Full wadcutters out of an automatic

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by MUSICALGUNNUT45, Sep 24, 2011.

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    Feb 22, 2011
    Does anyone have any experience with firing full wadcutters ( not semi wadcutters) out of a semi automatic pistol. Do they work and is there a way to make them work if they don't cycle properly.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    Yes and no.
    I have experience shooting them in an auto, and there is a way to make them work.

    Just not in most guns.

    I have shot a lot of full wadcutter .38 Special match ammo out of a S&W Model 52.
    But it was designed & built to shoot full wadcutter match ammo.

    But getting it to work in any other gun would be a real rough row to hoe.

    Almost all modern semi-autos depend at least to some extent on ammo length and bullet shape to get the round from the magazine to the chamber.
    The length & shape are necessary to get the round to "break over" from one angle in the magazine, climb up the feed ramp at another angle, and then break over to about the same angle it started out at to get inside the chamber.

    Unless your gun will feed empty cases reliably, I doubt you would have any better luck with full wadcutters.

  3. scramasax

    scramasax Member

    Aug 3, 2011
    The only wadcutter guns I remember are the S&W 52 and numerous custom 1911s made by the military/Colt and custom gunsmiths like Clark. All of the 1911s were custom and made in small numbers. Since Bullseye shooting is not popular anymore these guns are mostly collector items. You can still find them at gun shows but parts can be an issue.


  4. TonyT

    TonyT Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    As sated by the previous respoinders the only commercially successfull semi auto designed for 38 Specia;l WC ammo was the S&W Model 52. Colt attempted to do the same on their 1911 frame but was much less successful (read reliability issues). Clark and several, other gunsmiths modified 1911's for use with 38 Special WC ammo but I cannot speak to their relaibility. There were also some 1911's chambered for the 38 AMU cartridhge which was a rimless 38 Special loaded with WC bullets. It was designed to alleviate some of the feeding problems encountered with rimmed 38 Special cases in 1911's. The 38 AMU was designed by the militaryu shooters but faded from the scene as bullseye psito shooting waned.
  5. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Johnson City, TN
    Wadcutters don't feed in autoloading pistol actions, except those specially engineered or modified for them. You can hand feed a wadcutter into the chamber for your first shot, but you need to have round nose or JHP in the magazine. If you read Jim Cirillo's Guns, Bullets and Gunfights you will find an example of doing exactly that. However, bullet technology has advanced since the 1960s when he did this. He did experiment with a sawtoothed wadcutter-shaped bullet with a plastic nose cap (to allow feeding from the magazine) that fell away when the bullet exited the muzzle, but realistically this does little that a conventional JHP bullet won't.
  6. Clifford

    Clifford Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    You can make them work....sometimes:)

    As others have said an autoloader has to be set up properly to fire FWC's. Heck, most pistols won't cycle SWC's without some gunsmith magic. Personally, I've had some success in getting some 250grain full wadcutters to cycle thru one of my 1911's. That gun had been previously tuned to run 200 grain SWC's and it would do so without a hitch. That 1911 was used in action pistol, combat pistol and of course bowling pin matches, so it had to run 100%.

    Anyway, it would feed empty cases from mag to chamber so I fiddled around with the full wadcutters and if I had the bullet seated with about 1/3 of it hanging out of the case (I forget the exact COAL offhand), the gun would reliably feed but with only two particular magazines that I owned. After all the fiddling around with COAL, magazines, followers and mag springs I decided that it was more effective for me to keep using 200-230 grain SWC's in the 1911 or just use a revolver in .45 Colt or .44 magnum/special to launch my prefered 240+ grain bullets.

    Have fun if this is something you are looking to do :)
  7. loadedround

    loadedround Member

    Feb 18, 2006
    Valley Forge, Pa
    There was also the Colt Gold Cup designed to fire 38 Spl wad cutter ammo. The Colt was designed to compete against the S&W 52. Very few were actually made and command a premium price these days. This was the only other semi auto in 38 Spl that I know ever made.
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