For anyone who reloads, the holy grail is the perfect recipe. Nosler’s Reloading Guide 8 goes a long way to get you there.
This is the best laid out and illustrated reloading guide that I’ve ever laid my eyes on. You can easily discern muzzle velocity with the tables provided and the ample use of color graphics really makes for very cool illustrations of bullet and cartridge specs.
Is it the most complete? Well no. By definition it only contains data on Nosler bullets. If you’re shooting lead or plated bullets, you’re out of luck.
If you’re a hunter and an aficionado of Nosler products you’ve come to the right place. The book covers loads rifle loads assiduously, including some of the more modern variants such as 300 AAC Blackout and 458 SOCOM.
Despite the limitations for handgun shooters, there are several things I really like about this book.
First off, I appreciate that Nosler has recruited some of the best writers in the business to pen essays on each caliber. The quality of writing is top notch.
For example if you are curious to read a backgrounder on the 9mm, Patrick Sweeney has put together an excellent survey. Other firearms luminaries who have contributed to this book include Massad Ayoob, one of the more prolific and knowledgeable guys in the handgun space. Ayoob wrote sections on the 357 Sig and the 38 Special.
The best thing about this guide are the very specific recommendations on recipes for particular rounds. They flat out tell you what the most accurate load will be for their bullets. This is invaluable and you can feel confident that the Nosler team did their homework. Some other guides do this (such as Lymans) but you don’t see it too often.
Case and point is the section on 9mm Luger Parabellum, clearly one of the most popular handgun bullets in use. Despite its popularity, this is a caliber that can be problematic to load for for a beginner. It’s down right confusing. There is a plethora of info available online but it’s difficult to determine what advice to take seriously. This is an area where “fake news” can be disastrous.
Now the good news.
Dig into Reloading Guide 8 and you find 9mm recipes for both 115 and 124 grain jacketed hollow points. The most accurate powder for the 124 gr bullet is True Blue, which is distributed by Western Powders of Miles City, MT. True Blue is one of the most versatile on the market is often the go-to powder for 38 special, 357 magnum, 44 magnum and 45 auto. Interestingly, you don’t often see it often recommended for the 9mm but according to the Nosler brain trust, it won out over industry standards such as Win 231, Bullseye, Power Pistol and others. Similarly in their section on the 357 Nosler recommends another Western Powder AA#7, which is also good for 9mm and 10mm, as well as magnum loads.
Being a good journalist I decided to test out both of these loads with the appropriate Nosler bullets and powders they recommended. I loaded both to the exact specifications in the manual. The manual offers three recipes for each bullet–essentially, light, medium and heavy loads. For the 357 experiment I used a S&W Model 19 (6″ barrel) and the 9mm, a Dan Wesson Pointman PM-9. I didn’t use a ransom rest so this depended (for better or worse on my shooting skills and my guns). The guns were rested on the bench. In the best of all possible worlds, it would be nice to have a ransom rest but I believe, all things considered, our methodology is more “real world” in terms of results.
Can you use the manual’s specs for non-Nosler bullets?
In conclusion Nosler’s Reloading Guide 8 is an excellent resource, albeit more for long guns. Since the preponderance of Nosler products are rifle bullets, rifle enthusiasts will find this book invaluable. That said, there’s beneficial data for handguns as well.