Extra Loading Data Labels
WHY YOU NEED
TO KEEP LOAD RECORDS
by Duane Thomas
As you become a more experienced handloader, you’ll probably want to experiment with bullets from different companies, different bullet weights, bullet shapes, powders, powder charge weights, overall lengths, etc. If you compete in any sport requiring the ammunition be loaded to a particular power level, for instance USPSA or IDPA, where power factor is a critical consideration, you’ll want to know the velocity generated by a particular load recipe you’ve put together, so you’ll be running it over a chronograph. Once you’ve put that load together, and tested it for accuracy, velocity, recoil impulse, etc., I highly suggest you write that data down.
I keep records for every load I concoct, consisting of the following data: Cartridge (for instance, “.45 ACP”). Bullet (brand, weight, shape), example “Laser Cast 200-gr. LSWC.” Powder type, let us say “Hodgdon Titegroup.” Charge weight. Overall length. Velocity data (high, low, average, standard deviation, power factor). Also the sort of gun from which that load was fired (make, model, barrel length), example, “Wilson Defensive Combat Pistol, 5” barrel.” Also, I suggest keeping records on how accurate was that load, out of which guns. Any other considerations? Was the recoil impulse of the load notably soft, notably nasty, notably clean-burning, dirty, smoky, quiet, loud, etc.? Write it down. Over time I’ve built up a very useful collection of load data.
Maybe you’re one of those people who just picks one cartridge, one bullet weight, one bullet shape, one powder, one powder charge, one overall length, and then sticks with that forever. I am not one of those people. I’m a load tinkerer, and I’ve been doing this for awhile. I have a file in my computer titled Load Data. I haven’t checked (I don’t want to do that much counting), I cannot even begin to tell you how many loads I’ve concocted over the decades that are in that file. Hundreds, certainly.
You may find yourself using combinations of bullet weights and powders not commonly found in load manuals, because that’s the only way to get a particular blend of velocity and quality of recoil impulse you want. Frankly, these days when I’m looking for a new load, the first place I check is my own records, before my load manuals. It’s amazing how often I find the data I need is right there, in my records, because what I’m about to do is something I’ve done before, or at least similar enough to it that I can easily extrapolate.
Don’t lose your precious load data. Save it, so it can serve you for years to come. And the more you handload, the more data you save and accrue, the better and more useful it becomes.