Loading Manuals…Read the Book!
Date: Sep 14 2018
I’ll bet you a box of fresh cartridges that the first thing a handloader does with a new or revised loading manual is turn to a favorite cartridge and check out the loading data. When was the last time anyone looked through the whole book, especially the front section, for tips, new ideas or helpful techniques? Well, don’t feel alone. I’m just as guilty, but when the new Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading Tenth Edition came, I sat down and went through the book page by page. I was amazed at what I found, and keep in mind other books from Sierra, Hodgdon, Lyman, Barnes, Swift and Speer offer related information for reloading.
For example, in the beginning there is a section dedicated to the founding of the company by Joyce Hornady. It was interesting to see how the company began, and how it moved into the present time with new bullets, ammunition and loading equipment. From there the content transitions into detailed drawings and text on how the firing of a cartridge takes place, and what to look for in the form of danger signs like case expansion or pressure. This is interesting reading and is worthwhile to review no matter how long you have been handloading.
No loading book is worth a darn if it does not get into the basics of the hobby, and this book does so in grand style. Equipment, cases, primers and powders are the few of the subjects covered. I especially liked the chart on the primers; I made an enlarged copy of it and tacked it by my bench for a quick reference, along with the chart of powders and their burning rate. However, the section I especially enjoyed were the detailed explanations of each bullet in the line, its intended use in the field and its expansion qualities— all laid out in text and illustrations. Further on is an enjoyable section on the research of a bullet in flight, its trajectory, correction factors and ballistic coefficients.
The loading section covers rifle and handgun bullets, powder charges and velocity readings for seemingly uncountable combinations. While some of the wildcats of the past have been dropped, favorites like the .22 K Hornet and the .22-6MM are still in the book.
Reading about handloading does not stop here. For example, there are complete books on powders, wildcats and how to get a small game rifle so accurate that you can place three shots in one hole! Additionally, there is a publication — Pet Loads — from Wolfe Publishing by one of the masters of handloading, Ken Waters, that encompasses almost 1,200 pages for nearly any rifle or pistol cartridge you could think of to load.
Today’s handloaders are blessed with literally hundreds of publications on handloading, and I urge handloaders to take advantage of all this material.