Hand Loader

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Hand Loader is a perk in Fallout: New Vegas.


You know your way around a reloading bench and don't let good brass and hulls go to waste. When you use Guns, you are more likely to recover cases and hulls. You also have all hand load recipes unlocked at any of the wasteland's reloading benches.

— In-game description

This perk allows you to craft 6 more types of ammunition at a reloading bench (plus 1 more with the Honest Hearts add-on, and another 6 with the Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on), each requiring slightly more supplies to create than the standard form. The perk also doubles the chance of recovering a shell/casing whenever you fire off most rounds. With Gun Runners' Arsenal installed, it also adds a more efficient recipe for making powder charges. This perk is favorable for players who prefer saving cartridges and casings and making their own at a reloading bench rather than spend the caps to get them from a vendor, and those who prefer the Guns skill over most other weapon skills. This saves money and, when utilized to its full potential, can prove to be a very lethal proposition when choosing this perk.

Custom ammunition typesEdit

Ammunition Repair


10mm JHP hand load 50 x1.65 x2
.308 JSP hand load 50 x1.3 x1.5
.357 magnum JFP hand load 50 x1.25 -3 x0.8
.44 SWC hand load 75 x1.2 -6
.45-70 Gov SWC hand load 90 x1.2 -6 x3
.50 MG match hand load 100 x1.15 x0.65
.45 super hand load Honest HeartsGametitle-FNV HH 80 x1.3 -4 x2.5
12 gauge 4.0 buck mag hand load (GRA) Gun Runners' ArsenalGametitle-FNV GRA 50 x1.30 -2 x1.15 4 projectiles
12.7mm JHP hand load (GRA) Gun Runners' ArsenalGametitle-FNV GRA 75 x1.65 x2
20 gauge 3.0 buck mag hand load (GRA) Gun Runners' ArsenalGametitle-FNV GRA 50 x1.30 -2 x1.15 4 projectiles
5.56 match hand load (GRA) Gun Runners' ArsenalGametitle-FNV GRA 50 x1.15 x0.65
5mm JSP hand load (GRA) Gun Runners' ArsenalGametitle-FNV GRA 50 x1.30 -10 x1.50
9mm JHP hand load (GRA) Gun Runners' ArsenalGametitle-FNV GRA 50 x1.65 x2

Notes on ammunition termsEdit

  • JHP - Jacketed Hollow Point; a lead-core bullet mostly enclosed by a copper jacket with a recessed nose, allowing the bullet to rapidly deform and fragment after striking tissue, essentially flattening out the bullet in the target. This causes the round to transfer more energy into the target and create a larger wound channel, rather than penetrating clean through. In-game, JHP rounds provide significantly more damage potential and double the normal DT penetration.
  • JSP - Jacketed Soft Point; a lead-core bullet mostly enclosed by a copper jacket, but with the soft lead tip exposed. This allows the bullet to deform more readily after striking tissue, while retaining stronger penetration than a jacketed hollow point. In-game, JSP rounds deal more damage overall per round but wear down the weapon firing them 50% faster than normal.
  • JFP - Jacketed Flat Point; a soft point bullet with a flat tip instead of the usual rounded tip. In real life, it's primarily used in center-fire, tube-fed rifles such as lever-actions, as the flat-nosed round is less likely to set off the primer of the round in front of it if the rifle is dropped. A happy medium between penetration and tissue destruction. Due to the flattened point of the bullet, it creates a larger wound channel in tissue, but does not flatten out like a hollow point thus allowing it better penetration. In-game, a JFP round provides improved damage, Damage Threshold negation, and spread control.
  • SWC - Semi-Wadcutter; an all-lead bullet with a roughly conical head that ends in a flat tip, designed to make scoring of paper targets easier by punching smaller, cleaner holes in them. Whereas a regular wadcutter is shaped like a flat-ended cylinder, a semi-wadcutter is shaped like an ogive with a flat end, resulting in improved ballistics and more reliable feeding in magazine-fed firearms. Much like JFP ammunition, semi-wadcutter bullets also exhibit superior wounding potential and better penetration than regular ammunition. In-game, SWC rounds improve damage and Damage Threashold negation. However, the .45-70 Gov't, SWC is very overloaded for its type and triples weapon wear.
  • Match hand load - match loads are rounds manufactured for accuracy and ballistic consistency, to ensure that multiple rounds fired from the same weapon will —all other things being equal—fly along the same path, at the same velocity, and strike the target in the same spot. Typically manufactured for applications such as competition shooting and long range shooting. In-game, the chief benefit of match hand load rounds is significantly reduced spread along with a minor improvement in damage potential.
  • Super - .45 super is an ammunition load designed for much higher pressures than the gun was originally intended to fire. Muzzle velocity is 20% greater than even +P resulting in much better armor penetration and damage, but causing considerable weapon damage to guns not specially designed to operate these "Wildcat" rounds. In real life the round is lengthened slightly to prevent it fitting in guns not specially designed for the higher pressures. In-game, a super round provides better damage and Damage Threshold negation but wears down the weapon at 2.5 times the normal rate.


  • Certain custom hand-loaded ammunition may greatly deteriorate gun condition. This specialized ammunition is still practical to use, however, as the rapid deterioration of otherwise rare weapons can be countered by the relatively easy ability to repair them using weapon repair kits, taking the Jury Rigging perk or having Raul Tejada as a companion (for the Full Maintenance perk). There's also the fact that more powerful ammunition requires less hits to kill targets, especially since the added damage is multiplied by critical hits.
  • Ammunition types which deteriorate gun condition may still be highly useful even if the player lacks a way to mitigate the deterioration. The player may equip his companions with these ammo types to enhance their combat effectiveness without loss, since companion weapons do not deteriorate.
  • It does not work with Junk Rounds in the Dead Money add-on.
  • It should be noted that lead is not weightless as it might appear. Rather, its weight is so negligible that the game doesn't display it as a unit (weight is only displayed to the second decimal). It takes roughly 714.5 units of lead to make a full unit of encumbrance. To put it another way, 1000 units of lead weighs 1.4 lbs. This might not seem like much, but (with hand loader) the player can easily accumulate tens of thousands of units of lead, which then adds substantial weight if carried around in their inventory. With the game update that shows aggregate weight for stacked items in inventory, this becomes much more obvious and one can see at a glance how much weight in lead they carry.

Behind the scenesEdit

  • The name of the perk refers to the practice of handloading, in which firearm cartridges are individually loaded by hand. Though the process is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than the methods generally used to produce ammunition for commercial and military use, handloading allows for more precise control over the materials used in the production process, which can then be adjusted to the handloader's desired specification. If done right, handloading can result in high quality ammunition, with consistent performance characteristics that may not be attainable through other methods.
  • In addition to having more control over a round's performance, a hand-loader's motivation is often cost as well. Factory-loaded quality ammunition can be quite expensive, especially if the selected chambering is rare, such as with .338 Lapua or .416 Barret. Reloading your own ammunition can greatly cut down on the cost of shooting, as well-made brass can be reloaded dozens of times before wearing out, allowing a single brass case to be purchased once and then fired many times.
  • .45 Super cartridges are significantly more powerful than even .45 ACP +P overpressure loadings. Weapons designed to fire regular .45 ACP rounds are often incapable of safely handling .45 Super cartridges without modification.
  • Some ammunition types introduced by the Hand Loader perk do not reflect their real-life characteristics. For instance, JFP (jacketed flat point) ammunition is unlikely to surpass regular FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition in terms of penetration, although it will generally surpass hollowpoints in that area. Likewise, SWC (semi-wadcutter) ammunition tends to exhibit poor ballistics at longer ranges due to its less aerodynamic shape.

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