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Book Review - Handloading for Competition

Chris Upchurch

As I mentioned in my previous book review, I'm in the process of getting into handloading rifle rounds for precision. While I have some handloading experience, the precision game is new to me. Looking for some non-internet resources to help me with this, I found a couple of applicable books. One of them is Handloading for Competition: Making the Target Bigger by Glenn D. Zediker.

Frankly, I’m rather conflicted about this book. I’m struggling between the quality of the information, which is excellent, and the quality of the presentation, which is pretty bad. Rather than trying to force myself into a simple thumbs up/thumbs down judgement, I’m going to lay it out and let you decide if the content would make it worthwhile for you to struggle through the presentation.

Perhaps the most immediately obvious issue is Zediker’s “folksy” writing style. Looking at some of the online reviews this seems to bother some people. Frankly, while I don’t love it, I can get by it. If this is the sort of thing that would bother you, you may not want to get this book.

A bigger problem is Zediker’s massive long-windedness. I realize that me calling someone longwinded is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, but the fact that Zediker goes on at much greater length than I do should tell you something. The man always seems to use a paragraph when a sentence would do.

The book also suffers some major organizational flaws, which can make it hard to go back and find specific information. Reading the chapter headings makes the book seem well organized but info is spread around is places that aren’t necessarily obvious. The book often jumps around to different stages in the reloading process without much rhyme or reason. There’s a fair bit of duplication, describing the same information in two different sections of the book. You would think this would make it easier to find what you’re looking for, but he often covers a general topic in multiple places, but specific info only in one. For instance just because you’ve found a section on brass preparation doesn’t mean you’ve found information about the specific aspect of brass preperation you’re looking for.

It is worth noting that this book is self published. What makes it particularly vexing is that Zediker recognizes, and even calls out some of these flaws in the text itself. What Zediker really needed to do is hire a ruthless editor to pare down and reorganize his manuscript before publishing it.

Now that I've got that out of my system, on to the book’s content. There is a lot of good information in here. Zediker is clearly extremely knowledgable, and he imparts a lot of detail. He makes clear when he has hard data to back something up and when he is speculating based on his experience. It’s quite comprehensive, covering every part of the reloading process except bullet casting.

Zediker is very clear about the context he is writing for: reloading NRA High Power rifle competition. He talks a bit about benchrest reloading practices, but mostly to compare and contrast with High Power. Much of what he writes is more widely applicable, but it is up to the reader to make judgements about how much this applies to their own context.

I bought this book at the same time I picked up Metallic Cartridge Handloading by Mic McPherson. The two books cover a lot of the same territory. If you’re only going to get one, it should definitely be McPherson’s book. However, Zediker does have quite a bit of good info that McPherson does not, and he also brings a different perspective to many of the areas that McPherson covers. So getting both does have it’s advantages. If you do get both, I’d recommend reading McPherson’s book first, then coming back to Zediker later (of course, not knowing this I struggled through Zediker before reading McPherson).

I would also renew my recommendation from my review of Metallic Cartridge Handloading to take notes as you read through the book. Indeed, with Zediker his organizational issues make it even more important to take good notes, including noting page numbers where he discusses any subject you might want to go back and reference later.