5 Best Reloading Manuals an Ammunition Reloader Needs

Master ammunition reloader, Bob Shell, lists the very best reloading manuals that every reloader should have on his or her bench.

Reloading Manuals
Reloading Manuals – Books are all important for reloading. The more, the better

Apache Junction, AZ – -(AmmoLand.com)- Anyone who contemplates getting into ammunition reloading needs a variety of tools and equipment.

At the top of that list of equipment is reloading manuals.

It would be impossible to attempt to load ammo without the proper info. Many manuals are good and contain creditable information. Some specialized reloading books cover issues like black powder or making blanks. There are older reloading books with great data, but for the beginner, they are not an ideal choice for the neophyte.

Warning: Do not take reloading data from the web unless it is published by a creditable source. Anyone can put info online, but not all are qualified to do so.

There are many other good publications available, and some are very specialized. For instance, Norma produces a nice book, but they only list Norma powders, so its usefulness is limited. I have many books, but I do a lot of specialized loading, especially obsolete rounds, so I have such books as the classic The Complete Guide to HandLoading by Sharpe, but some first edition used copies of that one will run you $1000.00+.

Like guns, you can’t have too many reloading books, and most powder and bullet companies have online loading info; plus, you can call or e-mail many of them if you have a question. The ammunition reloader has never had it so good.

For the beginning reloader, I suggest manuals published by one of the bullet or powder companies. The people who establish the data are qualified engineers and have the best equipment, so if their published directions are followed correctly, you are on safe ground.

These reloading manuals will cover virtually all of the reloading that most folks will ever do.

  • SIERRA BULLETS Reloading Manual & Video
  • Hornady – Handbook Of Cartridge Reloading
  • Hodgdon Powder Co. – Annual Reloading Manual
  • Lyman Reloading Handbook
  • Barnes Reloading Manual

SIERRA BULLETS Reloading Manual & Video

The Sierra bullet company has been making quality bullets for over 60 years. If their bullets have one strong suit, it is their exceptional accuracy. They have published several manuals over the years, but because of the rapid developments in guns, bullets, and powder, it has to be updated regularly. So they produce the SIERRA BULLETS Reloading Manual in yearly updated addition.

It is a loose-leaf product and, in my last count, has over 1100 pages of info. Besides reloading and velocity data, it contains many hints on how to reload ammo safely. There are places for your notes as well. I have visited their plant and lab, and everything is top drawer. They market reloading videos and a few bullet jackets for those who might want to make their own jacketed projectiles. You can go to the link above for info on the SIERRA BULLETS reloading manual.

SIERRA BULLETS 5th Edition Reloading Manual
SIERRA BULLETS Reloading Manual

Hornady – Handbook Of Cartridge Reloading

Like Sierra, Hornady Ammunition has been around for a long time. Not only do they make bullets, but brass and loaded ammo are also on the menu. They are also a major producer of reloading tools and equipment.

The Hornady Handbook Of Cartridge Reloading [get yourself the newest eddition] is a manual that contains the usual reloading information plus some reloading tips. Case dimensions are also included, along with the type of gun used. The latest book contains over 1000 pages. In the back, there is a glossary and other useful info.

Keep in mind that the bullet makers use their own bullets when developing the data. That’s not a bad thing but something to keep in mind.

Like the other manuals, they list the type of gun and barrel length, which is desirable information. They list their bullet’s sectional density and ballistic coefficient, which is important information when selecting a bullet for a specific purpose. For purchase info on the Hornady – Handbook Of Cartridge Reloading.

Hornady - Handbook Of Cartridge Reloading
Hornady – Handbook Of Cartridge Reloading

Hodgdon Annual Manual Reloading

The Hodgdon powder company doesn’t produce bullets but makes a large selection of gunpowder. In addition, they own the IMR powder company and recently picked up the Goex black powder line. They also own the Vihtavuori and Winchester powder lines. In addition, they market Pyrodex and Triple 7’s, and White Hots, which are tablets, so they cover any gun powder solutions you might need.

The Hodgdon Powder Co. – Annual Reloading manual is a softcover magazine-style reloading book that is updated yearly and contains a few articles on reloading as well as over 5,000 loads covering all of the modern rounds. The nice thing is they use different brands of bullets and specify the bullet used in that load. The powder selection is also outstanding, and did I mention they update the issue annually? For the thrifty buyer, this is the manual to purchase. Click here for info on purchasing the Hodgdon Powder Co. – Annual Reloading Manual.

Hodgdon Powder Co. - Annual Reloading Manual
Hodgdon Powder Co. – Annual Reloading Manual

Lyman Reloading Handbook

Lyman has been around since the 19th century. They produced and still make reloading tools and molds. Their company is also marketing such items as chronographs and bore lights. They also produce a cast bullet manual, and I would highly recommend it for the cast bullet reloading buff. The regular manual has info on reduced and cast bullets as well. The Lyman manual is over 450 pages and is full size at 8 &1/2” X 11 hardback. Black powder guns are among some of the other items available; for more info or to buy a copy of the Lyman Reloading Handbook.

Lyman Reloading Handbook
Lyman Reloading Handbook

Barnes Bullets Reloading Manual

Since lead-free bullets are becoming popular, the Barnes reloading book should be on your reloading bookshelf. They have been making copper and brass bullets for some years and have a good reputation. A pure copper bullet is longer than a cup and core of the same weight and shape. That means that the loading data may be different.

Fred Barnes who made premium bullets in his basement started the company in 1932. Later on they started making the copper bullets and muzzle loading projectiles.

I have been to the Barns factory, and their equipment and quality control are first quality. They now make some loaded ammo and sell their bullets to other companies.

Barnes Reloading Manual Number 30745
Barnes Reloading Manual Number 30745

As much as the thrifty side of me hates to admit it, all serious reloaders, both beginner and expert, should have my top picks for best reloading manuals above their gun bench.

Reloading Manual / Ammunition Data FAQ’s

Q: What is the newest edition of the Hornady reloading manual?

A: You can check the Hornady website for info on the latest reloading handbook online with this link.

Q: What is the newest Nosler reloading Manual?

A: You can find out what is the current Nolser Reloading Manual with the following search with this link here at www.nosler.com.

Q: What is the most recent addition to the Lyman Reloading Handbook?

A: You can check the LymanProducts.com website for the most recent reloading book online with this link here.

Q: Is the Hornady Ammunition reloading app free?

A: While the app is free to download and explore, there is a fee, but you only pay for the load information you want and need! More Hornady reloading app info is found here.

Q: What is the best reloading manual for beginners?

A: A great reloading guide that is easy to read for new reloaders is the Hodgdon Annual Reloading Manual. It comes in magazine form. See our review above.

Q: What happened to the Hodgdon reloading data website?

A: In the last year, Hodgdon has rebuilt its online ammunition reloading data center to make it easier to use. Give it a try online here.

Q: Where can I find handloading data for Federal Premium ammunition products?

A: Federal Premium ammunition maintains an online website of current load data with handy downloadable PDF forms online at www.federalpremium.com.

Q: Is “Free Reloading Data” found online safe to use?

A: As with all ammo or bullet reloading, it is safest to get the most current and accurate information directly from the most current manual or manufacturer’s website.

About Bob Shell

A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting, and Related Subjects. Visit: www.bobshellsblog.blogspot.com

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Left out Lee.

Holds patents on lots of reloading tools (some sold by competition).

Espouses volumetric powder measurement (like the manufacturers use on high speed equipment, not weight measurements).

The Lee Reloading Manual has tons of information about why and how.


lee should have been included he is talking about beginners and,many people start with a lee loader which is the most basic form of cartridge loading, it is a copy of 1800s cartridge loading made in a convenient???? package , all hands on; best place to start slow methodical


As with anything related to loading ammunition check your info by using two different sources of information.

WI Patriot

Left out Nosler…


There are a lot of books to choose from and some of the ones I use and have are not listed. One thing that I have noticed is that on almost all loads with identical powder, projectile and primers, the max load has come down from it’s original posting. I have a reloading manual from Hornady that is from 1979 that I still use. I have the newest Hornady edition too because I use Hornady projectiles. With these two books I can compare the drop in the load specs for powder with all factors exactly the same. I use a… Read more »