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Old February 12, 2000, 11:58 PM   #1
Bud Helms
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 13,155
No, it probably hasn't changed since you read it last. But how many of us have actually read our reloading manuals?

I don't mean buy one, run to the bench and flip to the load charts. I mean READ it!

The last time I went out and updated my reloading library was about ten years ago. I'm way overdue for an update. The two best at that time (late '80s), in my most humble opinion, for beginning or fairly new reloaders were Hornady and Lyman.

There are some real jewels in there. I have read them from front cover to the trajectory tables in the back. I think the Hornady manual is now a two volume set, with the tables in its own volume.

I have just finished reading the Lyman 46th edition (1982) again. That's three or four times, I don't remember.

The guy that got me started in reloading gave me the books to read first. I'll always be grateful.

Out of +4400 members here, I am constantly amazed at the obviously large number that do not reload. Of those of us that do reload, it is equally obvious that many have never read much of what is offered in those books. You don't know what you're missing if you do that.

How many of us can describe the firing cycle of a bottle-necked cartridge in a bolt action rifle? Just EXACTLY what happens to the cartridge, milli-second by milli-second from primer strike to bullet engagement? Why would I need to know that? What is bullet engraving?

How far down the barrel is the bullet by the time the powder is all burned? What difference does it make what type of rifling is in my barrel? How can I use the twist rate of my barrel's rifling to predict the weight range of bullets to use in my loading? Huh?

Who of us can accurately describe the pressure-heat cycle from ignition through the entire internal ballistic cycle? What is the relationship of heat to pressure in an open system? Who understands the principles of bore ratio? What is the significance of powder volume in a loaded cartridge?

What the heck are secondary barrel vibrations? How can I determine the twist rate of my barrel with only my bore cleaning rod & brush and a magic marker? Just exactly when do I have to worry about cartridge OAL? And when don't I?

Why do powders burn at different rates? Really. How in the heck can a primer make a difference in accuracy? Why do I need to change my powder load when I change my bullet weight? What does the weight of that little tiny bullet have to do with recoil, anyway?

This is wonderful, fun stuff! How could anyone possibly think it's boring! All this and more is there for the reading!

It's like any other education. To borrow a phrase from Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, "It's more a journey, than a destination."

'Gotta have a foundation before you can start to really learn. That's when the fun really starts!

I have one Lyman manual that has pictures of Ed Matunas, Charlie "Red" Norton and Lysle Kilborn, who comprised the technical staff. Don't know what year it's from, as the front cover and fly were gone when I came into possession of it. It shows a No. 55 Powder Measure for $17.50! I know it's pre-1970, because it is published by the Lyman Gunsight Corp. In 1969 the Lyman Gunsight Corp was sold and the name changed to Lyman Products for Shooters.



"Get your mind right and the body will follow." - Shino Takazawa, sinsei, hachi dan, Keishinkan do.
Sensop's Corner

[This message has been edited by sensop (edited February 13, 2000).]
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Old February 13, 2000, 02:12 AM   #2
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Join Date: February 23, 1999
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Serious gun-geekery, eh Sensop?

Shameful confession: the only books I have are the pamphlets provided with my Lee press. Since I've only been loading for about 1.5 months, can I be forgiven? I've experimented with different powders and charges, bullets and brass, and have pretty much settled on what seems to work best.

F'rinstance, I've been using 174gr FMJs over 38gr of Reloder 15 in my Enfield, using the WAG method to come up with that charge. I started with 36gr, but that hit way low. 38gr brought POI with those big milsurp bullets back up to POA, but my groups were about from hither to yon.

I picked up a box of Sierra Pro-Hunter JSP 125gr, looked up the charge for R15 (46gr max, I went with 45.5), and loaded them up. Took a box of 20 to the range today. HOT DAMN! Completely vaporized a bigass spaghetti squash at 100 yards on the first hit. Shot 3 5-round groups and 1 4-round, and got 1.5". Look out, Bambi... Coinneach's comin' for ya.

There's something to be said for book larnin', but in the end, it's what works best IRL that counts.

And speaking of BOOM...

"If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance."
-- Samuel Johnson
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Old February 13, 2000, 08:04 AM   #3
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Most important words from any of the manuals is Speer's simple "BUT NOT ALWAYS"

If you heed those words while loading you will be safer..........

"All my ammo is factory ammo"

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Old February 13, 2000, 12:31 PM   #4
Bud Helms
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 13,155

I cannot deny it. When it comes to guns I am probably a geek. I wish I knew enough to deserve the lable. There are some others here too... Labgrade and Art Eatman are a little geeky. That's why I always read their posts with careful interest. Mal, George and der Schmitt too.

Geeks KNOW the devil's lurking in the details. He just sends Murphy out to distract you from the real disasters he's brewing. Like starting 1/2 grain below max!! Don't you know that can be dangerous?

Seriously, I enjoy reloading as much as shooting. It was a while before I realized it.

One day before I'm too old to travel, maybe I'll get to meet more people like Gale McMillan-san. He's beyond geekism. One seriously cool papa-san gun dude.

Weshoot2 ... "But not always ..." is an appendage to every supposed "rule" in reloading. The pressure god, a minion of the details, rides with you to the range. The Speer manual is one of my favorites.


Long Live Rock'N'Roll.


[This message has been edited by sensop (edited February 13, 2000).]
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Old February 13, 2000, 12:54 PM   #5
El Chimango Pete
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I read the Gospel According to Lyman, to Lee, to Hornady and to Speer most evenings before going to bed
Actually the high-tech geekery that is presented sometimes (not as much in the manuals as in magazines and on the web) can be mumbojumbo and bad science... a whole thesis built up on a single test for instance. The word exactly can need a qualifier as to how exactly. On the other hand most of it is indeed food for thought. It would be nice to have a lab setup to check the data out.
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Old February 13, 2000, 01:36 PM   #6
Peter M. Eick
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Join Date: August 3, 1999
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 2,991
As a very famous Physics professor once said, "Never memorize something you can look up".

I use my books as a reference and always have the most current ones available. Yes, I have read, read and reread them, but the point is not to read, but to understand and to remember where to look up the facts.

I understand your concern, and your comments, but it is probably more important that we all keep very careful notes and reference our work in more detail.

One of my biggest regrets of my reloading experience is the lack of really detailed notes from my youth. My records from the 70's and 80's are bad, so now I am having to repeat old experiments to document and learn. This is the problem with being a scientis.

My regret with most of the loading books out there is the lack of real technical detail and the why of the loads and techniques they present. For example, it took me a bit to figure out the reason for Seirra having the 90 grn JHP for the 380 auto loaded less then the max length .984" standard. It was due to the bullet shape interacting with the leade of the chamber. Now, could they have added that little comment to the load book and really added some insight to the why's of the load? Sure, did they, No. This is the real information I wish they would put in the manuals, facts are great, but insight is the key I look for. Keep in mind that no manual I know of puts this information in it.

Sorry for the long rant, just hit a little nerve.
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Old February 13, 2000, 02:22 PM   #7
Art Eatman
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My uncle used to comment that if I could make a lightning bug hold still, I'd back up to it and read a book.

Aside from reading his American Rifleman from 1940 to (at that time) 1950, I found Phil Sharpe's "Complete Guide to Handloading", which was my reloading Bible in those early years. My initial learning of ballistics was from Mann's "The Bullet's Flight from Powder to Target", from the late 1800s. And I read about Harry Pope, the "Human Machine Rest", who reloaded the same case for each shot in a competition match. And about the Wildcatters of the 1920s and 1930s...

Most of my shooting-world anticipated the "Environmental" era: I'm one of the original re-cyclers! Loading tools, guns--and cars, too, for that matter. After all, if I could make a used rifle shoot better than some other fella's new critter, why buy new? If I could load for tight groups with old dies and such, why buy new stuff?

Which is why I chime in when a newbie sez, "I plan on getting started..." and point out that the brand-new stuff is pretty soon "good-used"...

So I have old Lyman and Hornady books, and old Sierra books, and a new Hornady book, and a bunch of more recent pamphlet-type info. And a few downloads...

And I go back an re-read. And compare data between the various companies...

But 52.5 grains of 4064 behind a 150-grain bullet in an '06 has been working for fifty years, now...That one I've memorized!

In the 1930s it was "gun nut"; later, "gun bug". Now, "gun geek". It's all the same thing: FUN!

Y'all be good, Art
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Old February 14, 2000, 01:44 PM   #8
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I fumbled the number there, sensop. Should've read 42.5. I'm not *that* crazy.

"If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance."
-- Samuel Johnson
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Old February 14, 2000, 02:17 PM   #9
Mal H
Join Date: March 20, 1999
Location: Somewhere in the woods of Northern Virginia
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Whew, Coinneach, I'm glad you clarified that. I didn't think we would later have to call you "Lefty", but I did say to myself, "Man he doesn't fool around with all 'start off with reduced loads' stuff."
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Old February 14, 2000, 03:37 PM   #10
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I do weekly. Tons of great stuff to aid in handloading.

The Seattle SharpShooter
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Old February 14, 2000, 10:44 PM   #11
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sensop... If you want the single best book which has been published on metallic cartridges look for a copy of Earl Naramore's "Principles & Practice of Loading Ammunition." This was published in 1953 by Samworth, and has been out of print for a long time. It is worth paying far too much for, it is much more comprehensive than anything currently in print, and casts even good books like Phil Sharpe's "Complete Guide to Handloading" to which Art referred into the shade.

Mann's "The Bullet's Flight ..." is still valuable, newer works of worth (for those who are inclined to math) in external ballistics are Harold Vaughn's "Rifle Accuracy Facts" and Krogh's ballistic model.

No promises, but I believe Ken Howell is editing and preparing for publication a book which Homer Powley wrote that covers internal ballistics. Look for it within the next year or so- it ought to be very worthwhile. Bob

[This message has been edited by bfoster (edited February 14, 2000).]
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Old February 15, 2000, 05:54 AM   #12
Bud Helms
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 13,155

Excellent post! I appreciate those references very much.

Homer Powley on internal ballistics?!!! You better believe that'll be in my library. Right next to P.O. Ackley's two vol set.
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