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Herter's Wasp-Waist Bullets

Misc. • 20th Nov, 16 • 0 Comments


I recently purchased a large grocery box full of miscellaneous old and empty IMR and other powder cans, ammunition boxes, and bullet boxes. One of the bullet boxes has me stumped, as it is a Herter's Wasp-Waist Sonic; 30-caliber,180 grains. There is no example of the bullet, so I do not know what is meant by the description. Does it possibly mean that a section of the bullet was of reduced diameter, so as to ride the lands rather than be engraved by the rifling?

Wes Ross, Texas

I grew up with the many products of Herter's, within easy driving reach of their Waseca, Minnesota, outlet. Many of the products were described as "Perfect" in the Herter's catalog, which gave the buyer either a load of confidence or skepticism. When the Wasp-Waist Sonic Bullets came out, my two shooting friends and I couldn't wait to try them. The results were quite acceptable, but not without loading problems. The 30-caliber 180-grain bullet you refer to was fine in the 30-06, and produced groups of near match quality (when compared to our regular load of the 180-grain Sierra MatchKing) in a Winchester Model 70 Target Rifle (the kind Carlos Hathcock used for most of his sniping work in Vietnam). However, the 180 was not useful in a 308 Winchester because the narrow waist did not allow proper seating in the short neck. For the 308, we found that the 150-grain bullet was excellent. A sporting rifle produced 3-shot groups of right around an inch with consistency. The accompanying photo shows the 150-grain version.

Another plus for the Wasp-Waist Sonic bullets was that, for standard drawn-cup construction, penetration in wet magazines was excellent, as was retained weight. We concluded that, upon impact, the front portion of the bullet tended to mushroom and then the bullet would collapse at the waist, thereby protecting the rear portion. Beautiful mushrooms was the rule. Herter's also claimed less fouling, which certainly seemed plausible.

We tried a few different calibers, and relative performance was just fine across the board. After all these years, now as old timers, we mourn the passing of Herter's as we knew it; a victim of the Gun Control Act of 1968. I also regret not having saved more examples of their many unique products. 


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