Friday, September 25, 2009

Reloading Pages of M.D. Smith

It occurs to me that in the construction of this blog I have omitted (a) an important category of links, and (b) a very important link in that category.

The category is "Other Shooting-Related Resources".

The V.I.L. (Very Important Link) is "The Reloading Pages of M.D. Smith".

I've used this reloading resource page for ten of the 14 years it has been on the Internet, and I have found it very useful. So useful, in fact, that I think I may have written about it before. Some years ago, perhaps. (I have written almost 1,000 posts in the five years this blog has been in existence, and I've only referred to it twice: in an August 13, 2007 "August Blogmeat" article, and in the August 17, 2006 "KaBOOM!" article which is one of the most popular articles of this blog.)

But I have never actually put the link on the sidebar.

Lacking an appropriate category, I have placed it under "Reference Sources". If I find another appropriate link, I will build the new category ... but it seems silly to create a new category when there is a single appropriate website to fit there.

In the Blogmeat article, I compare M.D. Smith's website with the highly respected, and venerable (but sadly discontinued) "Jeff Maas' IPSC Loads List". Jeff discontinued maintenance on his website a few years ago, but it still exists and those reloading specification which were in existence the are still available. I suppose I should combine the two and build the new category (he said, musingly), but I'm too tired to do so tonight and I don't know how useful they will be.

Maybe next week; some feedback here would be helpful.

Anyway, the two Internet Resources are subtly different.

Jeff Maas' IPSC Loads List
Maas was aimed (excuse the pun) at what must be considered a "Niche Audience". Specifically, IPSC competition. And because he closed maintenance on the website before 3-gun competition became popular in USPSA competition, he only provided reloading information for pistols which are appropriate to Practical Pistol. competition. He performed a needed service, and one which has been much appreciated. I have contributed load data to, and used load data from Jeff's website.

The Reloading Pages of M.D. Smith
Smith's contribution serviced a wider interest in the Shooting Sports. He apparently spent a lot of time shooting various firearms and working up loads for each. Have you ever known anyone who seemed so knowledgeable about reloading that you found yourself thinking "I wish I could get a look at his reloading logbook"? Smith has made his available on the internet.

Besides loads for a wide variety of pistols (including, for example, the .380 Auto), he also provides an equally valuable set of reloading information for a large number of Rifle calibers.

His reloading data for a specific caliber and bullet weight (and OAL, powder type and weight, primer, etc.) may not be as extensive and varied as Maas' limited selection of pistol calibers, but it is certainly enough to rifle Reloading Manuals from Sierra, Hornady, Nosler, etc.

But Wait ... There's More!

Besides basic reloading data Smith has included sections dealing with 'stuff' that you just can't find anywhere else. For example, he has a "Powder Burning Rate Chart" (from Hodgdon Power Company) which not only compares "pistol Powders" against each other, be even rates Pistol, Shotgun and Rifle powders all together.

Here's an example of the top ten fastest powders rated:
Burning Rate Chart (Courtesy of Hodgdon Powder Co.)

(Fastest to Slowest)
1. R-1 Norma
2. N310, Vihtavuori
3. Bullseye, Alliant
4. N312, Vihtavuori
5. Solo 1000, Accurate
6. Clays, Hodgdon
7. Red Dot, Alliant
8. N318, Vihtavuori
9. Hi-Skor 700X, IMR
10. N320, Vihtavuori
11. Green Dot, Alliant
12. International, Hodgdon
13. No. 2, Accurate
14. N321, Vihtavuori
15. N324, Vihtavuori
16. HP-38, Hodgdon
17. W-231, Winchester
18. N325, Vihtavuori
19. N330, Vihtavuori
20. PB, IMR
21. N331, Vihtavuori
22. No. 5, Accurate
23. Unique, Alliant
24. WSL, Winchester
25. Power Pistol, Alliant
As you can see, there is no effort made to provide absolute burn-rates, but the comparison of relative powder burn-rates is extremely helpful when trying to select a powder for, say, an Open IPSC gun with a compensator. (This is, in fact, one of the reasons why I chose N350 over N330 for my own pistol, and for SWMBO's. It also helps us to understand why Clay's [#6] and Bullseye [#3] are "problematic" for .40 S&W. Faster-burning powders build pressure spikes faster than slower burning powders.)

Oh, by the way: the Powder Burning Rate Chart includes 107 powders. The ten slowest-burning opowders are those which you will probably recognize as been c0mmonly used large-caliber and/or magnum rifle cartridges. I have loaded 4831 (from both manufacturers) in .30-06 ammunition, as it closely matches WWII military loads.

97. IMR-4831, IMR
98. XMR-3100, Accurate

99. H-450, Hodgdon

100. H-4831, Hodgdon

101. MRP, Norma

102. N165, Vihtavuori

103. Reloader 22, Alliant

104. IMR-7828, IMR

105. H-1000, Hodgdon

106. XMR-8700, Accurate

107. H-870, Hodgdon

(slowest burn rate)
I have loaded 4831 (from both manufacturers) in .30-06 ammunition, as it closely matches WWII military loads for the Garand. IMR 4350 (#93) and Hodgdon 4350 (#94) are almost interchangeably appropriate for .25-06 and .270, but IMR 4895 (#71) and Hodgdon 4895 (#72) worked very well for .30-06 ammunition loaded for the 1903-A3 bolt-action rifle.

In the late 1950's, my father bought a 200 pound "Crate" (wooden box, double-layered, 4' tall and 2' wide/thick) of 4895 as Army Surplus; it had been surplussed after pulling the bullets from several thousand rounds of ammunition loaded for the Springfield '03-A* (I think 180 grains ... M1 Garands used 165 grain bullets and a different powder). We loaded a LOT of .30-06 ammunition from that crate. In fact, we used it in the .25-06 rifle which my father built for me from an '03-A3 action and an Oregon Rock Maple stock with ... several custom features.

But I digress.

Another "Special Feature" of Smith's website is an extended discussion of exactly why, and how, "Light Loads in Big Cases Can Explode!".

This is information you can get from other Internet sources (GOOGLE "Light loads in big cases can blow up" and you'll probably be directed to Smith's website ... but you may not even think of researching it. Smith gives it to you with no effort.

Bottom Line:
I like, use and recommend M.D. Smith as a valuable reloading information source. If nothing else, it's worth an evening spent browsing all the information available there. You will learn something valuable in the process, and you may even find yourself coming back from time to time for the "general knowledge" and even "entertainment" values.


I've created the new category "Reloading Resources" on my sidebar (right after "Competition Shooting Websites" and have included both Maas and Smith's links.


Jerry The Geek said...

June, 2013: For the link to Jeff's Reloading data, see here:

Jerry The Geek said...

FWIW ... since Google dramatically changed the infrastructure of its BLOGGER.COM template, I no longer have a 'sidebar'. I hope to correct this someday when I have both the time and the inclination. Not soon, probably.

However, the above link(s) are still applicable as of this date, to the best of my knowledge. JTG