Sunday, November 23, 2014

Speer reloading manual #10, Hornady handbook & Modern Reloading (Lee load manual) : Manuals to learn by

Continuing on with the reloading manual theme we move on to what a lot of re-loaders would consider "meat and potato" manuals. Now I'm not sure how many reloading manuals the average re-loader owns....I'm willing to risk a wager that its around 1 actually. As I've stated in a previous post it is unacceptable to not have any PHYSICAL copies of a reloading manual within your reach. I happen to have an abundance of reloading manuals that span 7+ decades of development and cartridges. If you start to load some odd or variations on a given safe load then you will find older manuals a gold mine of information. Also older manuals give a lot more information on how to figure your own ballistics and other highly interesting information not otherwise covered.  In this post I will cover 3 manuals off my bookshelf, first a Speer manual (#10 to be exact) printed 1979. Second, Hornady handbook printed 1973. A newer manual is the 3rd choice here covering a good amount of data and if one wished a SINGLE manual for their reloading needs this is one I would tend to lean towards that can still be had on store shelves, " Modern Reloading second edition" By Richard Lee.


This Book is one I obtained really without thinking about it, I remember now I was at a gunshow and a vendor had  a haphazardly organized box of books under his table. A friend and I inquired as to prices and the guy just said "oh $1 each I guess"....we both filled our bags pretty well if I remember correctly. Later on this "Speer manual" would become one of my favorite reference manuals. I would actually read the front half of  between college well as look up load data while waiting for laundry to dry at the laundromat.  The book has more than 100 pages of detailed information on the anatomy of the cases, (speer) bullets, primers and of course all the reloading equipment as well. What makes this book interesting is that it covers the history of Speer, RCBS and CCI and gives the reader insight into their inception.

Getting into the reloading data itself the book covers not surprisingly only Speer projectiles, those weights are the most common still yet today in a myriad of calibers so it isn't as big of a issue as you may think. One of the hallmarks I believe of a COMPLETE reloading manual is a brief history of each cartridge prior to its data. This gives the re-loader a little more information on their pet caliber. A separate section on loading handgun calibers gives some tips on loading accurate handloads.

This book is over 550 pages long! it packs and incredible amount of information into a rather small volume. The last 130 pages are filled with ballistic drop charts (something one HAD to use before the advent of  personal computers) as well as other reference charts that one would find exceedingly helpful in reloading. If you can find a copy I highly recommend picking it up especially if you load for calibers that have not been introduced since the late 70's no WSSM calibers here.

Speer #10 is a compact quality manual offering a lot to the beginner.


First off I'll admit up front here that I think this is supposed to be a 2 volume set, as the new Hornady manual series I have is also a 2 volume set. One book contains load data and the other contains very complete ballistic charts. I have volume II which contains the load data (as well as some ballistic charts in the I'm wondering what volume I actually contains?) and its worthy of some mention. The 40 some odd page "preface" as they call it contains the good reading material on mechanics and reloading. Although for a beginner there are better books out there for a "beginner's book". The point to mention on this particular book is the load data seems to cover more calibers, Usually we start with 22 hornet in most books but in this particular book we start with not one but 4 .17 caliber cartridges.  A brief half page history of each cartridge is presented in most cases and bullet selection is again as in Speers case, only Hornady bullets.  As with many of these older books you will have some frustration as you find powders are discontinued as well as perhaps some of the bullets.

The Hornady manual is a good addition to ones shelf but as above I would not recommend it as a re-loaders only manual to have on hand.

The Hornady Handbook makes for a excellent reference on jacketed projectiles but another manual would be desired if cast projectiles and a broader spectrum of weights are to be used.


"Modern Reloading second edition"....This book is one I picked up at a Cabela's some time ago while on a road trip, I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I needed some reading material. First off this book is hefty at 700+ pages, it is no light weight and is not something you will be tempted to use as a doorstop because you will always be picking it up referencing it. My particular copy is the 2008 reprint, since then a revised edition is available as I understand it. The book starts off with reason one may re-load... to save money, for accuracy (very true) and of course for fun! It will not take long for somebody to realize while working their way through the first 200 pages....yes 200 pages of instructions, information and how to's that you are pretty much reading a treatise on why one should use lee products in their re-loading.  Full blown instructions on the use of nearly each of Lee's products available at the time of printing are covered which is handy as sometimes information is more complete than in the little leaflet you get with the particular product. Lets say you want to load very accurate ammo for a bolt action and you have never owned a Lee product before, reading through the book you will learn Lee offers many specialized die sets to help you get better accuracy out of your rifle, or to make highly reliable and consistent hunting loads for a semi auto. Their factory crimp die for rifle is one I find particularly impressive. So 200 pages of various information from casting your own bullets to figuring out chamber pressures of a given cartridge (page 158 in my book) you will find this book can be very useful to the re-loader who wants to learn more about what it is he can do. After that you have 500 pages of load data on all kinds of calibers. The book is organized from smallest caliber on up. Not split up into sections containing rifle and handgun loads as most other books are.  As the book is assembled by a company that sells reloading products (as well as bullet molds) one will be VERY pleased to find that the projectiles listed are not only jacketed but also cast, so one will find that they have a very very complete manual in their hands so long as their cartridge of choice is listed (No short history of each caliber however). Much to my disappointment lately has been the lack of .500 S&W Magnum data which came out in 2003....perhaps data is in the new revised edition. I should want to find out before I make a purchase however.

The Lee manual has a lot of great information, it does seem at times you are reading nothing but lee advertisements but they are more than that really. At first I was disappointed at this fact when I got the book, but as time has gone on I'm pleased the information is there at my finger tips as I find myself using more and more Lee products at my bench as their QC has seemed to improve greatly. The book itself is a great one book resource for somebody just starting out and I highly recommend it.....but for the love of Winchester get a RCBS single stage press (read steel frame) and not a aluminum one from lee (though I think they are making a steel one now...I would much prefer green) when you are first starting out.

"Lee book" offers a great deal of information in its substantial number of pages and could open up new possibilities to those wishing to advance from beginner status which are also covered within its pages.

No comments: