How many manuals?

I've been thinking about getting started reloading for about 6 months now. One question that I have, for which I have not seen a definitive answer, is, how many reloading manuals do I need?

I thought that one would be enough, but I've seen others refer to more than one and there are so many available, I'm just wondering if one will be enough?

Also, I think I read somewhere ("ABCs of Reloading"?) that the best manual is the one made by the bullet manufacturer of the bullets you are using to reload. Is that true?

I use the Hornady manual. IMHO it seems to be the most complete, has the most bullets, varieties and just general history of the caliber which is fun to ready. It also lists their personall preference and the most powders.
Make sure you are trained to reload from somebody who has done it before, I know when I started I had a ton of questions after reading and still do to this day and its nice to have a more knowledgable person with more experience help where the books cant.
Definitely! I don't even plan on buying any equipment until I go through the class John offers from time to time. Hopefully, I'll take the class sometime this fall and then gear up and reload this winter. I was just thinking I can probably pick up the manual now, but wasn't sure which one or how many.

Well, to be honest I only refer to one manual now and I bought 5 of them. $150 down the tube. You'll quickly learn which load works good for you and you'll generally stick to them. I will vary loads slightly, but not enough to need to refer to another manual.
I think 2 is plenty,I have 4 and only 2 get used..Lyman's is my go-to book,and I have one from LaserCast I got several years ago.There is so much load info on the internet anymore that more than 2 manuals is money wasted,IMHO. 2 is plenty to cross check a load found on the 'net on a powder makers' site.
Regardless of how many I own, I always check more than just one source.
Even if I am duplicating a previous load, I ALWAYS REFER TO THE MANUAL.
Just a good habit to have, especially with pistol calibers.

Buying the manual from the powder or bullet manufacturer you use most is recommended.
If one has several manuals, and they don't agree, which one do you believe? Does one just keep adding to the library until they have a majority on a given load?

For me it's not the quantity of manuals for load data, just the accuracy of that data. I choose to utilize the data provided on the POWDER manufacturers site first and bullet mfr's second. These sources will have the LATEST data. What's more important than a big library of manuals is to learn how to read pressure signs and work up loads properly for your firearm and needs. Good basic "How Too" manuals for the most part handle that task. Loading data for specific powders and bullets are best obtained from the manufactures web sites. You'll also hear first of any warnings on these sites while books, once printed, don't have this ability.

Everyone has their own method, the above is just my choice.
I bought the Speer manual because it was the cheapest, then for load data I looked at the manufacturer of both the bullets and power I was goign to load. You can find almost any data that is printed for free online at least for most factory chamberings.


Here's 45 years' experience (for what its worth): The posters here that recommended numerous manuals are on the money. Now: MONEY. Reloading manuals that are used are very valuable (and very cheap). A new guy to reloading should buy one of the premier new manuals that is put out by a major bullet manufacturer (Sierra, Speer, Hornady or the like). Then accumulate semi-recent used ones for next-to-nothing. Cross reference all of them prior to loading for any caliber. Some hold reputations as generally "hot" (Speer), and others hold reputations for generally "mild" (Sierra, Nosler). I never load anything without ALL my books open and compared. If you decide to be a "Reloader" you can get by with one manual. If you find out (as you should) that you want to be a "Handloader" (leaning toward the scientific side of things, pursuing accuracy and consistency and all options), you will have multiple manuals, and they won't cost you much at all. I recently purchased seven manuals at a 4-wheel drive swap meet (of all places!) for a friend that was just starting to reload. Price: $15 dollars for the pile. All less than 10 years old. Personally, wait....running to the gunroom now... I have 12 manuals that I regularly consult, and 9 "vintage" manuals that I go to to see what was done in the '60's, etc. Again: this is 45 years of accumulation, but I find that I keep my 1972 Sierra Manual at the ready, and always look at it for comparison to the new info. The new premier manual for the guy just starting out will have all the recent powders, and recent bullet designs (for that manufacturer).

Note: Nosler has a reputation for a "mild" manual for a reason: Nosler bullets (first the Partition, later the Ballistic Tip) are very specialized, uniquely-designed bullets. The Partition can increase pressure because of its "web" of copper in the midrift. The Ballistic Tip can likewise increase pressure due to its unconventional length. Nosler is careful and reliable in its recommendations for their fine bullets. Barnes (all-copper styles) can likewise increase pressures, and therefore need special attention toward a milder powder charge than lead-core conventionals. Barnes is in full agreeement with Nosler as to specialized charges for their specialized bullets. This does NOT mean that the handloader sacrifices velocity. Powder charge is reduced, pressure becomes equivalent to that for a conventional-designed bullet, and velocity is likewise usually eqivalent (or better).

Hope this helps.
I'm surprised that someone hasn't already mentioned the use of Internal Ballistic programs that are now available rather than just amassing a huge library of books.

Perhaps the most widely used program is QuickLoad QuickLoad

Another is Load From A Disk ballistic software. Load From A Disk Ballistics Software

A couple of programs are also available from Reloading Equipment manufacturers.

What's attractive about these programs is the ability to take an empty piece of brass and come up with a good starting point for a load workup that gives one a broad recommendation of powders and calculates pressure and performance for various powder weights. Can also show effects of changing OAL.

I have used the Load From A Disk program for about 6 months and found their data to be surprisingly accurate. Some .308 loads predictions on speed were within 15 fps of calculation.

I too am an "Old Timer" when it comes to reloading. Well over 30 years of experience (still have both eyes and all fingers too). I have recognized that times have changed and books are being replaced by technology. I used to keep every powder data book I could grab as well as bullet manufacturer manuals. Most of this information is now available online or in the form of an Internal Ballistics program.

Even smart phones now have "apps" for them to replace all the old ballistics charts and tables for determining bullet drop at any given range. I have a wrist watch that calculates the number of "clicks", "Mils", or MOA's that I have to hold over when shooting at distances other than my Zero. Enter the Muzzle Vel., Bullet weight, BC, Temp, Altitude, Zero Distance, and Bore Height for the fixed data. Then all one has to do is enter the variables like wind speed/direction, and distance. No more carrying cheat sheets, data books, charts, or slide rules. Just look at your wrist.

The point is that 30-40 years ago we didn't have the technology we have today. Why not use it. Even with a huge library it's a mater of prudence to still "work up a load".
I've got 5 manuals now, but only had 3 until recently, and could probably get by with just 1 or 2.

Lee has the most data, but I won't use any of it till I've checked their data against another manual, as I've found lots of loads in there that are way off from other sources.

Hornady is my favorite by far. I've never had an overpressure load with their data, their loads seem to be the most accurate, and I generally use hornady bullets for everything because they're cheap and effective.

Sierra has lots of wildcat type rifle data, none of which I shoot, and their bullets are expensive so I don't use that one much.

Lyman has lots of data for lead bullets, so I've been using it more as I've been shooting more lead in pistols to save money.

The speer manual only gets used on the rare occasion that I load gold dots.

You can get load data from Hodgon's website for free.
You can also get free (albeit limited) load data mini-manuals from retailers. I got three last time I ordered from powder valley.


And I'm not talking about the adult diaper!

If I was only going to load Hornady bullets, like I did in the .41 Mag when I first started reloading, I'd only "need" the Hornady manual. If you plan on using only one bullet manufacturer you will be well suited with their manual. But what's the fun in limiting yourself to only one?

Just like Spitpatch mentions about Nosler bullets, Barnes bullets use their own data. Having a Barnes manual, or access to their data, is imperative when loading Barnes bullets.
I usually pick my loads from the bullet manufacturer's manual, but sometimes want to try a different powder than they list in that book. That's when the multiple books come out and I start making comparisons between them to come up with a starting load.
My favorite manual for cast bullets is the Lyman manual. They have extensive data for all types of bullets, both cast and jacketed. I have the 46th manual and it is full of all kinds of information.
One really does not 'Need' any manual. A lot of manufacturer data and information is on-line. For example Alliant has the data I use for .357 magnum and .44 magnum on their web site. Of course I use Alliant 2400 powder, so this works for me. It can be done that you do not need to buy any manual, but the of the three I have (Lyman, Hornady, Speer), I use the Lyman most to compare with the Alliant web site.

Keep in mind that one really does not 'Need' a handgun, or a rifle for that matter.


  • Woke Up Like This
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One Book / One Caliber Manual has a reprint of data from 6 different bullet manufactures and 6 powder manufactures. All the major bullet and powder manuals for one caliber. Available at midway and
most sporting good shops selling reloading supplies. Easy to cross reference. Follow the Sierra 'Accuracy Load' at the bottom of chart. I have one for every caliber I reload for.


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