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Thread: Wadcutter brass (38 spl)

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Lead Freak's Avatar
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    Wadcutter brass (38 spl)

    I've been told that the wall thickness in wadcutter brass is consistent at least 1/2 way down the case so that it doesn't deform the Boolit. After measuring a mixture of standard brass (Star Line, Winchester, Blazer, etc.) they all measured .010" well below the seating depth of a wadcutter. What difference is there between standard and wadcutter brass?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Calamity Jake's Avatar
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    I don't know what you are using to measure wall thickness below the boolit but it takes a material thickness mic to measure it.
    so exactly what you have been told is right!! Wad cutter brass is straight walled for the length of the WC boolit then it gets thicker.
    Some designs of WC brass have a cannalure at the base of the boolit preventing it form being seated deeper.
    Calamity Jake

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    Boolit Master

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    Some brass that has been factory loaded with wadcutters has a cannelure down low about where the base of the boolit would be. The low cannelure gives the case a good place to fail at after a bunch of reloadings. Other than that , no difference.
    Some factory WC ammo doesn't have any low cannelures , appear to be smooth sided like regular 38 special ammo.
    I load all my cast wadcutter ammo in whatever cases I can get. Doesn't seem to make much difference.
    Gary
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    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Starline brass is good straight up as wadcutter brass. Other brass you can check with a tubing micrometer. So is most .38 Special brass originally loaded with lead bullets. Some +P brass is thicker walled in order to provide heavier bullet pull with lighter-weight jacketed bullets and heavier charges of slower burning powder. If brass wall thickness is of uniform thickness, not greater than 0.010" down to the depth where the base of the bullet will be when seated, about 1/2", you are good to go.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Hick's Avatar
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    The differences between wadcutter brass and regular brass (if there is any real difference other than the cannelure) seems to be so minor that I don't bother to separate them-- I load either one with whatever bullet I chose on any particular day. The same goes for regular brass and +P brass.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I have shot and reloaded some 38 wadcutter brass so many times the cannelure is a faint mark. I have never has brass fail at the cannelure, they usually split vertically. very rarely at that. I have often thought of getting a wadcutter mold but never did. Lately, it has been the 158RF and add a PB GC made from soda can material for magnums. My last magnums were 158 RF PB Powder coated and they shot fine without leading. Still, a wadcutter would be old school. I had a co-worker who had to use his off-duty in a self defensive situation. Chief's Special stoked with factory wadcutters. 1 shot stop, non fatal, but it did stop the conflict. Dropped the bad guy right there.
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    Boolit Buddy metricmonkeywrench's Avatar
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    Had some questions on that myself after receiving some "odd" brass. On another sight it was confirmed that what I had was wadcutter brass, the big key being the knurl marking low on the case. The major difference is sort of what you were told, the web of the brass starts lower on the case wall resulting in a thinner wall further down. this keeps from swaging the base of soft or hollow base bullets. attached is a photo of one I cut in half after the case mouth split. So the story goes with the demise of revolvers in the hands of the police/military the market for wadcutter ammo fell off and manufacturers more or less stopped producing this type brass.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I just picked up 300 once fired wc cases at a gunshow for $15. Seemed like a good deal.

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    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I used to load wadcutters in any brass I had on hand. I got hold of several hundred Remington wadcutter brass and loaded them up and tested the accuracy against the mixed brass.
    Bottom line is, there is an accuracy difference. It isn't large, but it is enough to notice. Using wadcutter brass reduced my group size nearly 10%. That isn't a big difference for practice or plinking purposes.
    For target it can be crucial. Any accuracy advantage is worth whatever you have to do to get it.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    FWIW, U.S. made wadcutter brass is identified like this: Winchester and Remington both have 2 cannelures midway down the case, and Federal has a single cannelure just north of mid-case.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy mehavey's Avatar
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    What difference is there between standard and wadcutter brass?
    Wadcutter Brass <==> Regular Brass
    Don't worry one way or the other.

  13. #13
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    I believe there is a difference in the way it shoots but not many shooters or guns can tell. I have 1300 or so and load it just with wadcutters. Other brass gets the rest. When I tried to sell 1000 6 months ago there were no takers.
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Have 38 Special brass that has been loaded many, many times.
    Ever now and then one will split but not very often. My wife and
    sister in law will shoot several boxes of ammo when we go to the range.
    Have a lot of the wad cutter brass with the the two rings use this brass like all other
    38 Special brass.
    Purchased 500 pieces of Starline 38 Special brass a few years ago this brass will outlast me.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by mehavey View Post
    Wadcutter Brass <==> Regular Brass
    Don't worry one way or the other.
    You obviously don't load HBWC's.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy mehavey's Avatar
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    What does a Hollow base wadcutter bullet have to do with the brass ?
    (Re OP's original question)


    FWIW I do load 38 Special (previously) cannelured/non-cannelured same-headstamp cases for rifle* -- where it will really show up at 100 yards -- with no appreciable difference.

    * (SAECO 398-158TC Lym#2/1,227fps)
    Last edited by mehavey; 01-12-2018 at 10:54 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by mehavey View Post
    What does a Hollow base wadcutter bullet have to do with the brass ?
    (Re OP's original question)


    FWIW I do load 38 Special (previously) cannelured/non-cannelured same-headstamp cases for rifle* -- where it will really show up at 100 yards -- with no appreciable difference.

    * (SAECO 398-158TC Lym#2/1,227fps)
    148 gain hollow base wadcutters are flush with the front of the case. The base extends deeper into the case than with conventional bullets. If the case tapers to soon it sizes the base of the bullet.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mehavey View Post
    What does a Hollow base wadcutter bullet have to do with the brass ?
    (Re OP's original question)
    The hollow base wadcutter is the boolit the wadcutter brass was designed for. The hollow base wadcutter is significantly longer than a solid wadcutter due to the void in the base. The extra length required the case to be straight walled to a deeper length than for normal boolits in order to keep from swaging down the diameter of the base. The factory hollow base wadcutters were soft lead swaged into shape and would deform easily. Remember, these boolits were loaded flush with the case mouth with nothing sticking out for use in semi-auto target pistols.
    I believe more of the brass, currently made, is straight walled deeply enough to accept a solid wadcutter without deforming it. Not certain about the hollow based wadcutters though.
    Your example of the rifle and mixed brass compared to target wadcutters in a pistol is comparing apples and oranges. The 158 grain tc or swc boolits are loaded to a longer OAL and don't get seated anywhere near as deeply into the case. They are not likely to get swaged down by differing wall thickness. The wadcutters are also not going nearly as fast as your rifle loads. The wadcutters are often loaded slow enough that they will destabilize beyond about 50 yards.
    The biggest thing effecting accuracy in your rifle load would be differing case volume which may cause different velocities in different headstamps. Apparently not an issue for you.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy mehavey's Avatar
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    I've got some 1970-ish HBWC Winchester target ammunition/cases in the basement (from back when I was a real person on a military pistol team).

    I'll shot/reload some tomorrow.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Back when I shot PPC and was able to see the sights, wadcutter brass meant about 10 more points over mixed brass. Whether that was the result of the brass difference or more care being taken in my match loadings is open to question, but if you are loading 38 specials for maximum accuracy, a Remington HBWC bullet in same-lot wadcutter brass is darned hard to equal, let alone beat.
    That said, I don't shoot well enough anymore to make it worth while to spend much time sorting brass.
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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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