Alternative Sources of Reloading Data
Alternative Sources of Reloading Data
Traditionally, most reloaders have referred to the tried, tested and true reloading manual as their primary source for load data. Having been a reloader myself for more than a decade I can’t argue with that, as I probably own nearly a dozen manuals, each of which contains a wealth of information. But are they the best, or only place to find load data? In my opinion, no. Lets take a quick look at a few other options you may not even realize are out there.
If you’re using professionally manufactured reloading bullets you may already be familiar with the load data cards sometimes found in the packaging. Conversely, if you purchase your reloading bullet in bulk, you may just be hearing about this for the first time. Retail-packaged boxes, bags, and plastic blister packs of 100-250 bullets will often include data printed right on the packaging, however bulk packs rarely do. This is partly due to the higher degree of quality-control performed on smaller volumes of ammunition, but in the end it generally comes down to cost. Reloaders who purchase small quantities of bullets are paying a premium for fancier packaging. Bulk buyers on the other hand are primarily focused on cost, so manufacturers ship these bullets as cheaply as possible; usually this means a plain, cardboard box with no instructions, data cards or markings beyond the caliber and quantity.
If you buy your bullets in bulk, you can almost always email or write the manufacturer requesting data, and they’ll either direct you to a download location or mail you a hard copy, free of charge.
For those of you who cast your own bullets, take some time to read the included instructions and more often than not, you’ll find some basic load data. This is particularly true for proprietary bullet/slug designs like the Lee Drive Key, or Lyman Sabot slugs that wouldn’t otherwise show up in competitor’s reloading manuals. If you bought your moulds used or open box and didn’t receive any data sheets, try phoning or emailing the manufacturer. Just as with commercial bullet manufacturers, mould makers will almost always provide you with an electronic or hard copy of loading data without charge if requested.
Die-makers can be another great source of reloading data. One of my favorites, Lee Precision, actually includes a mini chart of basic load data with their reloading dies as well as a 1:1 measurement guide for minimum and maximum overall cartridge lengths (really handy if you’re just getting started or don’t have access to a set of calipers). Again, if you bought your dies used or misplaced the data sheet, you can phone or email them for a complimentary replacement set. Many of Lee Precisions’ die set instructions are also easily found on their website. Handy!
Print data is great for the simple fact that it’s convenient and widely available, but it seems like no matter what manual, guide or card you use; it never has everything you need. Likewise, if a manufacturer changes their recipe or new components emerge on the market, suddenly your data is out of date. For that reason the last alternative source of load data I’m going to mention, and my personal favorite, is the Internet. For those of you who just choked when I said that, let me be clear; I’m not talking about chat forums, third party websites or video-hosting platforms. It’s absolutely, positively essential that you never use load data you can’t confirm is legitimate, and proven safe. For that reason I want to be very clear here when I say I’m talking exclusively about manufacturer-maintained online databases; not some guy who swears by a recipe he found on a chat forum. The best by far, and the only one I’m going to recommend, is Hodgon’s, which at the time of this recording you can find at www.hodgonreloading.com. This is a free, online resource maintained by the Hodgon Powder Company which includes data for Pistol and Rifle cartridges as well as shotshells. It’s a fantastic tool that will provide you with thousands upon thousands of possible loads for just about anything you can imagine. The best part about this site is that it keeps all your data centralized in a single location, rather than requiring you to sort through a half dozen different books, cards or data sheets. Any time a load is changed, the site’s automatically updated to reflect this, so you always have the latest and greatest data. That’s a pretty sweet deal for a free database.
Hopefully a few of these suggestions have been helpful to you. Remember that above all when reloading you want to be safe, and that means ensuring the data you’re using is current, and comes from a reliable source.
Tactical Advantage TV is focused on delivering short, to-the-point content on a host of subjects related to firearms, casting, reloading, optics and accessories. In addition to theoretical discussion, I will be performing a number of practical demonstrations on processes and products, including my own designs.