28 November 2012

The Hornady 9th Edition Reloading Manual

I've handloaded for many years, and I'm an NRA-certified metallic cartridge reloading instructor.  So when a new reloading manual is released, it is a cause for celebration, at least in my mind and in the minds of a few internet-reloading buddies.

So today, I was very happy to see my MidwayUSA order come in.  It had not one, but two brand new manuals in it:  one from Hornady (their 9th edition) and one from Nosler (their 7th edition).  I use a bunch of both bullets, so I'm happy to see the new data and write-ups for their products.

A few years back, I started posting reviews of new reloading manuals on Amazon.com and MidwayUSA's web site for the benefit of new reloaders or folks who were unfamiliar with these particular books.  I'm doing the same with these, so I thought I'd post the reviews here for the small handful of fellow reloaders who read my blog.

Hornady 9th edition Reloading Manual
The new Hornady 9th edition is bigger than ever, with over 915 pages total. There are the usual prefaces and introduction pages, and in this edition about 50 pages of basic reloading instructions, which come with some very nice color illustrations and cut-away drawings of internal ballistics and such.  There is an adequate (but not great) powder burn rate chart with 146 powders, a primer chart (useful), and a basic description of each of their bullet types (and a chart with min/max velocity recommendations...a very important and useful feature, especially for hunters).

Each cartridge has a very brief write-up (no celebrities, just Hornady staff writers/manual editor) with some basic history and a few important details about the cartridge.  The data itself is in the same format as past manuals with velocities in 50- or 100-fps increments rather than exact numbers, which is a better way to report it, in my opinion, since handloading is a stochastic (and not a deterministic) science. I've answered quite a few questions from new reloaders about why their manual says they should be getting 2864 fps from a load and they are only getting 2832 fps in their rifle.  The velocity ranges help keep that detail a little clearer.

One thing Hornady has never done is give in-chart accuracy recommendations, though they do give some recommendations in the write-ups of each cartridge for a preferred powder or two.  If they are using pressure test barrels primarily, this makes sense.  When using a specific gun for which a cartridge is popular (like the 30-30 Win in the Winchester Model 94 for example), an accuracy recommendation makes more sense.

Hornady was more focused on adding new cartridges than deleting old ones, as can be seen in my list below.  One new thing they are doing makes a lot of sense to me: they are putting data for some obsolete cartridges on their web site.  This saves a lot of money in printing costs, and still allows the reloader with Grandpa's Model 94 in 219 Zipper to get access to loading data.  Good move.  There are five cartridges so indicated in this edition (the 219 Zipper, the 219 Donaldson Wasp, the 7x61 Sharpe & Hart, 270 REN, and the 357-44 Bain & Davis).  Here are the other changes since the 8th edition.

New cartridges (rifle)-
17 Hornet
5.56x45 NATO
300 Whisper
300 AAC Blackout
356 Winchester
416 Barrett
416 Ruger
505 Gibbs

New cartridges (handgun)-
327 Federal Mag

Deleted cartridges (rifle)-
219 Zipper (moved to website)
219 Donaldson Wasp (moved to website)
7-30 Waters
7.92x33 Kurz

Deleted cartridges (handgun)-
7.63 Mauser
300 Whisper (as a handgun cartridge)

(The Nosler review will appear in a subsequent post.)

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