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Thread: Are the old Lyman cast bullet handbooks worthwhile?

  1. #1

    Are the old Lyman cast bullet handbooks worthwhile?

    After a long hiatus, I have started using up some of my lead stores and based on lots of research here, I purchased three of the Lee six cavity molds and so far, all is good.

    My question is about the older Lyman cast bullet handbooks, namely the first and second editions. Are they worth acquiring? Currently, I have the third edition, as well as the first edition RCBS cast bullet handbook, Laser-Cast first edition as well as a beautiful copy of Cast Bullets by the NRA/Harrison. I have all of the Pet Loads books, plus my Lyman number 45, 42 and 41 manuals.

    So, to those of you that have those first two editions, are they worthwhile for more casting knowledge or am I fine with what I have now? I am not much for acquiring things just to have them, they have to have a use.

    And as a side note, I have read many reviews here of Bull Plate, and after reading descriptions of it, I went out to my garage and grabbed one of the small bottles of "Stihl HP Ultra Synthetic 50:1 Oil Mix. 2-Cycle Engine". it looks and smells just like many descriptions here, and it worked perfectly.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by Rangerone; 03-10-2020 at 05:21 PM.
    Benefactor Member, National Rifle Association

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy metricmonkeywrench's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    For me, being a relative newby when compared to others here I have found that the older books and manuals are valuable when you come across a mould or round combination that is not in the "current production" manuals to get a starting point for a load OAL etc.

    The downside is that many of the powder/load combinations were set for the powders of the time and may not be available or reformulation and better instrumentation for load pressures have changed the load data.

    I still pick up any as I come across them as there is a lot of good articles and reference and tables that have been dropped over time.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master StuBach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Depending on your particular addiction, only you can say. Iím a big fan of cross referencing my data so extra books are always welcome.

    That said, you already have a pretty extensive library of these books. You can always just ask here on the forum if you come across something not in the manuals you already have. Personally I always reply to those messages when I see them with a photo of the pertinent chart.

  4. #4
    Thank you for the replies.
    My thought was that there was just more general knowledge in some of these older manuals, above and beyond the loading data. I will look at a few of the reprints if I cannot find a nice original that is reasonable.
    Benefactor Member, National Rifle Association

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    So. Indiana
    Where I have been buying my powder and primers for the last 20 years, they provide free of charge from the powder manufactures, reloading guides or handbooks. That is Hodgdon, IMR, Winchester ( now all 3 are in one manual), Alliant with older Hercules guides and Accurate Arms. When I observed Lee’s data, it appeared they just quoted data from these guides.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Lebanon, NY
    In your OP you mention Lee Cast bullet handbooks. I didn't know Lee printed a cast bullet book. I know they printed a couple of editions of a loading manual but they covered Jacketed as well as cast.
    Most of the load data I the Lee books come from powder manufacturers, I think some comes from Bullet manufacturers too. I think some of the loads in the front section dealing with cast bullets is shoot be Lee.
    On the older books by Lyman or any other cast bullet resource is nice to have. As mentioned they often have load data for bullets and cartridges that are not in the new books.
    I'm in the "You can't have to many books" They always come in handy for research and comparing one book to the others. You may find errors that can occur in printing.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by 44magLeo View Post
    In your OP you mention Lee Cast bullet handbooks. I didn't know Lee printed a cast bullet book.
    Thank you for the response, I corrected the OP...

    And your advice is well taken, I will hunt down a few of the old ones. I see them at gun shows but sadly most are in rather worn and poor condition, they were not meant to last a long time. I see that Cornell offers reprints on eBay, I may try one of their copies.

    I just came across this great thread! Sure answers my question!

    Last edited by Rangerone; 03-10-2020 at 07:07 PM.
    Benefactor Member, National Rifle Association

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Guesser's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    North Central Montana; across the wide Missouri
    #1 is my all time favorite, sold off #2 and #3, purchased #4, it's OK, mostly.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    YES! Keep them both. I still go back to check loads against new data, online calculators and posted loads. Red Dot loads for example, they are nowhere to be seen nowadays but I have them in two of my old manuals. Great small game loads, low recoil and safe.

  10. #10
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    you can always use the caliber and boolit weight in Lyman #4 as a starting point even if it has a different profile.

  11. #11
    I just ordered this reprint of "Lyman 1958 Handbook of Cast Bullets, 1st Edition"

    Benefactor Member, National Rifle Association

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

    gwpercle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    I still use #3 a lot along with #4.
    There is a lot of info in #3 that is not in #4 , especially in the first 124 pages of the book ...keep it!
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    OKC , Oklahoma
    I like to have as many manuals as I can unless you are a book collector if the manual is not falling apart , a little rough does not change the information in it some of mine show a lot of wear and tear but they still work as a reference and I look at most of them often.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    SE Wisconsin
    I do not have a Lyman Manual but I do have an old Lyman Pistol & Revolver Handbook which has load data in it and I still use it quite frequently. Especially since I just started casting Boolits about 8 months ago.

  15. #15
    Like many of you, I do pick up some of the older manuals that I find at gun shows, if for nothing more than the history.
    Benefactor Member, National Rifle Association

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Outside Rolla, Missouri
    Same as Rangerone. Rangerone, you will enjoy that 1958 edition. I have the same one from Cornell
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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    NRA Benefactor 2008

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    East TN
    My interest in the older manuals includes the loading data they present. I rarely use their data but enjoy reading comparable data for the discontinued powders. The bonus is to have photos of bullet molds. I have most of the Speer manuals, also the Ideal and Lyman, plus quite a few from the companies that either closed on their own or were bought out by larger manufacturers. Have been lucky to gather several Modern-Bond molds and a catalog and these are some of my favorite molds.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

    Bookworm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Central Oklahoma, on a dirt road.
    I have Lyman cast #1, #3, and #4.

    I use mostly #4, but for rifle loads (except 7.62x54r) the #3 has a pile of info and moulds not found elsewhere.

    #1 I have for general reading and historical perspective. The layout of the data section is very different from todays books, and takes some getting used to.
    "Varium et mutabile semper femina." - Virgil
    Man, ain't it the truth....

  19. #19
    Boolit Master JoeJames's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Arkansas Delta
    Quote Originally Posted by onelight View Post
    I like to have as many manuals as I can unless you are a book collector if the manual is not falling apart , a little rough does not change the information in it some of mine show a lot of wear and tear but they still work as a reference and I look at most of them often.
    I believe in having as many manuals as possible. A lot of times I've had to go through several when I was fixing to re-load a caliber that is no longer very popular - recent example - 38 S&W. An old Lyman Cast Bullet manual had the data on bullets and powderI was looking for along with my old Speer Manual which discussed using 148 grain hollow base wad cutters.
    You Can Vote Your Way Into Socialism, But You Have To Shoot Your Way Out of it.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    I like reading the old manuals. But to be honest, my main reason for owning them is because my grandpa had them and it sort of reminds me of him.

    Also, despite what many people believe, pressure testing was an inexact science back then, and many loads that were published 50 years ago are not within SAAMI pressure specs today.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check