Educational Zone #161 – Using Full Wadcutters for Better Scoring in Target Competition

Most of you are far too young to remember, but “back in the day” police officers were trained and often participated in “Police Target Competition”. This was a contest with a very strict set of rules where competitors shot targets for score following strict conditions.

The preferred method of shooting was a one-handed stance, without off-hand support. It usually required double-action firing (cannot cock the pistol, but had to “trigger cock” the revolver)

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It often required both right and left hand unsupported firing at a bulls-eye type target. Scoring was done by Judges and the highest total score won the event.

But smart competitors quickly noticed something important. If you used a bigger caliber, you could make a better score.

Here’s how that happened. Each shot was measured and if it “touched” a higher number on the target, you got the higher number.

Look at this target.

Look at this target.

The .45 caliber hole would score as a 10, but the .38 caliber hole, even though it was the same distance from the center of the target, would only score as a 9. That gave a significant advantage to those that shot the .45 caliber pistols.

(Note: This may not apply to all target competition scoring, but did apply to this type of competition.)

Also, the outer edges of each hole determined the score.

Here are two .38 caliber holes in paper that I shot this morning.

Here are two .38 caliber holes in paper that I shot this morning.

Notice that the round nosed bullet made a significant smaller hole than the full wad cutter bullet made.

That larger hole might give you a higher score.

The wadcutter is a full sized diameter slug in the caliber of choice. It is called a wadcutter because it “cuts” a “wad” out if the paper that is exactly the same caliber as the bullet.

Elmer Keith use semi-wadcutters like the ones in the picture for hunting, as he felt it had advantages in hunting over full wadcutters.

But for the cleanest holes in paper, the wadcutter is hard to beat.

I have sent many thousands of .38 caliber wadcutters down range in the past 45 years. But it had been many years since I had seen full wadcutters available for a .45 caliber pistol.

But I recently found some from MidAtlantic Bullets. They are 200 grain .45 Wadcutters and are very nice bullets.

I loaded some up in some .45 Auto Rim brass to shoot in my Model 25-2.

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Here they are.

I went to the range this morning to shoot some of them to see how accurate they were.

Back in the 1960-70 time period, Jeff Cooper and his friends started something called “Practical Pistol Competition”.

This stressed that “practice” ought to be done exactly like you would fight with the pistol if the need ever came.

The stance went from one-hand unsupported to a two-hand stance like this.

A two-handed stance is far superior to trying to shoot one-handed

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My lovely wife took some pictures for me and after we got home I noticed that I had placed my left trigger finger on the front of the trigger guard on my Python revolver.

This is not the best way to hold a revolver, but I did it for so many years that I sometimes revert to the practice if I don’t pay attention.

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Since I was not in the old competition, I also shot single action some of the time.

I have found that the primary hand (in this case my right) should not be moved on the grip if possible.

So, I use my off hand to cock the revolver for single action shooting.

Hold the pistol like this to shoot.

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And reach over with your left thumb to cock the hammer.

That way you don’t have to move your primary grip.

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I finally shot my Model 25-2, .45 Auto Rim revolver with the wadcutter bullets.

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Here’s a group of 12 shots from about 25 feet.

Here’s a group of 12 shots from about 25 feet.

I even left in that low flier, just to show that even I let one slip out of the group now and then.

But notice how clean those holes are in the target.

Just as a matter of interest, some terminal ballistics experts suggest that in a short barrel revolver, Jacket Hollow Point bullets often fail to expand. They suggest that in that case a full wadcutter might be the best alternative for a defensive load.

Conclusions:

Oh well, a fine day at the range.

Shooting stuff is fun.

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