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Discussion Starter #1
As a teenager back in the early 1960's I had a Corbin swaging set for .357mag. Long gone, traded for something else I wanted.

Now that I'm a little further along in life, I'm interested in building (I have a lathe and mill) tooling that can be used with standard presses using 7/8-14 dies.

Have any of y'all considered swaging bullets (from cast bullets or cast cylinders)? I think it would be interesting to refine the fit of a cast bullet to the throat by carefully designed dies.

What dies are out there (in design or for sale) that work on standard presses?

Thanks,
 

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Hello Cat Whisperer,

Could you go further in detail on your question "Have any of y'all considered swaging bullets (from cast bullets or cast cylinders)? I think it would be interesting to refine the fit of a cast bullet to the throat by carefully designed dies.", please.

Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter #3
One of the concerns in cast bullet shooting is obturation (sealing) of the bullet in the throat of the barrrel. With jacketd bullets the typical arrangement is that of a straight taper is met by the curvature of the ogive giving a circular line of contact around the bullet to the bore. But with lead bullets there is more to conisder, because of the softness of the lead. Some have found that by carefully matching the taper of the throat with the taper or form of the bullet gives greater accuracy.

What I am looking for is knowledge or experience in creating this match between bullet and bore. Casting a bullet requires a mould of a particular shape. It is a major undertaking to make or modify the cavity to make a change since it is irreversable.

Could then, a press be used to swage all or part of a cast bullet to modify the shape or diameter of the nose of the cast bullet, to modify the shape or diameter of the bullet where it seals, or to modify the major diameter (as in sizing/lubricating) of the cast bullet?

Perhaps this could be done with a modified nose punch for one of the common lube/sizers?

Going in a different direction, Lee has come up with a neck sizing tool that (I have only read of these) compresses from the sides to get the neck of the brass to a specific diameter. This leads to the question of could not a similar technique (radial instead of axial) compression by swaging - as a technique used with existing forms of bullets?
 

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Cat Whisperer,

I too, like to try to redesign things to make them better but in most cases it cast a lot more money than it is worth but I say to each their own and if that is what you want to do more power to you. The following people can do what you are asking whether it can actually work or not is up to experimentation.

But conceder this, instead of trying to fix or change a casted bullet why not swag a bullet to do what you are trying to do in the first place? Just a thought. But any ways, you could contact Dave Corbin at www.corbins.com or Richard Corbin at www.rceco.com and of course there are other good die makers for swaging bullets. Handloader, Precision Shooter, Accurate Rifle and the likes all have people advertising.

I am not a caster but from what I know of swaging is that it is more vestal than casting. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for casting and it is very much an art form in it’s self. If you just want to work with lead alloys casting is the way to go. But if you want to work with pure lead and jacketed bullets than swaging is the way to go. Oh my God, I’m on my soapbox again, aren’t I? Sorry about that.

Getting back to the subject. You have raised so interesting questions and I truly hope you can test some of them out and give us the update on the results.

Rick Teal, Clint Starke, and talon just to name a few can probably give you some really good advice on this and other subjects. I look forward to their replies as they have the chance. Good luck to you and your endeavors. :grin:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Donna - I will admit to having a different perspective on things. As I remember from my experience in the early 60's with swaging, even with the 1/2 jacket I would get leading in the .357Mag. I ASSUME (classic definition) that this was because swaging required soft lead. Further the costs of the 1/2 jackets put the cost right up there with purchased bullets.

So to me the issue is one of function - can swaged bullets be driven as fast as hard-cast well-lubricated cast bullets (1800-2800fps) without leading? Coupled with this is the cost of each bullet. This has brought me to the concept of using the cast bullet as the starting point - low cost per bullet, made on relatively low cost equipment commonly available.

I will admit that making one's own jacketed bullets, not just 1/2 jacket has some intregue as well. It means controlling to the nearest 1/10,000 not just 1/1,000 of an inch to get the accuracy that the jaceted bullet is capable of.

I guess being an engineer has taught me to question and improve the process, not just the product. And since I have a mill and a lathe (purchased specifically to make moulds) I guess I can play a little.

Thanks,
 

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Hi Cat Whispers.
I cast and lube my bullets before I swage them to true them up.It sharpens the skirt and gets the weight within 2th.grains.you have to lube them first so you dont deform the grease grooves.It takes a tapered ogive die or a step die (like a Keith type bullet) to fit most chambers.
This is a long proces but it will give you very uneform match bullets.Lp.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Lead Pot - interesting process - sounds like not that much more than casting/lube-sizing.

Am I right in thinking that it would take a die that would eject the bullet (much the same as the lube-sizer) but with a special nose punch that would fit the die precisely? Would the nose punch be vented?

This looks like a machinist's project that would be fairly straightforward - with flexibility in making changes in nose punch form to slightly change nose style - perhaps moderate hollow pointing or hollow basing as well.

I would think aslo that it would take more than a C or O press due to the need to eject the bullet.

What do you use - what brand/source?
 

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Cat Whisperer,

I think that you might bear in mind this story of the 19th & early 20th century riflesmith Norman Brockway as you endeavor to swage cast bullets. Brockway, like all of the masters of shooting swaged bullets, experimented with alloys. With one lot of (realitvely) hard alloy, while reforming cast bullets in a large press he literally blew up a steel die set! Point of story: there is a hardness beyond which it is not practical to go in reforming cast bullets by swaging.

That said, my latest project has been to refashion Lyman #515141, a 50 cal bullet intended for the old 50-70 government cartridge, for use in a double barreled muzzleloader. I reduce the size of the bottom band to 0.499", swage the rest of the bands to 0.512" and start the hollow point in the first die. The second die pre-engraves the rifling and finishes the hollow point. The alloy I'm working with is 1:160. The results have been spectacular, both on paper and on deer.

I built the dies myself. I own a tool and die shop. I'm not interested in taking this sort of work on on a commercial basis.

regards,

Bob
 

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Cat Whisperer, I believe Mr Corbin's early work with radial compression for swaging didn't prove out. Too much effort/cost to achieve the same result as with the axial technique. While it's true grease groves can be installed this way, there are dependable canneleur tools that will do this task at much less cost, I think. Also, there is the paper patch technique that by-passes groves entirely. As to casting a bullet and then swaging it, there is that basic fact that you will be "swaging up" a few thousandths. Its a mite difficult to cast a .358 lead bullet and then stuff it into a .358 swage die body as is: you would have to size it 'down' first. An extra step (as is using a cannelure tool). Another thought is velocity: why do you need high speed lead bullets? Keeping rifle lead under 1500fps and pistol under about 900 fps solves beaucoup problems. For greater speed, go with full jackets. I think, too, that each barrel throat is different and that requires, for those most demanding target shooters, a chamber cast of the 'neck-throat-initial land/grove area' be taken to use as a guage in designing the proper bullet ogive and cartridge OAL specifications. For the proper bullet weight/length, that will depend upon several other factors such as powder, bullet hardness, number of groves, type of lub, and so forth. The swager can only contol part of this "formula".
I reread those Corbin books every year or so and learn and relearn a lot each time. Some of his points slide by your attention until you run into a situation where you say to yourself " Hay. Why am I struggling trying to solve this problem by myself... didn't Dave have something to say about this somewhere?" I've found that spending 2 hours finding his words save days trying to reinvent the same wheel. On the otherhand I have used my equiptment to find alternative ways to skin the same cat, but rarely have improved upon other's work. I've never attempted to make dies thou, as I don't have the skills or capital equiptment for that exercise. A lathe and mill is just a start. 8)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ahhh, the wonders of living in the conufser age (technical term). Y'all have given me/us a wide perspective in such a short period of time.

I guess my next step is to do more reading and then narrow my focus initially on some phase of casting/swaging that is fundamental.

That means I'll start with wadcutters and focus on getting weight and dimensional stability good and work into matching up with the throat. Your comments are invited.

Thanks,
 

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Cat Whisper> What Talon is trying to tell you is true.The reason I do this is I cant get a decent grease groves with the Corbin groving tool,It does't remove lead it displaces lead and it deforms the bullet to much when you try to put more than 2 groves on the bullet,and I cant get enough lube on it.I cast my bullets at 30-40 to1 so the alloy is soft enough to reshape the bullet by running it through the noseform die,and to blead off the excess lead to make the bullet uniform and square the base.At Saeco 5 or 8 BHN you wont damage the die.
In some matches you can use a gascheck bullet,for those matches I put a baseguard on the base of the bullet,which workes good for scraping fouling and keeps a good sharp base on the bullet.Yes there is more work involved but the end product is worth the effort.Besides that is the fun part of this shooting sport, EXPERMENT :) Lp.
 

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Check on Ebay. There is a guy selling several different swaging dies. We got some ones for .22. Would not work in the Rock Chucker per his design. For the cost of the dies, and our cost for modification, we will get the dies from Richard Corbin. If this guy does a few mods, and takes our suggestion, his dies will work good in the Rock Chucker and other presses. We are just spoilt rotten with the walnut hill press and the speed those swaged bullets come out.

Hope this helps.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #13
LP - you mentioned using a baseguard on the base of the bullet. Is this something like a short 1/2jacket, gas check or more like the Harvey protex washer?

What metal? Copper?

Steve - I looked at the dies you referred to on ebay and I'm familiar with the older Corbin dies (from experience as a teenager) and the Corbin websites. I think I'm going to take this a small step at a time - by building simple functional dies and trying these things one at at time. I guess my objective is not to just make the bullets, but to try out other ideas.

Thanks,
 

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Tim, Base Guards (BG) is a Corbin Product. They are moderately thin (.015" aprox) brass washers that are formed into a very slight cone shape so that when they are swaged onto the bottom of the bullet they become flattened and theryby expand outwards a few thousandths, making a bit better scrappers than the older type zink washers. Dave Corbin wrote a piece in one of the past isues of Handloader Digest (I think) on the equiptment, technique, and results. They are used in his 'regular' dies (you will need a BG punch, however), as an option, and he sells them by the bag, or he'll sell you strip copper and the BG maker kit so you can make them yourself.
I think that after you make a few bullet dies and punches and use them awhile you'll really appriciate the decades of development , and current availability of the broad range of supper accurate tools that are being offered by the Corbin brothers, and perhaps by 1 or 2 other places. The costs will appear high until you attempt to duplicate the capability. Then you'll see that those purchaced tools are quite worthwhile. But, there is nothing like first hand experience, and the resulting pride, in developing your own. 8)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
talon -

Baseguard - seems like a cool idea - are they put in convex or concave side up (next to the bullet)?

Agree with you on the value of someone elses product. It is a fundamental of engineering design - if someone else makes it, BUY it - don't make it yourself, as it's much cheaper, better designed and quality control procedures are in place.


Tim
 

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You put the BG with the high side towards the lead core. The BG punch is flat faced, with an indent in the center of the face a few thousandths larger than the hole in the BG, and about 1/8" deep. As the BG is flattened downward during the swaging process to make the core into a bullet, a little lead is squirted thru the GB center hole, and is trapped by the indent in the punch's face forming a brad that holds the BG to the bullet's bottom. The size of the BG hole and the indent in the punch face depends upon the bullet caliber, but the .45's BG hole is about 1/16" or there abouts... it's not a big hole at all. The biggest benefit of BGs is that there is no need for lub, or lub groves. While the bullet can be pushed a little faster there is really no need for that benefit most of the time.
Concerning other older swaging tools on the secondary market: beware! some aren't worth your money or time. Always ask specific questions such as "what is the brand, when was it made, is the firm (person)still in business, Have YOU made any bullets with the set, are their ANY defects with any part (and if so what are they), is a certain type press needed, are you sure it's the caliber you stated, will you take it back if it doesn't pass my hands-on inspection?). Ebay, Gunbroker, and Auction Arms are sites to see what's available on the 'net. Gun list is a good place to see what's advertised in hard copy. Of course, Both Richard and Dave Corbin list some used equiptment on their sites thou neither really get very involved directly in this business of used/prior owned stuff. And, I've never seen an offer to sell (or buy) any swaging equiptment on this site YET. There have been many folks making and selling swaging tools since 1942, but very few exist today. In many cases the designs were flawed. Several of these poor sets are still floating around and those who own them now have no idea what they are really worth. On the other hand there are a few quality sets for sale, but don't assume anything befor putting your good money on the barrel. Unlike bullet molds, you can't afford to 'take a chance' when it comes to the much more expensive swaging tools. 8)
 
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