Load From a Disk for Windows (LFDW) is the brainchild of Wayne Blackwell of W. Square Enterprises, located in Houston, Texas. Describing itself as "ballistic software for the serious shooter," I couldn't agree more. This is a powerful package, and one that's very adaptable to each shooter's needs. Certainly, I'm aware that a number of powder and bullet manufacturers have their own ballistic software these days. In fact, Sniper Country offers its visitors access to some fine shareware ballistics software. However, while few will disagree that it is nice to get things for free, there is a lot to be said for buying a "supported" piece of software. Especially if you want graphs and tables -- features you just aren't likely to find in most shareware packages.
I regularly search the Internet for things that might be of use to handloaders and shooters. It is my routine to stay caught up on the newsgroups that devote the focus of their existence to guns and hunting concerns. So it was my good fortune to come across a "thread" of discussion about ballistics software. As I enjoy being able to use my home computer in crunching numbers during the load development process, I carefully read through these posts to see what was being said. As you might well guess, there are no packages out there that "do it all." Some offer more bells and whistles than others, and some offer more utility than others. It's easy to let yourself get wrapped up in the desire to have the latest whiz-bang software, but unless you're financially prepared for a serious investment in a ballistics package, it's best to shop carefully -- and only after some serious considerations about what your needs are. That is, what are you wanting to get out of a ballistics program? Believe me, the research can be time-consuming.
What impressed me most about LFDW was the balance between utility and price. Compared to other packages, it's very affordable, and you get some smartly-engineered features -- one of which being that it will calculate the powder (brand AND charge weight) for wildcat cartridges. Yes! As long as you can enter some simple information (case capacity for instance), you'll get a screen display of useful load data. I tested this by searching for loads that I could use in my .338/378 Weatherby Magnum. Now, as stated earlier, this software is for the serious shooter. By even reading this review, I am presuming that you have enough experience handloading ammunition that you feel comfortable playing with all kinds of measurements and are not the type to run out of the house screaming when presented with questions about muzzle velocities and ballistic coefficients. Just as importantly, I should mention at this point that if you don't feel comfortable with the Windows operating system, you might want to take some steps to enhance your computer skills.
Recently, there was some discussion here at Sniper Country (specifically, on the Duty Roster) about terminal ballistics... that is, "knockdown power." LFDW uses the Taylor Factor (a good name for a factor, in my opinion) to perform such calculations. Further, you can use the software to help you determine terminal energy (the force "dumped" into the target), bullet wind drift, time of bullet flight, and several other pieces of information.
Virtually all the wares of the mainstream bullet makers are represented in LFDW, including (but not limited to) Sierra, Hornady, Nosler, Barnes, Speer, and Berger. Bullets from .17 to .62 caliber are listed, and fifty-caliber shooters will be pleasantly surprised to know that their special interests are addressed by this software.
If you decide to buy a copy of Load From a Disk for Windows, here's what you'll get:
Along with the software, you'll also get some pretty easy-to-understand operating instructions.
In fact, the only problem I had with LFDW was with the first copy that I received. Delivered as a CD-ROM, there was no end of the frustration I experienced from the constant "read" errors. Finally, after trying all the tricks I know, I called Wayne Blackwell and explained the problem. He was quick to tell me that the vendor who put the software on the CD format had some quality control problems and several of the CDs that had been produced had resulted in similar problems for other users. He immediately sent me the software again, but this time on three 3.5" disks. I had absolutely no problems installing the software from the disks, and since then I've used LFDW several times to develop new loads and simply to check some others I'd already created.