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Thread: reversed HBWC?

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    Member alaskamace's Avatar
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    Default reversed HBWC?

    I seem to recall reading at some point or another about a reversed hollow-base wadcutter in the .38 for self-defense. Anybody able to shed some light on this? I have a boatload of these bullets that I load for my wife to shoot for practice. I know the bhn of these bullets is somewhere around 3. Is this too soft to be considered for this application?
    ..."Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions." - G.K. Chesterton

  2. #2

    Default Not consistent

    The problem with using a HBWC backwards as a hollowpoint is that they don't always expand, sometimes collapsing instead, reducing their stopping power. That being said, I'd rather not be hit with one of these anyway.

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    Default HBWC loaded backwards

    Unless you cast your own - like I do - you will find that the bullets you buy are too soft and have too little lube to be shot any self defense velocities. They will lead your barrel something crazy and cause a real mess.

    Cast of harder lead and properly lubed they should be good for light skinned game like small to medium dogs you have to put down in a hurry. I'd be afraid to use them for self defense for fear of lawsuits if you only wound someone. Better backup the HBWC with a factory load and leave no one alive.
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    I believe the idea behind all the wad cutters and the reason they are soft is to prevent over penetration of a missed shot, reducing risk to bystanders. In the late 40s and early 50s when my Dad was a cop in Glendale Arizona HBWC was the issue ammo for the .38 special and all they were allowed to use. Donít know why the hollow base was used, maybe to get a gas seal with the light loads they had, but thatís just a wild guess. Most of the cops there at the time were war hardened Marines like my Dad and they brung their own ammo to the field against orders. They understood shooting through a wall or car door could save their life and the issue ammo was not up to the task. My feeling is while they may be stopped by an old lath and plaster wall and may have been an adequate home defense round at one time, they are obsolete today. They may go right through several sheet rock walls you donít want them to and yet conversely may not penetrate the clothing of an intruder when you need it to. If itís a cast bullet I want it on the hard side but for people stopping I pick a good JSP if I have a choice.
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    Back in the 1980s, an old cop friend of mine (now deceased) used reversed HBWCs in his Dick Special at a nominal velocity. He confronted and intrude one summer night in his home at (IIRC) 20 feet or so and touched one off. The burglar heard him coming and started to turn so the shot hit the guy on the side of the man boob (he was wearing a wife beater) and it ran across his chest blowing out all sorts of wiring inside. He got about 25 feet outside the house before bleeding out.

    The guys nipple got blown off and was just laying winking on the ground.

    Light loads HBWC?....go for it. Kill ya just as dead, but it would be easier just to load a few factory JHPs in wifeys cylinder and call it good. You dont have a need to change out your carry ammo in a revolver, let 'em sit until you use them

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    Default use a factory self defense load

    People used to build all sorts of homemade self defence ammo ! I know one guy that used 2 or 3 , .36 cal round balls that had been sized to .357 in .357 mag cases ! it was short range but i can see where it may have been effective ! I dont remember all the specifics ! but those roundballs had to weigh at least 100 grains each ! is must have been a thumper to shoot too ! Kevin
    Little bullets might expand ! But big bullets never shrink !
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskamace View Post
    I seem to recall reading at some point or another about a reversed hollow-base wadcutter in the .38 for self-defense. Anybody able to shed some light on this? I have a boatload of these bullets that I load for my wife to shoot for practice. I know the bhn of these bullets is somewhere around 3. Is this too soft to be considered for this application?
    If you hold those swaged bullets down below 800 fps leading isn't all that bad, though it can start and spread at the forcing cone and at the muzzle in long shooting sessions where the barrel is heating up real good. You can help eliminate that by running them through liquid Alox, but it's probably not worth the trouble if you hold the velocity down and don't do long shooting sessions.

    I was around and shooting lots of them when the idea or craze or fad for reversing them came along. I tested them in a variety of media including the flesh of several jackrabbits and even one coyote. Impressive to say the least and no tendency to close up till you tried dry paper or wood as a test medium.

    I've found one use for them. In short J-frames you can't generate the velocities to get anything else to expand while maintaining control in double-action shooting, so you're working in the velocity range that works best for swaged bullets in general. Yeah, you can put oversize grips on a J to help control recoil, but that defeats my purposes for a little gun in the first place. Load the wadcutters to midrange velocities and recoil levels and they're quite controllable in the little gun with standard grips. I don't usually reverse wadcutters any more after whacking an assortment of small game with standard loadings. The large "meplat" on the the wadcutter does impressive things on its own at midrange velocities.

    Others will most certainly disagree based on what they've read, but based on my own shooting and flesh tests I'm convinced that midrange-velocity wadcutters, whether reversed or not, provide good terminal performance along with control in shorty J-frames. I don't know anyone who has used them on humans, but I'll take accurate double-action shooting as a first requirement for defensive use of small guns. A hit with a wadcutter is vastly superior to a miss with hotter loads of any description.

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    A hit with a wadcutter is vastly superior to a miss with hotter loads of any description.
    That brings to mind my favorite line...

    Think that [insert denigrated caliber/bullet here like .32, 22mag, 9mm ball, 38 wadcutters, et seq] isnt good for self defense? How about letting me shoot you in the face with one

    Nobody takes me up.

    A J frame with midrange wadcutters is as potent as the new fad .380s

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    A J frame with midrange wadcutters is as potent as the new fad .380s
    Having popped jackrabbits with both, my nod goes completely to the J with midrange wadcutters. I haven't found any 380 bullet that creates the absolute mess possible with the wadcutter's big flat face. As my daughter said the first time she connected on one: Eeeeeeugh!!!!

  10. #10
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    Default

    Use revered HBWC for popping big halibut on the boat (while they are in the water... not "on" the boat). Seems to do the trick fairly well. Knocks 'em silly and rips the heck out of the gill to bleed them all in one pop. So if you ever had to defend yourself against a halibut...

    A similar self-defense load that I did read about came out of NYC many, many years ago. They took that WC bullet and hacksawed a slot from the tip down about 3/4 of the length. On impact, it folded open so it was basically a .357" by ~2" jagged block of lead on entry. The results were something along the lines of what a good grinder does to burger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    That brings to mind my favorite line...

    Think that [insert denigrated caliber/bullet here like .32, 22mag, 9mm ball, 38 wadcutters, et seq] isnt good for self defense? How about letting me shoot you in the face with one
    Nobody takes me up.
    True enough, but if you said `let me do a Three Stooges double finger poke to your eyes.' I bet no one would want that either. Fingers, fists, car keys, ball point pens, 380s, .22s, and shotguns are all viable self defiance weapons but are not all equal in there usefulness by any means.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    A J frame with midrange wadcutters is as potent as the new fad .380s
    Also true, but I don't want to bet my life on anything smaller in power than a .40S&W with good quality bullets. But the old saying `The best weapon is the one in your hand when you need ití is completely true. A 45 at home in the safe is a lesser weapon than the car keys in your hand when the fight is on.
    Andy
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