Handloading
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Handloading is both the name of a non-combat skill and an associated activity.
Handloading (or reloading) is the term given for the process of manufacturing firearm ammunition manually, through the use of specially designed tools. It is possible to handload in the Mazes with the right equipment, and even create customs combinations of caliber, powder charge, and projectile that are available nowhere else.
Although it can be argued handloading and reloading aren't exactly the same (reloading specifically implies the reuse of certain components), the two terms are interchangeable for the purposes of the game.
Requirements
A character wishing to begin handloading needs specific handloading items:
- At least one handloading kit, of which there are three types. Each kit type corresponds to ammunition categories ((P)istol, (R)ifle and (S)hotgun), and allows a character to handload and disassemble all ammunition of the corresponding category (with a few listed exceptions).
- Ammunition components: Primers, Cases/Hulls, Powder, Projectiles, and for shotgun cartridges, wads
See this page for a more detailed list of handloading items. This page will describe how to use these items to handload ammunition.
Handloading process
Firstly, two actions must be distinguished: Disassembling ammunition into its components, and Handloading (or loading, or assembling) components into a complete round of ammunition. A handloading kit of a given type permits both disassembly and loading of ammunition of the calibers covered by its type. For example, if you are in possession of a Handloading Kit, Pistol, you may disassemble and load 9x19mm ammunition (a Pistol caliber), but you may not disassemble and load 5.56x45mm ammunition (as it is a Rifle caliber).
When equipped with the correct ingredients and kits of the correct types for the desired calibers, a character is ready to begin handloading.
All firearm caliber ammunition can be handloaded and disassembled with kits of the corresponding type, with three exceptions:
- .22 Long Rifle: Cannot be handloaded, but is nominally loaded with a small quantity of Pistol powder. You may disassemble rounds of .22 LR ammunition to harvest Pistol powder - exact quantity and quality depends on the type of .22 LR ammunition disassembled. Doing so, however, will not produce any usable casings, primers, or projectiles.
- 4.2x30mm R Golden Gun: Cannot be handloaded or disassembled. Such ammunition uses completely custom-designed, proprietary casings, primers, powders and projectiles which cannot be found for sale anywhere. The only way to acquire ammunition in this caliber is to find it in the UA.
- 4.73x33mm Caseless: Cannot be handloaded or disassembled. Due to the caseless nature of the cartridge, there is no traditional case or powder; they are essentially blocks of solid propellant that is completely disintegrated upon firing, propelling the bullet it contains forwards. This bullet is also completely proprietary, and cannot be used to load ammunition in other calibers.
Not counting the three exceptions above, each caliber has its own case type, and each requires the use of the correct, primer type, powder type, and projectile dimensions. Variations in projectile type, powder quantity and powder quality are what differentiates rounds of the same caliber but of different types.
- Example: 1 round of .45 ACP Standard FMJ and 1 round of .45 ACP Personal Defense JHP may fit in the same firearms, but perform very differently because the projectile type and powder quantity are different.
Please refer to individual caliber pages to find out about its handloading information.
Disassembling ammunition
When disassembling ammunition, your character will break down as many rounds of ammunition as you wish them to into their base components. You will obtain primers, cases, and projectiles. Powder can only be saved if you have a suitable powder jar; either an empty one, or a non-full jar containing powder of the same type and quality.
This process always has 100% efficiency regardless of your skill level; there is no risk of losing components as long as you have suitable jars to carry the powder, and you can re-assemble the ammunition right back with no loss.
Gathering spent casings/hulls
After combat, if you and/or your opponents were engaged in a gunfight and had to expend ammunition, your character may look on the floor or in firearms for spent cases and hulls to be picked up and used for handloading.
The chance of finding usable cases and hulls depends on a character's Handloading skill level. If a player declares their intention to look for cases on the ground, the GM must count the amount of shots fired per caliber (excluding .22 Long Rifle, 4.2x30mm R Golden Gun and 4.73x33mm Caseless) then roll a 1d100 for each shot. For every roll result equal or less than X (where X is the chance dictated by skill level), a suitable case is found and can be added to the inventory. All other casings are assumed to be either lost or otherwise unusable.
- Example: Hikaru has Expert level in Handloading, and has just come out victorious in a gunfight against three marauders. She was armed with a SIG MPX, and the marauders were respectively armed with a SIG P226 Navy, a S&W Model 242, and a Star Megastar 45. She had to empty a full magazine (30 rounds of 9x19mm) to defeat her opponents; the P226 Navy (also 9x19mm) was fired 6 times, the Model 242 (.38 Special) was emptied (7 shots), and the Megastar (.45 ACP) was fired just three times.
- In total, there were 36 shots of 9x19mm, 7 shots of .38 Special and 3 shots of .45 ACP during this round of combat. Hikaru uses her Handloading skill to check the spent cases and determine how many of these cases are usable; the GM rolls 36d100 for the 9x19mm shots, 7d100 for the .38 Special shots, and 3d100 for the .45 ACP shots.
- Because Hikaru has Expert level, she will get a suitable case for every 40 or less. The roll results show 14 successes for 9x19mm, 4 successes for .38 Special, and 1 success for .45 ACP; she therefore finds 14 spent cases of 9x19mm, 4 spent cases of .38 Special, and 1 spent case of .45 ACP.
Tips for Game Masters |
If you are using the Sidekick Discord bot, you may use this command: /r xd100<=y, where:
In the situation described above, to determine the chances of finding spent casings for 36 shots of 9x19mm with Hikaru's Expert level, you would type /r 36d100<=40; the bot will print out the correct amount of successes directly, thus instantly giving you the amount of cases or hulls found. |
Loading ammunition from components
The meat and potatoes of this activity; the process of actually handloading ammunition from components is broken down into two steps: Priming and Seating.
Priming
Spent (or unprimed) cases and hulls must first be re-primed. You need the following:
- The correct handloading kits
- Spent cases and/or hulls
- Primers compatible with your cases and hulls
Example: Joyce has 30 .357 Magnum spent cases; she therefore needs 30 Small Pistol primers. The process will consume all of the primers and convert the 30 spent cases into 30 primed cases, which can then be used for seating.
Seating
Seating refers to the process of loading powder into a primed case, and then seating the projectiles into the case.
The requirements depend on the caliber used.
If you are seating for a (P)istol or (R)ifle caliber case, you need:
- Powder of the correct type and in sufficient quantity
- Projectiles of the correct dimensions, one per case
If you are seating for a (S)hotgun caliber hull, you need:
- Powder of the correct type and in sufficient quantity
- Wads of the correct type, one per hull
- Suitable projectiles, which may vary in quantity depending on type (slugs are typically 1 per hull regardless of caliber, but the quantity of shot or flechette that can fit in a hull depends on its caliber)
Inserting powder
The only requirement for powder is that the powder type must be compatible with the caliber you're seating for. For instance, .357 Magnum requires Pistol powder, and .260 Remington requires Rifle powder.
The other two variables with powder are powder quality and powder quantity.
As explained on this page, quantity of powder determines pressure level, and quality of powder determines how cleanly powder burns and in turn how much Condition the weapon loses if a critical failure is sustained when firing.
Powder quality:
- Regular (Reg) powder is standard, factory-grade propellant suitable for most purposes, and is found in the vast majority of ammunition found in the mazes.
- Surplus (Surp) powder is low-quality, bulk-grade propellant; it is much cheaper and far easier to acquire in large quantities. However, when sustaining a critical failure while shooting ammunition loaded with Regular powder, Condition lost is tripled (3x).
- Premium (Prem) powder is high-quality, clean-burning propellant made for handloaders and discerning shooters, conscious of their weapons' longevity. When sustaining a critical failure while shooting ammunition loaded with Premium powder, Condition lost is divided by 4 (0.25x).
Powder quantity:
- All calibers have a listed powder quantity for Standard Pressure (SP) and Reduced Pressure (-P) ammunition.
- (P)istol and (S)hotgun calibers also have a listed powder quantity for High pressure (+P) ammunition.
- (P)istol calibers also have a listed powder quantity for Very high pressure (+P+) ammunition.
The exact type (pistol or rifle) and quantities of powder required to handload a single round of ammunition depends on the caliber and desired pressure level; see each individual caliber page for more information.
A certain skill level is required to load +P or +P+ ammunition. See this section for details.
Example: Joyce has Basic level in Handloading skill, so even though .357 Magnum can be loaded all the way up to +P+, she isn't skilled enough to do that safely, so she settles for making SP ammunition instead. She will need Pistol powder, enough to fill 30 rounds. The requirements for one round of .357 Magnum at SP level is 128 pwdr, so she will need 3840 pwdr of Pistol powder. Money is no problem for Joyce, so she opts to use Premium powder. The first step of seating her ammunition is complete.
Inserting projectiles
In (P)istol and (R)ifle caliber ammunition, the projectile is held by the case directly and is typically directly visible, as it forms the "head" or the "tip" of a round of ammunition. In (S)hotgun caliber ammunition, there may be one or multiple projectiles, contained within a wad and enclosed inside of the hull.
Once projectiles have been successfully seated, you obtain complete rounds of ammunition, therefore completing the handloading process.
Pistol and rifle projectiles
These projectiles are referred to as bullets. A bullet has two types of information: Dimensions (e.g. .452, 230 grain) and type (e.g. FMJ). Dimensions must be compatible with the case used, otherwise seating a round of ammunition is not possible. Any bullet type can be used; the type selected will have an effect on the amount of damage it will deal.
Certain calibers share the same bullet dimensions - this can be exploited by observant handloaders in order to obtain suitable projectiles.
See this page for a list of possible combinations of case types and bullet dimensions.
Example: Now, to complete the process of seating her 30 rounds of .357 Magnum ammunition, Joyce needs compatible projectiles. .357 Magnum needs .357, 125 grain bullets. In a previous adventure, she found a box of .38 Special ammunition loaded with LSWC bullets, which are also .357, 125 grain; Joyce disassembled 30 of these rounds to use the bullets, and thus she can load them in her .357 Magnum cases. The end result is custom ammunition which resembles nothing available in retail: .357 Magnum, Premium powder, Standard pressure, LSWC, which can be shortened to Prem/SP/LSWC.
Shotgun projectiles
Shotgun projectiles may either be shot (multiple round projectiles), slugs (single large projectiles), or exotic (everything else).
A primed shotgun hull with powder inserted now requires a wad and correct projectiles. See this page for a list of possible combinations of hull types, projectile types, and quantities.
Process recap
Here is a mnemonic aid to quickly remember the correct order of the handloading process: The GPS principle.
- Gathering: Obtaining casings and hulls for handloading ammunition
- Priming: Insertion of a fresh primer to transform a spent case into a primed case
- Seating: Insertion of powder and projectles to transform a primed case into a round of ammunition
Other than in the choice of caliber, it is during the Seating process that you may actually customize your ammunition to your liking, through the choice of powders and projectiles.
Advanced services
See Advanced handloading services for more information.
Handloading skill levels
The Handloading skill level influences the chances of finding usable spent cases on the floor, and the ability to load ammunition of varying pressure levels.
For every 20 rounds of ammunition handloaded (any round of ammunition created at the end of the Seating process counts), 1 Skill Point is gained. Or in other words, 1 handloaded round = 0.05 Skill Points.
Disassembling ammunition does not grant Skill Points, and Game Masters have full discretion to deny Skill Points to players who intend to repeatedly disassemble and reassemble the same batch of ammunition just for the purpose of farming SP.
Skill level | SP | Effects |
---|---|---|
Unskilled | 0 | Chance to find usable spent cases: 10% per shot fired Can load ammunition to -P and SP pressure levels. |
Basic | 25 | Chance to find usable spent cases: 20% per shot fired Can load ammunition to -P and SP pressure levels. |
Skilled | 100 | Chance to find usable spent cases: 30% per shot fired Can load ammunition to -P, SP and +P pressure levels. |
Expert | 500 | Chance to find usable spent cases: 40% per shot fired Can load ammunition to all four pressure levels: -P, SP, +P and +P+. |
Master | 1000 | Chance to find usable spent cases: 50% per shot fired Can load ammunition to all four pressure levels: -P, SP, +P and +P+. |
Legend:
- SP: Skill Points needed to reach this level