Factory vs Handload

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Factory vs Handload

Post by Fire Escape on 1/27/2016, 8:31 am

In an effort not to derail an existing thread, I will start here with a 'not necessarily bullseye' question.

In most handload data the recipe specifies brass, primer, powder, bullet and OAL. At that point they tell you to start at some level below maximum and work up toward the maximum while watching for pressure signs (which many publications will tell you are notoriously unreliable).

How is it that factories can create, sell and distribute ammunition that is essentially a maximum load?

They test in their guns and pressure barrels for safety, can't/don't the powder and bullet manufacturers do the same thing?

I understand that ammo manufacturers don't release their 'loads' primarily because they load with 'Bulk' powder and they create a new 'recipe' to match the time/pressure curve of each batch of powder but my question is related to the 'Canister' powder that should be much more consistent.

What am I missing?

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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by Chris Miceli on 1/27/2016, 8:36 am

i'm sure it has more to do with liability from the manual author/printer
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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by james r chapman on 1/27/2016, 8:50 am

And, their minimum loads are usually much higher than we load for target accuracy.
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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by BEA on 1/27/2016, 11:19 am

Canister grade propellants are more consistent.  With the ammo companies, as the powder lot and other component lots change, they re-evaluate the ballistics and make adjustments to the powder charge in order to achieve the desired results.  The handloader does not have this same capability, so the powder that goes to them must be more consistent.  As for max loads, some types of ammo are taken to max, or very nearly so, but this is because the ammo companies have complete control of the reloading process.  For handloaded ammo, max loads are more of a concern because the skill level of the person doing the reloading is unknown.  The handloading component providers sometimes develop their own data, but many do not have their own ballistic labs, so they rely of outside data sources to safely guide their customers in using their components.  The larger component companies that offer reloading manuals do test their recipes, and maintain these records for liability reasons.

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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by Wobbley on 1/27/2016, 6:27 pm

The ammo manufacturers load powders SIMILAR to what reload era use but the actual burning rates will vary.  They then load a batch then test them. Once they get the velocity and pressure they want they will then determine the max pressure in a sample.  If it is within SAAMI guidelines then they accept the lot of ammo.

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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by BEA on 1/27/2016, 8:09 pm

Each lot of powder that comes through quality control is tested for pressure, velocity and density. They are tested in the same cartridges each time, same bullet brand/brass/primer. The lots that meet all 3 criteria within the acceptable range are qualified as a canister product. Those that fall outside this range, but within the acceptable wider OEM range are qualified for OEM use. For instance, a particular lot of powder might meet pressure and velocity specs, but be out of canister spec in terms of density.  This lot has the correct burn speed, but it will require a slightly different weight to fall within the desired psi and fps range.  All lots of powder are different, but they have to fall within an established window.  The window for OEM use is just a little bigger than for canister. The bigger window reduces the amount of blending required to make a lot fit the tighter canister spec.


Last edited by BEA on 1/27/2016, 8:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by james r chapman on 1/27/2016, 8:18 pm

Soooo, how does this all help us to duplicate factory ammo as close as we mere mortals may?
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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by Jerry Keefer on 1/27/2016, 8:30 pm

I,  for one don't care what the factory load is.. As BEA states, all powders/lots are different. The ransom rest groups, and how the gun feels in recoil,  is what matters to me.. Many powders shoot good groups, but if the recoil is sharp, and abrupt, I look for something else.. Recoil equals lost points in sustained fire, and subjects the shooter to wear, tear, and fatigue  in slow fire...
I may select a powder that may not group quite as tight,  but produces a milder recoil..


Last edited by Jerry Keefer on 1/27/2016, 8:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by BEA on 1/27/2016, 8:30 pm

Sometimes you can and other times you cannot. In the case of the 45 auto for instance, you can do as Jerry suggested and chronograph your loads to the speed you want.  I do not go to this trouble because in the bullseye shooting game, everyone is within the same small range, so it is not difficult to arrive at a safe and accurate load.  Almost everyone is using 10 or 12 lb springs, and everyone is using almost the same load (for a given powder) to make those guns cycle.  So, pick your powder, pick your load and then practice, practice, practice.

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Re: Factory vs Handload

Post by BEA on 1/27/2016, 8:32 pm

Right on Jerry.  The way a load feels is paramount.

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Re: Factory vs Handload

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