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Target Full Wadcutter - SD Load for 38 Snub Nose

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by marb4, Mar 13, 2015.

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  1. marb4

    marb4 Member

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    Having been inspired by another thread currently running, I decided to look for some discussion on this particular topic (rather than hijack that thread).

    I have heard and read many folks touting the virtues of the 148 grain full wadcutter for self defense use particularly from a snub nose revolver. Having done some informal tests myself with a Fackler Box using water as the test medium, I consistently get the rough equivalent of 17-19 inches of gel penetration with light target full wadcutters. I shoot through 4 layers of cotton t-shirt material using my 1 7/8 inch LCR from 10 feet. I've never really gotten close to this depth of penetration with any expanding bullet from the snub nose.

    I would consider carrying the full wadcutter in my LCR for two primary reasons.

    1)I get consistent deep penetration and a full caliber hole without having to worry about whether or not a hollow point will get clogged or have enough velocity to expand.

    2)The recoil is very mild allowing me to quickly and accurately put more rounds on target compared to +p loads.

    I guess my basic question is this... Do any of you carry target load wadcutters as your primary SD round even though there are other "high tech" options available?

    Why would you or why wouldn't you carry wadcutters in a snub nose for self defense?
     
  2. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    Used to.

    Always felt fine with it but I'd rather spend time shooting and honing skill than memorizing statistical tables.

    Tables which seldom take into account cost of training with the latest-and-greatest, theoretically more effective defensive round.

    I guess the only reason I don't currently is that I haven't reloaded for some time and having thrown the casts and reloaded for many, many thousands of rounds I find it difficult to buy them from someone else. Not particularly logical as "market" FWC is still wildly cheaper than my preferred Federal HPs - but there you go.

    Well, and having grown up in and still having family in Anoka, Minnesota I guess.


    Try to get an old moonshiner to go to a liquor store even if his still hasn't been hotted up in years.:D

    Todd.
     
  3. Glock Doctor

    Glock Doctor Member

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    I have, and I would; but you have to be careful with lead bullets. Many of them are too soft and have a Brinell Hardness Number well below 9 or 10 which causes more bullet deformity and reduces penetration. If you're sure your lead bullets are hard cast, and have a BHN of 12 or better then fine! What you do not want are bullets that have been swaged from soft lead wire, and have a BHN of 8 or less. As a rule-of-thumb: If I can easily indent a lead bullet with the back of something like a pocketknife blade then that bullet is, definitely, too soft for me to feel comfortable using.

    Penetration - even 'excessive penetration' (Whatever that means?) - is good; expansion is usually (but not always) an advantage, but shot placement? Whatever the caliber, whatever the bullet shape or material, THAT is everything!
     
  4. rswartsell

    rswartsell Member

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    No,

    I don't intentionally load them for SD, but it is what I use for practice and if circumstances overcome planning, I will not feel unarmed with them.

    I darn sure don't want to try to catch one. Nor would anyone else. I like that the weight resides between 135 and 158 so that POI is predictably between popular defensive loads. I don't typically use 110 or 125.
     
  5. marb4

    marb4 Member

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    Did some looking around and found a company called Atlanta Arms that makes a copper jacketed watcutter. Better for reducing bullet deformation maybe?
     
  6. Glock Doctor

    Glock Doctor Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it - Really. I think hard cast lead bullets should serve your purposes just fine. If the lead doesn't dent easily then go ahead and use them.

    I used to carry, 'copper-washed', (or plated) lead 148 grain wadcutters in my PPC revolver after I left many an evening match to return home. I never worried, or though of myself as being at a disadvantage because of the wadcutters in my gun. After several hours of putting all that lead right where I wanted it to be, I knew that if I had to use my revolver the target definitely wasn't going to be walking home!

    At any velocity I don't like soft lead bullets; this is why I've never carried Silvertips - Especially the early Silvertips! (My opinion has always been that this is one of the principal reasons why the FBI got into so much trouble during the infamous 1986, 'Miami Shootout'.)

    What is the ideal lead revolver bullet? A lot of older gunmen would tell you that it's the original, 'FBI revolver load': A 158 grain, LSWCHP bullet often loaded to +P velocity and capable of traveling between 800 and 1,000 FPS. (Too my mind +P is an option that probably isn't needed.)
     
  7. golden

    golden Member

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    Too slow

    MARB,

    The big problem with the wadcutter is that the low velocity means it will not do much more than drill a .38 caliber hole which may close up on itself. Many wounds collapse and do that.
    Also, the wadcutter was not designed to penetrate. It may tumble after hitting the target. This is a good thing in a 3,000 fps rifle bullet, but may not get you what you want with a 650 fps wadcutter.
    NYPD tried using a NON HOLLOWPOINT semi wadcutter and found it no more effective than the round nose lead bullet which had a long history of failure to stop.

    I use .38 Special NYCLAD because they will expand, even at the standard pressure velocity. They are very hard to find anymore, so you may have to go with something else. They have a mild recoil in the lightweight, 5 shot .38 Special revolvers.

    The +P loads like the 125 grain jhp and 158 grain swc hp really do a better job as they can penetrate and expand. The 158 grain has a good history for penetration.
    If you want a deep penetrating bullet, then you may have to go to something more powerful.

    Just my opinion.

    Jim
     
  8. Crayfish

    Crayfish Member

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    I carry 158 grain semi jacketed with a lead hollow core. Practice with same although I have only dug them out of green softwood which does not mean much but, they expand decent in that hard medium and have great penetration and best of all they are reasonable on price. Also they hit POA with my snub which is the biggest reason for the 158 for my gun. My gun is not rated for +P so I don't use them although it is a steel revolver and I could probably could carry +P for SD but, I like to practice a lot too.
     
  9. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    Yep, that's what I do. Warmed them up a little above 'light target', but not +P.
     
    dtwalters likes this.
  10. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I have handloaded hard cast wadcutters in .44 Spl. to 900 fps. or better for years. They do terrible damage to soft things.(especially if they tumble before they hit) But they have to be hard cast. Soft swaged lead doesn't seem to be near as effective.
     
  11. Water-Man

    Water-Man Member

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    I practice with them but don't carry for SD.

    Why? Because I'm greedy. I want both penetration AND expansion.

    I carry Cor-Bon DPX 110gr +P and get both. I also get less recoil than with Speer Gold Dot 135gr. +P.
     
  12. Lone Star

    Lone Star Member

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    There was once a load with the wadcutter at std. velocity, about 850 FPS. I've read that it was a good defense load.

    I think Buffalo Bore make it now.
     
  13. Drail

    Drail Member

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    The Buffalo Bore wadcutter load is very good. They are one of the few ammo makers that believe people will buy .44 Spl. defensive loads. The .44 Spl. is one of the greatest cartridges we ever came up with - back in 1908.
     
  14. 41magsnub

    41magsnub Member

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  15. Thomas Traddles

    Thomas Traddles Member

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    I reload for my LCR .38 special. Following an article by Ed Harris, I started loading what he called "full charge" double ended wadcutters over either 3.5 grains of Bullseye or Red Dot powder. The bullets are home cast from an RCBS 38-148 WC mold and the BHN is around 12. These run about 850 FPS from my snub. I also load them over 5 grains of Red Dot and shoot them out of my .357 Blackhawk only!! They run around 1000FPS. I think they will punch a hole in whatever gets in the way, and they are accurate out of my gun.

    Here is the link to the Harris article.

    http://www.hensleygibbs.com/edharri...The Double-End Wadcutter and the FBI Load.htm
     
  16. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    I like penetration and expansion also Water-Man, which is why I carry my version of +P+ 38 spcl.. 110 gr. Gold Dot on top of a worked up charge of Longshot, fired from a sturdy .357 mag. revolver, that will get ya plenty of both.

    And for practicing, I just use an inexpensive jacketed, something in the range .08 - .10 per.

    I won't divulge the charge, but it's some where around 800 rounds per pound:D

    GS
     
  17. HankB

    HankB Member

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    And yet before the advent of well-designed high velocity JHPs, the bullet of choice for a snub-nose .38 was a soft 148 grain HBWC loaded backwards at increased velocity. I recall a factory loaded version of this by a company called "Scorpion" that was basically a reversed HBWC with the addition of a center post - the predecessor of today's Federal Hydra-Shok ammo. Unfortunately, the Scorpion load was very mild, so it didn't catch on very well.

    ATOMIC ammunition has today revived the concept with a "+P" load . . . http://atomicammunition.com/38spec.html . . . this looks VERY interesting, but I don't know enough about this specific maker to recommend it. (I have some reservations about small ammo makers.)

    Years ago I did a fair amount of experimentation with reversed HBWCs using load data I won't repost here, and got some pretty impressive velocities out of a 2" barrel. (I never blew up or damaged a gun!!) I found that brand of HBWC made a difference, and performance in various test media was impressive - including a coup-de-grace shot on a wounded whitetail deer.

    The main point is - SOFT lead bullets can be quite effective if driven at reasonable velocity above standard target loads.
     
  18. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    I still have 5 of the reversed loaded wad cutters .They were loaded for me in early 1980's I remember I had 10 shot 5 for testing and kept 5 for carry. . Some where I switch to a different load and put this in a plastic case.

    I remember I had a barn back then on property. I tested one round in it.. I hung a empty paint can on a nail lid against wall . Shot with a lead round nose from my S&W snub. Hole in bottom of can & lid , Bullet stuck in barn wall Popped out with a knife.

    Next up was the reverse wad cutter. Recoil like a +P Can flew off nail. Lid left can. Hole big as a 50 cent coin . Hole through wall of barn. As I was stand their in awl . The barn wood fell off barn. :eek: Yep good enough for carry . If shooting short distance across room They would begin to tumble after say 20 ' Then was a toss up as what you were going to get.

    A friend of mine loaded them He has passed on so don't have any idea as to the load he used.
     
  19. Glock Doctor

    Glock Doctor Member

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    Yeah, I've used a lot of lead and WC bullets loaded all different ways, too. My main point is, 'So What!' The usual problems with shooting lead bullets continue to apply; and, even though I've still got several hundred rounds of upside down WC ammo on the shelf, I haven't forgotten the numerous flyers this sort of load is prone to produce - With many of the fired bullets hitting the target sideways at and beyond 12 yards, +.

    If you're gunfighting, 'up close 'n personal' sure, there's a place in modern self-defense for reversed HBWC bullets; but I continue to think they're way less than ideal; and, if a large increase in bullet diameter is desired, then today's JHP's are, unquestionably, a: better, more reliable, and more accurate way to go. Neither has anything I've read, so far, changed my mind about the efficacy of using soft lead bullets. I don't care how they expand in: gelatin, water, wood, newspaper, or whatever. Flesh, bone, and heavier clothing - in combination - present unique, more difficult, penetration and expansion problems for ALL bullets to have to overcome.

    I don't like carrying or using soft lead bullets; and it doesn't matter to me which, 'big name' ammunition manufacturer is presently using them. The fact that they, 'work' isn't reason enough for me to adopt any of these bullets as a full-time EDC load. Perhaps, for this old pistolero: bullet weight, hardness, cross sectional density, velocity at and above 800 FPS, and significantly greater penetration remain more important self-defense considerations than anything I've read about the FBI recommending of late.

    Accurate and consistent shot placement requires bullets that fly straight and well. One of the biggest - seldom stated - 'secrets' of CQB pistol gunfighting is to be able to advantage yourself by significantly wounding the other guy BEFORE he's able to do the same thing to you. Really short barrels and noticeably soft bullets - particularly bullets that don't fly well for whatever reasons - are NOT components of my own IDEAL, pistol gunfighting, self-defense system.

    Would I use reversed HBWC's? Sure! Do I prefer to use this sort of ammunition for self-defense? No, not as my first choice! Tout this ammunition all you want; but, I still remember that, 'back in the day' a lot of savvy pistoleros had only brief, 'love affairs' with this sort of self-defense ammo before, inevitably, moving onto something else; AND, personally, I'll always believe that the discussion we're having, right now, is a principal reason, 'Why' so very many of the men I grew up shooting with, almost naturally, gravitated to 1911's and 45 ACP.

    (Whose life and pistol gunfighting experience is more typical of this discussion than Jim Cirillo's! Always and perpetually dissatisfied with whatever bullet he was using, Cirillo developed a personal hobby out of experimenting with all different sorts of essentially 38 caliber bullets - None of which, to the best of my knowledge, proved to be anywhere near ideal. For the record: In an entire lifetime of using guns and shooting, the only centerfire pistol round I've never heard anybody complain about - other than the ridiculous organized news media - is Winchester, 'Ranger', T-Series. :D )
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
  20. kBob

    kBob Member

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    I am old enough that carrying reversed HBWC was considered viable and I occasionally did so. Not having Marshall and Sanow or Dr. Fackler around yet meant folks tried what ever blew their skirts up. I found that in wet pack (soaked bundles of news paper) or wet red clay that the bullets I had access to were not particularly dependable in that they did not react the same way with every shot. Some expanded to almost the size of a quarter and stopped fairly quick and some failed to expand at all and went deep. Still others turned side ways or tumbled and some of these flattened out on the hollow end and some did not.

    If M&S are to be believed then DEWC and HBWC loaded normally and at target velocities are below the effectiveness of the old 158 grain RNL. The numbers they showed in the past for the same 158 grain RNL and SWC were pretty much the same with one another.

    Interestingly there was some development of the HBWC concept.....

    Around 1900 the british had a .455 webly cartridge called the "Man Stopper" that was basically a reverse loaded HBWC it supossedly worked quite well. Enter WWI and concerns about cartridges causeing un necessary wounding and it went away....... for 70 or so years.

    After the failure of a two inch .38 Special used by German's GSG9 group during the removal of terrorist from an airliner, the German GSG9 group did research on what should work in such a gun. One of the German ammunition manufacturers came up with a copper washed HBWC that also had a shallow large hollow point. It weighed about 112 grains and was loaded with the long hollow base down and the shallower large hollow point forward. These were intended to be launched at fairly high velocity and the copper wash, much like the original Winchester .357 loads with such a coating.

    I do not know how they worked in "the field" against actual terrorist. I do know that if loaded backwards that is deep hollow base forward and the shallower hollow point down that they were unstable, but loaded correctly still stable at 25 meters.

    I will say that at one point Dr. Fackler was vary interested in ring foil style bullets, think DEWC with a hollow all the way through it and a wad like device to provide something for the charge to push against that falls away at the muzzle or on contact. He was interested in such a round specifically to replace traditional shot gun slugs, wehter foster, Benneke, or wasp waist/BRI, but also for hand guns.

    Such bullets, ring foils, where used at the Waco Branch Dividian compound and supposedly left straight track wounds that did not collapse on themselves when fired in MP5 smgs, even cutting straight paths after penetrating T111 siding.

    PMC briefly offered such a round in .38SPL and .357 Magnum though I never saw any press on them.

    My own experience with a .38 SPL DEWC on flesh was a cleanly cut entrance wound but the round then struck a bone and turned sideways to exit. The bleeding was difficult to stop.

    -kBob
     
  21. Taroman

    Taroman Member

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    Agree that solid wadcutters can be very effective.
    I load them to ~ 1000 FPS for my 3" 357.
    Extremely accurate and I sure wouldn't want to be on the receiving end.
    65target.jpg
     
  22. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

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    My go to load for our LCR is 110 gr. wad cutters running hot. I interviewed some older cops who used to carry these and have shot/been shot with similar. They are controllable out of the LCR in rapid fire and my tests show them to do things to test media that is pretty impressive.

    VooDoo
     
  23. Water-Man

    Water-Man Member

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    So how did they like being shot with them?
     
  24. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

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    None of the guys I talked to were real fond of being shot at all. A couple of them had been involved in a number of shootings and carried wad cutters because of their experiences with that type of bullet in a gunfight.

    These guys were all in their 80's and were county cops years ago - buddies or acquaintances of my Father in Law who was LEO as well "back in the day" before they had regulations telling them what guns and ammunition they had to carry.

    VooDoo
     
  25. Thomas Traddles

    Thomas Traddles Member

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    Taroman, that is some nice shooting!
     
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