QuickLOAD – An Amazing Software for Reloading and Much, Much More
By: Drew Joszku
Here is what Neconos.com has to say about QuickLOAD:
“QuickLOAD/QuickTARGET 3.9 is absolutely the best Interior/Exterior Ballistic Prediction Software in the world. User friendly. Accurate results for over 1500 cartridges, more than 270 powders and 2500 bullets. Accepts user defined data for user created wildcats. Scores of useful outputs. No other ballistics software has the precise data for 270 individual powders. Other programs can only place powders in general categories of burn rates and densities. QuickLOAD instantly calculates pressures and velocities based on thermodynamic modeling, NOT numbers crunched from loading manuals. The data generated can then be used by the QuickTARGET portion of the program to determine trajectories, wind deflection, sight corrections, down range velocity, down range energy and a multitude of other useful outputs. No other interior/exterior ballistics program has the capabilities of QuickLOAD/QuickTARGET. Data developed in the QuickDESIGN cartridge designing program can be imported into QuickLOAD/QuickTARGET for interior and exterior ballistic analysis.”
QuickLOAD (sold by Neconos.com and around $152 at the time of this article) is amazing software of epic proportions that can be of great use to people who like to reload their own ammunition (but not limited to that…by far). This software can even be used with a chronograph (check their website for details as I did not test this feature yet). QuickLOAD is absolutely not a replacement for learning what you should do and it is recommended that you read a reloading manual or two in conjunction with a program such as this one. This program can generally give you a good idea concerning the accuracy of the cartridges you reload by taking the amount of powder you use, case, gun barrel length, type of projectile (bullet), weight, depth of seating the bullet and some other metrics that go into simulating how a particular load will perform. I will say that the program might seem a bit intimidating at first but if you read the easy to follow guides instead of wandering off (like I have a tendency to do), it’s not difficult at all. The only difficult thing I’ve encountered is trying to find a way to use all the features it provides. This is a partial review/in-depth look into the program in order to introduce it to some people that might not have realize it existed previously…or were on the fence concerning purchasing it previously.
Being a reloader from a newer generation, I had seen references from some people concerning a computer program some people were using to try to find the “perfect load”. I kept seeing the name “QuickLOAD” or “QL” bantered about and curiosity got the better of me (it also helped that the people frequently bringing up QL were experienced individuals who also seemed to be the resident “SME’s”…Subject Matter Experts). The existence of the software was not necessarily a surprise to me but what it claimed to do was indeed exciting. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that my knowledge was nowhere close to the minds that put this together. Essentially, I was missing out on a lot of data, projections and also on a program that can save a lot of time, money and heartbreak (or any combination of therein). Being quite frank, the first bit of information I found about the program regarded the cost. Yes, you do have to pay for it and while the asking price isn’t anything to balk at, neither is personal safety, accuracy and an amazing assortment of all the information you can handle.
Trying to simply summarize this software, what it includes and what it all does has been challenging. Personally, that is a good thing to me as it seems the possibilities concerning utilizing this software seem near endless. Basically, QuickLOAD is a program for shooters, reloaders, people that work in ballistics and anyone else that might enjoy or get something out of a predictive software that is based on extensive data, testing and research. Suffice it to say, while I have learned a LOT about QL, please do not think the proceeding evaluation does more than scratch the proverbial surface concerning the possibilities. This has been a difficult evaluation to do because of the sheer scope and size of the application uses, data included and methodology. I implore anyone who is really into reloading to consider this software.
A couple of quick “housekeeping” notes:
I was not paid by QuickLOAD or anyone to give a positive review. I was provided an evaluation copy but it came with the implied understanding that my opinion, good or bad, would be relayed via this review. Actually, I did not detect even an inkling of concern regarding the outcome of this review and after digging into the software, it is easy to see why. This was developed a number of years ago and has evolved ever since. This is a good thing, obviously, as technology has continued to advance as well. It is nice to know that there are continual updates and developments being made as it is an exciting time to be a shooter/reloader.
Also: Please do not take any example load information and use it. Please utilize your own reloading books, manuals or online information and make the best personal choice for your personal loads. Safety is nothing to laugh about so please, be careful and responsible. Neither the author, website nor anyone affiliated with either is responsible for what you do with any of this example information. You are responsible for what you do and how you do it.
Are you trying to determine a nice, reduced load for a nice antique piece and you want to make sure it is accurate, burns all the powder in the cartridge while maintaining pressure well below the maximum the firearm is rated for? As long as you put in the data correctly and double-check it with another source or two, this software can do it. Granted, asking a computer program to do that for all firearms when there are intricate differences between all firearms is difficult so you have to keep expectations in check a bit but this seems to give a great baseline as to the actual outcome. Personally, an 8mm (8x57mm) Mauser was interesting as an 1893 Turk Mauser recently came into my possession. Even though it was re-arsenaled in 1938, keeping pressures down while making the most efficient and accurate loads possible was at the forefront of my interests. Keeping the ol’ girl fed with non-corrosive loads that were below max pressure (while still burning all the powder in the barrel) was what I wanted to do and this program was able to do it…easily.
Here is an example of what you can expect when you first choose a cartridge:
As you can see via the above picture, you choose the cartridge type, projectile (bullet), powder brand/type, charge weight and barrel length and then click “Apply & Calculate”. Please take these pictures and data with a grain of salt as I just used some pictures as an example and had been playing around with a Martini-Henry load (yes...it even has information regarding antique arms from the 1860’s and up as I saw the Snider listed as well). Those are both black powder cartridges but they have an estimator; more on that later but I digress.
After you input the basics, you start getting into some fun (seriously) such as estimated pressure, velocity, percentage of powder burned, etc.
Here is what the main page looks like (again, just an example that is not to be followed):
From here, you can play around with the seating depth of the bullet, charge, bullet characteristics and many, many more extremely specific variables. You can customize these computer simulations to your specific firearms and in turn, get the best velocity, accuracy and even value concerning efficiently burning and not wasting powder. If you want to zoom in on one part of the calculations you can easily do so. For instance, if I wanted to look at the bottom-right for the pressure curve and velocity, it’s easy to maximize the window. The “Results” window is very interesting and even gives you estimations as far as the energy density (among many others). The most helpful to me is the pressure and how close you are to the maximum or even a danger zone. While this is not a replacement for a device to actually measure pressure, it is absolutely amazing to me and the math that goes into creating this blows my mind. You can change powder, charge weight, bullet, cartridge and even load your own data (I’ve not messed with that yet) so the possibilities do feel endless.
Are you curious what changes in temperature do to a load? No problem! The biggest eye-opener for me was the change in pressure due to ambient temperature. Just so you know, a rise in temperature will indeed make the pressure rise inside your firearm. The same load that might have been right at the maximum rated pressure at 70 degrees F could very well be over…maybe by a few thousand PSI, at 90 degrees! I knew ammo was impacted by temperature changes but I never knew it was impacted to that amount. Think about that for a second…A load that you like running “a hot load” during the winter, might potentially need to be cut back during the hot months. Obviously, I am not saying all your max loads are dangerous, I am just trying to make a point concerning what QuickLOAD can do as far as giving you an educated estimate concerning the rise in pressure you could expect from said temperature change.
Are you curious as to the dimensions of a certain cartridge? No problem! They have pictures and/or measurements for most calibers. Take this example here (8mm Mauser):
QuickLOAD also gives you a lot more perspective concerning the trajectory of your projectile, FPS, amount of powder burned and what percentage of powder should be burned within the barrel. Have you ever shot a round and then see unburned powder coming out of your barrel? Well, this software can tell you within a fair margin of accuracy if a load should burn all of the powder or if some (or a lot) will be left unburnt. Obviously, the caveat is that this is a software estimation but from testing a couple loads, I definitely saw unburned powder with my 45 Colt. I did not measure to see what percentage was unburned (it does give you a percentage that indicates what should be consumed via the firing of the round) but I could tell it definitely seemed in line with the simulation. Additionally, this program can tell you the amount of heat produced from a round being fired. That kind of blows my mind a bit…as does some of the jargon and information concerning how they get to their calculations. If you love ballistics, this is definitely for you. If you love reloading and want to get the best loads possible, I would say this is something you should consider.
Versatility is something else I have noticed and also read about when consulting reviews done by others on QuickLOAD as well as from my own experience. There are a LOT of powders out there and you can determine if it would work well in your loads or not. I’ve read of some people saving money by going with one powder they didn’t even know existed due to this software. It is amazing to me that so many calibers/cartridges are covered in this software as you can find information ranging from very common calibers to wildcat calibers and also “obsolete/antique” calibers. To my amazement, the 577/450 Martini-Henry was listed. I have a Martini-Henry (love it) and wanted to see what the potential was for running a smokeless load. I know, it is a black powder rifle but some did use cordite loads and the pressure from those is not necessarily dissimilar from reduced loads of smokeless (from what I read, not experienced…yet). Just to give you an example, it indicated that if I used a charge of about 40% of the black powder weight, I could get pressures that were well under 25k PSI…In fact, I was seeing pressures that seemed to almost mimic black powder and clocked in around 1,250 FPS and 15k PSI. The 40% is important because using “Nitro for Black” is actually using 40% of the black powder charge and QuickLOAD confirmed what I had read and been told. That made me feel a lot better but I am still not going to take a heavy charge of IMR 4198 and use it even though the program says I can. It might work but I would rather be careful and cautious. On the other hand, I will be trying “Nitro for black”.
Here is a view of the Black Powder Estimator:
That is seriously amazing to me! Black powder is indeed very hard to estimate and you have to take that into consideration when looking at the results because of the variability from black powder batch-to-batch but having something, anything, is exciting to me.
This program is like a maze, within a maze, filled with caches of treasure (the treasure being features and things you didn’t know were there). There are only a couple of downsides to this program that I have found and they aren’t big at all; especially in comparison to the benefits.
The only cons that I’ve found with this software really do not relate to the software at all and I really cannot blame the company for any of them but I do want to point them out.
When you factor in what you get for the cost, to me, QuickLOAD is clearly an asset to anyone who is a serious reloader. The ability to try to determine and simulate which powders, projectiles and such will work for you before you go out and invest your time and money buying the supplies is a BIG win to me. This software seems to take a lot of the guesswork out of reloading and also provides some invaluable insight into what occurs when you pull the trigger. If you ask me, it’s a very easy decision to make (buying the software) but please take my opinion for what it is…an opinion based off actually getting to use the program. I implore you to make a determination for yourself based on the information available and decide whether you think it will make reloading more fun, safe and economical for you in the long run.
As with all articles on this site related to reloading, these are for informational purposes only. Any and all actions taken by the end user (IE: Reader) are the responsibility of said end user and not the author or website hosting this informal document.
Note: Drew Joszku is an accomplished writer as well as an expert reloader. Some of his articles can also be found on USACarry.