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Wadcutter Bullets Use and Loading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by DMW1116, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    I picked up a box of 148 grain Hornady Hollow Base Wadcutter bullets to try. My understanding is these are primarily target bullets and have some applications for varmints as well, according to the Hornady information. There were some Berrys available too but I felt like these might be better for developing my target/precision load. Are my assumptions on this incorrect?

    Velocity in the load data I have for 357 Magnum runs at or just under 1000 fps. Combined with the soup can shape, does this limit the accurate range of these types of bullets?

    Finally, I notice the trim length and COAL are basically the same. Is that right? Do I just pushed them all the way down and crimp over the end/top of the projectile? I have a couple other things to finish before I start working with these but I plan to have some loaded up by this weekend for testing.
     
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  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Lead hollow base wadcutters are primarily meant for light target loads in .38 Spl, but you can also load them in .357 Mag cases. You do not want to push them hard for two reasons, you cab blow the front off and leave the "skirt" in the barrel, and you can get leading pushing them too hard as they aren't tough enough (pure soft lead) to hold the rifling if pushed too hard.

    2.7 Grs of Bullseye is a classic .38 Spl load.

    Multiple ways to crimp them, most do as you mention, lightly roll crimp over the front edge, or just a light taper crimp.

    Light taper crimp at the front edge of the full diameter part.
    Light Taper Crimp on a 38 HBWC Pic 1.JPG

    Here's what they look like below that light taper crimp. This one is roll crimped
    Light Roll Crimp on a 38 HBWC Pic 1.JPG

    Here it is crimped at the crimp groove for those who like the front of the bullet in the throats.
    Light Roll Crimp Into Cannelure on  .38 Spl HBWC Pic 1.JPG
     
  3. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    The optimal speed I believe was around 800 fps. They are slow bullets and the hollow base are rumored to ring your barrel if you push to hard.... still studying that.
     
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  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    The way to "ring" a barrel is to have a squib, or maybe a stuck skirt (dunno), and shoot another round behind it.
     
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  5. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I'm pretty happy not joining that particular party
     
  6. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Wadcutters are like Bumblebees and Phantom F-4’s: it makes no sense how they fly so good but they do. And it’s best not to wonder too hard about it. :D

    Light loads using a powder meant for target shooting, seated to where your chambers like them, and standard primers in clean brass. That’s the ticket, right there.
     
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  7. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    That there on the left looks like a .38S&W.
    upload_2021-10-19_21-43-49.jpeg
     
  8. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Not rumored, you can damage your barrel if you drive hollow base wadcutters too fast. See Walkong’s post

    If you blow off a hollow base wadcutter skirt and do not catch it, the next round will encounter a barrel obstruction.

    Not a happy end to your day.

    That said, drive hollow base wadcutters at safe target velocities and they will provide great accuracy performance without any risk to the firearm.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2021
  9. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Every once in a while, you'll run across something in a gun magazine or on an internet gun forum about loading hollow base wadcutters upside down for self-defense loads. I'm just saying you'll see something about it every once in a while - I'm not promoting it, nor am I arguing against it.;)
     
  10. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    I sense a “but” hanging on the air…
     
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  11. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    The other flavor is a DEWC, which looks like a beer can. Those can be loaded for light target stuff like the HBWC variety, but they can also be amped up with a stiff load, especially in 357 mag.
     
  12. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    There is alot of discussion on the effectiveness of loading hollow base wadcutters upside down paticularly in guns like the S&W J-frames.

    Like .308 Norma, I won’t commit one way or the other on loading hollow base wadcutters up side down. I will say I’d prefer a bullet that is easier to insert in the cylinder on reload.

    Side note, my main J-frames are cut for moon clips.
     
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  13. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    In a solid base design I bet that flat front does nice work on melons and water jugs.
     
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  14. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    My current plan is to use them with the Hodgden data for Winchester 231. The velocity is a rather tame 845-900 fps from a 10” barrel. My Blackhawk has just a 6.5” barrel so I bet it will be moving slower, maybe down to 750ish speeds. I have enough brass now to test the whole range of charge weights. I like to think I can equal the accuracy of my Victory 22 but that’s a pretty tall order.
     
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  15. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    Those Hornady HBWC are a very soft swaged lead. They have a dry "lubricant" on them, either wax or a mica coating.

    The bullets and the lube are designed to be driven at about 725 fps, +/- 25 fps.

    I strongly recommend not driving them much beyond that velocity. Not only do you risk structural damage to the bullet itself - it can come apart, separating the hollow base from the solid body - but you may very well get severe leading.

    If you want to drive a wadcutter faster, get some of the widely available cast bullets. Usually they come as Double Ended Wadcutters - DEWC -, but sometimes available as a Button Nose - BNWC . Either of those types can be driven to whatever velocity one chooses, within reason.

    As for the seating, and OAL issue; I seat the HBWC flush with the end of the case. Very light roll crimp, and done.
     
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  16. forrest r

    forrest r Member

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    You can actually get those hornady hbwc's up to 900fps+ (per hornady manual).

    Accuracy doesn't fall at distance but with the less then stellar design and the low velocities loads, accurate longer shots (75yds+) can be challenging especially if there's wind.

    Myself I like to load any hbwc/wc long with longer oal's like walkalong's picture he was kind enough to post above in post #2.
     
  17. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I tried this in the late '80s and got inconsnstent results. Loaded some in 38 Special brass with upper mid level loads of Bullseye (didn't have a chrony at the time). I shot them into magazie packs, 6"-8" of magazines taped together. Yes I know that's not a real good testing media but I was comparing results with other bullets. A few would mushroom, some would glog the hollow and act like a solid, some would have the skirts collapser and some would fragment. Accuracy was no better/worse than normal loading at 15'-20'. There are videos on youtube about reverse HBWC shooting into gel with varied results. Many reloaders like to experiment and I did more than my share but I'd rather use bullets designed by a trained bullet engineer/ballistician for SD/HD. But I do have a load for one of my house guns that is a cast DEWC loaded over max. loads of W231. Accurate and while not as good as a specifically SD designed 150 gr. bullet, I believe it would be effective.
     
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  18. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    :rofl:
    You're very perceptive!;)
    "But" I'm a tinkerer at heart, and I've considered building some of those .38 Special loads with upside down HBWCs for self-defense. I've just never done it because there's a large variety of 38 caliber bullets already available - at least there used to be. Besides, I run factory loads in my carry guns anyway.:)
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  19. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Same here but using Bullseye (.38Spl) and Unique (.38+ and .357Mag). I put a commercial 145gr. DEWC .357 loaded up with 13.5gr. of 2400 powder THROUGH a 220lb boar hog using a 6-1/2" Blackhawk. Almost no expansion, tore heck out of lungs and heart, tumbled around a good bit, went in a first rib and came out the abdomen near it's belly-button, but he ran a good 50yds before exsanguination overcame him... I've got better results from harder alloy 158/160gr. LSWC-HP (GC and non-GC) or plain old Speer 158gr. Gold Dots. Those heavier Gold Dots are great for hunting.

    I'd have no problem using a DEWC on an intruder but with the understanding it's going to be a through-and-through and there are better choices. Where the DEWC really shines as a "potential manstopper" is at lower velocities (.38Spl standard velocity) in a snubby. Even at 650-750fps it's still a bleed opener and still tears heck out of innards. Most HP bullets need at least 1000fps to do more than a RN would do but DEWC's create a large wound cavity (in a pig, anyway) at a lot less.
     
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  20. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    You did a much better job of saying what I clumsily tried to say in my above post - I am a tinkerer, and I have thought about building some .38 Special ammo using upside-down HBWCs for SD/HD. I've always talked myself our of it though because, like you, I'd rather have bullets that were specifically designed for those purposes by "trained engineers and ballisticians" in my SD/HD guns.:thumbup:
     
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  21. Twocanary

    Twocanary Member

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    For reference to crimping flush, here's a pic of factory match rounds. Personally, didn't like factory because they would lead up in my revolvers and semi's (SW52 and 38 sp 1911). Accuracy was ok but cleaning was a chore:mad:. I'd rather shoot my cast which I assume was harder. Now, don't shoot wadcutters at all because I sold my semi auto's and need bullets that would also feed in my lever and bolt rifles. So SWC are more useful to me. I have also loaded HBWC upside down:):).
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  22. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    This all matches my experience exactly. The Hornady is one of my very favorite bullets, but it really does not like to be pushed very fast. I have nothing against the idea of using wadcutters for hunting or even defense - but the Hornady is perhaps the worst possible choice for the task.
     
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  23. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    Holy cow! Get leading out of that 2400 load?
     
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  24. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Nope. Meister's are 2-6-92 14-16BHN and wax lubed. They use Blue Carnauba wax, good for 1200fps pretty easily. That 13.5gr. load is only pushing 1150fps or so out of that 6-1/2" Blackhawk. I use #2 Alloy loading data (5-5-90 and also 14-16BHN) from Lyman's for Meister, Cast Performance and Hunters Supply commercial bullets running 14-22BHN (Linotype is about 22BHN). No leading, no huge variances, no worries. My little Chrony says I'm almost always right at the mark for published #2 Alloy or Linotype data.

    I have a 100ct box of Pacific Cast 160gr. #358311 LRN and one of 150gr. #358091 BNWC, both cast of Linotype, I'm saving for an occasion when I need a hard, brittle bullet. That 160gr. Linotype bullet drills holes like a TiN bit! :)
     
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  25. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    I got started on this today setting up my dies. I have it set with just flush or 0.005” protruding before crimping. The crimp is as light a roll crimp as I can do. I’ve only made a dummy round but I think I’m going to have to flare the case more. The seating operation shaved off some lube and probably some lead as well. The bullet would just start in the case mouth but maybe getting 1/32” into the case would solve that problem. I don’t know if it makes a difference but I did have to trim this case to length and then beveled the inside and de burred the outside.
     
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