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Wadcutters for self defense loads?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by whm1974, Apr 27, 2020.

  1. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Hello, I haven't been on this Forum in awhile and decided to come back... Long story, short...

    Anyhow, I found this article after searching for wadcutter bullets(.357") and it mention(another one too) using wadcutter loading as a defense round.
    https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/wadcutter-ammo-self-defense/

    I used to keep .38 Special Revolvers for home protection and either used 158 Grain SWC(younger years) or in my 30's 125 grain JHP loads.

    Now I have never thought about using loads intended for target shooting for defensive ammo before. But from reading the article wadcutters do make sense for those with weak wrists and /or recoil sensitive along with elderly folks. They also would be perfect for snubnose and small frame revolvers as well.

    Anyone have any thoughts or experience with using defensive wadcutter loads?
     
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  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    it will put a a good round hole in them. I've used semi wadcutters on deer with good success.
     
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  3. shoebox1.1

    shoebox1.1 Member

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    I think there are good arguments for many types of SD ammo. Everyone’s got a favorite. All I know is I wouldn’t want to get shot with 3-4 wadcutters from a trained revolverman!!! Those ez shootin’ flat cutters sure do allow good shot placement which I think everyone can agree is most important!
    ( insert C&L wadcutter pics here______) wink
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
  4. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    .357 I assume? With heart/lung shot placement?
     
  5. Dunross

    Dunross Member

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    I see wadcutters as a potential SD bullet where circumstances are such that driving a bullet at a velocity high enough to have a good probability of expansion is problematical. A two inch snubby 38 is a good example of this. Recoil and speed of follow-up shots becomes a concern when you drive a bullet fast enough to make it likely to expand.

    A wadcutter of course won't expand at all, but will cut a clean hole of its caliber size and chances are will penetrate deeply at even modest velocities. Lower recoil makes coming back on target for follow-up shots faster and easier.

    They are what I use for short barrel revolvers. My 125gr 38 loads shoot dead on point of aim.
     
  6. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    Good snubby fodder.

    Target wadcutters are my wife's SD load in her .38spl and .357mag revolvers. Federal Gold Match 148HBWC, preferably. And std pressure Rem 158gr LWC in speed strips and speed loaders.

    Every once in a while I think about switching from spicy Underwood 158gr +P LSWCHP to wadcutters. Give me another decade and my hands and wrists will make the decision for me.
     
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  7. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Member

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    I don't know why wadcutters wouldn't be effective. HD and SD are close situations so you don't need 1,200 FPS muzzle velocity. Also, they might limit the problem of overpenetration. Just my guessing.

    Jeff
     
  8. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    When I got into reloading ammo by myself, I purchased 158 grain SWC bullets and Hercules smokeless powder as my used when he taught me about reloading... In hindsight I should have use 148 wadcutters instead...
     
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  9. Boarhunter

    Boarhunter Member

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    The ol' guys here will remember a time, many decades ago, when we loaded hollow-base wadcutters backwards as the perfect self-defense 38 round....

    BOARHUNTER
     
  10. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    One from a 357 neck shot about 50 yards. Others in a 35 Rremington.
     
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  11. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Yeah this probably does not matter to much to most but put wad-cutters in a speed-loader or moonclips and try to reload quickly. Compared to round nose they are a nightmare. Even hollow points are faster and less prone to dance on the face of the cylinder than wad cutters. It also seems most commercial wad-cutters (especially 38 Special) are pretty anemic as far as the power/velocity numbers go. SWC are not much better for quick reloads.

    Yes I know you're never going to reload a revolver is a self-defense situations. I hear you I just don't believe it... :D
     
  12. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    Unless you have them loaded to "very" anemically, I would think overpenetration "would" be an issue.

    BTDT in another lifetime and they basically suck. ;)

    I wonder how many actually even practice (or have done) a reload? :)

    Im always amazed at the effort some people go to, trying to avoid actually using a realistic gun and learn to shoot it well. :confused:

    Inappropriate guns with magic bullets. What more do you need? :D
     
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  13. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Silly example of what a minor change in ammo can do. I had been shooting USPSA Revolver division for a few years when they changed the rules that allowed the 7 & 8-shooters to play. I ran out got me a 627 PC (8-shot 357 Mag N-frame) and was so excited to shoot a match with it (before I had worked up a proper competition load) I grabbed the only 38 Special ammo I had and head for the monthly club match. I had been using a 625 with good coated round nose 45 ACP ammo. The 625 is the bench mark by which all fast reloading revolvers are measure against. I tried to run my first match with my 627 with 8-round moonclips full of 38 Special 158gr semi-wad cutters. What a nightmare, I would have been better off throwing the loose rounds at the targets then trying to execute a fast reload with SWC's. Every time I would throw a moonclip at that cylinder the shoulder would snag the edge of a chamber and the whole moonclip would cant and bind in the cylinder. It was one of the most frustrating matches I have ever shot. By the next match I had proper ammo and it was again the sweet smooth reloads I was use to.

    I am not saying you have to pick ammo for just the reload. I don't carry my competition RN bullets in my CCW but I do carry ammo I have practice my reloads with and I know from trying wad-cutters and semi-wad-cutter and speed-loaders and moonclips do not go will together in my experience. I use a good reputable HP that is as pointy as I can find while still performing as expected of a CCW bullet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
  14. Monac

    Monac Member

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    In self defense, shooting the attacker with anything is a good move. However, as I understand it, pistol bullets that expand on impact have been found to be more effective in actual shootings than those that do not. Apparently with non-expanding bullets, shape does not matter much. Having said that, handgun effectiveness against humans is a hotly debated topic, and one that is not very practical to research scientifically. So there is a great deal more heat than light shed in the debates.

    Having said all that, wadcutters are easy to shoot well with, and their low recoil (if they are mid-range loads) makes it easier to shoot quickly with accuracy. And as I first said, hitting - with anything - is of primary importance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2020
  15. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Wadcutters and semi-wadcutters have basically the same terminal effect. Semi-wadcutters are available in heavier weights, and are better balanced for longer range shooting.

    I took a Colt M357 with me to Viet Nam on my first tour and carried handloads with a hollow-based wadcutter loaded backwards -- and all the Unique I dared. I served two customers with it, and neither one asked for his money back.

    But after one cylinder full, you had to scrub the lead out of the barrel.
     
  16. IlikeSA

    IlikeSA Member

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    I use wadcutters in my 38 LCR backup gun for a few reasons. Number 1: that gun hurts with almost any ammo. Number 2: At the velocity a 38 is going, I would rather have penetration over expansion.
     
  17. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    For defense I would commercial ammo with reliable penetration and expansion but stay is the body of the person who trying kill me/do me grave bodily harm. My intent of course to stop said person from doing such.

    For legal and reliability reasons, I will not use reloads...

    To prevent leading of the barrel, perhaps use hard cast wadcutter for target practice?
     
  18. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    Hard cast bullets at low velocities result in heavy leading. They don't expand to fill the bore.
    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Chapter_7_Leading.htm

    I have started loading Speer #4628 soft lead semi-wadcutter hollow points. Expands reliably at 38 spl velocity and doesn't lead the barrel..
     
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  19. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Did not know that. Maybe Barry's plated wadcutter as shown here:
    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1018181886
    I have no experience in loading or shooting them as I only loaded lead semiwadcutters or use JHP for defense loads.
     
  20. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    When I worked in law enforcement i got to know the coroners in my county and the counties around us. Those that carried, with one exception, used 38 Specials with full wadcutter bullets. The exception used a 45 ACP.

    Kevin
     
  21. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Here is an old article on full power wadcutter loads. When I carried a 38 Special these are what i reloaded for self defense.

    Kevin
     
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  22. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Where is the link to the article?
     
  23. JERRY

    JERRY Member

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    not a bad load for a balance between penetration and low recoil.
     
  24. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I have carried WC bullets in my 38s and shot a lot of water bottles with them. The solid WC bullets I load are past the target bullet loads. Mine are more like 3.5 to 4grs of Bullseye and they knock the snot out of 2 liter coke bottles. I am guessing their velocity is around 800+fps from a snubby gun. And they will blow through several bottles before they veer off course. I can't comment on expansion. I have never been able to catch one. But they are not light recoiling like target loads.

    I have also loaded the HBWC bullets with the hollow cavity forward. If they hit just right they make great mushrooms. But most times they are slightly tilted and then the cavity collapses flat. They are unreliable and I don't do it anymore. I have a box of them loaded now and wish I hadn't wasted the bullets to load them.

    If you want to carry a reload with your WC loads maybe look at using the round nose flat point bullets in your speed loader. They drop in easy and still have a flat point to add to the impact.

    Maybe do a search. There have been several threads on WC loads for SD.
     
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  25. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I don't know about using full power Wadcutter loads for defense. Maybe a moderate instead of low velocities? That should gave better performance with out hurting owners of small lightweight revolvers.
     
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