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When you need a reloading manual, there is a lot you need to detail on before you look for one.
If you are a novice, what kind of book should you aim for? And we all know that experienced users won’t get anything from those reloading for dummies books. So, what will be the best choice for a veteran?
Out of various manuals that are available out in the market, we have decided to choose these top three best reloading manuals for the reasons that we’ll reveal in a short time.
Top 3 Best Reloading Manuals
#1 Hornady Reloading Handbook
The list starts with Hornady’s manual of reloading ammunition. It has over 1000 pages that explain bullets, powders and is published by a company under the same name with almost 70 years of history in bullet innovation.
Beginners won’t feel confused with all the jargons because they are all explained as well to get you going and enjoy reading the rest of the book. If you see yourselves as an experienced reloader looking for new information, the body of the book is where you want to go. It’s divided into two sections: a handgun and rifle.
The book has also been released in digital form for those who wish to read on the go in Kindle and iBook.
- Beginner-friendly: The book starts with the basic knowledge that covers explanations on bullets, types of powders, reloading; everything a beginner needs to understand before launching his first bullet.
- New information: You might be interested to know that it contains ELD-X and ELD Match which were the company’s latest release when the book was out. It also has new calibers added into the handbook. The new cartridges are .280 Ackley Improved, 7x64mm Brenneke, and .338 Federal.
- Expert descriptions: No enthusiastic reloader does not know this company nor its book as it contains over 300 bullets and 200 calibers descriptions suitable to beginners as well as experienced and serious reloaders.
- Real statistics: data from actual testing and there is also a chart for your easy reference of burning rates.
#2 Lyman 49th Reloading Handbook
The Lyman Edition is different from others in how they include a wide range of powders into their manual. It’s not all about that Hornady or Lee. It’s that book that makes it possible for you to mix and match between powders of different brand and create a probably better combination.
The Lyman series makes it clear that they do not intend to market or promote any brand. Beginners can still gain much necessary information on reloading from this particular book. Make no mistake as many people love to refer beginners to this particular handbook!
The newest edition of this book is the 50th, but we have reasons to point out 49th. As new powders and cartridges arrive, the series tries to catch up with them. In exchange for that, instead of adding, we find that information is instead ‘replaced’.
- Beginner friendly: basic knowledge and information are well-covered and it’s an especially enjoyable book for people with basic knowledge on reloading and is not specifically invested in one particular product.
- Compact: smaller for easier reading on the go as it keeps tracks of only what is popular these days, explaining why it has only 500+ pages compared to our other manuals.
- More variety per caliber
- History lover: if you love history this book contains the background story of each cartridge in the book.
#3 Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition New Format
The Lee Precision has released their 2nd edition and users of Lee products can’t be disappointed with it.
It’s worth noting that the book, like Hornady’s, emphasize on their products, so if you use other brands’ reloading press or powder, it’s at your own risk. The chapters that talk about pressure were extensive and help beginners easily how to avoid over pressure, measure and be safe when reloading on your own.
Like the other two manuals, the Lee Precision also has detailed content on calibers and bullets that are all from the same producers.
- Comprehensive content: Again, this is another book that beginners will enjoy reading about. The first 200 pages of the 700+ pages book have details about reloading press, how to measure powders, precautions to take and how to detect over pressure, primers and professional terms used in reloading.
However, if you are that person in need of something that is direct and does not require you to be a complete expert, Lee’s the one.
- Complete load data: It also contains details on burn chart for people who like to see numbers when they reload.
Cons: The Lee’s manual likes to promote their own products, being exclusive to the brand. And like every other manual, there is still a lack of information in various calibers. However, experts will love how each caliber is described in details down to their history.
Worth noting that, however, it does not have that complete of an information compared to the Hornady’s.
Things to Consider When Getting a Reloading Manual
There are various manuals out there aside from the ones that we have listed here and you may want to tell us that, “Hey, will one of those three contain the caliber that I’m interested in?”
The answer is, yes. However, to know which one does, it’s better that you ask the seller or reviewers in Amazon for more accurate answers. This is often the number one method people use to choose their reloading manual. There are many other things to think about when you choose a manual.
Consider your own level of knowledge. Beginners must especially get a handbook that is detailed in explaining how a bullet works and types of powders that exist. Depending on your interest and expertise, some handbooks are very detailed about each part of reloading from the equipment to how it works along with charts to refer to.
Beginners will also typically prefer a handbook that is not too complicated from the get-go. It should contain easy to understand instructions that will allow you to reload your first bullet with not too much of a hassle. These days this is rare in manuals as people love to shove in data without explaining them or helping those with little background knowledge on it.
Experts will do better with a book that does not get rid of important warnings, a quick recap of basic knowledge and more meat in load details. It should have a content that can be easily referred to when needed on your bench.
The best reloading manual is the one that answers your questions, not just massive and complete. You want your manual to be detailed in the caliber that you want to try and precisely of that type. Some manuals are wide in a variety of caliber, like the Hornady’s. It’s great for people who like to explore various types of calibers.
Other manuals don’t contain as many calibers, but love to go deep into each that they have. They provide data on various powder mixture and show you the pressure as well as how you should adjust the seating and charge.
Most manuals contain details on their own products, like Hornady’s and Lee’s. There are some like Lyman’s that contain powder and caliber of other giant manufacturers in their handbook as well. It makes mixing easier to be done and you don’t have to go strictly with only one brand.
Interesting to note that each brand usually has new releases that they should include in their handbook. With that, however, it could mean that the book will only get thicker, such as the case with Hornady’s. 1000+ pages book is obviously not something that you want to bring around to read. However, it just shows how the company sees it important not to remove content, yet still be up-to-date about it.
Importance of Having a Reloading Manual
- You should never try reloading on your own for the first time without getting professional advice whether it’s from a manual or from an actual expert. A manual is similar to letting an expert watching out for you on your bench. That is also why we recommend that you get more than one manual.
- Rather than an online version of the books in forms of PDF or iBook, it’s best to have the actual book in front of you. A beginner must especially spend some time reading the first parts of the book which usually contain the basic of reloading. Be sure that you at least pinpoint to precautions or safety warning section to know the danger that you should avoid when reloading.
- When you reload, focus and concentration are necessary to make sure that you are not missing a thing or forgetting a step. Be reminded that if you do not watch the pressure or fail to clean the gun thoroughly, it may cause the explosion to be unstable. A book can be let open in front of you and you can easily open two of them at once. But a phone or tablet can distract you!
- The best reloading manual contains information on a wide variety of calibers and powder, allowing you to explore other sections without having to buy a new manual. If you are the type that loves to explore new variation, we recommend that you get the most complete handbook there is. A handbook tends to be brand specific, but it does not mean that it will only be full of marketing.
- Take for example the Hornady’s and Lee’s that we have reviewed. The books do recommend their own products, but they are also very thorough and precise in explaining their own products. If you happen to buy your products from them, which is apparently possible as they are giant companies, you will find the manual helpful.
- Depending on the type of reader you are, we know that there is always a manual for each of you. But we believe that out of them all, you will be able to get something from one out of the three books recommended. However, in time, you will see how having various manuals will be of more use than relying on just one. So, take your time to check them all out!
The best reloading manual can depend on your needs and preferences as well as your level of knowledge in reloading. Beginners will appreciate handbooks that help them understand the terms used in the world of reloading and things to watch out for. That handbook should help you understand one by one everything about reloading.
It should be able to guide you to reload for the very first time without you having to figure out what to mix and where to look. While experts should have a burn chart with them and their manual should contain that caliber they want. Be sure to ask the community about the availability of that particular load, because even though the previous version does, the new one may not.