148gr Wadcutter as Defensive Round?

148gr Wadcutter as Defensive Round?

This is a discussion on 148gr Wadcutter as Defensive Round? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I realize their are better choices for those who are healthy, but for defensive purposes would the .38 148gr wadcutter be a viable round?...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Dolphin's Avatar
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    148gr Wadcutter as Defensive Round?

    I realize their are better choices for those who are healthy, but for defensive purposes would the .38 148gr wadcutter be a viable round?


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    That depends.

    Commercial wad-cutters are loaded at low velocity as they are meant specifically for target practice. They were developed to cut a nice clean hole in the target to make it easier to score the target.

    As they are, I would say NO they are not adequate.

    If you load them yourself, and push them up to much higher velocity, they might be OK. If you push them too high you will blow the hollow bases out and accuracy will be poor, if they are hollow based wad-cutters, as most are.

    There are much better rounds out there. If you are concerned about recoil issues, then try the "Self Defense" rounds that have less recoil than standard ammo.
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    Member Array forestranger's Avatar
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    Before the days of effective JHPs, solid wadcutters were loaded hot, Hollow base WCs were loaded backwards, all in an attempt to improve 38sp. effectiveness. There were some hot loads listed back then. Modern jhps have made them obsolete IMHO. Game Warden I knew was killed years ago after shooting the BG in the head with a 38 wadcutter load. Fellow shot him with a 32 and left him to bleed to death.

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    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    A .38 wadcutter loaded backwards is a really nasty round. It will do the job!
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    for defensive purposes would the .38 148gr wadcutter be a viable round?
    The answer to this question is a qualified "yes", under certain limited conditions, like very short range and a "soft" target.

    The original U.S. Customs Sky Marshals in the 1970s were issued 2 inch S&W Model 60s and 148 grain WC ammo, the idea being that the wadcutters were less likely to penetrate an aircraft fuselage.

    Wadcutters will do in a pinch if that's all you have, but there are much better choices available nowadays.


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    Member Array rainmaker's Avatar
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    As the Captain said, short range and soft target. On another site, WC were suggested for nightstand revolver loads for inside the home. WC are low velocity, with low recoil, and lower flash than other ammo. Being 100% lead, less likely to penetrate walls or ricochet around.
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    Senior Member Array sheepdog's Avatar
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    I saw some pictures/article about reversed HBWC loads some years back. They fired them into wet magazines or something to see how they would expand. The base peeled back and opened-then the base or skirt broke away in little pieces, leaving a lead slug with the bore diameter to penetrate some more. It appears this idea did not work as well as intended, at least with that brand of bullet and that test media.
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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolphin View Post
    I realize their are better choices for those who are healthy, but for defensive purposes would the .38 148gr wadcutter be a viable round?
    Does this mean that your not able to shoot a gun loaded with 38sp rounds of another nature, ie JHP, or JSP or whatever due to a medical condition?

    If that is the case it seems that a different gun or a different caliber would be a better option instead of going with a low velocity round in that caliber.

    What type of 38 do you use?
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    Member Array Harlan's Avatar
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    Better Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    That depends.

    Commercial wad-cutters are loaded at low velocity as they are meant specifically for target practice. They were developed to cut a nice clean hole in the target to make it easier to score the target.

    As they are, I would say NO they are not adequate.

    If you load them yourself, and push them up to much higher velocity, they might be OK. If you push them too high you will blow the hollow bases out and accuracy will be poor, if they are hollow based wad-cutters, as most are.

    There are much better rounds out there. If you are concerned about recoil issues, then try the "Self Defense" rounds that have less recoil than standard ammo.
    Hot Guns is correct!
    There are much better choices in .38!
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    Smile 148 gr. HBWC

    Quote Originally Posted by obxned View Post
    A .38 wadcutter loaded backwards is a really nasty round. It will do the job!




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  11. #11
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    I would feel more confident with a .38 Special 148 grain wadcutter at 725 fps than I would a .380. I can place my shots with more ease and accuracy with the .38 Special revolver than I likely can with any .380 and a blunt, relatively heavy, .357 diameter soft lead bullet is nothing to sneeze at.

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    Member Array forestranger's Avatar
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    Buffalo Bore has a non+p 150gr WC loaded to 868fps out of 2" barrel. Might kick a little more than you'd want though.

  13. #13
    Member Array Harlan's Avatar
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    Too little penetration with a .38 HBWC backwards!
    YOU CAN ONLY HAVE TOO MUCH AMMO IF YOU'RE ON FIRE OR DROWNING!

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    Maybe you are looking for something with less recoil because of health reasons, but I would use the old FBI load, 158 gr .38 +P HP lead semi wad cutters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redrick View Post
    Maybe you are looking for something with less recoil because of health reasons, but I would use the old FBI load, 158 gr .38 +P HP lead semi wad cutters.
    +1. Here are some:
    Remington Express® Handgun Ammunition

    Look at R38S12.

    Other manufacturers make them, too.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!
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