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I’ve heard it on more than a few occasions now that I should look into a reloading handbook before I start.

 

I’m gonna be doing .45 Colt, .32 ACP and .32-20 once I find a gun for it. 
 

Do I need to get one of the latest manuals? I’ve found several PDFs online for free from years past.

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I use some online data, but only from reputable sites, like hodgdonreloading.com and reloadammo.com (owned by SASS member Doc Early).  Otherwise, I usually get by with a Lyman cast bullet manual and a couple of Hornady manuals (probably need to upgrade them...they're getting close to 30 years old).  I never use data from individuals listed in forums without verifying with some of the above listed sources.

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10 minutes ago, LawMan Mark, SASS #57095L said:

I use some online data, but only from reputable sites, like hodgdonreloading.com and reloadammo.com (owned by SASS member Doc Early).  Otherwise, I usually get by with a Lyman cast bullet manual and a couple of Hornady manuals (probably need to upgrade them...they're getting close to 30 years old).  I never use data from individuals listed in forums without verifying with some of the above listed sources.

Thank you, Lawman! I’ve got these 255 grain SWCs from Acme that I want to pack in. Going to look for powder this morning.

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Lawman, I don't believe he's talking about getting reloading data from Billy Bob on let's reload.com, or even going to one of the actual well-known reloading sites.

 

I believe he's talking more about like this.

 

https://b-ok.cc/book/1284743/2c9253


That's a free download of the Lyman reloading manual. It's not the current one, but it's the actual Lyman manual.

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It's a good idea to stay reasonably current with reloading manuals.  A high end load for .44 Magnum that was under the  maximum load in a manual from the early 1990's changed to being OVER maximum in a more current version of the same manual.

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Get several loading manuals. Check data between a couple of them. I have five or six manuals I compare. Older manuels are not always accurate as some powders have changed slightly over the years. Better safe than cheap.

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I'll cast my vote for the Lyman manual.  Also Hornady.  Sierra puts out a nice one.  Get several, compare.  One thing in noticed was that when I updated mine was that some of the older calibers, oddball ones, had been dropped.  
You might consider at the very least the Lyman (which has a great overview of the history of firearms along with the how to and load data), get the manual from the brand of bullets you will be using and the powder you will be using. 

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I use on-line manufacturer's data since I like to believe that it is the most up-to-date.

I use Handloader magazine to help me understand the different loads.  Brian Pearce and Mike Venturino were good sources when I started loading .32 and .38 WCF (a.k.a. .32-20 and .38-40).

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The reason, I believe, to keep 'current' data is that powder can change...new recepie kind of change.

Unless you use BP or APP...then just 'fill' that baby!!!

 

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It's helpful to have several manuals. I like the Lee, Lyman and Load Books. As noted, it is good to have newer manuals and older manuals for up to date and discontinued items. I cross check loads and components as not all have every weight of bullet and/or powder.

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1 hour ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

I'll cast my vote for the Lyman manual.  Also Hornady.  Sierra puts out a nice one.  Get several, compare.  One thing in noticed was that when I updated mine was that some of the older calibers, oddball ones, had been dropped.  
You might consider at the very least the Lyman (which has a great overview of the history of firearms along with the how to and load data), get the manual from the brand of bullets you will be using and the powder you will be using. 

Of course I had to pick the oddball 255 grain SWCs from Acme of which I can’t find as a company on any charts. Will any 255 grain SWC bullet type work in the load data from a manual?

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For the rounds you listed I would go with the Lyman Cast and the basic Lee Reloading manuals to start.

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17 minutes ago, Whiskey Hicks said:

Of course I had to pick the oddball 255 grain SWCs from Acme of which I can’t find as a company on any charts. Will any 255 grain SWC bullet type work in the load data from a manual?

 

It should.   Usually the manuals don't specify the manufacturer of the projectile, just the type and weight. 

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I like to reverence as many manuals and reputable sites that I can. 
Here’s why:

Old manuals may have correct data or they may have outdated data due to modern pressure testing techniques. Example; Many people lament the fact that modern .357 Magnum loads are “wimpy” compared to when men were made of steel and now. The problem is, those older loads may have actually been over pressure. Not necessarily “unsafe” but probably really hard on your guns. 
Also, I have data for 115 grain 9mm rounds using Universal powder that I find some consistency, but a couple have data that I cannot trust.

 

Hornady manual: 4.0-4.5 grains Hodgdon manual: 4.5-5.0 grains

Hodgdon site: 4.5-5.0 grains

Lee manual: 4.5-5.0 grains

Lyman 50th: 4.0-4.7 grains

Lyman 47th: no data 

Speer 13th: 4.7-5.3 grains

 

Hodgdon makes Universal so their data is what I trust. The Lee data is accurate, but it’s old data before Universal was Universal not Universal Clays. It is correct for this particular bullet and weight but may not be accurate for others. 
The Hornady manual shows data for an under powered load. How do I know? I tried it. They were wimpy loads. 
The data from the Lyman 50th reaches into +P territory, but I am sure is safe in my Glocks but since 3 references say 4.5 is max I will stick with that data as the maximum charge. 
The scary one is the Speer 13th edition manual data. That data is too high and their velocity numbers don’t jibe with the others. They have a 5.3 grain load at 1172 FPS while the Lyman manual has their highest charge of 4.7 grains at 1229 FPS, which falls in line with the velocities for the 4.5 grain max loads of the others at around 1149 FPS. I would consider 4.7 to be +P for that 115 grain bullet. Probably just fine in my Glocks, but I will stick with standard loads, thank you very much. 
 

I am not telling you this to discourage you in any way. I am telling you this to say that you should have at least 3 references to work from so that you don’t have any issues. 
 

I have been told by folks that write reloading manuals that often they just use data they have been given by the manufacturers. Some create their own data by testing. Some accidentally, but not very often, make a mistake. They appreciate it when you let them know there is a mistake. 
 

If using a reputable powder try getting data from the source of that powder. They will be your baseline for information to work from. 

 

Take load data you see in online forums with a grain of salt if it doesn’t match the parameters found in at least two of your reference sources. 
 

And for crying out loud, if you create a load don’t assume it’s okay then load a couple of hundred rounds of it without at least testing in your guns for pressure (felt recoil is an indicator but not scientific) and accuracy. You can probably guess why I am mentioning this. :rolleyes:

 

What I do is, taking my 9mm example above;

I load  20 of each powder grain charge  (unless it’s a revolver round then I load two or three cylinders worth 12 or 18)

So I would have 20 of each charge; 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5. Then I go to the range and test each load for accuracy and how they feel in my guns. This gives me an idea what the guns like with those loads. 
 

So, get yourself at least 3 credible reference sources for your reloading. More is better. And know this, right after you buy any manuals a new edition will come out. It’s the law…Murphy’s Law. :D

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4 minutes ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

And know this, right after you buy any manuals a new edition will come out.

True dat

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If you want to be paranoid, set up your reloading system to function with no power.  So if that means physical manuals or notes, manual scales etc.....just in case...might not always have that internet or electricity when ammo might be most needed :)

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6 hours ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

Lyman cast bullet manual is one of the best

OLG 

+1000. I also have a Speer manual which is excellent, and helpful for bullet shapes & sectional densities not found in the Lyman Cast Bullet book.

 

It's also very important to read all the text in these manuals. Not just the synopsis text that precedes each caliber, but the discussion about the reloading process. There's a lot more to reloading than just filling a case with powder and topping it off with a bullet. Those that think it's monkey see, monkey do are guaranteed to have problems that range from minor to dangerous.

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If you're new to reloading, one of the best things about a reloading manual is the extensive stuff in the manual that isn't load data, like techniques, how to set up dies, information regarding the cartridge specs, etc.  Those are one of the main benefits over using online data, which will be limited to powder charge, COAL and barrel length tested, etc.  That is why people recommend that you start with a manual--almost any manual--and read those sections before you ever make a single cartridge.

 

I agree with others that he Lyman Pistol and Revolver Manual is a great source for cast bullet data.  I am relatively new to Cowboy Action Shooting but I have been using their data forever.

 

Once you start loading, you will get load data information from a lot of sources, so data itself, I wouldn't worry about so much.  I would say though, never load anything that isn't published somewhere unless you know exactly what you're doing, and never substitute any component without backing your load down to the starting load first.  Once you know the rules, you'll know when you can break them, but until then, take no chances.

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8 minutes ago, Abilene Slim SASS 81783 said:

+1000. I also have a Speer manual which is excellent, and helpful for bullet shapes & sectional densities not found in the Lyman Cast Bullet book.

 

It's also very important to read all the text in these manuals. Not just the synopsis text that precedes each caliber, but the discussion about the reloading process. There's a lot more to reloading than just filling a case with powder and topping it off with a bullet. Those that think it's monkey see, monkey do are guaranteed to have problems that range from minor to dangerous.

 

+1 for Speer manuals. The most important part for new reloaders is the section on how to reload and what to look for so you can spot problems before they blow up your gun, and you. Read this section 2 or 3 times before you even start looking at specific caliber data, and do read the background / specific info about that caliber / cartridge.

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9 hours ago, Old Man Graybeard said:

Get several loading manuals. Check data between a couple of them. I have five or six manuals I compare. Older manuels are not always accurate as some powders have changed slightly over the years. Better safe than cheap.

What Graybeard said. I have a similar collection of manuals. Lyman is my go-to book 80% of the time. 

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OP, I'm in the computer business, so I much prefer PDF.
Being a data hoarder, I collect and organize as many PDF for as many years as I can find.
They are out there, but it takes some digging.

Lyman #50 is available as a legal PDF for about $12..
I bought Speer #15, Nosler #9 and Lee 2nd Edition, all in hardcover book form because they are not available in PDF.

Save all the old guides from the 90s and early 2000s...
There are loads in those old copies that are not in the new guides..
i.e. 30-06 lead bullets.

The old Lyman #3 Cast Boolit PDF is floating around as well.
It has even more lead loads that are missing from the current editions.
44 Russian is no longer in Speer #15 (the prime reason why I bought the book), but it is in the previous edition.

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