5 Best Reloading Manuals [UPDATED]

by Tom Moore

May 29, 2023



You need to consider investing in a reloading manual when purchasing reloading equipment. If you want to make high-quality ammo, it starts with choosing the best reloading manual (for your needs) to learn the safest and most effective way to reload.

However, not all reloading manuals are the same. As you’re about to see, there are actually a couple that I think are worth it, and others that aren’t so much.

It’s for this reason, that after going through most of the most well-known reloading manuals that I created this list of my recommended top 5.

But before we get into that, I wanted to cover a couple of things – reloading, and whether a manual is necessary.

How to Properly Reload!

A newly manufactured round should have the correct bullet weight and dimensions. This can easily affect the ballistic coefficient of your ammo. 

For this reason, purchasing the best reloading manual that contains the most detailed information on what you’re looking for is crucial. That will keep you safe when shooting with your friends/family.

Also! If you are entirely new to guns and need a place to start, Gun University has a helpful introduction to get you started.

Do you need a reloading manual?

Yes, you need a reloading manual if you are new to reloading or want to improve your reloading skills. No matter your reloading experience, both beginner and advanced reloaders should own a reloading manual.

The specifications of mass-produced ammo will vary with different brands and the standards they use, so many choose to reload instead.

Before attempting such a detailed procedure, a beginner should study the steps and adjustments. Experts can continually improve their craft, particularly if they’re reloading for competition or long-range shooting.

Best Reloading Manuals: a Rundown

Okay, so now that we covered that, let’s jump right in to the top reloading manuals in order from best to worst.

  1. Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual
  2. Sierra 5th Edition Rifle Handgun Reloading Manual
  3. The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition
  4. Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition
  5. Hornady 11th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading

Best Reloading Manuals

Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual
  • First Lyman reloading handbook made in full color
  • Include data from other brands into its guide for a fuller picture
On Amazon
Sierra 5th Edition Rifle Handgun Reloading Manual
  • Presented as a 3-ring binder, allows for note-taking
  • Contains a non-traditional chapter with FAQ answers
On Amazon
The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition
  • Only book on this list that isn’t technically a manual
  • Most affordable option on Amazon
On Amazon
Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition
  • Over 1,000 load combinations
  • Good for beginners and veteran reloaders alike
On Amazon
Hornady 11th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading
  • Covers 200+ different calibers that feature multiple load combinations
  • Can be acquired through the Hornady Reloading App
On Amazon

Best Reloading Manual Reviews

Okay, now that we’ve gone over this list, in the below section, I’m going to cover why I placed them in that order, and give some details on each. That way, if you’re on the fence or not sure why one is listed over another, you can check this out.

1. Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual


Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual

The first Lyman reloading handbook to be printed in full color. It also contains info from other brands.

Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual

Considered a “must-own for every reloader,” Lyman has a long-standing tradition of providing comprehensive information about the reloading process. The Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual continues that tradition.

What is the best reloading manual? There’s no better option than the Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook. Due to the extensive coverage of reloading data on its pages, Lyman’s most updated manual is widely considered the best reloading manual.

Lyman’s manual contains the largest selection of bullets, powders, and cast bullets out of any competing reloading book. This is thanks to the data given from brands like Hodgdon, Nosler, Speer, and Creedmoor.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started, or if you’re a well-seasoned reloader. Everyone can find something to offer in Lyman’s 50th Edition Reloading Manual.

Sierra 6th Edition Rifle Handgun Reloading Manual Review

Sierra’s extremely popular 5th Edition Reloading Manual just got an upgrade. This brand-specific how-to covers many topics, like cartridges, terminology, and comprehensive instructions on performing the reloading process.

Although you might ignore this option if you don’t use Sierra ammo, it still contains a lot of unique information about bullet dynamics, firearm cleaning, and much more.

Sierra makes exceptional bullets. If you use their ammo, this reloading handbook will make a valuable addition to your bookshelf.

3. The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition

The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition_best-reloading-manuals

The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition

This tome of knowledge isn’t really a manual. It’s more of a guide, and it’s the most affordable book of its type on Amazon.

The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition Review

This is an excellent addition to your collection if you’re just getting started in the reloading practice or if you are wary of spending too much money. The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition is more of a self-help book than a reloading manual.

In this guide, you’ll find information on cartridges, primers, bullets, gunpowder, and the entire reloading process.

Although this is the only reloading book on this list without load data, it is a helpful tool for beginners and the dollar-conscious.

4. Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition

Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition_best-reloading-manuals

Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition

Good for beginners and veteran reloaders alike, this manual has over 1,500 load combinations.

Lee Precision Modern Reloading 2nd Edition Review

Lee Precision’s 2nd Edition Modern Reloading manual is written in an easy-to-read format with many helpful drawings and diagrams. It’s primarily written for handgun owners who are just starting to reload.

Lee’s manual includes an in-depth analysis of load data given by the powder companies themselves. Although it may not be the best option for rifle owners, Lee is still one of the best options for those looking for an in-depth introduction to all things reloading.

5. Hornady 11th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading

Hornady 11th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading_best-reloading-manuals

Hornady 11th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading

Covers more than 200 different calibers with multiple load combinations and works well with the Hornady Reloading App.

Hornady 11th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading Review

The second book on our list to acquire a recent upgrade from their popular 10th edition (already a significant update from their 9th edition), Hornady released their 11th Edition manual filled with over 1,000 pages. 1,500+ load combinations were shot and tested to guarantee reliability.

This manual is made primarily for Hornady bullets and equipment. If you intend on purchasing their well-acclaimed presses or reloading kits, this would be a wise addition to your library.

Although there are many books on this list for novices, this reloading handbook is helpful to veterans and beginners alike.

Advantages of Reloading Manuals

A reloading guide offers must-have advantages, like step-by-step instruction on modern reloading, increased safety knowledge, and confidence that you’re the best reloader you can be.

The reloading process requires lots of components and tedious adjustments, some that are easily forgotten. A quality handloading manual teaches you every facet of the process that you need to know, and it’s structured in a way that allows you to easily digest information.

I recommend that beginners choose a handbook that covers a wide variety of load data, as well as the step-by-step safety precautions for just starting out.

On the other hand, experienced reloaders should purchase a reloading book that focuses on the reloading information they want to become more familiar with. For example, an expert may need specific load data on rifle calibers or details on a section of a shotshell.

How accurate is reloading ammo? Reloading ammo is very accurate, especially if you use a single-stage reloading press, which is slower but more precise. Other ways to increase reloading accuracy are precise powder scales, powder tricklers, and an in-depth reloading manual.

If you’re less worried about long-range precision, and more worried about swift, high-volume reloading, spring for a progressive reloading press.

Is reloading cheaper than buying ammo? Yes, reloading is cheaper than buying ammo, particularly if you’re on the range a lot. Reloading allows you to catch deals on components along the way, and remember, ammo prices don’t seem to be going down.

How to Safely Reload Ammo

It’s crucial for new reloaders to understand that reloading ammo takes time and practice to master. If performed improperly, reloading may prove to be unsafe. I recommend you purchase a reloading manual before attempting to craft your own ammo to maximize safety and efficiency.

8 safety tips for reloading:

  1. The number one danger of reloading: not putting enough powder in your case preparation. If there’s not enough powder, the bullet can get stuck in the barrel. If you try to shoot again, the gun can literally explode. Always put enough powder in your casings.
  2. What is the best way to prevent a fire while reloading? The best way to prevent any sort of fire or accident while reloading is to follow manufacturer guidelines and to follow a detailed reloading manual at all times. Also, avoid nearby open flames or heating filaments.
  3. Do not reload while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  4. Always wear eye protection. It’s an easy way to minimize risk of eye irritation.
  5. Do not store primers in bulk. Also, don’t force primers into place or into a container.
  6. How often should I clean my press? Although some reloaders are messier than others, I recommend you clean your reloading press and reloading equipment every 700-900 loads.
  7. Is it illegal to reload ammo? It is legal to reload ammo as long as the reloader is not profiting off their ammunition without an FFL (Federal Firearms License).
  8. Is it safe to reload in the house? Yes, it is safe to reload ammo indoors where no open flame is present. As long as you reload according to safety standards, powder and primers are not dangerous on their own. (Vacuums won’t trigger any stray powder.) However, if you live with others, it’s wise to check what they’re comfortable with. In my experience, many wives prefer reloading to stay in the garage.

Choosing the Right Manual

One of the most important aspects to look for when choosing the right reloading manual is an extensive section on load data. Load data varies in each manual, due to the specifications of bullet brands, such as powder manufacturers’ recommended measurements and new cartridges.

What are some of the most popular powders to reload with? Some of the most popular powder brands to reload with include:

  • Hodgdon
  • IMR
  • Alliant
  • Winchester

While you may use general information within the text universally, most manuals are exclusive to their own products when it comes to the specific recipes and procedures of making different types of ammo.

Free Reloading Manuals [Online PDF Downloads]

Planning on purchasing a reloading press? A reloading manual is a must-have.

If you are interested in checking out some more basic or out-of-date reloading manuals, Lyman 44th Edition and PBC’s Basic Reloading Manual are available as free online downloads.


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About Tom Moore

Tom is one of our content writers at Gun University. When Tom isn't behind the keyboard, he participates regularly in NRL22 and IPSC. You'll often find him out hunting with his mates or camping with his family.

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