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  Essential information for new handloaders!

ReloadingEssential information for new handloaders!
by Mike Hines

I seem to see the same kind of question over and over again in the online forums that are about reloading your own ammunition. “I just started reloading for my .373 Wiffenpoofer rifle and need to know what load to use …” Every time I see it I cringe a little. I have one simple answer to all these questions; READ A MANUAL!! There is nothing wrong with asking for information on favorite loads or for suggestions for better loads but every handloader should have a hand loading manual with the basic information readily available on his bench. Every bullet and powder maker has this information available. Most experienced handloaders have a favorite manual or two but all of them contain valuable information.

My first suggestion to anyone wishing to start loading their own ammunition is to just pick a reloading manual and spend some time studying it. There are plenty of them out there and all have recommended powders and suggested starting loads for any number of cartridges. You just have to take the time to read the information. When Billy Bob Reloader on the internet says a load is safe that doesn't mean that it really is. Double check the load against what the bullet and powder manufacturers recommend. Trying to gain a few feet per second at the possible expense of safety just isn't worth it.

Over the years I’ve seen and heard several people say that they didn’t need a book because someone had showed them all about loading their own cartridges. When I first started loading I had a “mentor” who was teaching me the ropes. I also bought a couple of books and read them on my own. I soon learned that my “mentor” was downright dangerous in his practices! He proved this by blowing up a cartridge and damaging the weapon. Luckily none of the three of us standing there was hurt by the pieces that went flying around. I’ve kept that case on my loading bench for over 30 years as a reminder to be careful.

If you looked on my loading bench you'd see that I keep a number of different reference books handy. Some are full blown manuals, others are little more than brochures. There are more, older manuals stashed on my bookshelves. My personal preference is to use the data from the manufacturer of the bullet I’m using for that particular load. I will also reference the manual from manufacturer of the powder I’m using. If there seems to be a difference I stick with the bullet manufacturer’s recommended load.

The manuals that I seem to pull out most often are, in no particular order;
"Modern Reloading, Second Edition" by Richard Lee
Speer Reloading Manual #14
Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, Seventh Edition
Hodgdon's "Annual Manual"

I would also recommend "Handloader" magazine to everyone interested in making your own ammunition. And don't forget that there are many component manufacturers’ websites which also contain reloading data

One of my favorite quotes is “Experience is learning from your mistakes. Wisdom is learning from the experiences of others!” An unfortunate fact of reloading is that gaining the initial experience on your own, without good reference material, could lead to damaged equipment or even severe injuries. Why risk that when there are so many good, proven sources of information already available?

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Monday, December 30, 2013 (17:52:29) (712 reads) [ Administration ]
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