Thread: First reloads
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Old June 3, 2019, 07:23 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: January 2, 2009
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 798

I am really pleased to see you excited with your first reloading attempt. I welcome you to one of the most satisfying parts of the shooting sports, finding the way to improve your results by making choices about components that are under your control.

So soon after your first successful reloading session, it may be hard to understand the importance of recording information when you reload, and reporting it when you discuss your results with serious reloaders.
I guess from some of the feedback in this thread, you probably see some of the frustration some of the members showed by not getting information that they expected so that they could comment intelligently.
But after 20 reloading sessions I think you will begin to see the need for keeping records of your reloads and being precise in stating what you did.

I hope you'll take some advice, offered with the best of intentions, from someone who loads 5,200 rounds a year, not for plinking, but to get the most accurate results from each of my rifles.

I knew from previous reloading efforts and keeping manual records in notebooks that I would never be able to find anything when I increased my reloading volume by a factor of 10, and in addition, I would never have the ability to figure out what really worked. Just to find out what worked best required hours of effort to even find the right data to compare.

When I really started to load in volume almost 9 years ago about the time I retired, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of all my loads and the group sizes with each load and to allow me to analyze my results so I could continuously improve the accuracy of my shooting and reloading.

Now that enormous spreadsheet contains the results of over 46,000 reloads for about 25 rifles and I can go back and find out how each different load did. I also classify the loads by powder-bullet combinations so I know where to focus future loading activity to get the best results. The data is easily searched and portions of the data can be gathered and analyzed to answer questions like where do I concentrate my efforts with the best performing bullets and powders and at what bullet jump and velocities.

For every load, I keep powder type and charge, O.A.L., trim length, velocity, brass & primer used, exit time, temperature, and measured group sizes for every load developed. Then I keep the average, median, and standard deviation for each load. I keep track of the 10 best and 25 best loads for each rifle I load for.

With that data, other than just powder and charge weight, I can also tell you which primers work best with which rifles and which calibers. I can also tell you how many reloads I have been able to get out of each type of brass, and which powders perform best with which bullet weights.

I keep another worksheet with chamber measurement for each rifle with measurements for every bullet I load with, and include the best load recorded and its seating depth, along with jump data for every bullet used.

If you don't keep really good records, even if you have an excellent memory, in a year you will not remember what loads you shot in your first session.
In fact, if you load a lot, you probably won't remember what powder you used and what charge you used last week, you won't remember the average group size, and you definitely won't remember the seating depth or trim length. That means you won't be able to duplicate the results that worked best. At every loading session will be relearning what you could have already had at your fingertips. Unfortunately, if you keep selective sets of data concentrating on what you are interested in at the time, you will lose other data that you will want to analyze in the future.

Your first reloading session is over and your next session should grow from that experience, not only in reloading technique but in how to plan the next session to accomplish something other than getting your reloads to go bang every time you pull the trigger.

I wish you the best with your next session and hopefully, you will begin to keep the records you need to accomplish the goals you are reloading for - accuracy to achieve smaller groups when target shooting, the right velocity and bullet selection to deliver the desired kinetic energy at the distance you plan on hunting game, or loading to keep your bullet supersonic at a very long range so you can ring steel consistently.
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