Speer Reloading Manual #15

Roll-Your-Own Required Reading

A “New Frontier-ized” Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt with buffalo bone grips rests comfortably on The Speer Handloading Manual #15.

There is no such thing as the definitive handload reference book and anyone who is serious about rolling their own ammunition should have at least three reloading data reference manuals in their library — even more would be better.

Because components and measuring instruments change through the years it also makes sense to have the latest information at hand when we set about to reload. Having a wealth of technical information near your bench allows you to compare the dope on various cartridges in the different books because everyone’s testing conditions are not the same.

For those reasons, the new Speer Handloading Manual #15 should find a home on every reloader’s shelf.

I have every Speer manual starting with #5 printed in 1962. It’s interesting to see some of the very — and I do mean very heavy loads — published in those early Speer manuals, especially in the handgun section. One good example is my favored .44 Special — some of the cast bullet loads in manual #6 are even heavier than those recommended by Elmer Keith. Likewise on several .44 Magnum loads.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights the new 948-page manual, edited by well-known industry ammunition and reloading expert, Mike Bussard, has to offer.

There are 11 articles, all of which should be read before starting to use the reloading information, including a comprehensive “how to” plus in-depth information on bullets, brass cases, primers and powders.

One of the best features is every cartridge covered, whether a rifle or handgun, begins with a picture of the cartridge case as well as all the pertinent dimensions. When we wind up with loaded rounds that do not chamber, it usually goes back to one of these dimensions being too large.

Looking at the .45 Colt, one of my favorite six-gun cartridges, we not only find loading tables but we’re also treated to historical references such as alternate names, parent cartridge, country of origin, year of introduction and who actually designed the cartridge. The book also includes the usual cartridge case data such as dimensions, case capacity, primer size and RCBS shell holder size. Ballistic data includes the SAAMI maximum pressure and the muzzle velocities of bullets from 185 through 255 grains. There are also historical notes such as where the .45 Colt originated, along with ballistic notes, technical notes, handloading notes and six pages of loading data. All this information on the standard .45 Colt load is followed by a section on which loads are acceptable for use in the large-frame Ruger Blackhawk and the Thompson/Center Contender.

The reloading tables use a variety of powders from several different manufacturers but since this is a Speer manual, reloading data is for Speer Bullets only. This is why I recommend several manuals, especially one from any company whose particular bullets are being reloaded.

I just read of someone who was using a reloading manual going back to 1971. The world — and reloading — has changed greatly since the manual was printed and that’s why investing in a new reloading manual is money well spent. As I said earlier, no reference book is perfect but the Speer Handloading Manual #15 comes pretty close.

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