Wad-cutters as self-defense ammo?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by wiscoaster, Nov 19, 2021.

  1. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    I have a S&W 442 I was thinking of carrying in a shoulder holster. What are you guys' thoughts about using wad-cutters as my ammo for this gun carried for self-defense purposes?
     
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  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    I bet they would put a nice round hole in someone.
     
  3. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    Several gun writers from the past have suggested the use of wad cutters for defensive shooting. They weigh, in the .38 Special factory stuff, 148 grs, and are soft lead, so at close range would be as effective as any other lead bullet at .38 Specail velocities. And I believe it was none other than Skeeter Skelton who suggested using hollow base wadcutters loaded backward for the ultimate hollow point.

    Bob Wright
     
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  4. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    Yes, their light recoil should make that elusive shot placement easier to achieve. A reversed HBWC would have to be a reload, IIRC there is broad agreement today to use only factory ammo for self defense.
     
  5. trackskippy

    trackskippy Member

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    I have a 642 and a couple of 2" Model 10's. If I were to carry them, Id use either the 135 grain Speer Short Barrel load, or 158 grain LSWC's.

    I think the WC's are anemic enough, and loading the HBWC's backward only makes them less effective, not more.
     
  6. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I really don't have strong feelings one way or another. Luckygunner ran a bullet expansion test in ballistic gel of a number of bullets

    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolver-ballistics-test/

    and here

    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolver-ballistics-test/

    and it was dismaying to see the lack of expansion and penetration depth from expanding bullets in a 38 Special snubbie.

    the revolver guy ran his own 148 wadcutter tests

    https://revolverguy.com/wadcutters-for-self-defense/

    and one more

    http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2014/01/federal-gold-medal-match-38-special.html

    Given that expansion is very uncertain with the bullets used in 38 Special snubbies, I am more of the opinion just run whatever shoots to point of aim. I would not use target loads for a self defense pistol, the classic 148 with 2.7 grains Bullseye went 606 and 611 fps in two of my snubbies. I don't feel comfortable with something that light, and that slow. You can't bump up the classic hollow base wad cutter without blowing the skirt, but you could with the solid base. And I have no problems loading 158 grain LSWC's at 686 fps out of a snubbie.
     
  7. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    That my friend was a very well written and intelligent post. There are some rounds that do well out of 1 7/8 barrels, not many however. I have shot many thousands of rounds of the Speer 135 Short Barrel out of my 640. After the first round of qualification 50 it was not a whole lot of fun especially in the cold months. All that aside, in the very light (lite) J frames a standard pressure round is what most can handle. I would love for someone to offer a standard pressure 158 SWC not hollow point because it is the one round that is better than RNL or anything offered with a hollow point that is only posing as a serious round.

    Side note: if one could find a commercially loaded 148 Grain Wadcutter at 750 plus it would be better than a 158 RNL. Good luck with that however and I am not a big fan of reloads for carry. I just feel it’s inviting trouble, nothing against those that do.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
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  8. UncleEd

    UncleEd Member

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    Wiscoaster,

    Are you particularly sensitive to recoil,
    especially in a LW revolver? If no,
    forget the target wadcutter.

    Also, a shoulder holster seems like
    an awful lot of extra "rigging" for
    a small LW gun; might even weigh
    as much or more than the gun.
     
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  9. mcb

    mcb Member

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    I personally would not use was cutters. Most are loaded for very low velocity. They are also a pain to reload quickly, from speed strips, speed loaders, or moonclips. There are good loads that are made for and work well in the snub nose 38s. Unless you are recoil sensitive I would research and use one of the well tested loads that works well in the snubby.
     
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  10. 1942bull

    1942bull Member

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    I saw a YT video comparing wad cutter to JHP in 38 special with 2 inch barrel. As I recall there was no expansion of the JHPs and the Wadcutters a actually produced a larger wound channel. They also compared it to FMJ. Results was same as JHP. It was probably 4 or five years ago that I saw it. It’s probably still there somewhere.
     
  11. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    No, I'm thinking a light-load wad-cutter might produce results more like a hollow point than a FMJ bullet. And ... I have a bunch of it, but I don't have any CD .38 Spec ammo (is it even made?)
     
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  12. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Ya, probably, but I don't like carrying stuff in my pants pockets. EG, this little thingy is what I carry in my pocket as the "keys" to my car:
    IMG_2222.JPG
    Ha!!
     
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  13. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Magtech and Privi Partisan both offer standard velocity 158 LSWCs if you can find them.
     
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  14. lee n. field

    lee n. field Member

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    100_0606.JPG
    Internet accessible gun pundits seem to think well of it. Their reasoning seems sound, but what do I know.

    The existence of
    "Buffalo Bore Ammunition 44 Special 200 Grain Hard Cast Lead Wadcutter Anti-Personnel Box of 20"
    , at $2.65 a round, has got me into looking into handloading .44 Special wadcutters.
     
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  15. Monster Zero

    Monster Zero Member

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    Buffalo Bore also makes a 150 grain wadcutter in 38 special that's a self defense load. No worries about whether it will expand or not because it isn't expected to expand.

    Be careful shooting in in an airweight though... I tried it, once, and five rounds was quite enough.

    In a regular k frame with a four inch barrel it's quite manageable. Also expensive.
     
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  16. Roverguy

    Roverguy Member

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    I do so with soft lead in 45LC. 250s at 925 fps.
     
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  17. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    They could be pretty effective if the velocity was bumped up a bit more than the classic target load speeds. As was stated above, if you could get a DEWC up to 850-900 fps I think you’ll be pretty well served.

    I have a 4” Model 64 and fired several plated DEWC over 2.8 gr Bullseye at paper targets attached to some conveyor belt material. I was surprised to see that the bullets bounced off the belt and didn’t penetrate it at all. No other handgun load I’ve ever fired has bounced off, even .22 LR will penetrate the rubberized material. This was an eye opener, a sternum or humorous bone probably would limit, or maybe even stop, a powder puff velocity slug.

    If I was packing a J frame .38 with DEWC in the cylinder, my second set of rounds in a speed loader or strip would be a JHP like critical defense or HST so reloading it would be easier than trying to reload with wadcutters.

    Stay safe.
     
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  18. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

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    I carry a smith 642 loaded with either Winchester or Remington factory 148 grain wadcutters. For my 80 year old hands their recoil is tolerable. Their reputation is deep penetration with good tissue damage.
     
  19. Steel Hayes

    Steel Hayes Member

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    C884B88D-1C3C-42FA-A7EC-4DC462EF7F47.jpeg
    I’ve loaded the 148 grn HBWC backward(loaded hot 3.9grn CFE pistol) and tested it.
    It made an impressive hole, but only penetrating 8.5”.
    0F46D65A-ECF0-465C-B898-8B78116DDE71.jpeg
    While not FBI standard, the ballistics gel I made showed that there wasn’t a huge difference between the .38spl HBWC and a .22WCF as far as wound channeling.
    I found that the HBWC loaded the correct way didn’t have quite the expansion but penetrated 12” to 13.5”
    723BD86F-D52F-4728-8F0A-412DDA2EED12.jpeg
     
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  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    There used to be a "service wadcutter" at the same test barrel velocity of 850 fps as 158 roundnose; less in a real revolver. Midrange wadcutters are slower, the Buffalo Bore is faster, if you want the old stuff you have to load it yourself.
     
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  21. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    If I'm temporarily out of good SD ammo, I'm willing to carry 44 special or 45 colt wadcutters of some kind if "necessary".

    I don't prefer to carry 32 magnum or 38 special revolvers if they're not loaded with hollowpoints.
     
  22. Steel Hayes

    Steel Hayes Member

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    Just curious why just hollow points?
    I ask because I just picked up a CA Undercoverette in .32 Mag.
     
  23. Old_Grouch

    Old_Grouch Member

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    A wadcutter should be more effective than a round nose or un-expanded hollow point. A round nose or pointedish/roundedish un-expanded hollow point will tend to slip through tissue whereas the sharp shoulders of the wadcutter will cut through.
     
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  24. trackskippy

    trackskippy Member

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    Thats where the SWC comes in. :)
     
  25. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    There is no science behind my "reasoning".

    My primitive brain: "Little revolver bullet need hollowpoint."

    My wife has an Undercoverette for the couple of days a year that I might be out of town. It's been accurate and reliable. Hopefully yours will serve you well. :)

     
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