.38 Special 148gr WC defense load?

.38 Special 148gr WC defense load?

This is a discussion on .38 Special 148gr WC defense load? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; What is everyones opinion on them here? I purchased some DEWC to try at the range a loooong (as in 2-3 years) time ago and ...

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Thread: .38 Special 148gr WC defense load?

  1. #1
    Member Array 336A's Avatar
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    .38 Special 148gr WC defense load?

    What is everyones opinion on them here? I purchased some DEWC to try at the range a loooong (as in 2-3 years) time ago and haven't gotten around to it yet. However I do know that there is load data for the DEWC in the Speer #13 Manual. I know of a couple of fellas' that had good results with them, well at least on paper. It also appears that others seem to think highly of this combination as well Ed Harris: Revisiting The Full Charge Wadcutter | Reloading, Ammunition, Hunting | GrantCunningham.com

    So what is everyones opinion on this loading?


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Snub44's Avatar
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    ...for defense...I wouldn't choose a FWC bullet...I loaded some hollow based wad cutters backwards back in the day and wasn't impressed with them...that was a fad then...there are too many good HP .38 rounds now for defense...not so much then...
    ...I haven't found anything to make me change from the 158gr LSWHP+P by Remington (softer lead than others) R38S12

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    I think a 148 WC load will certainly cut some holes in flesh and organs, but I also think you need to load them fairly warm to get penetration and have enough steam to break bone if necessary. My initial experiments with Titegroup resulted in 840 ft/sec from a 4-inch barrel and 760 ft/sec from the 2-inch snubs, which I think would be adequate for defense. Recoil was pretty snappy which I attribute to the fast powder. I just experimented with some 148s and Unique but I haven't chrono'd them yet, my main goal being a mild, accurate load for new shooters.
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    In order to make the wadcutter effective you need some velocity. Back in the day I saw too many people that were unimpressed after being shot with them. The standard load is way too slow.
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    Member Array 336A's Avatar
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    I'm not talking about target velocity type wadcutters. I'm talking about DEWC loaded on top of enough Unique to get them going upwards of 900 fps or so, I know that with unique this is possible according to the data in the Speer #13 manual and at standard pressure too. Mr. Harris seems to think pretty highly of this load and as he wrote in the article linked above he has 30 years experience with it. I'm pretty sure that if it didn't drive deep and cause a good amount of damage which is what he was looking for that he wouldn't still be using it. So it seems as though it does have some merit.

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    Senior Member Array Devilsclaw's Avatar
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    They work on rabbits and skunks at around 850 FPS. That's all I can tell ya.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 336A View Post
    I'm not talking about target velocity type wadcutters. I'm talking about DEWC loaded on top of enough Unique to get them going upwards of 900 fps or so, I know that with unique this is possible according to the data in the Speer #13 manual and at standard pressure too. Mr. Harris seems to think pretty highly of this load and as he wrote in the article linked above he has 30 years experience with it. I'm pretty sure that if it didn't drive deep and cause a good amount of damage which is what he was looking for that he wouldn't still be using it. So it seems as though it does have some merit.
    Well, I got 900+ ft/sec with the slightly heavier 158s using Unique recently, so I have no doubts that a similar velocity can be had with the lighter boolits.
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    The 38 Cal DEWC @ 900+ fps should be pretty effective. As Devils claw noted, I found that even target wadcutters from a carbine work well on Skunks and coons, not sure what velocity they get up to in the carbine.
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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    How about the standard pressure 158 gr SWCs, especially out of a snub? (Sorry for the highjack)
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    How about the standard pressure 158 gr SWCs, especially out of a snub? (Sorry for the highjack)
    I forgot the snubs when I chrono'd the 158 SWCs with 4 and 6 inch guns, but my extrapolations suggest they'd run about 830-850 ft/sec from a 2 inch barrel.
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    gasmitty's right. 830-something is what I've seen over the chronograph with standard velocity 158 grain lead SWCS from out of 2-inch barrels.
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Handloads, or factory? Factory specs on the 158 gr SWCs list ~750 fps out of a 4 in barrel. Just curious if they are sandbagging...I don't have access to a chrony.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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    Handloads of course. No need to hamper the .38 Special with the watery factory loads marketed today.

    148 grain solid-base wadcutters when loaded with heavy charges of Unique in the 5.1 to 5.4 grain charge weight range for a velocity of 900-950 fps from a snub are very good. I've tested a batch so loaded and have a couple of private forum friends who use this combination for .38 Special defensive carry. This would be considered a handloaded +P type load.

    Large flat nose...much splat...big smack'um!
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    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    I load and shoot a lot of low velocity 148 g wadcutters. Velocity being equal, I would rather have the wadcutters than round nose bullets for self defense and not just because of the sharp, flat shape. My guns seem to like them a lot. With slow reloads, combined with low capacity shot place is important. I don't carry them for SD, but would use them if that's what I had in my gun at the time.
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