Load Development

Crucial to accurate, consistent handloads.

I usually talk here about guns. But, dang, guns are little to no fun at all without ammunition. I thought for this bit it might help some to talk about the process of developing a handload for your AR-15.

New bullet, new propellant, new rifle—anything new means testing and development. For myriad reasons, some known and some I’m not so sure about, one load may perform differently in different rifles, and this new jug of propellant or box of primers may not behave the same as the last batch of the “same” thing.

I do all my load work at the range. That’s another article by itself, but it lets me not only save a whopping lot of time, but also have the opportunity to test combinations under pretty consistent conditions.

There are a number of good loading manuals. Most are done either by bullet or propellant manufacturers, and there’s a lot more data available via magazines. Study enough of it and it becomes plain agreement is unusual. The reason is because of differences in components and equipment, and also testing conditions or circumstances. Published data serves me mostly by establishing an idea of what to anticipate—an important function.

A number of variables apply to a cartridge (propellant, bullet, primer, case), and then an increasingly escalating number of variables introduced through variously combining and fine-tuning all those (bullet seating depth, for example). Reduce variables to a minimum to get accurate feedback from testing. Let’s focus on propellant charge.
Story By: Glen Zediker

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