Handloading Manual: Speer or Sierra?


January 11, 2006, 09:53 AM
It's time for a new manual. My Speer #9 and Lyman #45 seem to be outdated with many powders not available now and powders available now not included. For those of you who have the new manuals which do you recommend? I reload mostly .38 special and .45acp with Titegroup, so I want a manual that has bullets tested with this powder. I also load 30-06 for a Garand with IMR4320 (have 7# left) and will soon be loading for .45 Colt. I like the Speer #9 better than the Lyman manual for it's cartridge descriptions, but like the Lyman better than the Speer for it's cast bullet data.

All recomendations are appreciated even if it's not for Speer or Sierra. Thanks!

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January 11, 2006, 09:59 AM
Just don't do what I did - throw out the old manuals.:banghead: It is incredible how many times I wish I had one of them back for some particular loading data. I find I need to have several manuals on hand - Hornady, Speer, and Lee. It seems like I am always loaning out one or the other it also insures I have at least one on hand when I want to look up something.

January 11, 2006, 10:04 AM
i like speer #13 better than sierra.
sierra's data generally is quite a bit more conservative than speer's. however, sierra lists quite a few more powder combinations. still, as of now, speer #13 seems to be the most accurate manual i have, regarding what truly is a max load, and what powder will work the best...

January 11, 2006, 10:10 AM
I have Speer, Sierra, Nosler, and Lymans 48th...as well as several others that I have downloaded off the net (Winchester, Vihtavouri and a few others)

I like the Lyman out of them all due to the fact that they list a larger number of bullets of diffrent manufacturers as well as cast bullet loads. Plus they list several loadings for Contender and Encore pistol calibers as well as some semi-obsolete calibers that are coming back into BPCR and CAS events.

Between the Sierra and Speer...I would go with the Sierra...much more data and the fact that it comes in a very nice binder instead of a bound-style book.


January 11, 2006, 10:19 AM
I have all my manuals back to 1963, when I first started loading. Never discard an old manual.

For a new one, for the calibers you listed, I would go with the Lyman 48th Edition and add the Lyman Pistol and Revolver Manual, 3rd Edition. There is ample data in those, but personally, I have all the manuals by all the major manufacturers. You can never have too many manuals, or too much information.

Hope this helps.


January 11, 2006, 10:23 AM
Lee has a good manual. Get one of each:D

January 11, 2006, 11:15 AM
I like my Lyman #48

January 11, 2006, 11:47 AM
I have all my manuals back to 1963, when I first started loading. Never discard an old manual.

For a new one, for the calibers you listed, I would go with the Lyman 48th Edition and add the Lyman Pistol and Revolver Manual, 3rd Edition.

I really appreciate all the advice I've been getting. The Lyman #48 is moving to the top of the list. What's in the Pistol and Revolver Manual that's not included in their 48th edition? It could be the P&R (bad acromym) manual may be all I need since my Garand load is pretty well set.

January 11, 2006, 01:26 PM
The Pistol & Revolver Manual goes into much more detail and gives quite a few additional load combinations. For instance, in the .38 Special, there are 90 listings in the 48th Lyman Reloading Handbook. In the Pistol & Revolver Handbook, there are 126 listings.

It it's more information about loading handgun rounds that you're seeking, then you can't go wrong with the Lyman 3rd Edition Pistol & Revolver Handbook. It's a good investment, since it covers both cast and jacketed bullets and most of the newer powders.

Hope this helps.


January 11, 2006, 03:55 PM
Both great manuals and I'd feel lost without both on my bench. If Titegroup is going to be your choice,a good choice I might add, get the Hodgdon manual as well. The Lee manual is very good too.I added manuals in this order: 1) Speer
2) Nosler
3) Midway caliber spec.Loadbooks(out of print)
4) Hodgdon
5) Accurate Arms
6) Sierra
7) Lee
8) Lyman
9) Pet Loads
If I had it to do over again I would still have them all but would acquire them in a slightly different order. That being :
1) Lee- many options on powder and bullets
2) Speer-limited to speer bullets
3) Sierra-many options on powder and bullets
4) Hodgdon-many Hodgdon recipes and a few using other powders
5) Pet Loads- old book but a wealth of knowledge in those pages
6) Lyman-
7) Midway-excellent source- many options (9mm,.38Spl,.357Mag,.44Mag,.45ACP)
8) Nosler- limited to Nosler bullets
9) Accurate Arms- limited to AA powders

January 11, 2006, 04:56 PM
Speer #13

January 11, 2006, 07:56 PM
In general, the Speer is a bit better than Sierra's IME and experience,,,,BUT the MOST EXCELLENT* Speer #13 is due for an update, based on their 4-year cycle (it's been 5).

IIRC, Sierra's latest is slightly more current for new powders. If you can afford it, buy both--this month, I'd buy Sierra first and wait for Speer #14.

*Dude!!! [Exellent Adventure reference, eh? (that one's Bob 'n Doug...)]

edited for silly spelling somewhere...

January 11, 2006, 07:59 PM
Of the two listed I like the Speer 13 but if you want to shoot Titegroup get the powder manufacturers model. They will always list a number of bullets tested with their powder.

The Bushmaster
January 11, 2006, 09:18 PM
I use a variaty of manuals...The most dog eared is my Lyman 48th edition...It's also where all my notes to myself end up...:D

January 11, 2006, 09:50 PM

Like most here, I use and compare a variety of manuals. I've kept most of the manuals that I've ourchased over the past 40 years.

My favorite two are the Sierra and Speer manuals. My DEFAULT reference has always been the Sierra when faced with very large load variations (between manuals) which at times becomes rediculous. If forced to have only one (credible) manual, it would be the Sierra. They know what they are doing.


January 11, 2006, 10:47 PM
Might want to wait on the Speer book, they said a new one is in the works and should be out sometime this year. Updated powders and added calibers. Can't wait myself. I have all of the manuals also. Good to have more than one and the more the better.

January 11, 2006, 11:36 PM
I have ~50 load manuals, thanks to ebay:(

In my opinion:

1) The worst is Speer 12 and Speer 13.
The loads are bogus, won't blow you up, but a bad place to start if you are trying to understand how loads get developed.

2) The best for rifle is the Sierra load book [or Quickload software].

3) The best for pistol is the free info from the powder distributors:
Accurate Arms

January 13, 2006, 01:17 PM
Clark, I agree with you that the Speer #13 book loads won't blow you up. IME, that's a *good* thing.

Here's part of why. An older Speer manual recommended 21.5 grains of 296 with a 125-grain JHP in .357 Magnum. I did it, worked great and came close to the stated velocity. Pretty accurate too. Winchester's "use this and nothing else" load was 18.5 grains--the older Speer had that as max for one of my favorite bullets, their 146-gr SWCJHP. Used that one, too, for just under 1400 FPS out of a 4-inch gun! Plenty accurate as well--2 inches at 25 yards every time.

The guns I've fired them in all contained the pressures well, there was only the hint of resistance to extraction in one gun and all that....but....comparing primer flow with the hottest Federal and Remington factory loads (which fell out of all guns without even that hint of resistance to extraction) showed that the 296 reloads were most likely excessive in the pressure department--even with "hard" and supposedly flow-resistant CCI small magnum primers.

I later tried Winchester's now-defunct WAP powder in .357 Mag and found pressures as read through primer signs suspicious at or before I was getting 1200 fps with 125-gr JHPs. Then Speer #13 came out and had max loads right below levels were my pressure signs were up but my velocities were leveling out.

And the 21.5-gr 296 load was backed off. I attibute this to better testing protocols in the Speer #13.

However, that book HAS tended to be pretty bogus on the velocities you're supposed to get. They are all reported high by 75-100 fps, at least in .357 and, IIRC, .40 S&W. So, I've loaded slightly above their "max" by powder charge but stopped at the expected velocity for that barrel length and all testing has shown nice pressure signs, just like the factory ammo.

So, I trust the velocity targets in the Speer #13.

January 13, 2006, 01:28 PM
Oh, and Clark, I'm with you on the capabilities of the guns themselves. The safety margins are generous and I really appreciate your experiments into the failure limits of the guns you've blown up.

My only concern with all that is most likely answered by a metallurgist--if ammo spec is "A" PSI with "X" powder charge, and the elastic yeild failure of the gun or case is at "Y" powder charge and probably "B" PSI, then just what hazard is there in firing thousands of rounds of overloads at "Z" powder charge and a pressure of "A+B/2"?

Specs are specs, and the wisdom of using a brass case to hold over-spec pressures that the steel can withstand remains unanswered, to me at least.

Dave R
January 13, 2006, 01:56 PM
I like Speer No. 13 better. Its the only one I read for enoyment. The brief histories of the cartridges are well-written. The loads are a bit hotter, too.

January 13, 2006, 09:48 PM
I got the Hornady 2 book manual for Christmas and I realy like it. I also just got Speer #13 to go along with my Speer #12 (wanted the data on some new powders). I have looked at the Sierra's but wasn't impressed that it was a must have. I started reloading with Speer so I guess I am biased, but I prefer the ammount of data available from the Hornady manuals. I think any of them you get used to you can develop some nice loads though. Good luck

January 14, 2006, 02:12 AM

My number 1 choice is Speer #13, and I've got 'em back to #5. Number 2 is Hornady 6th edition. I've also got Nosler, Vihta, loadbooks, and the NRA Handloader's guide as well as many powder pamphlets.

A note concerning some of the above comments regarding Speer .357 loads over the years. Speer #11 did indeed have a published load of 21.6 grains of 296 with their 125 grain bullets. Speer #12 backed that off to 20.3 grains. What you have to realize is that Speer, and Hornady, use real guns, not test barrels, to develop their data. Therefore, it's a real good idea to look at the gun the data was developed in. Speer 11 lists its .357 loads as being worked up in a Ruger Security 6. Speer 12 says the loads were worked up in a S&W model 19.

:banghead: 900F

January 14, 2006, 03:36 AM
Speer and Sierra manuals give data for their bullets only. The Lyman manual is far more versatile. Mind you, it's $50 up here.

January 14, 2006, 06:55 AM
I like the Speer Manual, but I like the Hornady manual even more. In my own limited experiance, it's been more accurate and I find it easier to read...

January 14, 2006, 07:27 AM
I'd buy the Sierra book just for the contents other than the load data.


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