Updated: August 05, 2020

Ok, so, truth be told, very few people really like to read. It’s the dinosaur in our educational system as television, computers, smart phones, and social media accounts have become the only thing that most people really like to pay attention to anymore. It’s a rather sad commentary on the state of our country.

However, reading is an essential skill to have, especially when you are trying to figure out how to use a product that you have purchased or to follow a set of directions that explain how to properly use something. This is true of those who are looking to reload their own cartridges, where making one small mistake could cause your weapon to malfunction, maybe even get you hurt.

If you are an avid gun enthusiast as I am, then you are probably aware that following the directions for reloading your cartridges is absolutely essential. It’s the way to be safe, and this is why it is important to follow the manuals that teach you how to properly reload your ammunition.

Top 10 Reloading Manuals You Must Have to Own

Now that you have some idea of what to look for in a reloading manual, here are some of the very best examples that I found. Not only for those who are beginners, but for those who are more experienced loaders who need just a little bit of instruction but not too detailed of instructions.

#1 Complete Guide to Handloading – 3rd Edition : Best All Around Reloading Manual

Complete Guide to Handloading - Third Edition Review This has been one of the best guides to handloading that you can find on the market. This third edition is one of the best references for any person looking to do some serious reloading, because it is one of the most accurate and detailed in terms of the instructions that are provided.

It is even amazing that somewhat antiquated or obsolete cartridges are included, which makes it probably the most all-encompassing guide you are going to find. For a person who has been added for a while, this is a great guide that will provide you with virtually any information you may be looking for.

The one caution I will give is that many of the techniques that are described in this are not used as much today. Today’s methods of measuring the different pressure, for example, is much more accurate than what the guide itself provides in this book. Plus, some powders have changed in comparison to today.

However, this is still a great book that has invaluable information for you to use, and is one that I have had on my shelf since the first day I began to start reloading my own ammunition. It is the perfect gift for any hunter or marksman’s shelf.

#2 Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual

Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual Review Lyman is a name that has been involved in reloading since the 19th century, so this is the kind of company that you can have confidence in the materials that they have created. This includes in this incredible reloading manual which is one of the best and most popular on the market.

You will find one of the very best sections that is on the market in terms of load data. This is one of the most comprehensive guides that you are going to find, which not only provides you with valuable information but gives you in-depth instructions on exactly how you need to reload each kind of cartridge.

Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced person, you are going to truly love the instructions that are provided. The upgraded book has newer cartridges, such as the 6.5 Grendel, the 300 block out, the 300 RCM, and the 450 bushmaster. These along with the comprehensive explanations of virtually every other cartridge that has been on the market.

Lyman has long established itself as a company that you can depend upon to provide you with valuable information when it comes to reloading, and you will be pleased that you reached out to purchase this one. It’s one of the best on the market and easy to find what information you’re looking for.

#3 Modern Reloading Second Edition Hardcover – 2004

Modern Reloading Second Edition Review This is a great guide that provides detailed information for rifles, pistols, and shotshell loading. There were 8000 different sets of instructions included on how to load different cartridges. What you can count on is that these are methods and instructions that have been tested for decades, and each one of them provides the highest level of safety as well as accuracy.

The guide is created to make it easy to follow and easy to find the information you need. I really like how logical the format of this guide is, making it so that finding the load you desire is easy. Plus, instructions are given in measurements that are easy for you to be able to determine.

Included are cartridge drawings that provide you with complete dimensions and easy to follow step-by-step instructions. You will find all the data you could need for modern cartridges as well as for most of the older cartridge styles.

While Lee is the company that made this guide, it provides information for virtually every kind of cartridge you would one out there. Lee does get the most prominent position, but don’t be discouraged by that. You could be sure you’re getting what you’re looking for.

#4 Sierra 5th Edition Rifle Handgun Reloading Manual Books : Best Reloading Manual for Beginners

Sierra 5th Edition Rifle Handgun Reloading Manual Review This is the ultimate guide for a beginner. A person who is brand-new to the reloading process is someone who is looking for a complete manual, not just data necessary for reloading. They need a lot of information to learn exactly what they need to do to be able to properly reload the cartridges safely, and this guide is exactly what you are looking for.

Included are several different references that provide information that you may have regarding how to reload, and there are a wide number of topics that are covered, including the kind of equipment you need along with its use, safety precautions to take, the load data you need to know, plus much more.

I love you that this book went over the top in terms of how it explained things. The truth is that too much information is much better than not enough information. That is the attitude that is taken with this manual, which is something you will truly appreciate.

Because this is such a detail oriented guide for beginners, don’t get the wrong impression. There is a great deal of information here for virtually every kind of cartridge a person may want to use. This is a thorough guide that a person with virtually any level of expertise would enjoy using. Truly a winner to say the least.

#5 Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition: With Space & Money Saving Tips

Beginner's Guide to Reloading Ammunition Review If you are a person who has very little understanding of how to reload cartridges, you are going to find this to be the ideal guide for reloading your ammunition. There are detailed sets of instructions first of all explaining all of the different components that go into creating ammunition, as well as detailing how you use these parts to be able to reload a cartridge.

Every facet of the reloading process is described in detail, ensuring you are getting a valuable set of information each and every time. There is a detailed set of instructions for every kind of cartridge that is included in the book, and you will find that the vast majority of cases are included in here, including for pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

It is true that most of this guide is geared toward the reloading of metallic cartridges, but there is a chapter specifically on reloading shotgun ammunition. There are step-by-step instructions to ensure that you’re getting your full money’s worth and so that you can reload your ammunition safely every time.

What you’re going to find is that after you have followed these instructions a time or two that you will feel like an expert. It really is that easy to follow them, and you will find that it does not take long to master the process because of the way it is described in this book. There really is no sense wasting your money on any other guide.

#6 Speer 9515 Reloading Manual Number 14

Speer 9515 Reloading Manual Number 14 Review This is a book that is written to be component specific, ensuring that you are getting accurate instructions that you can count on to be precise each and every time. However, it is geared mainly towards products made by Speer, so if you do not have these components you may find this guide difficult to use.

Regardless of what kind of components you have, one thing you can count on is that the information that is provided for beginners is exceptional. You will find that if you are a complete beginner to the reloading process, there is invaluable information that can assist you in developing skills to become a better reloader.

For those who are using the Speer components, there is really no other guide you should purchase them this one. Each component you can use is described perfectly within this book, giving you detailed instructions and drawings that show you exactly how to use it in the reloading process.

Included are helpful tips and instructions, which are valuable for a person of any reloading experience. For a beginner, you will find the safety tips to be an invaluable guide that can help you to avoid any kind of mishap or waste. A fantastic guide you will truly love.

#7 Lyman Shotshell Handbook 5Th Edition : Best Shotshell Reloading Manual

Lyman Shotshell Handbook 5Th Edition Review If you are a person who needs to reload shotgun shells there are great options out there for all-inclusive manuals, but you may be looking for something that is shotgun specific, and this is the perfect book for you. You will find that there is a complete set of data for each kind of shotgun case, including the 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauges as well as the .410 bore.

Included is all of the different loading data you would need for every one of the major manufacturers of these cartridges. There are also special sections to explain to you about different components to use, including steel and non-toxic loads. There are articles from experts in the industry, men and women who have been reloading their cases and can provide you with invaluable tips to assist you to be efficient and safe.

You are going to find that from cover to cover there is useful information throughout this book. In fact, despite the fact that I have been doing this kind of reloading for nearly 45 years, there was some information here that I was unaware of. It had helped to dispel false information about reloading shotgun shells as well as provide detailed instruction on how to reload each kind of case.

If you are a beginner, you will love the fact that this provides the right kind of instructions to assist you in being able to reload your cartridges. Lyman has long established itself as one of the industry leaders and all products related to reloading, and this book is another fine example. You simply are not going to find as detailed of a manual for shotgun shell reloading as you will from this one.

#8 Hornady 10th Edition Reloading Handbook

Hornady 10th Edition Reloading Handbook Review
If you are planning to primarily use Hornady components, then this is the perfect manual for you to buy. The truth is that you don’t need a big book providing you with all kinds of information for components and cartridges if you don’t intend to use those components. Therefore, if Hornady is your choice then this is the guide for you.

Because of the fact that this is specifically geared towards this brand of products, there is a lot of detailed information that covers a wide range of topics related to Hornady products. There is a complete section included on service rifles, as well as the process of reloading each and every one of these cartridges.

The powders and what is needed to produce these bullets is discussed in a way that is easy for you to follow, including tables and images that are detailed and accurate. The velocity and powder charts are as good as it gets, and you will be amazed at how expansive the data is for the popular cartridges that are available on the market today.

The truth is that there is no reason for you to buy a huge guide full of information if you are not intending to use those cartridges or components. If you are a person who loves the Hornady brand for the components they make, then there is really no reason to go to any other manual than this one.

Comparison Chart

Reloading ManualProsCons
#1 Complete Guide to Handloading – Third Edition – Second Revision – A Treastise on Handloading for Pleasure Economy and Utility Hardcover – 1953
  • Detailed instructions that are easy to follow and precise
  • Well written book that has provided generations of people with the kinds of instructions they need for reloading
  • Perfect for those who use more antiquated types of cartridges
  • Extremely informative and complete
  • Doesn’t take into account today’s standards for measuring pressure
  • Some substances provided in the guide are different than what is used today
#2 Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual
  • Comprehensive guide with updated cartridges
  • Great for both beginners and advanced users.
  • Great for wide range of weapons
  • Detailed information makes it clear exactly what you need
  • Variations in powder measurements in comparison to manufacturer designed
  • Removed some of the less popular cartridges that are found in previous editions
  • Really didn’t need to include a history section
#3 Modern Reloading Second Edition Hardcover – 2004
  • Comprehensive guide that provides detailed information.
  • Great drawings that make the reloading process easy to follow.
  • Uses measurements and descriptions that are clear no matter what your level of expertise is
  • While it is a good guide for most products, it is clear that Lee gets a prominent position.
  • The instructions are a bit long-winded in spots, making it hard to continue to follow
#4 Sierra 5th Edition Rifle Handgun Reloading Manual Books
  • Great guide for beginners that provides detailed instructions that any person could follow
  • Comprehensive in terms of the kind of information it provides, as well as the number of cartridges it covers
  • Additional information provided as great resources for you
  • Easy to find the information you are looking for
  • This is a big book with a lot of information, which requires a much more heavy duty cover. Design of the book is way too cheap
  • Some of the information is far too outdated
#5 The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition: With Space and Money Saving Tips
  • Detailed instructions and information on components and cartridges
  • The perfect guide for a person who has no knowledge of reloading cartridges whatsoever
  • Covers a large array of different kinds of cartridges and cases
  • A lot of useful and basic information to help any beginner
  • If you have any knowledge of reloading you may find this book a bit tedious
  • Too much repeating of information within the book
  • Needed more detail on crimping and other specific elements of reloading
#6 Speer 9515 Reloading Manual Number 14
  • Great guide that is perfect for beginners
  • Detailed instructions and diagrams make it easy to follow
  • The perfect choice for those using Speer components
  • A lot less valuable if you are not using Speer products
  • Will likely require that you purchase additional guides, increasing the amount of money you have to spend
#7 Lyman Shotshell Handbook 5Th Edition
  • Provides information for the reloading of the vast majority of shotgun shell cases
  • Very detailed in the information it provides, and will give you a lot of inside information
  • Extremely informative and organized well
  • This is truly the Bible for those who are looking to learn how to reload shotgun shells
  • Sadly, a few different manufacturers are left out of this manual
  • Most of the lower cost shotshells are not included in this guide
#8 Hornady 10th Edition Reloading Handbook
  • A low-cost guide that is perfect for a person looking to meet their budget
  • The Hornady components, powders, and bullets are discussed in great detail
  • Fantastic charts and instructions that are easy to read and provide detailed information
  • The instructions are perfect for those who are less knowledgeable about reloading ammunition
  • The load data that is provided is often on the conservative side
  • This is a manual that is really only useful for those using Hornady components

How to Make the Perfect Choice?

Just like every product on the market, not every reloading manual you find is going to be the same. There are some that are significantly better so I first wanted to give you some information on what to look for in a good reloading manual. Here are some things to consider:

  • Calibers. When you are determining the reloading manual for yourself, you want to start by ensuring that it provides the information you need for reloading the caliber weapons you have. This means that if you are reloading older style weapons, you need a guide that has that kind of valuable information, or if a specific kind of cartridge needs to be reloaded that it gives detailed information for you.
  • Level of Expertise. One of the most important things to consider when purchasing any reloading manual is that it offers you detailed instructions as if you are a beginner. The likelihood is that you need this manual because you are trying to learn how to properly reload a certain caliber round, so it should start from scratch and be detailed to ensure that you are safely abiding by the process to reload the cartridge.
  • Powders/Bullets. It should give you a detailed description of exactly what kinds of powders and bullets are needed for every cartridge you are seeking. This should include such things as powder tolerances, as well as specifications related to the manufacturer.
  • Type of Components You Use. What you will find in some manuals is that they are designed for a specific kind of weapon or brand-name. If you are a person who uses a wide range of components or who requires information for several different kinds of cartridges, you need to look at a more comprehensive manual.
  • Images. Level of expertise is not the only concern you have. Sometimes being told what to do is not good enough. You may require diagrams or images to help you to understand exactly what you need to do and where you need to do it.
  • Up to Date Info. There is also the concern that the manual you are buying provides you with up-to-date information on the newest cartridges or the newest techniques that are available for reloading. Some of the older manuals do not provide this kind of information, so make sure that it has what you need to properly perform any task.
Michel Pedneault

Michel Pedneault

Michel Pedneault has been blogging for more than three decades. He is one of the former lead writer of Tribunnews.com. He wrote thousand of reviews on various tools & gears. He is fond of travelling, adventures and discovering new things. You can reach him at twitter @pedneault

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