which makes it a wopping ~800 fps! :what:).
If I was carrying a 9mm/.357 Magnum or higher I would opt for hollowpoints, the risk for overpentration greatly increases with those rounds.
Anything lower FMJ/LRN/HBWC or whatever; Penetration is King.
In a .38 I'd want some HP that can penetrate +12 inches in gel, most I see only penetrates around 10 inches.

pete950
March 21, 2011, 11:49 AM
I'm a LEO and in my off duty I carry Buffalo bore full wadcutters. Oh and they work!

Japle
March 21, 2011, 11:56 AM
pete950,

In the OP, NoirFan asked about “.38 special target wadcutters” and stated that one of the advantages was that they were cheap.

Your Buffalo Bore ammo runs 140 fps faster than factory ammo and retails for $26.66 per 20.

Not target ammo.
Not cheap.

Pyro
March 21, 2011, 12:05 PM
The Buffalo Bore ammo is also hardcast lead, normal .38 WC ammo is somewhat soft.

snooperman
March 21, 2011, 03:52 PM
1950s-1970s and carried wadcutters while on duty. At age 71 , I still remember those days when that was justabout what most people used, including myself , for hunting game too. They work effectively if shot placement is there.

Japle
March 21, 2011, 07:10 PM
I still remember those days when that was justabout what most people used, including myself , for hunting game too. They work effectively if shot placement is there.

They kill small game, yes. But small game isn't shooting at you.

bluetopper
March 21, 2011, 07:46 PM
Hard cast lead wadcutters are devastating out of a 357 at full house magnum velocities.

snooperman
March 21, 2011, 08:10 PM
I have been hunting on my farmland for about 60 years and have killed more deer and wild boar than I can count . And yes, many were killed with wadcutters. The late Elmer Keith used them as well with good effect. It is irrelevant that animals are not shooting back, because they are dead with lead bullets. If one can kill deer and wild boar with them with proper shot placement, so can a Homo sapien be killed with wadcutters.

ironhead7544
March 21, 2011, 08:14 PM
If you must recommend the use of wadcutters in 38 Special please specify the Buffalo Bore load. I have used all manner of handgun ammo for varmint hunting and the standard WC load just does not work well. I thought it would but was wrong. Also it does not penetrate barriers very well.

The factory wadcutters I have chroned went less than 600 fps from a snubby. No thanks.

The swaged wadcutters are also too soft. If they are so awesome of a defense loads why arent the cops using an 8 shot revolver with them for duty? Do you know of any large organization that issues them for duty?

The factory loads the wadcutter at 1/2 the pressure of the standard load. This is meant for practice and target work.

I make it a point to shoot some varmints with any load I use. Currently I use the CorBon 115 gr in my 9mm G26. Makes a nasty wound that I have seen in person. Goes 1260 fps from the G26.

Buffalo Bore also makes a 158 gr soft lead SWCHPGC load in standard or +P. Thats what I would use in a snubby.

Also, this is the first time I have ever seen the snubby 38 Special wadcutter load compared to a 45/70 rifle.

Japle
March 21, 2011, 08:18 PM
Snooperman, were you using cheap factory-equivalent soft wadcutters at around 700 fps?

That's what the OP was asking about.

snooperman
March 21, 2011, 08:32 PM
in my Colt snubby guns and so do my brothers who were in law enforcement. A large man has a chest diameter of about 13". It is well known that wadcutters can penetrate deep enough in a mans chest to kill him. Obviously at 40-50 yards more velocity is needed with that type of bullet for game, but that is irrelevant because the distances we are talking about for conceal carry is going to be rather close. Hence 650-750 ft/sec is plenty good.

grendelbane
March 21, 2011, 08:51 PM
For a long time now, I have thought that most wheel-gun bullets were loaded backwards. Now the mid-range wadcutters may be too lightly loaded. That doesn't mean the concept is flawed. The Buffalo Bore wadcutter shows that the concept has merit.

I would like to see a boat-tailed wadcutter. Some thing like a 125 grain truncated cone loaded backwards. Load it in the 800+ range, from a 2" barrel. Let's see how that works in gel. Should do OK in other media, also.

Its not a new idea. For all of the people who said why didn't some LEO organization use it, if it was such a good idea. Look at what most LEO's carried just a few years ago. Hollow point handgun ammunition has been around since the the end of the 19th century, yet when I was young, police were still mostly carrying .38 Special, round nose lead bullet loads.

I have known more than a few old timers who carried wadcutters. Some of them aren't all that old, some of them are even younger than I am.

Oyeboten
March 21, 2011, 10:00 PM
...or, a reverse 'Cone' shape, hollow or dished however much in the otherwise flat front, carried in a Sabot...would be an interesting .38 Special SD Round...which would likely tumble well once penetrating, also.

xXxplosive
March 21, 2011, 10:12 PM
Byron:

The bullet you describe was called the Scorpian and was factory loaded by Federal, I believe......still have some.

Deep hollow cavity with the post sticking up about 3/4 of the bullet depth.....they were advertised to expand back beyond the post almost like an umbrella in a wind storm.

NoirFan
March 22, 2011, 12:07 AM
Snooperman, were you using cheap factory-equivalent soft wadcutters at around 700 fps?

That's what the OP was asking about.

Yep, you're right. High-velocity, cast wadcutters cost as much and recoil about as much as premium hollowpoints, so why not just go with the latter. I was talking about the soft lead kind that fly at about 650 fps from a snub revolver.

I am pretty surprised at how many people approve of this load, I thought there would be a lot more opposition. I think target wadcutters are not even close to the BEST load in .38 special, and I would never use them in a K-frame or larger. But in a snub I still feel they are a GOOD choice because they have very little recoil and penetrate more than adequately in gelatin.

To me the gray area here is: does gelatin penetration equal tissue and bone penetration? If not, the wadcutter's low velocity may prove a liability. I appreciate those who have chimed in with real-world hunting experience.

rhoggman
March 22, 2011, 12:17 AM
I don't have much doubt in this whole subject, but my general philosophy is to work up loads to the point where they are still comfortable to shoot. Of course this is different for everyone, and I kind of favor hot loads.

Bottom line is if you are going to use wadcutters I would load them a little hotter than store bought, or just to he point where I could shoot them with reliability out of the gun I was using. I would not worry much about the ballistics considering that wide similar types of bullets work excellent on game.

I am a big believer in wide meplat semi-wad cutter style bullets. At close range I don't see how wadcutters would be that big of a set back as long as they were not traveling at really wimpy velocities.

I'm not so sure the lead hardness is that big of a factor as long as the bullets are big enough for your barrel. Lets be honest.... there are a lot of old ways of doing things that are just as good if not better than the new, expensive ways of doing the same dang things people have been doing for a long time.

I quit buying expensive store bought ammo...... because it is a waste of my money. I have killed deer with almost every firearm I own.... not that a person is a deer, but holy crap... if you lay down a good shot, with a powerful enough round the game is over relatively quickly. This is true for handguns too. Within 25 yards I have killed deer with almost every handgun I own.

I guarantee my 38 SPC rounds are good to go, and you don't want to take one to the upper torso. Very bad results for the receiving party. I'm betting I could produce a wadcutter load that is safe to shoot from a snubby that would make a very bad day for a dregs of society type.

Go pay $25 bucks a box for your magic ammo...... I'm sure it is worth every penny:)

One last disclaimer.... if you own a glock in anything but .45 you may as well go buy the junk they sell at the store. Most glock barrels lead up like crazy. For whatever reason the .45s do not. There awesome rifling is not kind to the boolit caster. That is why I own XDs, and XDms

Prosser
March 22, 2011, 12:22 AM
The Box O' Truth #26 - Little Guns vs. The Box O' Truth - Page 4

Lessons learned:
1. Ball ammo tends to penetrate more that the JHP ammo in these guns, as expected. If you want the optimal 12 inches of penetration, maybe that is the best ammo available.

2. The only rounds that reached the necessary penetration were the .32 ACP, the .380 ACP, the Mak with Ball and the .38 Special. Quite honestly, they did better than I would have guessed.

3. Ammo quality makes a difference.

4. These pistols are relatively hard to aim well. They are best at very close distances.


I've come to more or less the same conclusion. With lesser calibers, I'd rather have a flat point bullet, with slightly lower weight, but velocity in the 900-1100 fps. Equal to that, at least in 9mm, is a 147 grain, HST HP, at around 950 fps, almost hoping that it won't expand.

I imagine that if I ever have to shoot at someone, they better be pointing a gun at me. That means it's likely that my shot is going to have to go through
their arms to reach a vital spot. Therefore penetration becomes far more important.

Hp's were designed to sell to law enforcement. It's kind of hard to charge a lot of money for a piece of lead. Now, if you can sell that HP's provide the benefit of in theory, stopping the target faster, and, providing less chance of penetration, and, that they cost more, now you are able to sell them to
LEO, for a huge profit. This isn't theory, it's history.

I wonder also if the sales pitch was that the bullets disrupt more in the first 6-8 inches, causing more damage, more likely to stop, and not kill, vs. the long, straight through channel caused by a wadcutter, of LFN type bullet?

Perhaps what works for LEO is not best for self-defense situations?

Keith and the boys came up with a Keith style bullet, and, since they were evolving from wadcutters, I suspect they found that the wadcutters were less stable and penetrated less reliably, due to tumbling. Also keep in mind that some of their gun fights were longer range then we would consider, except in places with wide open spaces.

My opinion has always been that HP's do work, but, that they need considerable velocity, and bullet weight, to do so reliably. Also, to get them to expand reliably, and still penetrate, they have to be heavy for caliber, heavier for caliber then most service rounds can handle, and still maintain adequate velocity.

If I am going to use a hollow point, it must fit certain parameters. It must weigh 230 grains, not ideal, or more. It must be going at least 1100 fps.

If that isn't an option, I go with John Browning, and his original flat point, 200 grain, 950 fps .45 ACP load, or faster.

In conclusion, I find the wadcutters MAY not penetrate adequately due to the bullet being unstable, due to the overly large frontal area.
Better to go with the proven Keith/LFN style lead bullet, that does penetrate
straight, and effectively. With a .38, I don't really consider HP's, since they one can't be pushed fast enough, and two aren't heavy enough.

Food for thought:

Hawk bullets makes fantastic HP's. I called them, and asked about 275-450 grain, .025" jacketed HP's for my guns, in .475 to .510 caliber. They said these rounds work great, but, they recommend at LEAST 1200 fps for reliable expansion.

I do have a .357/38 special 360PD. In that, I've found the two rounds worth carrying, for me, are the following:

Fioochi 148 grain SJHP's, that go 1131 fps out of my gun, and,
Buffalobores 158 grain lead HP, that goes 1040 fps.
Recoil is pretty much the same.

Since I am recoil limited, I often think that a LFN/ Keith style bullet, at that same weight, probably go with 148 grains, but at 1100-1200 fps, might be ideal.

If you start running numbers on wound channels, with flat point, little expanding bullets,
you find that the critical area seems to be in going from 600-800 fps, into the 1100-1200 fps, and, that when you go over that, you reach a point of diminishing returns for velocity, in handguns.

Just the observations of an old gun crank that never had to shoot another person.

JASmith
March 22, 2011, 12:43 AM
When I was actively hunting rabbits with pistol, my buddy's 38 wadcutters did as well as my reduced load 44's. That flat nose does well!

The only caution is that they may not be very accurate beyond about 50 yards. As to this, there are exceptions. My Son's 686 can fairly routinely plop them into an 11X14 inch target at a 100 yards. (The literature says they should tumble before they get that far!)

Prosser
March 22, 2011, 01:44 AM
If it's heavy enough, a tumbling bullet can be REAL effective. 500 grain shotgun sabots in .45 caliber come to mind...

JASmith
March 22, 2011, 09:58 AM
If it's heavy enough, a tumbling bullet can be REAL effective. 500 grain shotgun sabots in .45 caliber come to mind...
I have no doubt about that. Problem is a bullet that tumbles before getting to the target doesn't fly straight enough to give a decent chance of hitting it!

Deen Macheen
March 22, 2011, 11:19 AM
Got to agree with jibjab in that WC's are slow and somewhat difficult to reload. But I think they do make for an excellent practice round, and they can used for SD if someone is recoil sensitive.

The only problems I have nowadays is that it seems to be in short supply (locally and online), and that it costs as much (or more), than a lot of the SD loadings that are currently available.

I went to a couple of LGS today and none of them had any WC ammo. I also checked a couple of ammo dealers online and the least expensive WC ammo was $18.44/50 (Out of stock), going all the way up to $33.26/50 (in stock). Three other brands which fell in price between those two, were also out of stock online.
I can buy a box of 250, 158 grain SWC from HSM for $26 at my local sportsman's big box store. That seems pretty cheap.

JASmith
March 22, 2011, 12:55 PM
Factory wadcutter ammunition is indeed expensive. The cowboy loads and classic Remington/UMC lead bullets are about as inexpensive as it gets for factory .38 Special ammo. These are so-so for SD purposes but I would take the WC over them because I would expect that both the temporary and the permanent wound cavities will be larger with them. The larger wound cavity translates to a better chance of a quick stop.

On the other hand, wadcutter bullets from Remington, Speer, or Hornady are among the least expensive .38 caliber bullets you can buy!

The difference is that today. virtually all WC ammo is carried as match-grade for a small and rapidly diminishing market segment. (When was the last time you saw a S&W Model 52 or equivalent Colt target pistol fitted out for the NRA 2700 match?)

Deen Macheen
March 23, 2011, 12:23 PM
I found this online- Magtech .38 Special 158 Gr. LSWC (50 rounds) for $15.14 a box. Bought 2 boxes.

pete950
March 23, 2011, 01:05 PM
SGAmmo.com they have the Federal SWC for $12.90 a box of 50

mcofboise
March 23, 2011, 01:18 PM
Shoulda known by the time I read through nearly 5 pages of posts, there wouldn't be anything left to say, which certainly won't stop me. :) Years ago Dean Grennell wrote an article wherein he mentioned loading HBWCs cup forward, a concept I found intriguing, so I tried it. They were at least entertaining to shoot through my wife's 2" J-frame because they would tumble within 10 yards. I've always gotten a giggle by keyholes in targets and mused about how that must feel to have a 148 grain buzzsaw hit you sideways at 600 or so fps. As an aside, I shot an enraged bull badger in full charge several times at about 50 feet with HBWCs loaded normally and in a 6" gun and they literally bounced off of him, which just got his confidence up. When he sat up on his haunches to shake his claws at me, my wife smoked him with the .44. The bouncing off of him thing is somewhat reminiscent to me of the old wive's-of-gunnuts tales of smallish loads being stymied by a heavy winter coat, but badger skin is like nature's Kevlar. In full disclosure, the first round hit him between his eyes and skipped off into the landscape; their heads are harder than mine. :p
I still load them occasionally for grins, but they wouldn't be my first choice for a carry load, even though a banger in a t-shirt is certainly not as tough as a badger.
Providing I missed the bling.

Prosser
March 23, 2011, 04:11 PM
THAT was funny, I don't care who you are.:D

Byron
March 23, 2011, 04:29 PM
xXxplosive,do you recall the ballitics on the Scorpian round? Byron

Ratshooter
March 24, 2011, 12:48 PM
I have carried wad cutters in my snubby and a 4" model 15 off and on for years. But not the target version but handloads with solid bullets propelled by 4.5grs of bullseye.

Now I just use 158gr HP lead with 5.3grs of 231. I am sure the WC loads would have done serious damage to a BG.

Someone mentioned the discredited Marshall/Sanow duo and I have not heard this. What were they talking about?

Japle
March 24, 2011, 03:45 PM
Someone mentioned the discredited Marshal/Sanow duo and I have not heard this. What were they talking about?

M&S wrote a few books and many magazine articles covering results from actual shootings late in the 20th century.

There's a competitor who hasn’t gotten the attention, press coverage, book deals, etc. that M&S have earned and apparently has a ton of hard feelings about it. He slams M&S every chance he gets, whereas M&S give him credit for his work in their writings. The guy has a loyal following. Arguing with them is like arguing .357 vs .45ACP. I’m sure some of them will chime in.

Evan Marshall has a very informative website, mostly frequented by cops, former cops, military, retired military and the like. He runs a very tight ship and doesn’t put up with most of the crap that passes on forums like this.

Ratshooter
March 24, 2011, 06:46 PM
Hello Japle. I do know who Evan Marshall is and am reading one of his books for the 4th time right now. I also have the old Guns & Ammo annuals with his early articles in them. Plus I have talked to Even Marshall a couple of times on the phone. IIRC his website is www.stoppingpower.net I haven't looked there in a long time.

I was just wondering how the M&S team had been discredited as someone else posted. It seemed to me they just reported the facts of the shootings and let you draw your own conclusions.

Japle
March 24, 2011, 07:20 PM
It seemed to me they just reported the facts of the shootings and let you draw your own conclusions.


I didn't say much about this because I don't want to hijack the thread, but I agree with your assessment.

Ratshooter
March 24, 2011, 07:39 PM
Its a good thread and I would hate to see it vear off myself.

As for target Wad cutters for a defense load they would be better than a 22 or 25 but the 38 has so many other choices that really don't recoil that much more that there is not much reason to carry such a low powered load. They won't even have the same speed as the weak 38 colt used in the phillipines that caused so much controvesy down to this day.

The above mentioned M&S stated that if you have to use solid bullets then use the fastest you can get with the most muzzle energy. The 38 target WC ain't it.

woad_yurt
March 25, 2011, 11:28 AM
Almost +P wadcutters are the ticket.

I load Speer's 148 gr hollowbased wadcutters with 4 gr of W231/HP-38. According to Hodgdon's reloading info, that's good for 954 ft/sec. Now, all of their velocity figures were gotten using a standard 7" unvented test barrel, so they'll be lower from my 4" K-frames, but, relatively speaking, this load stacks up pretty well against the others they've listed. I think it's plenty powerful enough for inside-the-house duty.

As far as SD goes, round-nosed or unexpanded hollowpoint bullets separate tissue, which the body works hard to close back up, while wadcutters remove it by punching it out entirely. If the tissue is removed, one takes away the body's ability to involuntarily apply pressure to wounds. Seeing as .38 SPL is at the borderline too-low-velocity for reliable hollowpoint expansion, I chose a sure thing.

.38 SPL Wadcutters come alive when one reloads. The bullets and powder are inexpensive; the round is accurate & pleasant to shoot. Plus, I get to practice with my SD ammo. If you like to shoot, start reloading. One you get all of your gear together, it costs pennies per round. My stuff costs me about 1/3 of what I'd pay for cheap-o store-bought range ammo and .38 SPL brass has been laying around all over any range I've visited.

I suspect that most of those who buy ammo don't shoot near as much as those who reload simply because of the cost. I can shoot three times as much with the same money. I've shot my .38s so much that it feels as natural as signing my name. I couldn't have done that had I been buying ammo by the box.

Manco
March 25, 2011, 03:22 PM
As for target Wad cutters for a defense load they would be better than a 22 or 25 but the 38 has so many other choices that really don't recoil that much more that there is not much reason to carry such a low powered load.

It makes a significant difference for those who are recoil-sensitive, especially when using small, lightweight revolvers. In analogy, I don't feel much difference between 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP myself, but there are many who do to the point where they shoot 9mm significantly better, and I wouldn't argue with their experience.

They won't even have the same speed as the weak 38 colt used in the phillipines that caused so much controvesy down to this day.

Weren't the enemy combatants equipped with shields and occasionally some form of armor? I can see how you'd need a heavier, more powerful caliber to penetrate barriers (which .38 wadcutters are admittedly poor at doing), but since many people either don't care about barrier penetration or actually prefer weak barrier penetration, it's largely moot. .38 Special wadcutters penetrate clothing and flesh just fine.

The above mentioned M&S stated that if you have to use solid bullets then use the fastest you can get with the most muzzle energy. The 38 target WC ain't it.

Did they give any reasons? Bullets that exit the target aren't doing any additional damage with their additional energy (especially round-nose bullets that do less damage in general).

Ratshooter
March 25, 2011, 07:35 PM
Hi Manco

For recoil sensestive folks a target WC may be the only choice for them. Thats why a stated there are other light recoiling loads like a 110gr that aren't too much worse than the the WC target loads. I like wadcutters myself. Just ones with a little more steam.

I once read an article in G&A (around 1984) and they showed some double hollow base WC bullets that expanded at low velocities and were much more stable than reversed WC bullets but I was never able to find ant for sale or who made them.

I don't know about Moro sheilds but I think being doped up was what made them so hard to kill. The 30-40 Krag had its own failures to stop as did the 45colt.

I bieve the fast bullets recommended by M&S gave bigger stretch patterns than slow bullets plus will fragment bone better for secondary missles than a slower slug.

There was a show on American Justice or Justice Files, I can't remember which where a woman shot her husband with 2 WC bullets and both exited the man. So I think they are less likely to have a through and through but then there ain't no garantees either.

I will say this, I have no problem with someone chosing the WC for a carry load. Like I said I have done it myself.

Prosser
March 26, 2011, 03:06 AM
How about the .45 Colt with 260 grain flat points, at 1100 fps create a longer and larger wound channel then the lighter bullets, and, since they are considerably heavier, and, travel through the entire target, more often, at higher speed, are more likely to create faster moving, and more bone fragments then the .357 light bullets M*S champion?

Also, much like a shotgun slug, they create a longer, more cylinder type wound channel then the lighter bullets, that create a large, short, wound channel on impact, then a very narrow one, after the lighter bullet is slowed down.
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/45deer0111150fps45ColtexitHardcast.jpg

Ratshooter
March 26, 2011, 11:42 AM
The original poster asked if anyone thought the 38WC round was a good carry load because of its light recoil and deep penetration from a snubby revolver.

I am almost certain a 260gr bullet going 1100fps is not a plesant round to shoot from a 15-22oz pocket revolver. It might be fun once though.:neener::evil::D

Here is a really good book dealing with the snub for ECQ use.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=187911

dogngun
March 27, 2011, 01:54 AM
hole and supposedly transfer their energy inside the target instead of passing through.

BUT-many of us who carry smaller calibers - such as the .32 ACP - use ball ammo for penetration, the idea being that there is greater chance of damage to a vital organ with greater penetration.

A lot of people used to use the wad cuttrer or semi wad cutter bullet, especially in snubbies, because many JHP's are not getting enough velocity
out of that short barrel to expand properly. Many people still use semi wad cutters or full wad cutters for defence, they just don't talk about it much.

If you go to the Box O Truth site, there are a lot of interesting things to learn about various bullets and depth of penetration...some JHP's get stopped up by heavy clothing and don't reliably expand anyway.

Shoot well and practice a lot with what you want to carry-hitting your target should be your first priority.

mark

added: http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/theboxotruth.htm

Guillermo
March 27, 2011, 03:37 AM
Most people like hollow points because they think that they expand to make a bigger hole

fixed it for you

CTI1USNRET
March 27, 2011, 10:04 AM
The velocity of most 38 Spl 148 gr wadcutters is less than 700 fps.

Old Fuff
March 27, 2011, 11:00 AM
The velocity of most 38 Spl 148 gr wadcutters is less than 700 fps.

At close range that isn't necessarily bad. Again, a mid-range/.38 Special wadcutter is obviously not a "best for all circumstance" pick, but they do well in airweight or lighter snubbies because they usually shoot close to the point-of-aim, offer controlable recoil for fast but accurate shots, and don't over-penetrate when that's something you don't want. Because of its full-caliber flat nose it makes the best primary channel you can expect, and is especially distructive on tissue.

Obviously those that dote on high-velocity numbers the above isn't going to look impressive. I have no problem with that, but it's difficult to get impressive numbers out of a 2" barrel unless one goes to a very light bullet, or is willing to get a gun/cartridge combination in a lightweight snubbie that insures that fast repeat shots are probably not going to be accurate because of the recoil. On the other hand, if one is willing to move up to an all-steel (high carbon or stainless) mid-frame revolver with at least a 3" barrel (4" is better yet) going to a heavier load makes sense. In fact that's exactly what the Old Fuff does, but it's darn hard to carry the larger gun in my pants pocket!

Another option (which doesn't belong here so I won't dwell on it) is my much-prized Taurus model 445 - a slightly larger then a S&W K-frame snubbie that has a 5-shot cylinder chambered in .44 Special. But again, it's a bit big for pocket carry, and that's what I do much of the time under normal circumstances.

Ratshooter
March 27, 2011, 12:11 PM
The velocity of most 38 Spl 148 gr wadcutters is less than 700 fps.

700 fps doesn't sound fast at all. But if you convert it to MPH its pretty impressive. That 700 fps works out to 477 MPH and everyone knows that that is haulin' a$$.

Also 700fps means your bullet will (in therory) cover two and one third football fields in the time it takes to say "one mississippi". Thats really not too slow is it.

Prosser
March 27, 2011, 01:03 PM
As Fluff has pointed out, the original post mentioned snub nosed revolver, NOT
lightweight snub nosed revolver, and he said for carry.

If you holster carry, I strongly suggest a full on stainless steel, at least 25 oz
revolver for carry.

Cuts recoil velocity to HALF of what it is when using little snubs like my 360PD.

Given a decent weight gun, it's possible to move those wadcutters at 125 grains, at over 1100 fps, and, THAT velocity considerably increases wound channel diameter, and, the gun weight soaks up the recoil.

HS-6 will move a 158 grain wadcutter at around 1000 fps, and that would be a GREAT carry load.

The real answer to this question is the reason .38 Wadcutters are not a good carry load is that the ammo industry has spent a few billion dollars telling everyone that will listen, their largest customers being LEO, that hollow points are the answer to their magic bullet dreams, and, that those old cheap, effective, lead bullets you used to buy for .02 cents each
are worthless, and bounce off bad guys. Now, if you pay 2-3 dollars a round, we take that lead, put a copper jacket on it, put a fancy nose cut on it, and call it a magic bullet, and you buy this?:banghead:

Course you can't afford, unless your department is buying your ammo, or you are Obama, to buy enough of these bullets to get used to them, or, hit a target.

I used to carry to guns in shoulder rigs:
A Detonics Mark VI, essentially this gun, in .451 Detonics, .45 Super now days,and, this .45 Colt Seville.

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/seville%207%202006/Seville3copy-1.jpg

Not your average gun, but, I used to get hard cast Nevada Bullet Works 230 grain hardball, load it over a full case of H110, or a couple grains less, and shoot all day. The bullets, cast around 22 brinnel, didn't lead, didn't need a gas check, and were dirt cheap, and darn accurate. Figured in those days of 10k chronographs the powder companies data, showing around 1800 fps for that load, were pretty accurate. If you think the above 45 caliber hole in a deer heart is impressive, how about near the same bullet, going at rifle velocity? That's 700 fps FASTER then the 1100 fps the colt bullet was doing above, and, that added velocity increases wound channel diameter, not to mention any bones it hits become very fast, secondary projectiles.

snooperman
March 27, 2011, 01:06 PM
with a 158gr semi-wadcutter bullet going about 700 ft/sec. I was riding my favorite mule "Pedro" around my farm and saw her having a wonderful time uprooting my potato patch in my large vegetable garden. I had my colt Detective stuffed in my waste band holster. I dismounted and rested my arm across the sadle and shot her through the left side. The bullet went through her left lung,heart , and right lung and rested against her rib. She went down quickly. Penetration was about 10 inches. The distance that I shot her was about 12 yards. Up-close these rounds are lethal if shot placement is effective.

Japle
March 28, 2011, 02:33 PM
I had my colt Detective stuffed in my waste band holster. I dismounted and rested my arm across the sadle and shot her through the left side. The bullet went through her left lung,heart , and right lung and rested against her rib. She went down quickly. Penetration was about 10 inches. The distance that I shot her was about 12 yards. Up-close these rounds are lethal if shot placement is effective.

A .22 is lethal. That's not the point.
The OP was asking about SD, which means the shooter is under attack. Killing the attacker doesn't enter into it until the cops arrive. Stopping the attack is what counts and, considering the ammo available for a shorty .38, wadcutter target ammo is close to the last thing I'd choose.

snooperman
March 28, 2011, 07:26 PM
You missed my point,,, If a wild hog can be stopped with a slow moving wadcutter, please tell me why a human can not be stopped with it in self defense. It is irrelevant whether I used my saddle to rest the gun ... the fact remains ..THE ANIMAL DIED QUICKLY. And so can a human if the shot is placed properly. One can place a bullet quickly between the two chest pockets and the results would be the same..DEATH.

pete950
March 28, 2011, 07:37 PM
Snooperman well put, that is correct.

Japle
March 29, 2011, 07:47 PM
So you’re comparing the shooting of an unsuspecting hog with shooting someone who’s trying to kill you?
Wow. And you think I’m missing the point ……

We’re talking about self defense, not hunting.
We’re talking about stopping a deadly threat, not killing a feeding animal.

I once saw a poacher shoot a doe deer through the lungs with a .22. The doe fell on her face, kicked a few times and died. That doesn’t make a .22 a desirable self defense caliber.

Animals have been killed with .22s, .25s, .32s, and .38 target ammo. That’s irrelevant to self defense against a determined/high/drunk/crazy/suicidal attacker.

Hey, you want to trust your life to wimpy ammo? Go to it. It’s your life.

CoastieShep
March 29, 2011, 08:12 PM
Japle, I think what he was saying is that if it's able to kill a hog (which everybody knows is armor plated :D) which is tougher than the average bad guy, it should also be able to stop said bad guy, which will probably be at an even shorter distance than the pig was.

snooperman
March 29, 2011, 09:05 PM
It is irrelevant whether we are using the bullet for killing an animal that is not attacking us, or using the same bullet on a bad guy who is attacking.The result would be the same if the shot is placed properly . Death would occur.

Photoman
March 29, 2011, 10:38 PM
I think this thread has included just about every single cliche in the book except...

A hit with a .38 wadcutter is better than a miss with a .38 SuperDuperHighTechMegaVelocityHollowPointDeathRay. :)

pete950
March 30, 2011, 12:22 AM
I have to say it again but this time Photoman also hit right on the head.:evil::)

StrawHat
March 30, 2011, 07:44 AM
I wonder if the OP recieved his answer?

Japle
March 30, 2011, 09:38 AM
I wonder if the OP recieved his answer?

If not, here it is:

Shooting a someone who's trying to kill you with a .38 target wadcutter might kill him, but not fast enough to keep him from killing you. There are better choices available.

Old Fuff
March 30, 2011, 11:58 AM
Shooting a someone who's trying to kill you with a .38 target wadcutter might kill him, but not fast enough to keep him from killing you. There are better choices available.

That of course is a matter of (your) opinion... :neener:

But the same can be said of any other opinion that's been offered on this thread. The real bottom line is that the effectiveness of any bullet in stopping a confrontation depends on where it hits, and the path it takes. Thus the principal issue becomes one of placement.

Having offered his own views on specific situations where the .38 Wadcutter can be advantageous, the Old Fuff will leave and save the forum some bandwith. ;)

MagnumDweeb
March 30, 2011, 01:38 PM
If all I could afford or nay shoot was a .38 wadcutter, I'd get good and accurate with it when it came to shot placement...wait I do that with all my calibers, also I go to a buddies farm property and shoot coke and red bull cans at seven and twenty yards. I practice drawing under pressure and speed and hitting what I'm aiming at. So a .38 wadcutter to a bad guy's face(below the eyes above the lips, it's a honey comb hit), heart, solar plexus(to take out the spine) ought to do a heck of a lot of damage and be rather effective. And if all one can manage is a snub nose .38, well your ahead of the game relative to a pointy stick.

My mother has a Taurus 85 I bought for her because the Kel-Tec P32 I bought for her wasn't enough in her opinion(quite funny coming from the New York Jewess). She can only handle the Black Hills 148 grain wad cutters I get for her. In her situation, her severe arthritis and fragile body(she bruises easy yet she manages to 70+ hours a week as an accountant) leaves her only able to effectively use a .38 special snub nose with 148 grain wad cutters. Can she hit the center of the head on a silhouette at fifteen feet, yup, can she do it at seven yards(sometimes), can she get off three rounds rapidly into the head of the silhouette at ten feet, you betcha. Now she did grow up shooting rifles so wasn't like I taught her anything(her father was a farm boy, Korean War veteran, and member of the NRA) she didn't already know more or less. She only goes with me once every couple of months(also the time I typically clean and inspect the pistol for her) and has stayed sharp when it comes to her skill, seems like once you have the fundamentals down it's all pretty easy to maintain with the wad cutter. So if you have arthritis, are physically impaired or restricted, don't have the best hand strength, and heavier calibers and ammunition makes shooting difficult, I don't think one would be poorly served by a 148 grain wadcutter.

I don't remember where I read it but there was a Texas Ranger who had a .32-20 and had taken down a fair number of bad guys in his career with the simple caliber. And to be cliche "Would you want to stand in front of it?"

Japle
March 30, 2011, 01:48 PM
The real bottom line is that the effectiveness of any bullet in stopping a confrontation depends on where it hits, and the path it takes. Thus the principal issue becomes one of placement.
That is, in my opinion, one of the most invalid assumptions when it comes to the choice of self defense ammo for the handgun.

Here’s why I say that:

It assumes that the SD shooter will be able to place his shots with anything approaching accuracy in a situation where all the participants are likely to be moving and turning in unpredictable ways.

It assumes that the path a bullet takes through the human body is even remotely under the control of the SD shooter.

If those assumptions were valid, I’d be carrying a 30 round KelTec .22 Mag pistol loaded with solid bullets instead of my XDm 9mm loaded with +P+ JHP ammo.

Actually, if a SD shooter could be sure of placing his shots accurately, he’d only need a .22 Mag derringer. Two perfectly placed shots with lots of penetration and he’d be safe.

Wonderful concept. Someone should tell the cops.

snooperman
March 30, 2011, 07:24 PM
do not share your opinion, including my brother . Why? Because there is overwhelming evidence that contradicts what you are saying. It has been well documented that police , on many occassions have emptied their guns with all shots fired into an assailant and he lived to go to trial. And, they were using police issue hollowpoint bullets. Shot placement is far more important than bullet type.

snooperman
March 30, 2011, 08:17 PM
Does that negate the use of wadcutter for self defense.. or is your hollowpoint going to magically stop him without shot placement??

Manco
March 30, 2011, 08:46 PM
That is, in my opinion, one of the most invalid assumptions when it comes to the choice of self defense ammo for the handgun.

Shot placement is invalid? :eek:

Here’s why I say that:

It assumes that the SD shooter will be able to place his shots with anything approaching accuracy in a situation where all the participants are likely to be moving and turning in unpredictable ways.

Whether the SD shooter can accurately place his shots or not doesn't change the fact that where a bullet strikes is the primary determinant of how effective it will be. Bullets that penetrate all the way through have more potential than those that do not, and .38 Special wadcutters should penetrate plenty. Larger-diameter bullets add a margin to shot placement precision, but this margin is very small in comparison to the target (particularly if it is moving), thus placement remains the chief factor of any shot.

It assumes that the path a bullet takes through the human body is even remotely under the control of the SD shooter.

On the contrary, I think that so many random factors are involved that shot placement--at the level where lead meets flesh--is determined more by luck than by skill. The latter certainly helps one place shots somewhere on the target, but exactly what the bullets damage and how effective they are depends almost entirely on luck (unless the target is just standing there letting you execute him with a precisely aimed shot). But regardless of whether it is skill or luck that determines shot placement, it is still primarily what determines the effectiveness of the shot.

If those assumptions were valid, I’d be carrying a 30 round KelTec .22 Mag pistol loaded with solid bullets instead of my XDm 9mm loaded with +P+ JHP ammo.

In general terms, that would be logical because more shots on target is more effective than fewer shots even if the latter were in a larger caliber (assuming adequate penetration potential). That said, because in a dynamic scenario you may not be able to land more than a few shots in a given amount of time, it is not necessarily advantageous to use a smaller caliber just because of greater shot capacity, when a larger caliber may be slightly more effective per shot. The main advantage of smaller calibers (or lighter loads such as the .38 Special wadcutter) is that some folks can shoot them better and faster, which can easily overwhelm the slight advantage in effectiveness of larger, more powerful calibers. Why? Because shot placement--regardless of how it is achieved--matters more than bullet size and velocity (assuming adequate penetration).

Actually, if a SD shooter could be sure of placing his shots accurately, he’d only need a .22 Mag derringer. Two perfectly placed shots with lots of penetration and he’d be safe.

The problem is that the same principles apply to larger, more powerful calibers and loads, as well. Given adequate penetration in all cases, their increased size and velocity only give them a minute advantage--not negligible but still insignificant next to shot placement. You're very slightly less likely to completely miss with something larger, but if you do, then it's still a miss and the shot is stopping nobody anytime soon, just as with smaller calibers.

Wonderful concept.

Reality is what it is, and it doesn't care about being wonderful.

Someone should tell the cops.

Meaning no offense to those who protect and serve, but the way I've seen some cops shoot their duty ammo, maybe someone should! :uhoh: The problem is that they expect to have a reasonable capability to defeat various barriers while still inflicting lethal wounds, and admittedly .38 Special wadcutters as well as smaller calibers are probably insufficient for such purposes. Then again, I don't think that anybody has claimed otherwise, as most people aren't concerned with shooting bad guys through things, or even prefer to use ammo that will not penetrate barriers well.

Prosser
March 31, 2011, 01:04 AM
Answer to OP:

generally, .38 Wadcutters are not considered a good carry load because they are loaded very slowly for target work. There is a huge difference between
a .38 wadcutter at 600-700 fps and 1000-1200 fps, in wound channel diameter, and effect on target.

So, in short, they are not a good carry load because they are generally loaded too slow.

NoirFan
March 31, 2011, 06:25 AM
generally, .38 Wadcutters are not considered a good carry load because they are loaded very slowly for target work. There is a huge difference between a .38 wadcutter at 600-700 fps and 1000-1200 fps, in wound channel diameter, and effect on target.

But again, I have to ask, if the slow wadcutter penetrates more than the FBI standard, does the velocity and energy matter? It may not seem to hit very hard but it punches a deep-enough hole while retaining its shape and mass, with the major benefit of very little recoil. Even if a 1000-1200 fps bullet makes a significantly larger wound channel (and it might) you are not gonna get there with any controllable load out of a .38 snub.

That is, in my opinion, one of the most invalid assumptions when it comes to the choice of self defense ammo for the handgun.

It assumes that the path a bullet takes through the human body is even remotely under the control of the SD shooter.

Some have told stories of wadcutters glancing off skull and bone while hunting, so that is a concern. Other hunters though, have reported good results with flat faced bullets, so it's not conclusive.

Stainz
March 31, 2011, 07:35 AM
Nothing I've read here will dissuade from suggesting the 148gr wadcutter, certainly a target round, for the recoil shy. RN & SWC's at higher velocities have been known to leave smaller wound channels, albeit deeper. No, a slower wadcutter won't shatter a pelvis - but that would be a poor shot, anyway. The benefit of the 148gr wadcutter is it's lower recoil - and that makes it adaptable to the recoil shy, being they a small women - or a large, elderly, and arthritic guy. It cuts a clean .357" hole for more rapid exsanguination.

Me - I still load my 642 and 2 5/8" PC627 UDR alike - with +P 158gr LSWCHP's... but, when the day comes that I cannot handle them, I'll reach for the wadcutters. Interesting thread!

Stainz

snooperman
March 31, 2011, 08:15 AM
A slow moving wadcutter, 650-700 ft/sec, has plenty of energy to stop an attacker at close encounters for CCW. And , since recoil is less more shots can be put on the attacker faster and with greater effect. That is not to say that those who use hollowpoints are wrong in their choice. Evidence shows that shot placement is critical regardless of the bullet used.

newbuckeye
March 31, 2011, 08:31 AM
I know one thing, I wouldn't want to get shot with a wc......:rolleyes:

Prosser
March 31, 2011, 11:03 AM
But again, I have to ask, if the slow wadcutter penetrates more than the FBI standard, does the velocity and energy matter? It may not seem to hit very hard but it punches a deep-enough hole while retaining its shape and mass, with the major benefit of very little recoil. Even if a 1000-1200 fps bullet makes a significantly larger wound channel (and it might) you are not gonna get there with any controllable load out of a .38 snub.

Bunch of assumptions there I don't much like. The ONLY time a .38 wadcutter is uncontrollable, at least for me, out of a snub is if the gun is a 12-15 oz scandium, and even then, I'd argue. Buffalobore makes a 158 grain LHC, .38 special plus P, that goes 1040 fps out of a 1.8" snub. In a 12 oz scandium, it's the most recoil I can handle. Out of a Model 60 snub, it's a pussy cat. Double the weight of the gun, and, you half the recoil SPEED, and that's what kills with the little guns.

My carry load for my 360PD is the Fioochi .357 magnum, a 148 grain bullet, at 1131 fps, out of my gun. That could be a wadcutter, and, at self-defense distances, it would make a GREAT round.

The benefit of the 148gr wadcutter is it's lower recoil - and that makes it adaptable to the recoil shy, being they a small women - or a large, elderly, and arthritic guy. It cuts a clean .357" hole for more rapid exsanguination.

Me - I still load my 642 and 2 5/8" PC627 UDR alike - with +P 158gr LSWCHP's... but, when the day comes that I cannot handle them, I'll reach for the wadcutters. Interesting thread!


Have to agree with this comment, Stainz, and, the loads.

Japle
March 31, 2011, 01:33 PM
Well, this has been an interesting thread. I must admit that I’m amazed at the criteria some folks use to choose their SD ammo.

Personally, I wouldn’t use anything less powerful than .38 Spl +P or 9mm +P for my main gun plus a .380 backup loaded with JHPs.

For anyone who has the strength and skill to handle a full-power handgun, loading up with target ammo is, in my very strong opinion, just plain foolish. It’s like entering a tree felling contest with a Cub Scout hatchet.

But people will do what they will do. My sister runs her life based on Astrology. Nothing I can say will convince her she’s following a false trail, and it’s the same here.

Stay safe.

mrmeangenes
March 31, 2011, 04:19 PM
I have serious doubts about this statement:

"Most importantly, they penetrate to about 20" in gelatin, exceeding the FBI standard."

Most "target wadcutters" I've seen are great for punching a "caliber size hole" in paper without offering much in the way of penetration. (Could that have been 2.0 " in gelatin ?)

They are low in recoil-which might help if you wanted to put a lot of lead into an assailant-a la Ed Mc Givern.

Elmer Keith's vaunted "semi-wadcatter" was more truncated cone than wadcutter-and it would penetrate rather briskly, when pushed out the muzzle by rather stout,hard-kicking powder charges.

Gary A
March 31, 2011, 05:56 PM
Prosser, you stated, There is a huge difference between a .38 wadcutter at 600-700 fps and 1000-1200 fps, in wound channel diameter, and effect on target.

Of course, that's true, but it's a false comparison. A .38 148 gr wadcutter at 600-700 fps is better compared to an average of plus P .38 special ammo which from the same two inch barrel is more likely to be going between 780-825 fps and around or a little over 900 fps depending on whether it is a 158 grain bullet or a 125-135 grain bullet. I don't think any comparable weight .38 special +P will be traveling at 1000-1200 fps from the same snubby barrel. Perhaps a 110 grain bullet will reach or exceed 1000 fps but then you're comparing a light bullet to a heavy one. In comparable weights, the difference is not nearly what you imply unless you want to compare a .38 wadcutter to a .357 magnum. Hardly a useful comparison.

I should note that you do reference Buffalo Bore but it is not really available in enough quantity to enough people to be a fair comparison either, compared to off-the-shelf +P ammo from various manufacturers. And, not everyone shares the internet enthusiasm for Buffalo Bore. If the universe has suddenly started supplying a "free lunch", I haven't heard about it. 'Nuff said about that.

Kendal Black
March 31, 2011, 06:24 PM
I think target wadcutters are a fine choice if you have a gun that might not stand up to +P cartridges. They are quite mild. Someone posted this link yet? Ballistic gel test from Brass fetcher. (Thanks, JE223.) http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=242348

Prosser
March 31, 2011, 06:56 PM
Prosser, you stated,
Quote:
There is a huge difference between a .38 wadcutter at 600-700 fps and 1000-1200 fps, in wound channel diameter, and effect on target.
Of course, that's true, but it's a false comparison. A .38 148 gr wadcutter at 600-700 fps is better compared to an average of plus P .38 special ammo which from the same two inch barrel is more likely to be going between 780-825 fps and around or a little over 900 fps depending on whether it is a 158 grain bullet or a 125-135 grain bullet. I don't think any comparable weight .38 special +P will be traveling at 1000-1200 fps from the same snubby barrel. Perhaps a 110 grain bullet will reach or exceed 1000 fps but then you're comparing a light bullet to a heavy one. In comparable weights, the difference is not nearly what you imply unless you want to compare a .38 wadcutter to a .357 magnum. Hardly a useful comparison.

I should note that you do reference Buffalo Bore but it is not really available in enough quantity to enough people to be a fair comparison either, compared to off-the-shelf +P ammo from various manufacturers. And, not everyone shares the internet enthusiasm for Buffalo Bore. If the universe has suddenly started supplying a "free lunch", I haven't heard about it. 'Nuff said about that.
__________________

Gary: My post is NOT conjecture. I used a chronograph, represented my experience and velocities out of MY 360PD. Buffalobore's 158 grain LSHC
went 1040 fps out of my gun, and that is not conjecture. Many people do end up with either .38 Special plus P in their lightweight .357's. There is pretty much little reason to think the .38 Special, of properly loaded, can't be right on the heals of, or faster, then a .357 magnum. Since the 360PD is rated for .357, if you seat the bullet out, you can easily get the same powder capacity in a .38 case as a .357. OAL is the same, as is the cylinder length.

Oddly, the heavier bullets, in that long case, with proper powder selection, can be as fast as the lighter bullets, or darn close.

From my 360PD:
Fioochi 357 magnum 148 grain, jhc, 1131 fps
BBore .38 Special Plus P, 158 grain lhc, 1040 fps
and
Corbon 125 grain HP, .357, 1204 fps.

One positive point that has been missed is lead bullets are more effective, usually going faster, then a jacketed bullet, with the same powder charge.

Ballisticsbytheinch might be a very good place to look at what factory loads favor shorter barrels.

Gary A
April 1, 2011, 12:28 AM
Prosser, I didn't say (or think) your post was conjecture but still would argue that Buffalo Bore is not readily available to most buyers at most times in most places and is not as fair a comparison to wadcutters as other off-the-shelf plus P .38 loads that are readily available. Secondly, I would note that two of the "pros" of wadcutters mentioned by the orignal poster were They have very low recoil, which is very important in a snub revolver. (AND) They are cheap, so one can practice with the same load that one carries.
Buffalo Bore, I would submit, fails to match either of those positive qualities therefore is not readily comparable to the wadcutters mentioned in the original post.

I ain't slammin' Buffalo Bore, just saying it's a different animal. Might as well be another caliber (think .357, to which you compare BB). I just can't believe one can get that kind of performance without higher pressure or higher recoil or both. It ain't magic. But then, I've been wrong before...(shrug).

BTW, I use neither wadcutters or Buffalo Bore, not that it matters.

Prosser
April 1, 2011, 03:06 AM
Gary:
Buffalobore usually is a mouse click and UPS away, as most ammo is these days.

Ammunition does not recoil. The combination of firearm weight, firearm design, and the ammunition determine recoil.

Snubs go from my 12 oz 360PD to this beast:
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/50%20110%20BFR%20snub/BFR.jpg
or this:
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/500%20SW%20snubbie/aweb500swsnubbieleftJacks121406031.jpg

Any .38 in either of the above would be the equal of most 22lr recoil, in normal guns, if that.

Tim Sundles uses commercial powders us common folk can't buy. You are right, in the sense that if you use a fast burning powder, the sudden jolt, vs. a longer push, created by a slower powder means one round may recoil
perception be higher then the other.

The failing of Buffalobore is the price, meaning less practice to get used to the recoil.

My issue is that a load for a wadcutter can go from 500 fps to 1100 fps, depending upon the load, bullet weight, and powder type and charge.

Gary A
April 1, 2011, 09:25 AM
Prosser, you make good points, certainly. And you have a fascinating collection of snubs. I'm still not going to use BB in my 37-2 :), but perhaps in my SP101 I'll give it a try. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on an interesting topic. Gary

woad_yurt
April 1, 2011, 11:01 AM
It seems that many who've posted aren't distinguishing between target wadcutter loads and more powerful, home-made wadcutter loadings.

Why is it that .38 SPL 158 gr semi-wadcutters are almost universally considered an acceptable choice for self-defense while wadcutters loaded to similar velocities are not? I just can't see or understand the reasoning behind it.

My 148 gr wadcutter load going at a very conservative 850 FPS from a 4" K-frame develops a true 237+ ft lbs. CCI Blazer 125 gr +P hollowpoint stuff is rated at 940 FPS/245 ft lbs while Fiocchi and Federal muzzle energy figures for hollowpoint +P stuff is all also in the 250 ft lbs or less area. Considering that these figures were gotten using standard, unvented 7" test barrels and not a 4" S&W K-frame, I'll stick with my wadcutter load.

Note:
I'm comparing mine to the general offerings by large ammo makers, not to any of the moose-killer loads sold by folks like Buffalo Bore or Double Tap. Those are another story entirely.

OldCavSoldier
April 1, 2011, 11:14 AM
+1 Snooperman: I like the plated 148 gr WC pushed by 4.3 grains of Unique and lit off by a standard CCI primer....easy recoil, fast enough to do the job, adequate penetration

Prosser
April 1, 2011, 01:19 PM
Thanks Gary. For the record, the only snub I have is a 360PD. I do like shroud length heavy revolvers, and have a number of them.

The other guns are customs for guys by Jack Huntington Advanced Gunsmithing.
I was in the shop, and took the pictures. The one I've shot is this one:

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/Ruger%20RH%20500l/SRH500.jpg

It went 950 fps with a 440 grain cast, and around 1250 fps with a 430 grain cast lfn, in .500JRH, a shortened 500 S&W.

Recoil was NOT a problem. The gun is HEAVY.

The top gun is a 50-110, which is WAY too much. The next gun maybe owned by SharplyDressedMan, but with different grips now.

Another fun one was what SK had commissioned after the 50-110:
A very light, custom .500JRH. Think it weighed 35 oz:

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/HELLBOY/HELLBOY.jpg
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/HELLBOY/HELLBOY3.jpg

This gun is known as Hellboy. Heck of a compact hog gun with 440 grain bullets at 950 fps. All of these are in the near 2000 dollar or more range, and, pretty much one guy has them done, shows them to his friends, they buy them, and he trys something else.

My point in this is the wadcutter can be a GREAT self-defense load in a snub,
and, it's gunweight that determines recoil. A .50 Caliber Ma Duece doesn't recoil much at all, when it's connected to an Abrahms tank.:D

By the way: when the bullets get over 350 grains, they provide enough resistance so the velocity loss is minimal, out of a short barrel, because the powder, even a fairly slow powder, will burn completely with the bullet providing resistance.

I recently had some .475 Linebaugh loaded for my FA 83. 275 grain HPs went 1560 fps, with a light load, read bottom of the loading table. 325 grain flat points went 1475 or there abouts, but the reduction in noise and blast was huge. The powder, same powder, near the same charge, was burning in the gun, not making it out the barrel.
So, you can get a 440 grain bullet going 950 fps out of a 2" barrel, when that is the spec for the round. Adding barrel length will NOT increase velocity.

snooperman
April 1, 2011, 04:26 PM
where are you getting your plated wadcutters from? I have been shooting that load with lead 148gr and 158 gr semiwadcutters for many years. I also like 3.5 gr bullseye for comfort and quick followup shots as well.

CoastieShep
April 1, 2011, 09:12 PM
Snoop

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/default.aspx?productNumber=1050153227

snooperman
April 1, 2011, 09:28 PM
I am going to order some soon, as clean-up time will be much faster, and the way they are made by Ranier , much more accurate as well at the longer ranges.

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