January 11th, 2018

Why Does Load Data Vary Between Reloading Manuals?

load manual sierra reloading hornady data

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
One of the first things new reloaders notice is that load data varies between reloading manuals. The Sierra Bullets Technicians frequently get inquiries asking us to explain why the load data appears to be inconsistent. This article explains five key factors that can influence published load data.

Example of load data variances for two 168 grain bullets:

Sierra Reloading Manual Hornady Load Reloading

Here are five reasons why the load data varies:

The Bullet
Basically, the similarities in the .30 caliber 168 grain Match bullets (for example) end with weight and diameter. The bullets likely have dimensional differences such as bearing surface length. Bearing surface has a large effect on pressure and velocity. There are also differences in boat tail, flat base, ogive and over-all lengths, which each help determine the cartridge over-all-length (COAL). With different COAL’s, we can expect changes in pressure and velocity also. In some calibers there are differences in bullet diameter with different bullet manufacturers.

It is also worth noting that bullet manufacturers do not all use the same copper alloy for their jackets. This produces more or less friction that results in load pressures and velocities. The solid copper bullets also vary quite a bit in comparison to a lead core and copper jacketed bullet.

The Gun
Each gun is unique, even if you are using the same make, model, and caliber. Special consideration should be used to consider that not all firearm chambers are the same either, creating more variables that need consideration. There can be drastic differences in the throat length. This controls the amount of “jump” that a bullet experiences when the cartridge is fired.

The Powder
Within normal manufacturing tolerances, you can see some variation in a given powders burn rate between different lots of the same powder. So naturally when two different Manuals are produced, it would be doubtful that the same lots would be tested.

The Cartridge Cases
New cases are almost always near minimum specs in dimension. A load fired in a new case would likely have slightly more pressure that when fired in a re-sized case. This would certainly be true if we were loading into fire-formed cases that have had minimal re-sizing done. Fired cases that are full length resized most of the time be slightly larger than the new unfired cases. This gives you differences in case capacity. The same powder charge placed within a new case and a full length resized case will produce different pressure levels and probably different velocities.

Conditions
Temperature can cause pressure increases or decreases. Hot temperatures tend to cause pressures to increase, while cold temperatures will usually do the opposite. Humidity and altitude can impact pressures and velocities likewise.

Conclusion
As you can see, an amazing number of variables effect any load combination. With the differences in the manuals, you’re just seeing firsthand examples of what took place when the data was collected with that particular set of components and firearm. Think of a reloading manual as a report. In essence, a reloading manual says, “We tried this particular component combination, and these are the results we obtained.”

Remember that you may or may not reach the same maximum load safely. There is no “one load fits all bullets.” The minimum load data offers a safe place to start. The maximum load data listed should always be regarded as a safety guideline and not necessarily a goal! Your gun should shoot accurately without breaching the maximum load data. The best advice is: always start low and work your load up!

If you have questions about variances in load data or other reloading questions, please call our ballistic technicians at 1-800-223-8799 or send us an email at sierra [at] sierrabullets.com.

Sierra Bullets Blog reloading information

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
June 5th, 2016

Best Reloading Manual for Novice Hand-Loaders — Lyman Favored

Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual novice basic

What’s the best book for folks getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? According to our Forum members, the best manual for “newbie” reloaders is the Lyman Reloading Handbook. In our Shooters’ Forum, a newcomer to reloading was looking for a basic reloading guide that also included load data. The most recommended book was the Lyman Handbook, now in its 50th Edition (just released). Along with “how-to” advice on reloading procedures, the Lyman Manual features cartridge specifications and load data for the most popular cartridges.*

Here are some comments from Forum members:

“The Lyman book is an excellent manual with a large section describing the process of reloading. I heartily recommend it. As a beginning reloader, you may want to consider purchasing more than one book in order to get different perspectives on the reloading regimen. One can never be too careful. A ‘minor’ mistake can be costly.” — Cort

“In my opinion, the Lyman Manual is one of the best for the beginning reloader since it covers all the basics and some advanced methods. If possible, you would be also well served to hook up with an experienced reloader, preferably a target shooter or long-range varmint hunter, who can also give you some very useful pointers on precision reloading.” – K22

Editor’s NOTE: K22 echoes the advice we give to new hand-loaders. We suggest that novices find an experienced mentor who can “show them the ropes” and guide them through the basics.

Another gun blogger agrees that the Lyman Manual is a logical choice for new handloaders:

Carteach Review: The Lyman Reloading Manual
“[Lyman publishes] an excellent manual for any handloader, but especially for those new to the craft. Perhaps the best judgment of a handloader’s regard for a reloading manual is which one he chooses to give someone new to the fold. The needs of a new reloader differ from those of someone with long experience, and the right manual can set the foundation for years of safe procedures. Here is the one I choose to give a good friend embarking down the path:”

Lyman 49th Reloading Manual

Carteach adds: “Lyman has always taken pains to provide very clear and understandable instruction on the basic process of reloading cartridges. The imaging is helpful and to the point. The load data Lyman provides is comprehensive, and [Lyman] takes the time to note special circumstances which new loaders need to be aware of. As example, the .30-06 section has some words regarding the M-1 Garand and its special needs. For someone who has never loaded for the Garand, these few sentences are golden!”

*We recommend that you always double-check printed load data with the latest web-based data from the actual powder manufacturers. Powder properties can change. The most current powder data is usually found on the powder-makers’ websites.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 8th, 2016

Pursuit of the Perfect Cartridge Book by Mic McPherson

We are often asked, “Can you recommend a good reloading book that picks up where the typical reloading manual leaves off — something that goes into more detail about the processes involved.” There is such a book, and it’s fairly recent: Metallic Cartridge Handloading: Pursuit of the Perfect Cartridge, by M.L. (“Mic”) McPherson. Released in 2013, this 425-page book goes into greater depth than McPherson’s popular intro reloading guide, Metallic Cartridge Reloading. McPherson’s latest reloading treatise covers all aspects of the reloading process: the cartridge case; maintaining, improving and loading the case; the seating and reading of primers; the loading of propellant; bullets and the loading of bullets; accurate load development; internal and external ballistics; bullet making and casting; and reloading presses.

Metallic Cartridge Handloading Mic McPherson

With hundreds of photos and illustrations, this book is a good reference for shooters getting started in precision reloading for accuracy. Compared to some other books on reloading procedures, McPherson’s new resource is more up-to-date, so it references more modern reloading tools and techniques. NOTE: This is NOT a reloading manual containing specific load data. Rather, it is a how-to book that covers the process of cartridge reloading from start to finish.

Reviews by actual book buyers:
A great resource for handloaders although a little technical for beginners. I have been reloading for 40+ years and picked up some good ideas. — Loren R.

This is a book intended for people who have been reloading for a while. The book contains very detailed information about reloading. — Kaj H.

About the Author, M.L. (“Mic”) McPherson:
Mic McPherson, Technical Editor of Hand Loader’s Digest, is the author of numerous firearms resource books including Metallic Cartridge Reloading and Accurizing the Factory Rifle. He has written scores of articles for leading gun periodicals including Precision Shooting, The Accurate Rifle, Rifle Shooter, and Varmint Hunter Magazine. Mic also served as an Editor of the 8th and 9th Editions of Cartridges of the World.

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May 21st, 2012

Popular .223, .308 Win, and .30-06 Load Manuals on Sale

MidwayUSA has knocked $1.50 off the prices of LoadBooks reload manuals for three of the most popular centerfire calibers: .223 Rem, .308 Win, and .30-06. As discounted, these manuals now cost $5.49 (regular price $6.99). In addition, the most popular pistol load manuals are also marked down to $5.49 (9mm, .38 Spl, .357 Mag, 40sw, and .45 ACP, .45 Colt).

All of these caliber-specific reloading guides are packed with information from major US bullet- and powder-makers including Accurate, Alliant, Hodgdon, Hornady, IMR, Lyman, Nosler, RCBS, Sierra, Speer and Winchester. LoadBook manuals are printed on heavyweight paper and spiral-bound so they will lay flat on any surface. Most load manuals have about 54 pages. NOTE: since most of these manuals have not been updated within the last 5 years, you won’t find the latest bullet designs or recently-introduced powders such as Hodgdon Hybrid 100V or Alliant Reloder 17.

Loadbooks USA Reloading Manual

.223 Rem .308 Win .30-06
1555 Tested Loads
58 Bullets, 40 Powders
1940 Tested Loads
80 Bullets, 42 Powders
2138 Tested Loads
83 Bullets, 59 Powders
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December 1st, 2011

Lee Reloading Manual on Sale for Just $12.49

Modern Reloading Manual Second Edition LeeIt’s great to be able to access load data on the internet. But we still recommend keeping some hard-bound reloading manuals at home for reference. Right now MidwayUSA has a great deal on the Modern Reloading, Second Edition, Revised by Richard Lee. Now through the end of the year, you can buy the latest LEE reloading manual for just $12.49. This book was recently revised, so it has more reloading data than the previous release of the 2nd Edition. The load data section now has black tabs on the side of the pages.

Should you buy the book? It’s cheap at $12.49. The load data covers a huge variety of cartridges. But some guys complain that the first section of the book reads like a LEE catalog. Here are book-buyers’ comments:

At twice the size of my old Speer book, the Lee manual covers everything you need from a reloading reference book. The best part is that it is not produced by a powder or bullet maker so the reloading data focuses on the best performing products.” — G. Basley

The reloading data is AMAZING for exotic loads, but pretty basic for popular loads. Also, Lee goes back and forth between Grains and CCs, which can be distracting at best. [Editor: Why CCs? Answer — Lee sells CC-graduated powder scoops]. The loading data is really the most useful aspect of the book because the charts are straight-forward and the diagrams are easy to read.” — D. Hukill

On the one hand, this reloading manual is a great deal for the money. It’s cheapest out of all the reloading manuals, and yet it doesn’t skimp on any of the load data. On the other hand, the writing style in this manual is not professional… [it needs] a competent editor. Many parts of this reloading manual read like pure advertising copy for Lee products.” — C. Weys

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November 22nd, 2011

New 2012 Hodgdon Reloading Manual Coming Soon

hodgdon reloading manualHodgdon® Powder Co. will release its 9th Annual Manual early next year. The 2012 Hodgdon Annual Manual features 100+ pages of rifle and pistol data with over 5,000 load recipes. The load data covers 30 Hodgdon, 19 IMR® and 10 Winchester® brand powders. New content this year includes: 300 AAC Blackout load data, and lead-free bullet recipes for 21 rifle cartridges. In addition, the new 2012 Manual spotlights Hodgdon’s new CFE™223 propellant. Tests of this new powder show that it can deter copper fouling in many cartridge types (“CFE” stand for “Copper Fouling Eraser”). The 2012 manual provides plenty of reloading recipes for the new CFE™223 — 147 loads for 27 cartridges.

Along with comprehensive load data, the 2012 manual offers seven authoritative articles by top gun and outdoor industry writers. One interesting article covers economical hand-loading with lead free “green” bullets. Both competitive shooters and hunters will find other articles of interest.

You’ll find the 2012 Hodgdon manual at newsstands and gun stores in early 2012, priced at $8.99. You can also order direct by visiting Hodgdon.com or calling (912) 362-9455. (Direct sales price is $11.99.)

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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