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Handloading

From Academic Kids

Handloading is the process used to create firearm cartridges by hand versus those put together en masse and sold commercially, generally in packages of 6 to 50.

Motivations for handloading cartridges are increased accuracy and cost savings, though handloaders may sacrifice one for the other. The handloader can also create cartridges for which there are no commercial equivalents. Collectors of obsolete firearms often have to handload since many obsolete cartridges are no longer produced. Hunters may desire cartridges with specialized bullets. Target shooters seek optimum accuracy. Many handloaders customize their cartridges to their specific gun. This is usually in the pursuit of accuracy, though it can also lead to an increase in case life. For these specialty applications, cost is usually not a primary motivator, and such cartridges may cost more than commercial ones.

The handloading process can realize increased accuracy through improved consistency of manufacture. Each cartridge loaded can have each component carefully matched to the rest of the cartridges in the batch. Brass cases can be matched by volume and weight, bullets by weight and concentricity, powder charges by weight. Primers also play a role in accuracy and consistency, but the handloader usually has no ability to manufacture these, so the handloader is limited to experimenting with different primers available commercially. In additon to these items that are considered critical, the equipment used to assemble the cartridge may have an effect on its performance. It is typically agreed that rimfire cartridges (e.g. .22 Long Rifle) are not handloaded.

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