Friday, November 14, 2014

Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th Edition : or : Lyman Cast Boolit Handbook

As part of my move I spoke about recently I will be doing some extensive book reviews on various publications that are (what I believe to be) foundational to the gun culture as a hobby and a way of life for us shooters, collectors, DIY'ers  and competitors (Though a lot of us I suspect are all the above and then some). The following reviews/overviews of various books are what I believe to be mandatory reading or reference for those who are mildly interested in the various topics they cover. I will only cover books that are firearm themed in these posts. Though fact is many other books could apply to our theme as knowledge is power but alas I will be limiting it simply to books intended for the gun culture. On with the first overview/review.

This newest generation some say is the most educated ever, I would tend to disagree with that notion on several fronts....knowledge and implementation of knowledge are vastly different..."no mayonnaise" still seems to cause them much confusion but I digress. The fact is information has been at our finger tips and nearly instant for more than a decade and a half, most of this unprecedented access is thanks to the internet. If you want to learn about something like how to fix your oven, what that weird bump is on your leg, how to build a trebuchet or the distance to the moon in arshins you turn to the internet without thinking twice least most of us seem to. One thing that always seems to surprise me is the amount of people reloading their own ammo with not a single manual in their domicile. They glean the data off the internet from forums and run with if you are new to reloading and I say run 30gr of bullseye in a .223 Remington behind a 80gr match bullet and you go out and do have your own ass to blame for taking the advise of a keyboard expert. When somebody tells me they are getting into reloading I always ask them what manuals they have on hand.....half the time the reply is "none"....well that is unacceptable. Safety is the name of the is knowing your decap dies from your seater and your belling dies. Knowledge is power....power can keep you alive. The first few books we will cover are reloading manuals published by Lyman. The time honored name of "Lyman" graces many of the products on my reloading bench (Lyman 55 powder measure being my favorite) well as bookshelf.

Old vs New the left book is circa 1973 The book on the right is 4th edition 2010

The Old -

My Father is a bibliophile in the worst way and it doesn't run it gallops in the family. One of the reloading books I have always seen out on his desk is the old  Lyman cast bullet handbook pictured at left above. Like any good reloading manual it has a introduction that gives a primer on reloading as a process as well as how to cast your own bullets. The book then goes into the data after only 40 pages starting with .22 Hornet and going up from there. Now the book does show some of its age in that some of the powders listed are no longer in production as well as molds that are no longer in production. However, this can also be a boon for those with older molds who can not find data...or obscure powders or their equivalents. Though powder formulations have stayed the same over the years (except for 2400 I have heard in a few places) you still need to cross check data between at least 2 books, I usually dig through a few books until I find data in two different books that agree with each other. This book is great for finding loads that made the Magnums the Magnums. But as always you will work up to those powder start low and go up....can't go back once you've blown up the gun. This book is the bible for old casters who like to flip to the back to the vast catalog of bullet molds once made for all the various calibers, guns and purposes. In this book alone I count 44 molds for the .38/357 line of calibers. I don't think I have enough fingers and toes and rocks to count all the 30 cal molds in this book either but its a lot (50+). You know the data within the book covers the molds listed in the catalog for the most part. My original copy of the 1973 Lyman cast bullet handbook is falling apart at the binding its so well used and for good reasons.

The New-

 Then there are the reissues of the manuals....and lawyers get involved. The new book 4th edition pictured above right is a nice large book with a good introduction to reloading and various how to articles by "Mike Venturino" who should really just have a lot of the gun magazines on the rack today named after him he seems to have so many articles floating around...most of which seem to be recycled quite a bit? Anyways the book has several chapters of "how to load ammo" in basic form. We don't actually get to any reloading data until page 100 and these are not small pages either. Now when we hit the load is where the new book starts to gently pull ahead of the old book as its been published more recently it has newer calibers in it. In fact its the only book I have with .500 S&W data in it. BUT it seems the lawyers got ahold of this one and really tore the max load values way down.....Elmer Keith's famous long time proven .44 mag load is not even in here and over the few years I have used this manual I have noticed a few other loads I have established long ago that are above max are not in here? What gives? Well for one safety...but more over if you have been reloading for awhile you know how to read pressure signs and when you can go above book published data...the book does not bind you..but it should guide you. The really nice surprise about this particular edition of the Lyman Cast Bullet handbook is the fact that bullet data is not JUST bullet molds from RCBS/LYMAN But also Saeco and Lee....I mean WOW. Lyman makes everything that Lee does and yet they published data using Lee bullets. That was big of them....well probably because they quite making a lot of the molds as well. A look at the back shows a lot of nice data charts...but the bullet catalog this time (only showing RCBS/Lyman molds) only shows 9 molds for the .38/357 and 11 molds for the 30 cal stuff. Variety is down because demand is down. But also because we have culled out the more useful molds over the years and gotten rid of the more novelty molds. 

The Conclusion-

If you are looking to get into reloading, bullet casting or just curious about the process I would suggest you pick up one or both of these books to staff your shelf with. Even with as much reading as I have done I learn something new with every manual I get. Check back here often as more books will be covered as time goes on. I have more reloading manuals to cover as well as more (oddly) specific niche books that you may find interesting!

As this is the first of my posts on books and I hold books very dear to me I will leave you with a quote I made up a number of years ago when I was thinking just how much I have learned from books and how they have improved my life.

"Read, re-read, watch, learn, practice and's how we do good work". ~Ben Wolf

Lyman 55 Powder measure my choice of powder measures.  For those curious the blue mark is a reference line to fill the powder when it gets below that level. Doing so insures accurate drops of powder to bench rest accuracy.

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