Old school reloading manuals. Which ones to buy?

Not open for further replies.


Sep 26, 2010
Hey everyone. I love having multiple reloading manuals, but manuals these days seem to leave a lot of the "OLDER" powders from IMR and Alliant out. I have an opportunity to buy several old manuals from Hornady. I currently have the 8th and 9th addition from hornady. Is there much difference between the 5th, 6th, and 7th additions? Are there any other manuals out there I should be looking for. I mainly load for 9mm, 10mm, 45ACP, 45 colt and 454 casull. Thanks in advance!

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
For the cartridges you reload for, I doubt the older manuals will give you different useful information.

Hodgdon puts out a magazine yearly you can acquire economically. In the back it lists loads with IMR and Hodgdon powders for NUMEROUS rifle, shotgun and pistol cartridges and it will list the newest powders that are appropriate for the cartridge you're loading for.
If what you are looking for is load data, I would (and have) relied upon on line sites for the various powder manufacturers for their products. There is such a wide variation minimum and maximum loads anyway among the various sources that we have to do our own homework in finding the best load for a particular bullet with a particular powder. Alliant is the only free load book that I have seen that gives the recommended load for a particular caliber, but even that needs work since it will be listed for a particular twist and barrel length. Nosler's manual will give a "best" for the particular Nosler bullet, with the same caveat about twist and length.

What i do is as follows with a new bullet or powder.

1. Do seating depth test as in Berger article, lands, then .04 apart off the lands.
2. With my best, I then take the minimum and maximum loads across all the manuals and on line date available to me.
3. I then do 4 shot groups at 100 yards with .4 grain difference between groups from minimum to maximum. BTW I have a .223 Savage F/TR w. 7 twist and 30" barrel.
4. I pick the best and then narrow down between the best and .2 increments both ways on another day.
5. Then, on another day, narrow down until I get either a perfect or near perfect load.

I found that my best loads bore little relation to recommended loads from some makers or the maximum or minimum for a given manufacturer of powder or bullets.

I NEVER exceed the maximum listed in any powder manufacturer's range.
Thank you for the replies gentlemen!

I have been reloading for a long time now. I do as you do fotheringill. Regardless of what bullet I am using, I always compare across manufacturers. All my reloading manuals, and online data.

What I am finding, is that there were a lot of old cowboy loads using shotgun powders that are not so popular today. Some of these powders I absolutely love. Take IMR 800X for example. It is one of my favorite powers. There used to be a lot of data out there for the 45 colt using 800x. Even up to Ruger only loads. I have gone past listed "standard" maximums for 800x in the 45 colt. But it is always nice to have old data to make you feel warm and fuzzy when shooting over the chrony.

I know the dos and don'ts. And I also know I can't always trust old data. I am very safe in my reloading practices.
Not much difference in previous versions of Hornady's manuals. Some bullets added, new calibers in the latest manuals. Only if you just want to increase your books on your library shelf would it be worthwhile. I have all the manuals you listed. Some sources such as old Lyman's manuals cover more old powder but many of the old powders are extinct. I find old Hercules Reloaders Guides useful. Hercules, now Alliant, used to include data for many generic bullets while today most Alliant data such as pistol data only tests Gold Dot bullets. Old Hercules guides are available on-line by a few sources. If you can find a great low price then you can collect old reloading manuals if you want but the usefulness over the latest manuals is iffy. I recommend collecting the latest newest manuals. Lyman 50th for example. Some old Winchester Guides are helpful, available on-line too. The old IMR Handloaders Guides are very good and unique for IMR powders. Google search and download it. I used to look forward every year to IMR, Hercules, and Winchester Guides and collected them. They kept up with the new powders that they introduced.
Last edited:
I have A LOT of old load manuals that's have bought over the years. I have Lyman/Ideal Speer and a few from Hodgdon. I also have almost every current manual.

If old data from discontinued powders and data for forgotten cartridges is what you're looking for I would go with Lyman 46 and older. If it's handguns you're looking for the newer manuals will serve you well. Lyman 50 and Lyman 4th Edition Cast Bullet Handbook would be my choices.
Last edited:
Thank you for the comment! I have many new manuals, but I have not seen the Lyman cast manual! I'll look for that one.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
Thank you for the comment! I have many new manuals, but I have not seen the Lyman cast manual! I'll look for that one.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
Midway USA has it on sale right now. If you load Cast bullets like I do it is a must IMO.


I also have the 3rd Edition which was published in 1980 but the current one is better which is a good thing.

I use this Alliant manual often:


The only data that Alliant has back-peddled on is listed in this warning:

"During the latest review Alliant Powder discovered that Alliant Powder's Blue Dot® should not be used in the following applications:

Blue Dot® should NOT be used in the 357 Magnum load using the 125 grain projectile (Blue Dot® recipes with heavier bullet weights as specified in Alliant Powders Reloading Guide are acceptable for use).

Blue Dot® should NOT be used in the 41 Magnum cartridge (all bullet weights)."


This manual was in fact hosted at the ATK (Alliant) site till they posted this warning for Blue Dot...
Thank you for all the replies guys! I found a hirnady 6tg edition for 8 bucks, picked up the cast lyman book and printed off the above alliant book. They'll will be a good addition for now!

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
I recommend Ken Waters' Pet Loads. This book is a compilation of articles that Ken wrote in Handloader magazine, starting in 1966. He experimented with many of the older rifle and handgun cartridges. 1,166 pages of notes on the development of over 150 cartridges, spanning about 35 years. A must have for any reloader of older cartridges.
You can buy a Lyman 49th thru WalMart.com for $17.xx. Ships free to your closest Wally World store.
I buy any manual I don't have already. A lot of the data is overlapping but so what. I also search out manuals online. I have 50+ powder manufacturer's manuals in my Dropbox account. I grab the new ones every year from the manufacturer's websites. I also print out loads from Hodgdon's site. You can never have enough load data to cross reference.
Thanks for all the replies guys! I have been using the Lyman 49th for some time now, and I very much like it. I just bought the cast lyman manual and an old hornady manual. I can't agree more about having multiple manuals. It's always a good idea to check multiple sources.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
I collect the older manuals, and learn a lot from them.
Suggest that you use the most current data available, as I think lawyers are now
writing them. Seriously, current data uses new powders and more precise
pressure measurements.
If there's anything you're looking for, I've just inherited a very large collection of reloading manuals from the 80's-90's. Message me with what you want, and I'll check if I've got it in the boxes. You pay for shipping, and they're yours.
Not open for further replies.