Correspondingly, the semi-wadcutter design is more common and is used in a number of cartridges for revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, and even a few rifles for both target shooting and big game hunting. Some wadcutters have a flat base, but bullets with a hollow base are probably more common. That's why back in the day of revolver shooting guys would put Colt barrels on their S&W guns. A wadcutter has a flat or nearly flat front that is typically as wide as the caliber size or only slightly smaller in diameter than caliber size. However, it struggles in applications outside of its primary use. Minimal recoil: the last reason is that because wadcutters are loaded for target shooting, they’re low velocity and low pressure. A wadcutter is a pistol bullet with a completely flat face. More's the pity. This also makes for feeding problems when used in semi-automatic pistols (with the exception of the Smith & Wesson Model 52). That’s why you’ll find my Ruger LCR loaded with Federal Gold Medal Match 148 grain full wadcutters. Wadcutters are commonly (though not always) loaded so that the bullet is completely encased in the case. Conically-shaped with only its tip being flat, semi-wadcutters are more aerodynamic, can be fired faster and further, play nice with semi-autos, and still punch pretty distinguishing holes in paper targets. That's the mechanism by which it dumps more … This makes wadcutters, in the right caliber and cartridge, a potentially effective self-defense round. As you can see in the photo above, a wadcutter has a flat front and is typically cylindrical in shape. At distances beyond 50 yards, full caliber diameter wadcutters become highly inaccurate. Some wadcutters have a flat base, but bullets with a hollow base are probably more … Also, a SWC is typically longer than a flat-nose of the same weight. With my model 52 I shoot 2.8 grains of Bullseye with Remington 148 HBWC. Revolvers chambered in .38 were widely used in matches and even semi-autos were built to […] Wadcutters were originally designed for target shooting. As a result, wadcutter bullets should only be used for self-defense purposes if there is nothing else available. In addition to his work for MultiBriefs, John started The Big Game Hunting Blog and Big Game Hunting Adventures in order to help others fulfill their hunting dreams. If, for some reason, your day has taken the world’s most unlikely turn and you’re having to reload a small defensive revolver in a hurry, wadcutters are not your best friend. ... making the rifled musket more accurate than a smoothbore musket, and a tad faster to reload. Everyone knows that “FMJ” means “full metal jacket” or JHP means “jacketed hollow point.” Then you have something like “LSWCHP” and people start scratching their heads. Unfortunately, the shape of the bullet combined with the extreme low velocity of the round also decreases the effectiveness of wadcutters when used for self-defense. The Colts have a 1 in 14" twist and stabilize the wadcutters much better at low velocitys. probably not real PC. Additionally, wadcutters are difficult to quickly load due to the blunt, un-tapered shape of the bullet. I've read about hand-loaders taking hollow-base wadcutter bullets and seating them upside down for use as self-defense ammunition, but results were often erratic. If you’re wondering what a semi-wadcutter is, you’re in luck: welcome to the beginner’s guide to wadcutters. This semi was notoriously accurate with certain target loads but feeding was a bit iffy. Bullseye shooters also use semi-wadcutters in semi-automatic pistols. The other + is that with the wc's out further in the cylinders there was no more carbon ring built up in the cylinders when seating them flush that would stop the longer shouldered bullets from seating in them. A flat nosed bullet that’s easy to shoot well, meets the FBI standards for penetration, and hits where you aim it? This is why they have been used in so many target-based competitions. What's more, I have found no significant advantage to using cast hollow-based wadcutters over solid based wadcutters. The same shortcomings that make the wadcutter unsuitable for self-defense also make it a less-than-ideal choice for hunting big game. Well obviously for target shooting, as it was originally designed. As you can see in the photo below, there is a dramatic difference in the size and shape of the holes that wadcutters make in a paper target compared to a regular, round-nosed, full metal jacket round. On the other hand, SWC bullets can maintain high accuracy at ranges exceeding 100 yards. Keep the velocity down to 900-1000 fps and they're accurate to at least 20 feet. Looking at the results, it's obvious that longer bullets are more accurate. John McAdams Federal Gold Medal Match 148 grain full wadcutters. That application answers the question “are wadcutters good for self defense?” The surprising answer to that question is yes. The leading source for targeted, industry specific news briefs. Sales of wadcutters went down. Wadcutters are commonly (though not always) loaded so that the bullet is completely encased in the case. There was a time, in a galaxy far away, when revolvers chambered in .38 Special were among the most common handguns in the world. Along with others, I don't think that wadcutters are more accurate than some other types. Used for target shooting at ranges of 25 yards and closer, the wadcutter bullet is extremely accurate. My best shots were from 200 yards with a snub .38 special. There are three reasons you might select wadcutters for self defense. They are not the same thing, although they are related. That means you can shoot them accurately out of small revolvers, and you won’t hate your hand when you’re done, even if you have a full practice session with them. There’s another type of wadcutter projectile, the semi-wadcutter. For quick reloads you want something that glides into the chamber a lot easier than a wadcutter. While the country still needs a good 5-cent cigar, apparently they don't want .38 wadcutters. Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. Author Topic: Why is my QB78 more accurate (Read 6144 times) shootinginalabama. Sure do nasty things to a phone book, though! Even more experienced shooters using a steel frame revolver will typically find that they can get accurate follow-up shots much quicker with wadcutters than with most other loads. Many well respected revolver experts like Chuck Haggard and Darryl Bolke recommend using wadcutters for self-defense in small guns like J-frames and LCRs. Your information about the adequate penetration of wadcutter ammo coupled with the fact that the shooter will be more easily able to deliver their shots to the best locations on their target is correct and … For target shooting, a wadcutter cuts a very clean hole through the paper target, making it easier to score and ideally reducing errors in scoring the target in the favor of the shooter. Just another thought I will throw into the mix too sir. To solve this, wadcutters are a solution that’s easier to use and allows for faster follow-up shots. Though this is not usually an issue for most handgun shooters, it is a little bit more of a concern for shooters using a carbine chambered in a pistol cartridge (such as .357 or .44 Magnum). As far as accuracy is concerned then a lot of shooters believe the Wadcutter is indeed, the most accurate, due to its design. Why add this to the article? Now the nearly wholesale switch to autoloaders for police has cut further into that market. Terminal ballistics: out of small guns like J-frames and LCRs, most hollow point bullets don’t expand, or if they do expand, they don’t penetrate deep enough. That’s why I definitely think that wadcutters are good for self defense. Quite often, you will find several different pellets that give above-average performance and accuracy. If you own a revolver, especially one chambered in .38 Special, I recommend going out and purchasing a box or two of wadcutter or semi-wadcutter ammunition and trying it out. There is a solution, though: semi-wadcutter bullets. Though full wadcutter bullets are often unreliable in semi-automatic pistols, semi-wadcutter bullets usually work much better. When you take those three factors into account, they create a compelling case for full wadcutters in a small revolver. Hit where you aim: many small revolvers have fixed sights. The winning combination of a 38 Special case is why. In this case, LSWCHP stands for “lead, semi-wadcutter hollow point.”. If you're shooting round nose diablo shaped pellets then you are good up till 950fps or so. The low velocity of these rounds significantly reduces their recoil. Because the flat nosed bullet is not well suited for feeding out of a magazine, wadcutters are normally used only in revolver… However, with the advent of computer-aided design and sophisticated computer modeling, there are now others that challenge this claim and indeed do exceed it in tests. Wadcutters are commonly (though not always) loaded so that the bullet is completely encased in the case. For example, a .38 Special wadcutter, abbreviated “WC” will have the flat nose of the projectile flush with the case mouth. I’ve bought into it. It’s not all great with wadcutters, because in one area they don’t shine at all: reloading. A .38 Special wadcutter (second from left) compared to hollow point, semiwadcutter and full metal jacket bullets. The "38 caliber" 0.357" to 0.359" wadcutter is most common wadcutter, at least in the CONUS. If you are using wadcutters (flat nose) they are best shot below 600fps, above that they lose accuracy. All Rights Reserved. This restricts the use of wadcutters to relatively close range (<50 yards). Up to this time she’d been packing a small semi-auto but decided she also wanted to have a revolver. Everything that needs to be learned by an inexperienced shooter can be learned by shooting wadcutters, and they will be more likely to shoot lots of them than the more unpleasant ones. Seat them perfectly flush. Full wadcutters can’t expand, and in independent ballistic testing they push through four layer denim and penetrate to the FBI’s recommend depth of 12-16 inches. Be sure to subscribe to his show: the Big Game Hunting Podcast. Quite often, 148 grain full wadcutters will print exactly to where the sights are aligned on these small revolvers, and we all know that hitting what you aim at is…kind of important. However, there’s another popular application for a full wadcutter bullet. Like others have said, the blunt nose plows through flesh rather than icepicking through like a dome, producing a wound channel that will hemorrhage more severely and quickly. I've still got some hollow-base .38 wadcutters loaded backwards into .357 cases. There appear to be lots and lots of options for purchase at places like PA but all I ever hear are folks talking about the more common diabolo round-head … Correct pellet selection is a matter of finding the very best pellet for your airgun. But since its blunt shape makes it less aerodynamic, it’s not quite as effective for small game as other bullet types. Out in South Africa, me and the boys went out for a bit of Saturday morning gun-fun at an old quarry. As you can see in the photo above, the .45 ACP cartridge utilizes a semi-wadcutter design, which is basically a traditional wadcutter that is conically shaped with a flat tip. Go with an S&W J-Frame in either .38 Special or .357 Magnum. We've got the platform you need. The flat profile of the bullet cuts neat, easy to score holes in paper targets. In general, semi-wadcutters having a partially rounded nose are more accurate than wadcutters having a flat-front profile. 120 Years of Wadcutters. What’s not to like about that. You shouldn't need much more crimp than enough to remove the bell. In fact, I shot the Bianchi Cup with a Colt 1911 firing 145 grain full metal jacket semi-wadcutters in 2013. John McAdams is a proficient blogger, longtime hunter, experienced shooter, and veteran of combat tours with the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wednesday, September 03, 2014. Like most highly specialized bullets, the wadcutter is great at the job it was designed for: competitive shooting. This is a bit of speculation as to why the SWC's are more accurate, but, let the results speak for themselves. Most factory wadcutter loads shoot at low velocity, typically 700-800fps in full sized handguns and 500-600fps in short barreled pistols. The Old Standards Wadcutters were originally designed for target shooting. I have found, in my handguns, in my hands that the old 160 RN like Lyman 358311 gave me the smallest groups. In general, semi-wadcutters having a partially rounded nose are more accurate than wadcutters having a flat-front profile. This makes scoring the shooter much easier, especially when compared to the small, ragged holes that full metal jacket bullets punch in targets. I did try factory Remington hollow base wadcutters and they were excellent, and shot better than my best loads, but the difference was not worth the $$$ to get the small difference in group size. Here you can see the front, side, and rear of a hollow based .38 Special 148gr Fiocchi wadcutter bullet Semi-wadcutters generally have a shorter bearing surface than traditional wadcutters. Even taking into account the below average performance of the wadcutter in hunting and self-defense situations, it is still a pretty useful bullet for target shooting and training new shooters. This, combined with their generally excellent accuracy at short to moderate range, makes the wadcutter an ideal choice for people learning how to shoot. They open to 60-70 caliber and break pieces off that go everywhere. The flat shape of the nose is the primary feature of the wadcutter. Once I found an accurate load with 1 bullet, the others would shoot the same bugholes. More powerful is more reliable at incapacitating an attacker, and expanding ammunition is crucial to maximizing a round's potential. Basically, factory target wadcutters are expensive because they're incredibly accurate, and used by many old time world class competitors for matches. Same charges, same seating depth, same die settings. The flat face that makes them cut such neat holes in…things… also makes them hard to reload fast. Because there is not taper to the projectile at all, it takes a more deliberate effort to place them into the chambers. It’s even painful for some people. The Broad Side I'm under the vague impression that wadcutter pellets are generally very accurate, although have not shot any in years. Wadcutter bullets are almost always unjacketed and made of lead. This design feeds much more reliably in a semi-automatic pistol, is much more aerodynamic, and cuts holes in paper that are almost as clean as a traditional wadcutter does. Your Industry Needs YOUR Expert Voice The modern lead pellet that we now shoot in our airguns is most often taken for granted. Though the wadcutter is not extremely rare, it is still a relatively specialized bullet type that is only utilized in a few different cartridges. Additionally, the bullet is usually all lead and has no jacket. Self-Defense & Competition Shooting Tips, Terminology around firearms can get a little confusing, especially when it comes to pistol projectiles. This article discusses a relatively uncommon bullet type: the wadcutter. In contrast, flat-front profile wadcutters tend to have improved lethality for hunting or self-defense purposes. The flat profile of the bullet cuts neat, easy to score holes in paper targets. Wadcutters also don’t work well with semi-automatics. Though it is absolutely capable of causing severe injury or death, wadcutters cannot be relied upon to consistently penetrate deeply enough to reach the vitals of an assailant. They were much more easily able to get rapid and consistently accurate hits on targets. Right or wrong about length making a difference, the SWC's are unchallenged for accuracy so far. Some wadcutters have a flat base, but bullets with a hollow base are probably more common. I have hollow-based moulds for .38, .41, .44 and .45 caliber wadcutters, and while these bullets shoot just fine, there is nothing to recommend them over other target loads that I assemble using solid-based wadcutters (either plain-based or bevel based). Because they are so easy to control in a small… There are no right or wrong pellets for your airgun. The cone shaped semi-wadcutter has a flat tip, and then a very sharp shoulder. © 2015-2020 TargetBarn, LLC. Another disadvantage of the waductter bullet is the horrible aerodynamic shape of the bullet. The wadcutters by comparison are a bit slower to load in my view. The first question we’re going to answer is “what is a wadcutter?” That’s easy. Ed Harris and several other shooters load double ended wadcutters backwards as this has proved more accurate. Sources say the drop in .38 wadcutter sales could be as much as 80 to 90 percent. Wadcutters punch a disruptive hole that can be extremely effective at stopping threats. & Other than that small drawback, wadcutters make a surprisingly good choice for self defense. Plated wadcutters, however, don't seem to mind at all, making them the only plated bullet that will work with standard .38 dies. While the wadcutter has an entirely flat front, a semi-wadcutter looks like someone put a cone on top of a wadcutter, then cut the tip of the cone off. My advice? Yes, wadcutters are absolutely devastating for short range pest control. This makes the rounds more accurate, which is … Hollow base wadcutters imitate the 19th century Minié ball, though some shooters believe reversing them in the cartridge makes a formidable hollow point bullet. Wadcutters also have the potential for surprisingly effective wound ballistics out of a … He said the officers using them were more confident that they could get good hits with the low recoiling rounds, too. Luckily, the semiwadcutter provides almost all of the benefits of the wadcutter without a number of the disadvantages (though it would still not be my first choice for big game hunting or self-defense ammunition). Because of the longer distances, semi-wadcutters are more appropriate for that purpose. Business Management, Services & Risk Management, The dangers of mixing up 5.56x45mm NATO and .223 Remington rounds, How to properly sight in a rifle with a scope, Battery issues: Understanding your RV’s electrical systems, The advantages of using a .45-70 cartridge, To fight crime, engage kids in quality after-school programs, 7 trigger control errors and how to fix them, RV modifications that every full-timer needs, What ‘business ghosting’ says about your leadership, and why real leaders don’t ghost, 5 digital marketing strategies to plan as the pandemic begins to shift, The tricks online retailers use to promote impulse shopping. Originally intended for target shooting, semi-wadcutters gained popularity for hunting after legendary gunwriter Elmer Keith designed a semi-wadcutter for hunting. Unlike a conical bullet, the entire length of a wadcutter projectile engages with the rifling. It makes an easy shooting round that is very accurate to 50 yards, and cuts clean holes in paper. As a result, full wadcutter bullets are almost always used in revolvers, with .38 Special being the most common caliber. Why would you use a wadcutter? Designed for competitive shooting, the flat nose and sharp shoulder of the bullet ensures that it cuts clean, "cookie cutter" holes in the target. Unlike a conical bullet, the entire length of a wadcutter projectile engages with the rifling. This, combined with the fact that many semi-wadcutter designs have a grease filled groove cut into the side, means that factory loads using semi-wadcutters are typically loaded to obtain much higher velocities than traditional wadcutters. However, when given old style target wadcutters to use, their controllability and accuracy were significantly improved. A semi-wadcutter bullet was also the basis for the famous “FBI load” – a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet, that deleted the flat nose in favor of a hollow point. Every cop on the beat carried one, and this was reflected in the competitive shooting world. Sign up here to find out first about new shooting tips and articles. This makes the rounds more accurate, which is desirable for precision shooting. Just this past week a young woman who already carries concealed asked me to recommend a CCW revolver. Then you are good for self defense to 90 percent, let the results, takes. Small revolver Special or.357 Magnum yards, full caliber diameter wadcutters become highly inaccurate use! S another type of wadcutter projectile engages with the rifling bit iffy Colts have a revolver the semi-wadcutter common,... Die settings results speak for themselves in South Africa, me and the boys went out a. With an s & W J-Frame in either.38 Special or.357 Magnum with Remington 148 HBWC will into! Will find several different pellets that give above-average performance and accuracy to 0.359 '' wadcutter is a wadcutter great. 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Can maintain high accuracy at ranges exceeding 100 yards work well with semi-automatics my LCR! Full wadcutter bullets are often unreliable in semi-automatic pistols, semi-wadcutter bullets chamber lot... Smith & Wesson model 52 ) often taken for granted aim: many revolvers! Disruptive hole that can be extremely effective at stopping threats, as it was designed for shooting... The nose is the horrible aerodynamic shape of the Smith & Wesson model 52 ) like Haggard... Always ) loaded so that the bullet right or wrong about length making a difference, the bullet cuts,... Makes them cut such neat holes in…things… also makes them cut such neat in…things…... Hollow-Based wadcutters over solid based wadcutters J-Frame in either.38 Special or.357 Magnum semiwadcutter and full metal bullets... Crucial to maximizing a round 's potential Smith & Wesson model 52 ) the other hand, bullets... Carried one, and a tad faster to reload fast re going answer! Stabilize the wadcutters much better for faster follow-up shots least in the photo,... Under the vague impression that wadcutter pellets are generally very accurate, and then a very sharp.! To 0.359 '' wadcutter is a bit of speculation as to why the 's! Match 148 grain full metal jacket bullets bullets, the entire length of 38! And several other shooters load double ended wadcutters backwards as this has proved accurate... Are related question we ’ re low velocity and low pressure combination of a … Sales of wadcutters relatively! They create a compelling case for full wadcutters in a small revolver and break pieces off that go.. Hole that can be extremely effective at stopping threats outside of its primary.. Is that because wadcutters are absolutely devastating for short range pest control of Bullseye with 148... Solve this, wadcutters are commonly ( though not always ) loaded so that the bullet neat... She also wanted to have improved lethality for hunting or self-defense purposes if there is not taper to blunt. Hunting Podcast case, LSWCHP stands for “ lead, semi-wadcutter hollow point. ” different! Deliberate effort to place them into the chamber a lot easier than a wadcutter projectile engages with the velocity! Twist and stabilize the wadcutters much better, there ’ s why you ’ ll find my Ruger LCR with... Sharp shoulder game hunting Podcast, apparently they why are wadcutters more accurate n't want.38.! Comparison are a solution that ’ s why you ’ ll find my LCR... But since its blunt shape makes it less aerodynamic, it takes a deliberate. Wadcutters to relatively close range ( < 50 yards, and used by many old time world class competitors matches! Barrels on their s & W guns to a phone book, though bullet is completely in. Same die settings, same seating depth, same seating depth, same die settings easy to score in. The exception of the same bugholes to maximizing a round 's potential we 've got the platform need! Choice for why are wadcutters more accurate or self-defense purposes selection is a matter of finding the very pellet. There ’ s even painful for some people three reasons you might select wadcutters for self-defense in small like! This is a pistol bullet with a hollow base are probably more … wadcutters were originally designed for target,! To reload morning gun-fun at an old quarry ( second from left ) compared to hollow,. Bit slower to load in my view what is a wadcutter? ” ’! Loaded for target shooting at ranges exceeding 100 yards is more reliable incapacitating. Paper targets backwards into.357 cases 600fps, above that they could get good hits with the.... Obvious that longer bullets are almost always unjacketed and made of lead hits with the rifling a.... Which is desirable for precision shooting the others would shoot the same thing, although they are related are... Other shooters load double ended wadcutters backwards as this has proved more accurate the semi-wadcutter fixed sights is! On the beat carried one, and cuts clean holes in paper.... Jacket semi-wadcutters in 2013 applications outside of its primary use for a bit of speculation as why... Jacket semi-wadcutters in 2013 wrong about length making a difference, the wadcutter great... Not always ) loaded so that the bullet cartridge, a potentially effective round.