October 11, 2018
It's unusual to devote an entire column to a reloading manual review. However, in this case, Shooting Times Editor in Chief Joel Hutchcroft and I agreed that Speer’s new 15th edition publication warrants the attention. It’s been 10 years since the previous Speer manual was released, and several new cartridges and components have been introduced since then. It’s long overdue.
This new manual is what I refer to as a “full-service” reloading manual because the 15th edition includes much more than just load recipes for the old standby cartridges, still-popular cartridges, and the latest new cartridges. At nearly 1,000 pages, this manual is better characterized as a handloading tome. In addition to the expected load data, it includes editorial content on cartridge history, cartridge/component description, why and how to reload, reloading safety, and fine-tuning and trouble-shooting techniques.
One chapter provides tips about how to properly test-fire your handloads and evaluate the results. After the last handgun cartridge data entry, there are 10 pages of technical formulas related to internal/external/terminal ballistic factors, barrel twist rate
and IPSC power factors, and more. The reference section closes with a 30-page glossary of terms related to firearms, shooting, and reloading.
Included in the more than 125 rifle and handgun cartridge data are the latest additions: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 Remington SPC, .300 AAC Blackout, .338 Federal, .338 Lapua Magnum, .375 Rigby, .416 Rigby, .460 S&W Magnum, and .500 S&W Magnum. However, those of us who also appreciate/enjoy shooting a Savage 99 .300 Savage lever gun, a Remington 722 .257 Roberts bolt action, a Biesen custom Winchester Model 70 .308 Norma Magnum, an Astra Model 400 9mm Largo, a Marlin 336 .35 Remington, or a pair of Remington 25 pumps in .25 WCF and .32 WCF will find excellent load recipes for those classic cartridges.
Shooting Times columnist Allan Jones edited the 12th, 13th, and 14th editions of the Speer reloading manuals, and he prepared a chapter for this revised edition emphasizing the importance of sample size in effectively and efficiently determining a rifle’s true accuracy. Allan’s contribution is just one of several shooting-related topics presented in the new manual.
Enough about the collateral benefits of the new Speer handloading manual, let’s look at a typical cartridge data set. I chose the 6.5 Creedmoor, but each round gets the same treatment. There are six pages in the new manual dedicated to this popular cartridge.
The first page begins with an overall cartridge background chart and a properly scaled/dimensioned drawing of the case. Then there are two charts providing detailed cartridge case and ballistic data. They include important information for handloaders like case capacity, case max and trim-to lengths, max cartridge overall length, primer size, etc. The next page or so comprises informative and easy-to-read narratives about the cartridge’s history; general ballistic characteristics; and technical, handloading, and safety notes that provide additional tips and insights.
Speer offers eight different bullets suitable for hand-loading the 6.5 Creedmoor, including a 90-grain lead-free TNT hollowpoint for dispatching varmints and a 140-grain JSP Hot-Cor for taking down deer-sized game. In addition, there also is an informative chart for an example of the company’s latest product line, the new Gold Dot Rifle bullets. Primarily designed for the law enforcement market, the new 140-grain Gold Dot Rifle jacketed softpoint bullet is also perfectly suitable for the whitetail or mule deer hunter.