Reloading bullets: essential software
- Credit: Archant
Broadsword takes a look at some essential software that lies at the heart of his reloading process - namely, Quickload Ballistics and QuickTarget
Some reloading tools are essential items, others are just nice to have. And the primary piece of kit that I use, without doubt, is the combination of Quickload and QuickTarget, which is the cornerstone of my ballistics software and I simply couldn’t do without it.
I have used this for over 20 years and this miraculous ballistic program has spawned all my wildcat creations, delivered pinpoint accurate loads, as well as safely predicting a reload strategy per power or bullet choice, thereby saving me both time and money when buying components by essentially eliminating incorrect choices.
Its price of £150 will be repaid instantly with more accurate and precise reloads for superior rifle performance. The key stats of Quickload are: a choice of over 1,200 new, old and wildcat cartridges; more than 230 powders with regular batch test updates added; and over 2,500 bullets, including the latest hybrid and lead-free versions.
The ability to tune a load specificly to your rifle with multiple drop-down boxes to change the parameter settings, thus finetuning the case and bullet loading to match your rifles individual chamber, is invaluable. Version 3.9 requires Windows XP or newer OS but will run on MAC with Windows emulation software and is Win 10 compatible. Regular update discs are available.
Don’t forget QuickTarget – this is bundled with Quickload and accurately predicts your load’s trajectory, but we will look at this section in a follow-up article.
HOW I USE IT TO BEST ADVANTAGE
It may look a bit daunting at first, but it is very easy to navigate the menu lead data screens. It gives a simulated internal ballistics prediction for the reloader, designed to achieve data relating to pressures, velocities and energy by changing single or multiple variables in the reloading procedure.
Once fired up, the format is arranged in the primary function boxes for cartridge dimensions: Charge, Results and then a Pressure reading graph. These can be changed for differing parameters and layout, but let’s stick to the starter page. Let’s say you have a new Sako S20 6.5mm Creedmoor rifle with a 20" barrel and you are reloading ammunition with Lapua brass.
Here are a few options...
Firstly, the cartridge dimensions box shows the pressures, case over flow capacity, seating depth, overall length (OAL), barrel length and a lot more. It also has a drop-down cartridge library – select the 6.5 Creedmoor and all the standard parameters for this round appear in the relevant data boxes that you can now change. This is very important as your gun will be different.
Enter your barrel length at 20" and, most important, enter the correct capacity for your Lapua cases, as every case manufacturer has different weights and internal volumes. I use a fired, formed and sized case and leave the old primer in or plug the primer hole with Blu Tac. Weigh this case, then fill to the top of the neck with water and weigh again and subtract the empty case weight: this is your actual max fill capacity in H2O. I had empty 169.2gr and filled 221.4gr – so therefore a max fill of 52.2gr. The standard data on Quickload showed the 6.5mm Creedmoor case as 54.03gr, so worth the trouble.
Now click on the ‘Bullet’ icon under ‘File’ and over 2,500 types (from all the major manufacturers) are available. Let’s choose a Sierra Tipped Game King 130gr bullet.
Load this along with the seating depth of your load (i.e. how far off the lands you actually load as a starting point, rather than the standard 2.800 COAL). This will ultimately affect the useable case capacity value. In this section, it also shows shank depth, helpful in determining how far a bullet protrudes into the powder column for boat tail or flat base designs.
Click apply/calc. You are now set to choose some powders – 230 different powder choices should satisfy even the most ardent reloaders.
The main window selects a powder and all the relevant powder data windows are displayed, including heat of explosion, burn rate, and propellant load density. Let’s choose Swiss RS62 powder and enter 46gr, as Quickload indicates that this is 100% case full, handy for non-compressed loads and checking pressures later.
Press the apply/calc tab and Quickload will instantly calculate your unique set of data in the ‘Results’ window.
Pressure is shown in psi and bar and is colour-coded to show yellow (mild), pink (OK) or red (too high). There are 15 additional windows but the main ones are: amount of propellant burnt to see if the powder is all burnt in the barrel; muzzle velocity and muzzle energy; and ballistic efficiency, anything above 30% is good. Also, this data is displayed as a graph in the large left-hand window for a quick visual guide.
With our load, we had 60408 psi; Pmax was 63091 psi so in the pink (safe) and 100.6% full; 99.85% powder burnt, so efficient; and with a velocity of 2823 fps and 2301 ft/lbs energy. Now you can change all the parameters to see what happens if the OAL is changed – powder increments up or down and change of powders, all instantly displayed. Actual chronographed results for this load were 2807 fps and 2275ft/lbs – only 16 fps difference, impressive.
Clicking the + and – tabs in the top bar gives incremental changes to the powder charge above and below your initial load in velocity, energy and pressure, so you can see how much more powder you can add before over-pressuring.
Also, the Propellant Table set-up tab shows barrel timing predictions, so if you have a load that shoots accurately, this load will have a specific barrel time of combustion within the nodes of barrel vibrations. What Quickload does is to predict all the other combinations of loads – i.e. powders that will match the barrel timing and thus give as good or better accuracy. Barrels all harmonise to a specific load so this feature is very useful and does work.
To me, it’s a no brainer for the £150 list price – that is recouped if you were to load 1kg of powder and three boxes or bullets incorrectly. It frees the limitations of reloading by adjusting your variables to your actual gun specifications in real time and over the said 20 years it has helped me make some superbly safe accurate loads and save money. It is addictive though!