Terminology: Wadcutter

A wadcutter is a style of bullet that is almost completely cylindrical in shape. While there have been a few jacketed wadcutters, the majority are lead. Most commercially loaded wadcutters are swaged from lead alloys and some even have a hollow base. Cast lead wadcutters are often double-ended, particularly those used by handloaders.

As part of the wadcutter design, the entire length of the bullet bears on the rifled barrel, allowing for an easy transition from cylinder to barrel. Wadcutters are usually associated with low velocity and match accuracy.

More often than not, wadcutters get fired at paper targets with precisely printed scoring rings. They get their name from their ability to cut a sharply defined plug, circle or wad of paper at the point of impact. Round-nosed bullets give a less visually apparent hole and possibly loss of a point when the bullet hits near a scoring ring. Wadcutters provide a true score.

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2 Responses to Terminology: Wadcutter

Sean C. wrote:
November 09, 2012

The main problem I have with wadcutters is that nobody makes the in .37 cases, only .38 special. That means you get six really dirty rings to clean out of the cylinder every time you shoot them, and for some reason they always seem to be loaded with really dirty burning powder. If they made 158gr. DEWC rounds in .357 cases loaded to about 1050 fps in a 4" barrel, I'll bet they'd sell really well. Same deal for .44mag, a clean-burning powder would be nice too.

Dewey E. "Gene" Du Bose, SGM, USA, Ret wrote:
November 05, 2012

Wadcutters were the first ammo I ever shot out of a S&W .38. My Dad was a police Officer and the department reloaded their own wadcutters for the range. Dad taught us kids how to shoot and of course, gun safety. I still have some of the wadcutters he hand loaded back in 1965. I now shoot them in my Colt 357.