Handloader Magazine DVD Package Review


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Peter M. Eick
December 22, 2005, 02:12 PM
I sprung for the 20 DVD set of Handloader disks so I figured I would post a quick review. They are not cheap, about $400 to subscribers and $600 to non-subscribers. If you subscribe you get the disks and a free one year renewal as part of the package.

The basic package is 20 DVD's. Each one is basically "full" and has a lot of detail in it. They scanned ever page of every issue of the magazine back to 1966 and up to 2005. The actual data files are Adobe PDF's and cover the whole magazine including the advertisements.

They give you a searchable listing file for the complete set of disks or you can search each disk or even each issue/year. Searching is very very easy to do. I followed the enclosed instructions and copied all of the disks to my hard drive (53.5 gigs by the way). I then did a select and copied and put all of the PDF's in one directory along with the index file for searching. Now you can open up the index file and type any topic in and see where it was mentioned.

For example: One of my favorite topics is the 38/44 round (or the 38/44 Super Police as it is sometimes called). Searching on 38/44 give me 178 hits in 33 documents. Impressive to see some of the older comments and thoughts on the round.

General observations. I guess I was surprised at how much more "technical" the magazine was 20 to 40 years ago. If you just scan the 1960's/70's issues, and just page through them on the screen, you see a lot more formulas, graphs, and measurements then the current issues. I have not read enough of the older issues to say they were "better" or "worse". I do see that there is a lot more information to be gleaned from the magazine then just "pet loads" which is sort of what I was after.

I was also interested to read about the history. It is interesting to read about say the 25-06 in the pre-standardized days. Or reading up about the 788 Remington rifle when it first came out. Also it is interesting to look back at just the bullets that were offered. The Speer handgun line does not have many Hollowpoints back in the late 60's and 70's (which is what I remember as a kid). I also found it fascinating how the loads have changed over time. Go and look up in say Pet loads, or the loading bench what was recommended then verses says 2005 and it is quite and eye opener!

All in all I would rate this as a very good buy for a dedicated handloader. I know I will enjoy reading my issues as I get a chance, but in the mean time, the searches are GREAT!

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Jim Watson
December 22, 2005, 02:28 PM
General observations. I guess I was surprised at how much more "technical" the magazine was 20 to 40 years ago. If you just scan the 1960's/70's issues, and just page through them on the screen, you see a lot more formulas, graphs, and measurements then the current issues. I have not read enough of the older issues to say they were "better" or "worse". I do see that there is a lot more information to be gleaned from the magazine then just "pet loads" which is sort of what I was after.

Yeah, I took them to task about that several years ago. I got a long letter from Dave Scovill about how in the early days they frequently lost money on the magazine and Dave Wolff and Neal Knox paid for the operation by book sales. He explained that he was determined to make the magazines pay for themselves and had gone to more general articles, color illustrations, and newsstand distribution to increase sales and gain advertising revenue. Looks like it has worked, but I miss the old days. Same with American Rifleman, they have to write to the average reader to keep membership up for RKBA work, but it has been at a cost to the serious shooter and gadgeteer.

Peter M. Eick
December 23, 2005, 03:10 PM
I was trying to be graceful and not call it more black and white. The magazine was much more technical back then. You can see it in the quality of the writing and the technical detail presented. Just compare some of the work by Waters to the modern articles. I used to enjoy reading Propellant profiles, and now it is just sort of an advertisement for the powder.

I guess I would characterize the old magazine as MS/PhD level of writing and now we are dealing with High School levels. Unfortunately or maybe I should say fortunately it and Rifle are the best written technical magazines out there right now for the reloader.

Oh well, it is still very much worth the money.

A couple of tips if you want the search to work correctly. Copy all of the disks into a directory called "Handloader". Next copy the root of any DVD into the root of whatever drive you put "Handloader". Now open the 1966-2005 listing file and you can search and see the correct text quickly.

Another tip, don't do recursive searches. If so you end up just searching the one issue you had open and not all issues. This one took me a bit to figure out. It took me a long time to figure out why the 30/30 winchester was only mentioned 3 times... (in march of 1992 that is)....;)

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