There are several advantages to reloading by yourself, among which saving money is the biggest. For some people, the process is simply much more rewarding and enjoyable than purchasing factory-loaded ammunition.
However, you can’t start reloading without the right reloading equipment. But more importantly, you need a good reloading manual. It’s impossible to learn how to load ammo without the correct information.
There are many great reloading manuals out there, but many are specialized, and some are older. The scope of options can be confusing.
Don’t worry—we’ve researched the best reloading manuals currently on the market, so you won’t have to. We have also put together a comprehensive buying guide for your convenience. Find them below!
We’ll get into our favorite reloading manuals soon. But first, we’d like to give you a rundown of all the factors to consider before settling on the right manual. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to make a decision.
Whichever manual you decide upon should have instructions specific to the caliber of bullets you use. Most reloading manuals will cover all the basics, of course, but it’s still good to check, especially if you load a certain kind of ammunition.
For example, let’s say you want to reload only for rifles or pistols. That is something that must be taken into special consideration, as load data can vary.
Different manuals cater to different expertise levels. Whether you’re someone who has never reloaded ammo in your life or has some idea of how it’s done or are relatively highly-skilled, there’s a manual for you.
Take special note if you’re a beginner—you need a manual that will offer you more than just load data. The finest reloading manuals for beginners will cover topics such as load data, equipment, and safety precautions, among others.
Load data can vary across different brands. This is why many reloading manuals on the market, such as the Hornady reloading handbook (find below), are brand-specific.
Bullets can have different designs that affect velocity or pressure or be produced using different tolerances. These differences in powder tolerances can be the cause of some manuals detailing different load data than others.
So, if you’re using reloading equipment from a specific manufacturer, it’s best to buy the manual written specifically for that brand.
The 49th edition of the Lyman Reloading Handbook was highly regarded in the firearms community, with many claiming it to be a must-have for any reloader. So, imagine how much better the 50th edition is!
The new edition comes with information about new cartridges such as the 17 Hornet, 26 Nosler, 28 Nosler, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5-284, 300 Blackout, 300 RCM, 338 RCM, 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM, and 50 Beowulf.
Also included, of course, are popular rifle calibers such as 6.8 Rem SPC, 204 Ruger, 338 Federal, along with more recent pistol calibers such as 5.7x28mm and 460 S&W, among others.
One of our favorite things about this manual is its inclusion of feature articles. Written by experts in the firearm industry and top gun writers, the articles are filled with advice and information to enable new reloaders to get more closely acquainted with the hobby.
There are also articles about the purpose of the ballistic coefficient, advanced case preparation, and barrel condition assessment.
Another feature many new users of this manual love is its suggestions of a “most accurate load.” This proves to be a great place to start for many beginners.
But undoubtedly the most important reason why this manual is so popular in the firearms community is thanks to the ease with which it can be read. Not only is it very informative, but it’s also entertaining to read. You won’t just be learning how to reload your rifle—you’ll also understand better how your rifle or pistol works.
The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading has been a success since it was first published and had just been getting better through all its republications. This 900-page manual is thought to be the perfect companion for beginners and novices especially.
The 9th edition was updated to include the latest load recipes that cover new bullets and powders such as the ELD-X and ELD Match bullets by Hornady. You’ll also find new calibers including the 280 Ackley Improved, 338 Federal, and 7×64 Brenneke.
As can be expected, this handbook covers information about all popular Hornady bullets. This includes the A-MAX, XTP, Interlock, InterBond, V-MAX, SST, among many others.
Every cartridge gets in-depth coverage along with important information about appropriate bullets. Furthermore, it also covers terminal, external, and internal ballistics, along with propellants.
One great thing about this manual is that not only does it go in-depth into ammo types like the 308 Win 25-06, the 223 Rem, 300 Whisper, or 416 Barrett, but also offers information about the most common propellants. This includes the Power Pro Varmint and the AR-Comp.
There’s something for rifle-owners too. This book has data for popular rifles like the AR10, M14, 223 Remington, and 5.56 NATO.
Another great point about this manual is that it includes sections to surplus military guns. It also provides detailed information about muzzle velocity and pressure.
On the whole, this is a must-have for beginners; if you’re a reloading veteran, though, there’s something in here for you as well.
This is the second edition of a well-received reloading manual from Lee. It’s a favorite with new users of pistols, as those are its focus point.
So, if you’re a rifle user, you might want to skip this review. You might also want to skip it if you’re a more experienced reloader since this manual is directed towards beginners.
However, if you’re a very recent handgun owner who mostly has no idea what they’re doing, this manual is worth having—especially when you consider the attractive price point. All of this is especially true if you are using Lee bullets—quite understandable since it is produced by them.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find reloading information about cartridges from other brands.
There is a plethora of instructions, tables, and well-made illustrations that will guide you in your reloading endeavors. You’ll find everything you need to know about base and Max charge, primers, seating depth, bullet weight, and case dimension, among other things.
A great thing is that the author of this book has thought to include information like safety guidelines. We also appreciate the tabs, which are great for when you need quick access to specific reloading information.
However, do note that if you need very recent information, it’s probably best to skip this manual, as it is lacking in information about certain recent implements.
This 5th edition of the Sierra Handgun Reloading Manual is known for its user-friendliness, thanks to the interactive and easy to comprehend writing style it incorporates. Furthermore, the price point is also definitely something most users rave about, as it’s suitable for beginners on low budgets.
At over a thousand pages long, this handy manual for reloaders comes with information about a variety of new cartridges, reloading recommendations, latest bullets, and powders, and histories.
The book also features sections such as a ballistic glossary and an index for firearms and reloading terminology. There is also an updated section dedicated to the process of reloading, reloading tools, and firearms cleaning and maintenance.
And because of its binder format, you can easily lay it flat on your workspace and refer to it without having to set your equipment down to free your hands.
So, if you’re a beginner or novice reloader who is struggling with not just reloading, but also understanding your pistol or rifle, then this manual will definitely be able to help you.
Finally, of course, it goes without saying that if you’re using Sierra bullets, then this is definitely a manual that you need.
Of course—especially if you’re a beginner, you should look for a manual that will offer you more than just load data, e.g., specifications for equipment and safety precautions.
Definitely. Reloading is a complex task that requires lots of careful attention to detail; accordingly, mistakes and accidents are very likely. So, a reloading manual should always be handy.
It’s not recommended. Load data can vary significantly across brands. This is due to factors such as differing bullet designs or different tolerances. So, specific instructions exist for particular bullet brands.
There is no straight-cut answer for this because reloading is an inherently dangerous procedure. See our full list of safety guidelines (not exhaustive).
Anybody can write anything on the Internet without having to go through verification. You can never ensure that the information is credible, so buying a manual just makes sense. Better safe than sorry!
As you can see, there is no dearth of good reloading manuals worth having on the market.
However, if you asked us to choose the absolute best reloading manual, we’d probably tell you to go with Lyman. If you’re a beginner, though, it’s best to go with Sierra.
We hope our recommendations come in handy; if not, let our buying guide help you. We wish you the best of luck.