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Pet Loads

Updated on September 17, 2014

Ken Waters' "Pet Loads"

"Pet Loads" is a comprehensive reference text with a series of articles reproduced from "Handloader" magazine over a time period of several decades. The text contains information on 133 calibers, ranging from the .218 Bee to the .50-70 Government (Rifles) and from the .32 ACP to the .45 Colt Trapper (Handguns).

For most calibers, Ken Waters provides:

  • a brief history of that caliber,

  • a discussion of any potential issues,

  • SAAMI specifications in chart form

  • summary of load data

Of most interest to me (and probably most readers) are the tables of component (powder, bullet, case and primer) data used for each test series. These data provide invaluable guidance toward the components best suited for your own testing.

Invaluable Source of Information

The information compiled in "Pet Loads" is invaluable, both with respect to evaluating a caliber of potential interest and as a starting point for your own load development.

An Example

Testing for a Ruger M77 Hawkeye in .223

My favourite rifle right now is a bolt action, Ruger M77 Hawkeye in .223. It has a twist rate of 1 in 9 and a 26" barrel.

Therefore, it can fire bullets as light as 40 grains and up to a maximum of about 69 grains. Bullets lighter than 40 grains might come apart due to the high twist rate, while bullets heavier than 69 grains might not be sufficiently stabilized to avoid tumbling. There are, however, many choices of bullets between 40 and 69 grains available for me, from a wide variety of manufacturers, from commercial to custom made.

To date, I have tested 40, 53, 55, 60 and 69 grain bullets, predominantly from Hornaday (53, 55 and 69 grain), but also Nosler (40 gr). I am currently refining a load for Hornaday 50 gr V-Max bullets and need an initial starting pint with which to develop a load specific to my rifle.

There are three articles in Ken Water's "Pet Loads" discussing .223 caliber. In reading the articles, I noted the following comments with regard to Hodgdon's H 4895 powder:

50 Sierra Spitzer - "third most accurate with high velocity"

52 Remington BR - "fourth most accurate with high velocity"

53 Hornaday Match - "most accurate load tested"

55 Speer FMJ - "best all-around load" and

60 Hornaday HP - "especially fine long range load"

From these comments, I decide that Hodgdon H-4895 powder will, in all likelihood, provide the results I am wanting with regards to powder. It works well with a wide range of bullet weights and, I expect, should perform well for the bullets I wish to test.

With this information as my starting point, I can now go to other reference texts and web-sites to further evaluate my options.

Ken Water's "Pet Loads" - An Indispensable Resource for the Serious Reloader

"Ken Waters PET LOADS Complete Volume. This is Ken's monumental lifetime work in the handloading field and contains loading procedures, tables, tips, precautions and commentary; over 150 cartridges are detailed. No handloader's library is complete without this comprehensive book. (Incorporates all supplements from #1-#24.)"

- from Wolfe Publishing Company web-site

Additional Reloading Resources - Strongly Recommended

All of the following reloading manuals are published by the manufacturers and, therefore, emphasize their respective bullets. My current preference is for Hornaday bullets and so that is my primary reference. However, the reloader is strongly recommended to use more than one reference and, as one's interest in reloading develops, it is a virtual certainty that you will experiment with other brands of bullets.

The following references are strongly recommended.

Hornady 9th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading
Hornady 9th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading

The 8th Edition has a considerable amount of information and is my primary reloading reference

Hodgdon Powder Hodgdon Reloading Manual
Hodgdon Powder Hodgdon Reloading Manual

This annual magazine provides a wealth of additional load data

Lyman 49th Edition Reloading Handbook
Lyman 49th Edition Reloading Handbook

This makes a handy introductory reference as it covers the basics of reloading, followed by appendices with reloading data


Ken Water's "Pet Loads"

I received Ken Waters' "Pet Loads" as a gift and it has become a valuable resource in my reference library.

Are you familiar with it? Have you used it? What do you think of it?

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