Wadcutter carry: why I do it

If you’ve seen my EDC pocket dump video, you’ve probably figured out that it does actually contain my regular EDC items. The Spyderco knife and the S&W 640 Pro Series go everywhere I go, so long as the latter is legal. In the video, I mention that I carry 148 grain target wadcutters in the j-frame, which has lead some people to ask if I actually do that.

Federal 148 grain wadcutters

The answer is yes, I do carry wadcutters. There are a number of reasons for this, but the foremost is shootability. With a small, five shot gun, accuracy and the ability to put lead on target is absolutely at a premium. Because of that, I prioritize my defensive ammo for snub guns in such a way that it places shootability as the most desirable factor, followed by penetration, then lastly expansion. The Federal Gold Medal Match 148 grain wadcutters I use are, in the words of my generation, hella easy to shoot well. They have low recoil, even out of j-frames, they shoot to the sights on most fixed sight guns, low muzzle flash even in low light, and they offer sufficient penetration to reach vital organs. That’s pretty much the best case scenario you can hope for out of a little gun.

Those reasons are also why I tend to recommend them to people who buy small revolvers to “have a gun.” I don’t recommend a wee little revolver to people, because it really is an expert’s gun if you want to use it well. But folks still buy them, load them, carry them, and hardly ever shoot them. Wadcutters are the perfect choice for that person, because it’s going to give you the best chance to put lead on target. A bullet in the chest that doesn’t expand is a far superior fight stopper to a .357 Magnum Fire Blaster that misses. The bottom line for me is I want to get hits. Hits stop fights. With the gun I choose to carry, wadcutters give me the best chance to get the hits, and thus stop the fight.


  1. 3D Ammunition used to make a nifty 100gr wadcutter load. It was a delight to shoot through my Colt Detective Special, and completely unfair out of anything larger. Given the excessive penetration of Buffalo Bore’s 100gr TC .380 ACP load, I suspect that the old 3D load could have easily achieved the FBI 12″ minimum. I think it would be interesting to work up a low-recoil load for one of the commercial hardcast 100gr DEWC with Trail Boss just to see what it could do.

  2. I’m running the Remington WCs in my 642s right now, mainly because they were in stock when I needed more ammo.

    Through heavy clothing they were able to punch all the way through a 18″ gel block at a hosted Speer gel shoot.

  3. Didn’t the guy who developed HydraShocks start by loading hollow base wadcutters base up? Good reasons to carry wadcutters .

    Hey! Don’t you EDC a light?

    Great vid.

  4. Logic? Proportion? Wadcutters?
    What have you done to the internet!!!
    Next thing you know there will be less whining.

    Good post!

  5. I keep finding 5 shot speedloaders all over, house, car, backpack. How many of these things did I buy? Have to try the wadcutters in them, plus I need to shoot my 642 more. I’ve been carrying the G42 a lot lately.

  6. From what I’ve read, another good thing about wadcutters is they cut a full-diameter hole. Didn’t Jim Cirillo write that’s one reason he liked them, and used that as the base for a bullet design of his?

  7. I had asked you about wadcutter carry for my Bulldog some time back, (One of your Q&A blogs), Buffalo Bore puts out a hard cast in .44spl that I was eyeballing and curious what your take on that was, You just answered, thank you

  8. Huh. I would have thought that wadcutters + speedloader = potentially unhappy marriage, unless you’ve gotten the revolver’s charge holes chamfered just a tiny bit to help with that. I have a GP100 in .357, and I have tried wadcutters in it with both HKS and Safariland speedloaders. As the charge holes have not been chamfered, it can be slow going with wadcutters, to the point where it may be a bit faster to put them in one at a time.

    Have you tried any other low-recoil rounds that might be a bit faster to load? Maybe SWCs loaded to standard–not +P–pressures? Or any of the 110 to 125 grain hollowpoint rounds desgined for tiny .38 revolvers?

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