Factory vs. Handloaded Ammo

Accuracy depends on consistency. The one thing many new shooters don't understand is that precision comes from having a "system." A big part of that is the ammunition and the rifle, and no combination of these two parts shoots the same. This means your rifle will shoot differently with the same ammunition out of the same box as your friend, and as you learn to shoot more accurately and consistently, you will need to test your own rifle and ammunition and improve on your own unique system.

One benefit of handloading is that you have the opportunity to check that each and every cartridge is exactly and precisely the same as the last one. You can ensure that every bullet measures right, every powder charge is right, and the seating depth is perfect, which is not the case when buying off the shelf. You are in complete control of the performance of the cartridge.

Making your own ammunition requires an investment in equipment, reloading components, and time, however. If you use a lot of ammunition, you may be able to "up your game" and save some money in the long run, but you will sacrifice convenience. Handloading also has more risks than shop-bought ammunition, as it's up to you to get the "formula" right and not to over-pressure your cartridges, and so forth.

Factory ammunition – while convenient – is generic. It's made to suit many different types of rifles, and those rifles will have differing twist rates, barrel lengths, many other factors. It's not made or designed to shoot well from your specific rifle. You can try and match the rifle you buy as close to the specs used in the testing rifles (for a specific box of ammunition to remove some of the variability), but the trick is in finding ammunition that works well in your rifle.

Also note that cheaper ammunition can be poorly made and as a result it can be very inconsistent or even inaccurate. That's why long-range shooters tend to use "match" quality ammunition for starters, as this is the best you can get in terms of quality.

If you get into long range shooting, you will want to consider handloading if you want the most precision ammunition, but match ammunition is the best to get started.

One thing to note for hunters: weigh whether the "match" ammunition you are choosing also has the right bullet design to effectively kill game versus just hitting paper. For example, Hornady makes match quality ammunition in their ELD series, and they have one type for paper, and another for hunting. They are both high quality but they each have a purpose, and choosing the right bullet and type is important for your mission.

Note: Don’t use standard match ammunition when hunting as these projectiles often pass right through animals and could cause unnecessary suffering. They are not specifically designed to cause internal damage and loss of blood like hunting projectiles.

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If you get into long range shooting, consider handloading if you want the most precision ammunition, but match ammunition is also great to get started. It is important to consider that factory loadings change frequently from lot to lot and that hand loading is way to continue to produce the same results, time after time, even after many hundreds or thousands of rounds.


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