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Discussion Starter #1
Wow, did I open up a can of worms deciding to load wadcutter bullets.
I am reading stuff like: use 38 Super resizing dies, get a case expander, wadcutters have special brass that is thinner walled and doesn't taper as quickly, use a taper crimp to hold the bullet... It's mind boggling. I thought I could just seat them in further, roll crimp like SAAMI diagrams and like my factory ammo was and be good to go.

So what really needs done to get a reasonably accurate cartridge without going to Bullseye or Ransom Rest extremes?
 

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Wow, did I open up a can of worms deciding to load wadcutter bullets.
I am reading stuff like: use 38 Super resizing dies, get a case expander, wadcutters have special brass that is thinner walled and doesn't taper as quickly, use a taper crimp to hold the bullet... It's mind boggling. I thought I could just seat them in further, roll crimp like SAAMI diagrams and like my factory ammo was and be good to go.

So what really needs done to get a reasonably accurate cartridge without going to Bullseye or Ransom Rest extremes?
Wow!

Not sure where you're hearing all that stuff, and it's news to me! Back "in the day", I loaded about a bazillion BBWC's in both .38 Special and .357 Mag. Used plain ol' .38 dies, any ol' cases I had, used the appropriate charge for the bullet weight, and seated to the appropriate OAL. Never had any problems at all!

The only caveat that comes to mind is to be cautious with HBWC's, as the max load is considerably less than a solid, for the same bullet weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Jim.
And I've read exactly what you said, too. Use any old case. That's certainly what I had been planning to do, but the more I hit Search, the more I read all this other stuff. With enough regularity that there must be something to it.
 

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Where in the world did you read all that? I've just used regular old .38 spcl brass and dies, and it's worked out pretty well for the last 40 years or thereabouts. The only thing I do now that I didn't do then is to use a good magnifying glass to inspect my seating depth and crimps.

That aside, I love shooting .38 spcl WC's. I've found that I can see a WC hole at 25 yards a lot easier than I can see a 9mm FMJ hole at 10 yards.
 

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Thanks, Jim.
And I've read exactly what you said, too. Use any old case. That's certainly what I had been planning to do, but the more I hit Search, the more I read all this other stuff. With enough regularity that there must be something to it.
Are you planning to use HBWC's or solids?

Maybe some of this stuff is applicable to the HBWC's, but I always shied away from them anyway. Supposedly the HB's can be slightly more accurate, but for my purposes I just went with BBWC's most of the time. I never needed match-grade accuracy, and I like the idea of being able to load a WC up fairly stout for SD use if the need should arise. That's not safe to do that with the HB's.

I'm a little skeptical of the claims that the brass is different. I've never seen any brass that was specifically designated "Wadcutter" brass. I suspect that the cases may end up with very slightly different dimensions after being sized for, loaded and fired with HBWC's, which may explain why some of the Internet "experts" claim to have measured differences.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Where in the world did you read all that? I've just used regular old .38 spcl brass and dies, and it's worked out pretty well for the last 40 years or thereabouts. The only thing I do now that I didn't do then is to use a good magnifying glass to inspect my seating depth and crimps.

That aside, I love shooting .38 spcl WC's. I've found that I can see a WC hole at 25 yards a lot easier than I can see a 9mm FMJ hole at 10 yards.
All over the place.
That Boolits site, a Bullseye site, the S&W site, the High Road... just Google 38 special wadcutters brass and you'll get a whole page of longish threads that talk about one thing or another that I've mentioned above. Along with those who say they don't do anything different. It's quite the topic. Thus my thread. I want input from the folks I know from here.

I guess if I load some up and they shoot worse than the factory loads I just burned through, I'll be doing something wrong.
 

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Are you planning to use HBWC's or solids?
 
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FWIW, I loaded up some 148 HBWCs with Titegroup for my revolvers. I started way low - 2.1 gr - and got about 520 ft/sec from a 4-inch gun. But accuracy was better described as a pattern, not a group. Around 3.0 gr and a little under 700 ft/sec the accuracy improved markedly, so it appears there is a threshold below which that hollow base won't expand well enough. The best accuracy was achieved with 3.3 gr (845 ft/sec), but at that point the recoil got a little snappy (seems to be a characteristic of Titegroup). These were intended to be accurate powder-puff loads for some new shooters, so I backed down to 3.1 and called it good.

As far as seating the bullet, I had just a hair of bullet,maybe 0.010" or so, above the crimp, but the crimp definitely engaged lead. Of course you have OAL concern for feeding in an autoloader, so my experience may not apply.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 

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...Of course you have OAL concern for feeding in an autoloader, so my experience may not apply.

Good luck and keep us posted!
Hah!

I forgot about PAc's new toy! It'll be interesting to see what kind of quirks you might run into running .38 Special in a semi! No doubt the OAL is going to matter a lot more than it does in a revolver!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Are you planning to use HBWC's or solids?

Maybe some of this stuff is applicable to the HBWC's, but I always shied away from them anyway. Supposedly the HB's can be slightly more accurate, but for my purposes I just went with BBWC's most of the time. I never needed match-grade accuracy, and I like the idea of being able to load a WC up fairly stout for SD use if the need should arise. That's not safe to do that with the HB's.

I'm a little skeptical of the claims that the brass is different. I've never seen any brass that was specifically designated "Wadcutter" brass. I suspect that the cases may end up with very slightly different dimensions after being sized for, loaded and fired with HBWC's, which may explain why some of the Internet "experts" claim to have measured differences.
I bought both DE BB and HB.
The experts seem to favor using the brass that came with factory loads of yesteryear. And there are a lot of threads from guys looking to buy just the brass. Like I think I said, thinner walled, taper doesn't start as quickly (which supposedly can mangle the skirt of the HB bullet as it's seated deeper)... They've got all sorts of reasons and little tidbits, much as the experts here.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The manuals and online stuff I've been reading say to seat the HB's flush and the BB to the groove, which is quite a bit above flush.
The folks shooting the 52's and MR's are saying to seat with just a little lead exposed, much like Smitty just said, so they feed easier.
The box I just burned through, which were no problem with the one mag, were seated flush with a pronounced roll crimp. And as you saw, they seemed quite accurate. At least for my shooting.

Bullseye seems to be the standard, but I believe the Hornady manual has TG as being their accurate load. I'm going to start with Bullseye.
 

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I've never loaded 38 wadcutter loads for anything but competition in a revolver for NRA Bullseye, but that was way back in the day (1960s). I used regular dies, Bullseye powder, match primers, and the brass seemed to last just about forever. Those were not fast loads, but were extremely accurate. Seating didn't make a difference, except in velocity as seating depth changes case capacity of the loaded round. I think the only modern convenience I had was a tungsten-carbide die when they came out. Oh and I cast my own bullets. It was a Keith mold, but I don't remember the number.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, I've got 50 more rounds of 45 LC to load up, then it's switch over to the wadcutters.
I'll be finding out here shortly what's what.
 

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I long for the days when my EDC was a S&W Model10 4" Combat and .38 wadcutter reloads were $8 for a box of 100 at my LGS..........:icon_neutral:

Life was simple then.
 

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I long for the days when my EDC was a S&W Model10 4" Combat and .38 wadcutter reloads were $8 for a box of 100 at my LGS..........:icon_neutral:
You and me both. Best revolver I ever owned was a S&W Model 19 in .357 Mag. and 4" barrel. I didn't shoot many mag loads, but boy was it great with those match 38s. Only revolver that ever shot better groups was my S&W Model 14 with a 6" barrel. I didn't use the 14 too long in competition because there were just 2 classes and we switched to 1911s for the centerfire class.
 
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Discussion Starter #16
First one off the press.

first one.jpg

First I tested that it would feed out of the Mid-Range's magazine and drop into the barrel OK, then I put it into my S&W Model 10 to test and got 733 fps, so I loaded up five more.

There was some rubbing while inserting the magazine from the top round. You could see where the coating was getting rubbed off. Still, I knew they would feed so shot them off.
I got 779 fps with an ES of 13. A little hotter than I wanted even though recoil was really mild.

full mag.jpg

I loaded up five more and shrank my COL by 0.020". That length barely rubbed the bullet while inserting the mag and is about as short as I can go and still crimp into the groove. I dropped half a grain of Bullseye, from 2.7 to 2.2. That gave me 697 fps with an ES of 27.

So it looks like they are working just fine, which was my biggest concern. Now I just need to play around with the powder charge and see how my accuracy is. Once I get these going I'll switch over to the hollow base and see how those do.

BTW, while collecting my brass, which was the once fired Fiocchi WC's I shot up the other day, I looked at the headstamp and it says 38 SPCL WAD-CUT.
That has me thinking that there must a difference in brass, otherwise why stamp the brass differently?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I long for the days when my EDC was a S&W Model10 4" Combat and .38 wadcutter reloads were $8 for a box of 100 at my LGS..........:icon_neutral:

Life was simple then.
My reload was a powder puff out of my M-10 with bull barrel. I love that revolver.

Still after a Model 19, preferably a dash-3 or lower at a workable price.
 

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For home defense with S&W 38 Snub Nose. Which would you recommend : Hollow Points or Wad Cutters?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

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For home defense with S&W 38 Snub Nose. Which would you recommend : Hollow Points or Wad Cutters?


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I got nothing.
But back when I bought my first snub, back in the eighties, the gun shop owner sold me a box of wadcutters to carry in it. I'm not sure what all was available back then though.
 
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