How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

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Crash
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How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby Crash » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:56 pm

I've read in a couple of different places that target wadcutters can be an effective self-defense load even though the velocity is pretty low. It is claimed that they penetrate well and don't recoil much, thus allowing quicker, better-aimed follow-up shots. Anybody know of any self-defense shootings using target wadcutters? If there is enough verifiable evidence that they are effective, I may start using them in my .38 Special Ruger LCR.

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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby WTR » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:13 pm

I have no personal practical evidence of this. The man who instructed me in revolver shooting was the Range Officer at are local PD. He would load wad cutters backwards ( he called dum dum rounds) and said they made good SD rounds.

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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby puma guy » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:11 pm

WTR wrote:I have no personal practical evidence of this. The man who instructed me in revolver shooting was the Range Officer at are local PD. He would load wad cutters backwards ( he called dum dum rounds) and said they made good SD rounds.

He probably loaded hollow based was cutters. I used to do that when I re-loaded. They were pretty effective.
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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby Middle Age Russ » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:31 pm

Wad-cutters are almost always made of very soft lead and have a hollow base. Being very soft lead, velocities and energy of wad-cutter loads must be modest to prevent severe lead fouling. The deform but don't really expand and penetrate reasonably well.

Before the advent of jacketed hollow point pistol bullets, people used dum-dum rounds (a hollow-base wad-cutter bullet loaded backward) to help produce a bit of expansion from low velocity cartridges. The typical soft lead round-nose loads were somewhat better penetrators than wad-cutters due to the nose design, and would deform a bit but seldom expand at all. Dum-dum rounds offered modest expansion at best and were simply a small step up the performance ladder from the lead round nose loads.

Over the last 30-40 years, a great deal has been learned about producing projectiles that expand to limit penetration. Modern loads with controlled-expansion bonded, jacketed hollow points offer far superior and predictable performance -- expanding quite consistently to enlarge frontal area and limit penetration. There are several reduced recoil loads being produced with such modern projectiles if the reduced recoil is desired.
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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby ELB » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:16 pm

In a handgun bullet I would worry more about achieving sufficient penetration, especially with smaller calibers and/or reduced velocities. Expansion is nice when you get it, but the bullet has to get somewhere "good" first. Back when there were not a lot of choices in ammo, you made do with what you had, but now we have Gold Dots and similar high quality rounds with lots of street use.

Couple articles along this line.

http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/s ... enetration

http://tacticalanatomy.com/blog/106-wou ... ssues.html
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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby Crash » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:12 am

Middle Age Russ wrote:Wad-cutters are almost always made of very soft lead and have a hollow base. Being very soft lead, velocities and energy of wad-cutter loads must be modest to prevent severe lead fouling. The deform but don't really expand and penetrate reasonably well.

Before the advent of jacketed hollow point pistol bullets, people used dum-dum rounds (a hollow-base wad-cutter bullet loaded backward) to help produce a bit of expansion from low velocity cartridges. The typical soft lead round-nose loads were somewhat better penetrators than wad-cutters due to the nose design, and would deform a bit but seldom expand at all. Dum-dum rounds offered modest expansion at best and were simply a small step up the performance ladder from the lead round nose loads.

Over the last 30-40 years, a great deal has been learned about producing projectiles that expand to limit penetration. Modern loads with controlled-expansion bonded, jacketed hollow points offer far superior and predictable performance -- expanding quite consistently to enlarge frontal area and limit penetration. There are several reduced recoil loads being produced with such modern projectiles if the reduced recoil is desired.


Middle Age Russ,

I agree that there have been substantial changes made in bullet design and manufacture during the last few years. However, I've checked every ballistic gelatin test and Clear Gel test I can find on the internet and quite a few of those fairly new designs sometimes over or underpenetrate and many times they don't expand. Actually, expansion is not one of the criteria I place too much importance on: I believe that practical accuracy (which depends more on me) and sufficient penetration are the most important factors in a self-defense situation.

Thanks for your help,

Crash

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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby Middle Age Russ » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:55 pm

I believe that practical accuracy (which depends more on me) and sufficient penetration are the most important factors in a self-defense situation.


:iagree:

With handgun rounds, I'll happily take expansion if it occurs so long as said expansion doesn't inhibit penetration too much. At the end of the day with rounds of relatively low energy it is shot placement that trumps everything else.

Your question mentioned the claim that dum-dum rounds penetrate well with low recoil impulse. The low recoil impulse is simply due to them having to be light, low velocity loads due to the soft lead alloy -- to prevent them from unduly fouling the gun's barrel. If light-recoiling penetration is your goal, I would think any soft-lead load would work, whether it be round nose, wad-cutter (inverted or not) or some other profile since all of them have to be loaded light.

As for penetrating well, I am sure they can, but their performance will be more erratic than modern bonded jacketed hollow points particularly if they strike. bone. The soft lead tends to deform readily, sometimes fragmenting a bit and shedding weight. Playing devils advocate, if you want extreme penetration for a given cartridge, a hard-cast lead projectile with a large flat frontal area is probably the way to go since they don't deform easily at all.

Ammunition and firearms themselves are not so different in that we choose each of them to fill a certain role and we often look for the best combination of features / performance to do the job we have in mind.
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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby SQLGeek » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:14 am

A cop acquaintance of mine worked a case years back where somebody got shot from a shortish distance by a wadcutter. Said the bullet entered just under the guys nipple and prooceeded to travel across his chest and barely penetrated the pectoral muscle. The guy was upright and talking when he arrived and had no serious injuries.

Now bullets are known to do weird things but it makes me think there are better rounds available, especially these days.
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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby Liberty » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:03 am

All I know is that a lot of cops for a lot of years were using .38 special wadcutters. They were a pretty popular round back then. I don't know why they weren't using hollow points back then. I was using hollowpoint .22s as a kid back in the 60s.
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Re: How Effective are Target Wadcutters as a Self-Defense Load?

Postby Pawpaw » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:27 am

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