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Old May 9, 2016, 06:52 PM   #1
76shuvlinoff
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Wadcutters

Folks
I have never shot wadcutters but the ones I have seen would be like a LRN just with a flat nose. Today I was given a box of .38 special wadcutters where the entire slug is sank into the case. It is possible the case is longer than LRNs I am used to, I can't compare them tonight because I forgot and left the box on my desk at work.

Is there a purpose to the profile that has the slug entirely within the case? The box is old and only says .38 Special Wadcutters on it.

thanks
Mark
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Old May 9, 2016, 07:06 PM   #2
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Among other reasons, wadcutters are typically cheaper and cut very neat holes in your paper targets. I use them in my .38 spl for paper targets.
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Old May 9, 2016, 07:22 PM   #3
MAKster
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Wadcutters make nice clean holes in paper targets which makes it easier to score if you are in competition. FMJ tears through the paper.
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Old May 9, 2016, 07:31 PM   #4
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Wadcutter bullets are seated deeply to decrease internal case volume.

Small powder charges are used in these rounds and decreasing the case volume will cause more consistent powder burn. This will lead to more consistent velocity between shots.
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Old May 9, 2016, 07:45 PM   #5
OH_Spartan
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Before giving advice, can we make sure what you mean by ''completely sunk." if youve never seen wadcutters, then can look 'completely sunk.' There should be about 1/16 to 1/8" of lead standing proud from the case. The case should be crimped around the bullet. If the bullet is flush or if the case stands proud of the bullet then be careful. This would not happen with factory loads but handloads may have been loaded too deep.


I think the bullet shape you describe is called a semi-wadcutter. The bullet protrudes like a round nose, but the tip is flat. These are very common in 38 and 44


From phone. Forgive typos.
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Old May 9, 2016, 07:50 PM   #6
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Some pics would clarify things.
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Old May 9, 2016, 07:53 PM   #7
76shuvlinoff
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I'll get a better look tomorrow. They may not be "completely sunk" but they are very low in the casing. I have also seen flat nosed rounds where the slug stands much more proud of the brass referred to as wadcutters as well. I searched "wadcutters" and both examples came up. I was just wondering if there is a reason for the variation.

Thanks
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Old May 9, 2016, 08:02 PM   #8
Jim Watson
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How strange, most of my .38 midrange wadcutters are seated dead flush. I thought I had a box of Western Super Match left to show you, but I could not find it.

Neither of my Model 52 S&Ws would accept a wadcutter with lead above the case mouth.
Those that I slipped up and left a little band above the case mouth are relegated to revolvers only.
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Old May 9, 2016, 08:02 PM   #9
ApacheCoTodd
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76shuvlinoff.....

For a little clarity and noting that projectile wonks will likely chime in with some esoteric details about differences - in broad strokes, here are the wadcutter on the left and the Semi-wadcutter on the right.

THe classic 158 gr round nose is below them.





Most wadcutters I come across look almost exactly like these - recessed a bit and a distinct contour on the front. This radiused crimp is especially important to me in feeding in my 1911.




Todd.
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Old May 9, 2016, 08:11 PM   #10
rcmodel
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Quote:
There should be about 1/16 to 1/8" of lead standing proud from the case. The case should be crimped around the bullet.
That is not the case.

Revolver Wadcutters are loaded slightly out of the case.

Semi-Auto Wadcutters are loaded flush with the case mouth in order to fit in S&W Model 52, and Colt 1911 match gun magazines.

rc
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Old May 9, 2016, 09:20 PM   #11
Jim Watson
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At one time it was occasionally done to trim cases so you could crimp in the groove of a cast wadcutter and still get them in a M52 magazine.

I THINK the Colt Conversion magazines are a bit longer but I do not have one to check.
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Old May 9, 2016, 09:39 PM   #12
Jim K
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What rcmodel says is true for reloads, but AFAIK, all factory wadcutters have flush seated bullets (as Todd shows) because the factory does not know if they will be used in revolvers or semi-autos. I have never been able to tell any difference in accuracy in revolvers of my own reloads no matter how the bullet is seated.

FWIW, the name comes from the reloading of shot shells. In the old days, shot shell reloaders often cut over-powder and over-shot wads out of cardboard, using a device like a cookie cutter, called a "wad cutter". The tool left a neat round hole in the stock material. In target shooting, "wadcutter" bullets cut neat holes in the target making scoring easier when the hit is on or close to the line between rings (if the line is cut, the shooter gets the higher score). The holes in the target look like the holes left by a wad cutter, hence the name for the bullets.

Jim
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Old May 9, 2016, 09:48 PM   #13
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For almost all of my wadcutters, I don't seat them flush but out about 1/16 of an inch. I don't shoot them out of anything but revolvers so it isn't an issue for me.

They sure are pleasant to shoot and make really pretty holes.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20160509_194425.jpg (34.2 KB, 544 views)
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Old May 9, 2016, 09:58 PM   #14
Jim Watson
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Quote:
The holes in the target look like the holes left by a wad cutter,
And if you look around under and behind the targets, you will find the neatly cut out "wads", too.
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Old May 9, 2016, 10:20 PM   #15
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The last photo posted by Todd is what my wadcutters look like. There is so little powder in a standard .38 special round that there is plenty of room for the bullet and the powder. They do make very uniform holes in paper.....
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Old May 9, 2016, 10:46 PM   #16
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Do any of you guys use the wadcutters for self-defense?
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Old May 9, 2016, 10:46 PM   #17
76shuvlinoff
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What I was given today definately look like this version, box says 38 Special.
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File Type: jpg wadcutter-featured.jpg (56.7 KB, 72 views)
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Old May 9, 2016, 10:51 PM   #18
76shuvlinoff
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Quote:
Do any of you guys use the wadcutters for self defense
That was my next question. My wife has a 4" SP101 .357 for a bedside gun but she only shoots .38s from it. Currently loaded with 158gr LRNs.
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Last edited by 76shuvlinoff; May 9, 2016 at 10:58 PM.
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Old May 9, 2016, 10:53 PM   #19
Schwing
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 76shuvlinoff View Post
What I was given today definately look like this version, box says 38 Special.
I will admit that they are not my most common carry round but I do carry them on occasion in my little LCR. There was a time not all that many years ago that many police agencies issued wadcutters as standard carry ammo for their officers carrying .38 revolvers.
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Old May 9, 2016, 11:01 PM   #20
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A 148 gr .38 Special wadcutter makes a fairly decent defensive load in a lightweight J-frame. I have a vintage Mod. 37, and sometimes carry it stoked with them.

I used to carry the same in a Charter Undercover back in the day. Penetration is decent, and at standard pressure velocity there weren't any HPs that you could expect regular expansion from back then.

They also make a good load for folks who are recoil shy.
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Old May 10, 2016, 12:09 AM   #21
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I generally carry 148 gr wadcutters in my airweights and 158 gr semi-wadcutters in steel frame ones. Don’t ask me why, I just do. Maybe to reduce the stress on the alloy frames?
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Old May 10, 2016, 12:45 AM   #22
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It used to be <ahem> "recommended" that the hollow-based wadcutters be loaded backwards to form a low-velocity expanding hollow point. Don't know what the results would be in ballistic gel testing, though. Never did it myself.

Chopinbloc? Wanna try that?

Thanks for the photos, guys. Saved me the trouble of resurrecting an old box of W-W target wadcutters and posting pictures of them. They look just like the other flush-with-the-mouth cartridges. Great pix !

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Old May 10, 2016, 12:46 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OH_Spartan View Post
Before giving advice, can we make sure what you mean by ''completely sunk." if youve never seen wadcutters, then can look 'completely sunk.' There should be about 1/16 to 1/8" of lead standing proud from the case. The case should be crimped around the bullet. If the bullet is flush or if the case stands proud of the bullet then be careful. This would not happen with factory loads but handloads may have been loaded too deep.


I think the bullet shape you describe is called a semi-wadcutter. The bullet protrudes like a round nose, but the tip is flat. These are very common in 38 and 44


From phone. Forgive typos.

I cannot possibly disagree more. Factory wadcutters are very commonly loaded flush with the case mouth. I've yet to purchase factory wadcutters that were not flush.
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Old May 10, 2016, 02:01 AM   #24
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I carry wadcutters in J frame sized guns. Bullet is already in an efficient shape, easy on the gun, penetrates well, and due to lower recoil and muzzle blast make followup shots faster. I carry SWC for reloads.

I've tried and conducted some tests on hollow base wadcutters loaded backwards back in the 70s. They were in the vogue in some circles at the time.

When they expanded they were impressive. When they expanded the way you desired they to. That was less than 50% of the time. The hollow base would often shear off on one side causing the bullet to tumble. You couldn't jack up the velocity as you stood a risk of leaving a ring of lead large enough to be an obstruction at or near the forcing cone. I tried both swaged and cast hollowpoints and the results were the same.

A wadcutter has a lot going for it as a SD bullet. The problem with factory loads is the lower velocity. Factories used to load a target wadcutter at 750-800 fps and a "regular" wadcutter (which costs less) at about 100 fps more.
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Old May 10, 2016, 04:16 AM   #25
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Wadcutters can be devastating in a self defense scenario. Especially if loaded backwards under a heavy powder charge. They will either tumble in flight, or most certainly upon reaching their target. At most self defense ranges the loss in accuracy really won't be a factor, and that tumbling cylinder makes a real mess out of whatever it hits. It will also, usually, lead your bore rather heavily.

The biggest drawback to this load is simple. It isn't a factory load, and handloads don't look good in court.
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