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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:13 pm 
Hawkeye

Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:40 pm
Posts: 6982
Location: Dallas, TX
A while back I made a trade with a member of my gun range, it was 380 ACP for some miscellaneous 38’s.

I ended up with some 148 grain Federal 38 wadcutters and holy cow, they were like lasers... now I’m hooked. Color me impressed!

I don’t know much about wadcutters though. Can I use my 38 reloading dies for wadcutters, or do I need a separate set of dies? Do wadcutters require any special techniques to reload? You know, different from round nose bullets?

Yes, I could looks this up, but I probably trust y’all more than the average yahoo on YouTube.

And...Why are wadcutters more accurate? Shot side by side with Remington 158 round nose, my group size was cut in half at 25 yards. Normally I reload but just didn’t have any 38’s at the moment. It’s been too hot lately so I just used some factory ammunition.

And this was in the newest Blackhawk I bought back in May. It’s a 357/9mm convertible.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:36 pm 
Blackhawk

Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 11:10 am
Posts: 724
Location: Yrisarri, NM- high in the Manzanos
Generally, you'll want a slightly different seating stem for wadcutters. I believe some of the seating stems in .357/38 die kits may even be too short to fully seat a wadcutter. Some people fill the cup of the RN/SWC seating stems with epoxy or hot glue to get a flat shape for seating wadcutters. With the right tools, it'd be pretty simple to make a flat-faced seating stem from an appropriate bolt for this task as well.

As for the superior accuracy, I believe the wadcutter shape has superior stability at shorter handgun ranges (25-50 yards), then destabilizes such that they are less accurate at longer ranges. I've also heard that there is a difference in hollow-base and solid wadcutters in terms of accuracy due to the different centers of mass of the bullets. Do you know what's loaded in the Federal ammo you shot?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:05 pm 
Buckeye

Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 1092
Location: Kentucky
All handgun shooters would be better off if they have the opportunity to shoot 38 wadcutters from a deserving gun.

A joy & a very good training tool.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:50 am 
Hawkeye

Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:40 pm
Posts: 6982
Location: Dallas, TX
Thanks for the information. I don’t know what the loads were on the wadcutters I shot. It was about half a box of factory Federal 148 grain.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:34 am 
Buckeye

Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 1092
Location: Kentucky
If you shot recently made Federal, it's a chance it was loaded with Speer hollow base WC's.

Powder charges for factory WC loads will be as low, or lower than most 38's & it will be with some of the fastest burning powder available for handguns. Think Alliant Bullseye, WW231, Hodgden HP38(same as 231).
Both Speer & Hornady offer lead hollow base wad cutters that can do very good work.

Many cast & swaging companies offer bevel base or double end wad cutters that offer good accuracy as well.

Due to their shape, WC's usually don't shoot well when pushed past 50 yards, but at 25 or so, can offer rewarding results.

Some accuracy increase is said to be from the long bearing length of the bullet that helps the barrel stabilize it better. Some think it''s the way the bullet is balanced. The lite powder charge? A combo of things probably.

Gee, It just hit me that a WC discussion rarely, if ever, goes on anymore. 9 this, 10mm that, & the wonderfully accurate 38 WC in a good revolver that is pure joy, never gets talked about.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:26 am 
Blackhawk

Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:06 pm
Posts: 847
One thing about wadcutters is that they punch a nice clean hole in the target, where other bullets punch bigger holes and irregular holes. This makes them better where groups are measured and gives the impression that they are more accurate ( which at limited ranges they are).


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:46 pm 
Blackhawk

Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:14 pm
Posts: 953
Location: Oregon
I have fired many and also round nose and the semi round nose with a flat tip. I am talking lead bullets, factory and my hand or others loads. I never seen one was better in accuracy than another. But, I admit I have never bench rest shot any handgun or loads. The targets have a 6 inch circle for full value and they all work well for that. Nothing beats the nice big hole in paper, easy to score and see while shooting. Many that shoot the jacketed bullets get more recoil and muzzle blast, that makes some shoot bigger groups over the lower speed lead. When my dept. had a pistol team that shot revolvers they used hollow base wadcutters, loaded by the dept. To show how much they loaded; the brass cleaning machine was a cement mixing machine, the size you tow behind a pickup.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:33 am 
Blackhawk

Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 899
Location: NYS
Old guys like me remember when the .38 revolver ruled the roost for target shooting. In those days, we all used hollow-base wadcutters for amazing accuracy (and very light loads of Bullseye and then we switched to 231). I have used my old set of standard RCBS dies; I just adjust the seating stem to get the WC flush with the top of the case +/-. There IS on additional die that I use, it's a TAPER CRIMP die. After I seat the WC in the case (with no crimp), I run it thru the taper crimp die and we're done. I found it ideal when shooting my S&W Mod. 52 auto (chambered for .38SPL wadcutters ONLY).
J


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 3:03 pm 
Hunter

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 2:01 am
Posts: 3273
Location: Tucson, AZ
A few years back I bought a case of Winchester .38 Spl. target ammo with a wadcutter bullet seated flush with the mouth of the case. Firearm used was an S&W K-38 with 6" barrel. I also have one with the 8 3/8" barrel. Accuracy from both guns was acceptable but nowhere as good as I expected. On the other hand, the wadcutter bullet I home cast will out shoot the factory load by a noticeable margin. Preferred loads with my bullet (Lyman #359495) are 2.7 gr. Bullseye or 3.1 gr. W231. Nominally the bullet is 148 gr. but runs close to 150 gr. in my alloy. I'm not the greatest pistol shot but from a rest I can usually shoot 2.0 to 2.5" at 25 yards with my hand load. It's closer to 3.0" on a good day with the factory target load and more like 3.5" on average. My best accuracy with my load comes from the W231 powder load.
Paul B.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:21 pm 
Blackhawk
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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:12 am
Posts: 929
Location: Summerville SC
I have no trouble seating WCs with my standard Lee seat/crimp die. I do seat them to the canelure, rather than seating them flush. Lots of back and forth on which is correct, and I've never seen a definitive reason why one is better than the other, just lots of opinions. I seat don't seat them flush in order to give a little more space and not run the risk of overpressure. Not a big factor, just the only thing that had a tangible advantage in my mind.

FWIW, I am moving to a medium speed powder, Universal, to give me a large spread between start and max. I have also used Trail Boss, which gives good accuracy and really low recoil. I am moving away from that because of the narrow band. Only 3 tenths of a grain difference between min and max.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:35 pm 
Hunter

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 2:01 am
Posts: 3273
Location: Tucson, AZ
Wadcutter bullets like the Lyman #358495 have a crimp groove as part of the design. Other types may or may not have a groove and some wadcutters need to be seated flush with the mouth of he cartridge case., especially if they're to be used in a semi-automatic target pistol. if not seated flush they would not fit into the magazine. That's probably which the Winchester target loads I bought have the bullet seated flush for than can be used in semi-auto pistol or revolver.
Paul B.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:34 pm 
Hunter
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Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:01 am
Posts: 3720
Location: State College, PA, USA
When I was shooting PPC (back when it was revolvers only) we used this .38 spl round: 148 gr HBWC, 2.5 gr of Red Dot (then switched to cleaner burning Solo 1000, again 2.5 grs), Federal small pistol primers (the softest primer cup available). Seat flush with case mouth and then oh so slight roll crimp (or taper crimp). These tested out at 700 fps and met the speed levels allowed. With the right conditions at the 50 yd stage, with binoculars you could actually see the bullet traveling down range then BINGO a nice round hole opened on the target. The WC's were used because of that nice clean hole which scored the higher number if it so much as touched the line. Everyone used Safariland Comp III speedloaders and we never had any problems with quick reloads.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:04 pm 
Hawkeye
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Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:34 pm
Posts: 8166
Location: Georgia
WC's are all I've ever shot out of my .38 Special revolvers; cast, not swaged. Over 3.4 grs of Unique they're a pleasure to shoot and I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a coyote with one.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:06 pm 
Hunter
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Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:01 am
Posts: 2219
Location: The Sticks---N.W. Orygun
Cholo wrote:
WC's are all I've ever shot out of my .38 Special revolvers; cast, not swaged. Over 3.4 grs of Unique they're a pleasure to shoot and I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a coyote with one.


I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a coyote with anything---BB Gun, Paint balls, 223, 300wm---whatever happens to be close at hand. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:40 pm 
Hunter

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 2:01 am
Posts: 3273
Location: Tucson, AZ
AJGUNNER wrote:
Cholo wrote:
WC's are all I've ever shot out of my .38 Special revolvers; cast, not swaged. Over 3.4 grs of Unique they're a pleasure to shoot and I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a coyote with one.


I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a coyote with anything---BB Gun, Paint balls, 223, 300wm---whatever happens to be close at hand. :lol:



Quit playing with pop guns. I'll loan you my 40 watt plasma gun next time you go out. :lol:
Paul B.


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