Old reloading manuals and updated load data

J-B welder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Selkirk
So I've seen people recommend picking up old reloading manuals because you can often find them pretty cheap. My question is whether or not the load data in them ever becomes unreliable or outdated. Do the various companies that publish them ever re-test the powders and bullets listed, or do they just add data for new powders or bullets after they are introduced?

I ask because I saw a bundle of about eight or ten manuals but they are all 40 years old or more. Are they still reliable for developing loads, or should one be careful using data that old?
 

bigred1

Active Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Messages
43
I still use a 35 year old Sierra book and a Nosler #1. I believe that using the data for a specific brand of bullet is more important than the age of the data. That said you should compare the shape of the bullet as published in the old book with the shape of the newer bullets.
 

Varmint Hunter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2001
Messages
3,947
Location
Long Island, New York
The problem with old manuals is that they don't (can't) list any of the newer bullets and powders that are in common use today. And they obviously wouldn't have info on any of the new cartridges that have become so popular.

Some of the data in the older manuals is hotter than the newer manuals. Most manufacturers have gotten a bit more conservative with max loads IMO.
 
Last edited:

RT2506

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
Messages
2,143
The real name for them should be GUIDES. They are only GUIDES. Don't matter what the max charge they list is when you get some experience under your belt and have a reliable chronograph to give you a good idea of where your pressure is by how the case looks and what the chronograph is telling you the velocity is for YOUR rifle. I have an OLD Speer book that give some powder charges that it would be hard to get that much powder in a case without tapping the case or putting it on your vibration tumbler. I could not even get close to some of these loads before pressure was way too much.
 

Pmacc60

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2013
Messages
386
I still use a 35 year old Sierra book and a Nosler #1. I believe that using the data for a specific brand of bullet is more important than the age of the data. That said you should compare the shape of the bullet as published in the old book with the shape of the newer bullets.
I love my old Sierra manual !
 

Skimbleshanks

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
459
Location
Willamette Vally
I use a number of old manuals. I also use a number of new manuals at the same time. I try to find an average throughout the data. Just an example but If 1 manual says 65 grains is max but the other 4 manuals im looking at say 59-62 grains is max, I probably wont try loading to 65. And if I do it will be with extreme caution.
 

Pmacc60

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2013
Messages
386
The real name for them should be GUIDES. They are only GUIDES. Don't matter what the max charge they list is when you get some experience under your belt and have a reliable chronograph to give you a good idea of where your pressure is by how the case looks and what the chronograph is telling you the velocity is for YOUR rifle. I have an OLD Speer book that give some powder charges that it would be hard to get that much powder in a case without tapping the case or putting it on your vibration tumbler. I could not even get close to some of these loads before pressure was way too much.
I like the old manuals because over the years some cartridges get dropped. It’s a stroll down memory lane for me and a valuable resource . Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to look back and remember how it use to be.
 

RT2506

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
Messages
2,143
Yes I still use my old manuals also. The first manual I bought was the #10 Speer when it came out about 1979 and still have it. I also picked up a Speer #8 at a book sale years ago. Talk about some wild loads, it has them. The Sierra 4th which I love with the suggested accuracy and hunting loads that are usually about spot on for accuracy is the one that I still use most. I have the newer one #5 but it list a lot of Viht powders that I don't have, can't get easy and will not pay that price. Most of the stuff that I hand load for I have done it for YEARS and if it ain't broke I don't try to fix it. Only thing in the past few years that I did not have load data for that I started shooting is the 6.5 Grendel. I did a lot of internet surfing of the powder and bullet companies to get data and I bought a Hodgdon annual manual that had good data for it. I also cheated and took a few pictures with my phone camera of a couple newer manuals that were in Bass Pro Shop of the data for it.
 

J-B welder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Selkirk
Thanks for the continued replies. I was able find digital copies of the Hornady #4 and Lyman #48 manuals, as well as the 2004 edition of ABCs of Reloading. Working my way through the Lyman guide to start, noting that it doesn't include Hybrid 100v or StaBALL 6.5, which are the two powders I've been working with under the tutelage of a reloading friend. Maybe by the time I've read all three there will be some powder on the local shelves again.
 

Recent Posts

Top