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- Last updated: 01/07/2019
If you are not a technology fan, then you are probably not keen to involve it in your shooting; however, the QuickLOAD software might just change your mind.
I was inspired to give it a try when I ran out of the reloading powders that I use and, due to the EU banning most of them, I needed to find alternative powders. The Quickload ballistic software, marketed by JMS arms here in the UK, looks complicated when you first install it, but if you take the time to find your way around then you will find that you don’t actually need to be Bill Gates to use it.
The software contains a huge database of calibres, bullets, powders etc. from most of the well-known manufacturers and, in very simple terms, it allows you to combine all these into loads for which it calculates all the data you could possibly need. The database even includes data for popular bullet moulds, so that you can design loads for your home cast bullets too!
As well as the basic information, like pressure, muzzle velocity and projectile energy, QuickLOAD also generates additional information, such as the percentage of powder burnt and even the amount of time the bullet spends in the barrel.
As well as being able to input the basic information, like powder type and charge weight, you can change other data and calculate how it affects the results. Cartridge over-all length (COL), for example, can be adjusted by very small increments and you can instantly see the effect on pressure and velocity. QuickLOAD also allows you to calculate the actual volume of the particular cases you are using, by weighing one empty – then full of water, and inputting the difference in weight. With my 45-70 cases, this made a significant difference to the velocity and pressure data generated.
If you input all the data you have for one of your favourite loads, using either metric or imperial units, you can calculate the velocity and then check it against actual velocity your loads achieve using a chronograph. Initial trials did generate significant differences between the velocities calculated by QuickLOAD and those recorded on the chronograph for my 45- 70 loads. After some fine tuning of COL and case capacity, as described above, the velocities then started to match very closely. Once you have these two velocities matching reasonably close, you have a benchmark against which to compare other loads. QuickLOAD allows you to save loads, so you can refer back to them whenever you need.
Once you have your favourite load stored in the software, you can substitute another suitable powder and then adjust the charge up or down to match the characteristics of the saved load. It is possible to adjust the powder charge, powder type and COL (within safe limits) to design a load that matches your favourite load in terms of velocity and pressure. The software also gives you other useful information, such as the powder burn rate and the percentage of powder that is burnt, all of which can be used to design your load. If you are getting a low percentage of powder burnt, then the load is inefficient and should be discarded.
Of all the information that QuickLOAD generates, one of the most interesting and potentially useful is the barrel time, expressed in milliseconds. While a bullet is travelling through the barrel, the gun is in recoil and lifting from the line of sight. The longer a bullet is in the barrel, the further the gun will be from the line of sight when it exits the muzzle. When working up a substitute load to replace an existing one, using QuickLOAD, matching the muzzle time as close as you can will help to keep the point of impact in the same ball park as your existing reloads. This isn’t an exact science, if you generate a barrel time that is exactly the same, your bullets are not going to go through the same hole as they did with the old load, but you will be close. This is one of the many variables involved in working up reloads and this software allows you to test how it affects the performance of the finished product.
As with all reloading data, you need to take the usual precautions, including starting with a powder charge below the maximum and watch for signs of high pressure. When QuickLOAD calculates a pressure, the figure is shown in a box which changes colour when the pressure is getting high, turning red when you are getting close to the recommended maximum pressure. The software also includes the usual disclaimers and warnings. Be sure to read all of the warnings and take care when testing your reloads, the software is very good but ultimately you are responsible for the safety of your ammunition.
The QuickLOAD software is extremely useful and here I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do. The amount of data it contains is impressive; right down to showing which powders are compliant with the most recent changes in EU regulations. I have only considered one application in this article; working up a replacement load for one lost to the recent powder bans, but it has many more uses and contains loads of information. The technical information included in the user’s guide in highly complex but makes interesting reading.
The package also includes an exterior ballistics program called QuickTARGET, which would require another article to cover in detail, designed to aid in calculating trajectories for your loads and is linked directly to QuickLOAD to make life easier.
If you do a lot of reloading, and enjoy experimenting with different loads, then QuickLOAD is well worth a look but be warned, it is addictive.