View Full Version : Origins of the wadcutter bullet?

October 16, 2010, 02:52 PM
I know Elmer Keith played a role in developing the SWC, and the RNL bullet originated from the conical bullet used (sometimes) in cap and ball revolvers, does anyone know the who and where and when of the wadcutter?

Ideal Tool
October 16, 2010, 04:35 PM
Hello, SIGSHR. The Himmelwright wadcutter was the first such bullet I believe used in handguns with such a shape. It was listed as the Ideal mould #429220, at 175gr. Circa. 1900...most likely for the .44 Russian, a very popular target ctg., and later for the .44 spec. I don't have all my referance books with me at moment, or I would try to find 1st. .38 wadcutter #. How about the old S&W .32-44 target round? The bullet in that was seated flush or below case mouth, but not sure of shape..I will look that one up.

Jim Watson
October 16, 2010, 05:45 PM
My S&W .38-44 Target was built for a cylinder length case with roundnose bullet seated below the case mouth.

James K
October 16, 2010, 08:28 PM
Going back a bit further, the wadcutter bullet was adopted for target shooting because it cuts a clean hole. In target shooting, any shot that cuts the line between scoring rings counts as the higher value, so a nice clean hole is important in scoring a target. (Round nose bullets make a ragged hole and scoring is much more difficult.)

The term comes from shotshell reloading. In the old days, most people who loaded shotshells made their own wads by cutting them out of paper or cardboard, using a device not unlike a common cookie cutter. Naturally, the "wadcutter" made a neat round hole in the cardboard, and the bullet that made a neat round hole in the target came to be called a "wadcutter."

The semi-wadcutter bullet was designed to allow greater weight and penetration while retaining a sharp edge for use on targets.