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Old December 21, 2018, 04:52 PM   #1
dontcatchmany
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Do any of you use 38 Special Wadcutter for SD?

I have two short barrel revolvers. a Ruger SP101 and a Kimber K6S each a 38/357.

For some reason I have a new found interest in carrying a revolver as a backup in my daily carry. I had a failure of a Glock 27 when I was range shooting. That gun was a car/truck gun. Got me to thinking that maybe a semi auto might need a backup. Actually fixed the G27 today with the replacement of a Recoil spring Assembly.

I am trying several types and brands of ammo in 38 and 357 mag. Never shot much 38 spcl, but since I am an old man with arthritic hands furl 357 in the snubbies is a tad much any more.

I have tried 357 magnum 135 gr and it is tolerable and may be my carry ammo. The short barrel ammo is also very much tolerable. And, I think I would prefer 357 magnum.

However, I keep coming across data on 38 Special wadcutters as self defense ammo. The old FBI load or Chicago load, whatever.

So, I got two boxes of Federal Premium 148 gr Lead Wadcutter Gold Medal Match.

Shot some of it today in the two guns listed above. Dang it was accurate and very much fun to shoot.

What do you folks think about various and sundry wadcutters in 38 Special for self Defense ammo from a backup or primary gun?
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Old December 21, 2018, 05:18 PM   #2
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Lucky Gunner did an article on wadcutters for self defense. You can read it here
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Old December 21, 2018, 05:21 PM   #3
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Here's a good video on Speer 38 SPL+P GDHP Short Barrel ammo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k890Rio2oBY&t=58s
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Old December 21, 2018, 05:24 PM   #4
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I've carried them before. Double-ended cast wadcutters with a mid-level load of Bullseye or Green Dot. Not hollow-base, and certainly not HB's loaded backwards although some people like those.
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Old December 21, 2018, 05:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
I keep coming across data on 38 Special wadcutters as self defense ammo. The old FBI load or Chicago load, whatever.
Neither of the above mentioned loads involve wadcutters.

Don
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Old December 21, 2018, 05:33 PM   #6
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I do when I am carrying a .38 revolver. Jim Cirilo used them on stakeouts since they were having problems with round nose bullets glancing off skulls.
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Old December 21, 2018, 05:36 PM   #7
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These work quite well.

Don

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Old December 21, 2018, 06:17 PM   #8
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I have a S&W M37 classic. Aluminum frame so it goes with wadcutters when walking the dog at night. Bedroom desk gun as well. I don't shoot it much but it cuts nice clean holes in paper plates.

.02. David.
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Old December 21, 2018, 06:39 PM   #9
dontcatchmany
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I appreciate the replies!

Today was the first time I have ever fired a wadcutter for a 38 special.

I have the Speer GD short barrel and HST and have boxes of those for 9mm/40 S&W/ 45 acp and 38 special and 357 magnum. Also have Underwood ammo in their Extreme Defender/Penetrator versions that I am trying.

Thanks again!

The wadcutter was supremely easy to shoot rapidly and remain on target. I had a smile on my face.

Do not know that I will convert to full time use, but they intrigue me.

Have found some websites/articles where folks "swear" by them. Mostly trying to make up my own mind as to whether to trust them for protection. However there seems to be a good history of them.

I do not reload, so I am going to look at Underwood and Buffalo Bore as well as other manufacturers.

I do have hard cast 44 special in my S&W 629 and like the way they shoot.

Thanks.
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Old December 21, 2018, 07:27 PM   #10
HighValleyRanch
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check out the Federal HST Micro Personal Defense ammo.
.38 special +P
They are modern "wadcutter" hollow point loads
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Old December 21, 2018, 08:05 PM   #11
dontcatchmany
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HVR,

I just got two boxes of them yesterday and have not had or taken the opportunity to shoot them as yet. Was too intent on the Federal Premium wadcutters as a first try.

130 gr +P HST 38 Special Micro.

And, Thank You....you made me look at them....they will be test fired tomorrow a.m.

Do you use them?
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Old December 21, 2018, 08:32 PM   #12
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I was a bullet caster. I made my own 140grain wadcutters. Not hollow base. I tried many times to get my Button nose wadcutters to shoot as accurate as the store bought Hollow Base ones. Never did do it. BUT I do carry a full wadcutter at +P velocity in my smith 637. They are accurate out of my gun and cut a large round hole. I hope it does the same on the bad guy.

Getting cronagraphed 959 fps out of a 1 7/8" barrel using a load from the Lyman Manual.

Just so you know, Hollow Base Wadcutters factory loaded should be really close to 700 fps.

David
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Old December 21, 2018, 08:43 PM   #13
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I shoot nothing but Wad Cutters in 3 S&W m14s, a M15 and a M&P. I've got button nose,
double ended and Hollow Base. I don't load the Double Ended any more. The Button Nose
and HB are better for accuracy. HB being best and I have a box loaded backwards for SD
and they work good on coyotes if you get a chance shot.
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Old December 21, 2018, 09:53 PM   #14
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All I use in 2" revolvers are 148gr full wadcutters.

Perfect deep penetration
No blast or sharp recoil
Fast follow up shots
Excellent accuracy
Easy/cheap reload

Long long history of excellent performance on bag guys
Ive taken multiple game over the years, pronghorns all the way up to 250# mulies with 148wc out of a 3".
Put down more than a few 1000# beef head on the ranch with a 2"
The load just plain works and works well

If you've ever had an interest in reloading, buy yourself a Lee Classic loader set for under 30 bucks. Nothing else needed but a mallet, bullets, powder and primer. Stupid easy and cheap. Ive sat out on the back deck and knocked out a 100 in less than an hour while just relaxing.
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:34 PM   #15
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Yes, I do carry with them in my .38 LCRX and .357 LCR. I also carry them in an eight round speed strip because they take so little room.
There are some good video reviews of them that got me interested originally:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgGjNQ_hhIQ
very comfortable to shoot in the super light weight revolvers.
I like the fact that they minimize the air space in a .38 case so there is more consistency in the velocity.

But in my SL Vairant jet speedloader I carry the FTX truncated rounds for quicker reloads.
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Old December 22, 2018, 02:00 AM   #16
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I have a 12oz Charter arms , that I installed a DAO spurless hammer and a set of custom polymer grip panels on ...I carry ethier Hornady 110gr FTX standard pressure or 148gr LHBWC ...
In my 3 inch barreled S&W 36 I run the Federal 130gr HST or LWC
In my LCR357 I carry Underwood 125gr JHP , these run 1000 fps from a snubnose ,
In my SP101 I carry Hornady 357mag 125gr FTX ...
In my S&W M10 with a 3inch barrel I carry Remington 38spl +P LSWCHP
In my Ruger Security Six I carry the Hornady 357mag 125gr FTX for PD & Underwood 158gr 357 mag Golddot for woods carry ..even at 158gr out of a 4 inch barrel this load goes over 1200 FPS !!

The LWC is a good choice for carry in a snubbie.. being expanding standard pressure HP loads may not expand as advertised or if they do , you may not get enough penetration.
I roll my own LHBWC ... they are stouter than some LWC target loads ... Out of a 4 inch barrel velocity 825-835 FPS ..I use Tight group propellant .. even at a max charge it is still lower pressure load ...
I have not chrony'ed these out of a snubbie.. being that I haven't replaced my chronograph...
Underwood produces a 150gr DEHCWC that is advertised at 850 fps ..this would be a great carry option

Last edited by Buckeye!; December 22, 2018 at 02:45 AM.
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Old December 22, 2018, 05:15 AM   #17
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Carry what you feel comfortable shooting. A good placed accurate shot with a wadcutter is better than a bad shot with a hollow point. In a light gun you will be more accurate with the lighter load.
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Old December 22, 2018, 06:11 AM   #18
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Azshooter sums it up nicely, carry what you feel will suit your needs not what the masses say works for them. Wad cutters in J frames were vogue when I joined the force in the dark ages of 1963, I carried hand loads pumping up the 148 grains slightly...bet my life on it. Today that J frame is in the safe and I carry a semi auto....with FMJ...always have and always will...positive functioning and in the unwanted event I must use the weapon shot placement will be paramount.
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Old December 22, 2018, 11:39 AM   #19
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The problem with the factory Mid Range Target Wadcutter is that while it is comfortable to shoot, it just isn't very powerful. That is why it is easy to shoot. The "clean hole" and "flat nose" can only do so much when not driven very fast.

There used to be a Service Wadcutter about 100 fps faster, same as roundnose. That would be a lot better, if it were still available. Yes, Buffalo Bore sells an overloaded wadcutter that will hit hard, but it is too fast, becoming as harsh to shoot as any of the hollowpoints on the market.

Me?
My Bodyguard is at present loaded with Speer Short Barrel Gold Dots. But I will look hard at the Federal Micro when I buy more carry ammo for that gun.
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Old December 22, 2018, 11:48 AM   #20
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No. I have seen several people shot with target wadcutters when I was a big city cop. No.
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Old December 22, 2018, 01:47 PM   #21
dontcatchmany
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Shot a box of Federal 38 sp 130+p Micro today in my Kimber and SP101.

Very accurate and a pleasure to shoot.

Got 6 rounds in my Kimber right now, but will probably stick with 357 magnum in the SP101 …. for now.

Got some other ammo that I am going to try when it gets here.

Nanuk, Thank you for your service.... Army here...Vietnam 68/69.
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Old December 22, 2018, 05:51 PM   #22
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I have done a lot of shooting and testing of WC bullets in 2 liter coke bottles filled with water. Standard target loads aren't too impressive. But when I use LEE 148gr solid loaded to 850fps and up I get some pretty spectacular results from a snubby gun. Not as pleasant to shoot but I feel well armed with them.

I have also tested the reversed HB WC loads. I don't like them. Sometimes they expand if they hit dead on but increase the range just a little and they start to tip. And when they tip the hollow base mashes flat and the wing off in the water bottles and come out the sides. No thanks.

I like a solid WC bullet about 800-850fps. More power than target loads but still easy to shoot and all the penetration you could ask for without ear splitting muzzle blast.

I am not spending a dollar+ per round of factory defense ammo.
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Old December 22, 2018, 08:31 PM   #23
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emphatic yes to 38 wadcutters in a lightweight revolver. why? because i can reliably hit with them. concussive shock from a near miss or shrapnel wounds from a proximity fuse while shooting stouter ammo doesn’t exist.


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Old December 23, 2018, 02:23 PM   #24
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The resident manager (a crusty old retired WWII infantry master sergeant) at a large suburban gun club I belonged to many years ago swore by hand loaded reversed hollow-base wadcutters for defense loads.

I piddled with a few variations I cooked up but never formed any real conclusions as to efficacy.
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Old December 23, 2018, 09:16 PM   #25
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The standard factory load .38 wadcutter is target ammo. The slugs are swaged lead, which is rather soft, and velocities are advertised as mid 800s from 6" barrels.

They are accurate, pleasant to shoot, low recoil loads. They are not, despite the full bore diameter flat point, considered to be good manstoppers at target load velocities.

The regular swaged wadcutters are not well suited to higher velocities, either.

The are neither big and heavy nor light and fast. Simply put, they are the worst of both worlds for defense against human attackers.

Dandy for small critters though, with proper shot placement.
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