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Bullet Swaging Hb

Bullet Swaging Hb

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Published by Sid Whittman

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Published by: Sid Whittman on Oct 30, 2012
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Drawing dies have a hole all the way through, and they fit
into the press head. You push a jacket or a bullet through them,
in one side and out the other, to make the part smaller in diam-
eter. Since the die screws into the press head, there is really no
difference in the 7/8-14 threaded die body for type -R or type -M
sets (and type -S is not made since it would be identical to type -
M). The only difference is the punch, because a reloading press (-
R) uses a T-slot ram and Corbin presses use threaded rams (5/8-
24 TPI for both the Silver Press -M and the Series II Press -S).
There is no -S category in draw dies. Use the -M for both. The
-H dies, however, are different. There is more stroke, more power,
and a longer alignment section. Also, we utilize tougher materi-
als that stand up under the greater force and speed possible. You
can adapt a -M or -R draw die to a Hydro-press, but it is not as
economical as it may seem because of the possibility of breakage
and less efficient use of the available stroke for alignment and
guidance of the components.

JRD-1-R, -M, -H (Jacket Reducing Dies)

A way to produce special jackets is to draw down an existing
larger caliber of jacket to produce a smaller diameter, longer jacket.
This method is often used to make some of the less popular cali-
bers, or to make heavy-walled .224 jackets by drawing down a
.243 jacket. Jackets can be drawn to the next smaller caliber in
one pass (generally speaking there are always some exceptions).
A .45 caliber jacket can be made into a .44 in one stroke. A
.44 can be made into a .41 or .40 caliber. By making several
reductions in sequence, a .30 can be made into a .284, .270,
.264, or .257 jacket. Each reduction makes the jacket longer,
smaller in diameter, and tends to make the jacket wall somewhat
thicker up to the limit of the base material itself, since it pulls
base material into the wall area.
If you want to draw the jacket down at least twice the wall
thickness, you can use a special jacket drawing set that pinch
trims the jacket to shorter lengths. You cannot pinch trim the
same diameter. The pinch trimming die set uses a stepped punch.
The tip of the punch fits inside the jacket after it passes through
the draw die, but the larger diameter only fits inside before the


jacket is reduced. The larger diameter portion fits through the
ring die snugly by itself, leaving no room for the jacket walls, and
the jacket is thus pinched off as you push the punch on through.
There is a special die set called the ET-2-M (or -S, or-H) which
expands and then trims off the expanded portion of the jacket.
This gives the effect of pinch trimming at the same diameter,
since you start with the same caliber you eventually have at the
end. But in reality, a die and punch are first used to swell up the
part you wish to cut off, so it is large enough that another punch
with a shoulder can fit inside it, and then only the shoulder alone
can fit through a matching ring die, shearing off the jacket mate-
rial. This set cannot be used with extremely thick jackets, be-
cause the force and shear angle become too great. If you need to
trim a piece of virtually solid copper, use a saw or lathe.
A ring of jacket material is left on the punch when you pinch
trim a jacket. It can be pushed off during the return stroke by
using a disk and tube ejection system. The disk is a large diameter
washer that fits over the larger diameter portion of the punch.
The tube fits around the press ram loosely. When the ram is re-
tracted, the disk is drawn back with the punch until it is stopped
against the top of the tube. The ram continues back, forcing the
cut part of the jacket off the punch. This ejection method is also
used in the .224 and .243 rimfire case jacket maker dies, to push
the formed jacket off the punch.
Drawing is the opposite of swaging. People sometimes ask
about swaging down a bullet to make a smaller one. That is
wrong. Making something get smaller is called drawing , and it
is done by pressing the jacket or bullet through an annular die (a
ring die , we call it). The part goes in one side and pops out the
other, where it springs back slightly larger than the hole size.
We need to have sample material to draw down if you want
the parts to come out precisely, since different materials and lots
will spring back a little different amount. Swaging always ex-
pands a smaller component to become larger. If you try to push a
larger bullet into a closed swaging die with a hole even slightly
smaller than the bullet, you ll make it stick in the die. The mate-
rial wants to spring back toward original size, so if it was origi-
nally larger than the hole, it will keep trying to grip the die walls.
On the other hand, if you do it right and use a component
smaller than the hole you are about to shove it into, it will go in
easily, expand under pressure until it hits the die walls, and as
soon as you relax the pressure, the component will spring back


slightly toward its original smaller diameter, releasing its grip on
the die walls. In a drawing die, you can apply a lot of pressure to
the full diameter of the bullet, or to the inside diameter of the
jacket, and push it right on through, even though it is trying to
grip the die walls. In a swage die, especially a point forming die
which relies on a tiny ejection pin, this isn t possible.

BRD-1-R, -M, -H (Bullet Reducing Dies)

Now, you won t be one of those who try pushing a .323
bullet into a .318 swage die, will you? Instead, you d get a BRD-1
Bullet Reducing Die (a ring die) and DRAW the bullet by shoving
it through the hole, which is probably a .3165 or .31754 hole,
depending on the amount of springback in the particular bullet
used to make and adjust it.
You can draw down existing bullets, but only within very
small limits: if you try to reduce an existing bullet more than
about 006 inches, the amount of lead you are moving becomes
significant enough to materially spoil the accuracy and looks of
the bullet, and the stresses in the jacket material will begin to
cause serious banana-shape distortion.
This means making a 9mm (.355 inches) bullet from a .38
(.357 inches) slug is easy and practical, while making a .41 cali-
ber from a .44 caliber (.429 inches) gives miserable results. A
practical limit is making a .318 inch diameter 8mm bullet from
the modern standard 8mm of .323 inch diameter.
There is a huge difference between drawing a jacket, and
drawing down a bullet. A jacket is just the empty cup. You put it
over a punch, and shove it through the die by pressing on the
inside of the base, so it is drawn over the sides of the punch. You
can reduce a jacket by at least two or three times the wall thick-
ness, easily.

Don t confuse the .006 inch reduction limit for bullets with
the vastly larger potential reduction for bullet jackets. Also, like
most things in life, this rule isn t written in stone. Some few bul-
lets with nice soft jackets and room for the lead to go into a hol-
low cavity or base can be reduced more than .006 inches But you
are asking for trouble if you want to do that as a general rule.
What might work sometimes on a particular experiment, may
fail almost all the other times with other materials. What works a
few dozen times during limited trials may fail in long term use
because of unexpected wear or slight changes in the materials


due to normal tolerances. Perhaps what works in one specific
instance only worked because the materials were exactly right. It
might not be so easily repeated.
This gets some people into trouble: just because something
happens to work one time, they think it will work in every in-
stance. Not just in bullet swaging, but in hunting, this is a com-
mon mistake. A fellow takes a big elk with a .243 target bullet,
and from that day forth he is convinced that a 6mm is big enough
for game the size of an elk, and that there isn t any problem using
bullets constructed for target shooting, with their thin jackets
and non-bonded cores, on noble game. Sure, you might do it once.
But the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of wounding the ani-
mal and having it get away.
In swaging, if something works that maybe shouldn t have,
then that s a reason to carefully experiment and find out why. It s
bad judgement to assume it will always work in every instance,
especially if others who have spent years in the field are dubious.
You may have found something new, but try it on several cali-
bers, styles, and materials before you count on it always working.
Drawing down bullets is certainly one area where you can
find all kinds of exceptions that work, but only because the mate-
rial, hardness, and style are just right in a particular instance.
Corbin will make tools for you to your specifications, against our
own advise and experience, provided you take responsibility if
they don t work. If we design and recommend the tools, then of
course we guarantee they will work.
Draw dies for the Hydro-press (type -H dies) are more sophis-
ticated and can produce results that may not be possible in a
hand press. The long stroke and great power of the Hydro-press
give us room to build special guide sections, finger-strippers and
ejecting punches that won t work on a hand press. In drawing,
full power is generally required at the start of the stroke, not just
at the end (as with most swaging operations).
Since nearly all the hand operated presses have about half an
inch of extremely high pressure travel toward the end of the stroke,
and progressively lower pressure as you retract the ram, it follows
that drawing operations which may require high pressure over a
longer travel than half an inch may not be practical in a hand

RFJM-22 -R, -M, -H (Rimfire Jacket Maker, 224 caliber)


One of the most popular tools we ve ever made is the Rimfire
Jacket Maker set, which turns fired .22 cases into excellent jack-
ets to make .22 centerfire bullets. You ve probably read about this
before. RCBS, Speer, Hornady and many other firms got their start
by doing just this. You can do it today, and with the price of
bullets, it is more popular than ever.
Fired .22 short cases make great 40 grain Hornet jackets.
Fired .22 long or long rifle cases make the standard .705 inch
long 52 to 60 grain open tip or small lead tip bullets for all flavors
of centerfire .22 cartridges, from the .222 to the .225. Many
shooters don t realize that all modern .22 caliber centerfires, in-
cluding the 5.56mm, actually use the same diameter barrel (a
nominal .224 bullet size fits them all).
The .22 high velocity loads such as the Stinger use a case
slightly longer than the standard long rifle, which will produce a
little heavier bullet. You can make 65 to 70 grain .224 bullets
using these for jackets.
The process is simple. You wash the fired cases to remove
grit. I like to boil them in a mixture of water and some detergent,
plus a little vinegar to help restore the shine. Then, I pour off the
water, and spread the cases out on an old cookie sheet. I fire up
the kitchen oven and heat the jackets quickly to drive off the

Shortly, I have a tray full of clean, dry cases. I take them out,
and put the jacket maker die in my press. The die itself is the
same for both reloading presses and for our Silver Press or Series
II press. We don t make a -S version, because it would be identical
to the -M type in every way. The -R differs from the -M version
only in the punch.

In the reloading press, the punch has a T-slot head or button,
like a shell-holder. In the -M version, to fit our two hand smaller
hand presses, the punch has a kind of die body attached that
screws directly into the ram. The die screws into the press head
in all versions.

There is a tube with a disk attached to one end, and a hole
through the disk that just slips over the punch. This is the ejector
disk and tube, which slips over the ram. If your press does not
have a ram that will fit inside this 1-1/8 inch tube, such as a bar-
type or progressive press, it won t work for making jackets in this
way. You are a bullet maker now, and you should have a real


bullet making press! Put the disk and tube assembly over the
punch, with the open end of the tube pointing down toward the
press frame.

Use a little Corbin Swage Lube on your fingertips and give the
punch a quick wipe of lube, then pick up a case and put it over
the punch tip. Adjust the die so it is very high in the press threads.
Raise the ram carefully. The rim of the case should just barely
start to go into the die as you reach the end of the ram stroke.
Lower the die until this point of adjustment is reached, and
then lower it just another quarter turn or less. Lower the ram, as
necessary to adjust the die, and then raise the ram. Little by little,
you should be finding the point where the rim is ironed out cleanly,
leaving no ridge behind.
When you find this point of adjustment, you have two choices.
Either you can process all your cases at this setting, at which
point they will probably stay on the punch and be ejected by the
tube and disk assembly, or you can adjust the die carefully so that
the jackets (they are turned into jackets now) will come all the
way through the top of the die on two or three strokes (pushed up
by the two or three cases that follow).
Do not operate the press with the die so low that it takes all
your effort to push the cases through! This is not necessary and
will only strain your bench mountings and your patience. A firm
one hand push will do the job, if you settle for processing in two
passes, one to iron out all the rims, and then a second with the
die adjusted lower, to push all the cases through one after an-
other. Or, a firmer one hand shove will get them through in a
single pass, but only if you find the exact point where one case
will push the next one without mashing the mouth.
These little jackets represent a lifetime of free components,
so it is worth spending a little time to learn the fine points. Once
you have drawn the jackets, you may have to anneal them. One
fine point is that the annealing temperature can be critical. If you
make a wide open tip or a large lead pointed bullet, you may not
have to anneal at all. But if you try to make a small open tip
bullet, or even a small lead tip, you may find that the end of the
bullet folds over with a little flap of metal instead of drawing to a
smooth curve.

This is a sure sign that the jacket material is not annealed
sufficiently. Actually, annealed may be the wrong word because
that implies a dead soft condition. You can just soften the brass to
a lesser degree, more of a stress relief heat treatment. If you do


get it dead soft, that is fine. But if you overheat the cases, they
will turn discolored and may become rough on the surface. You
can always heat them a little more, but you cannot undo the
damage from overheating. Some people use a tuna can floating in
a molten lead pot to hold the cases for annealing. I like to use the
self-cleaning oven, or a propane torch with one of those fishtail
flame spreaders and just heat the cases until they are barely red
in a dimly lighted room. It only takes a few seconds to get them
that hot. You can do a small group of twenty or so at one time.
You can try skipping this, but make one bullet all the way to
completion before you seat all the lead cores in those jackets: you
may find out that you need to heat a little more. If that happens,
your seated cores make it harder to do (but not impossible).
If you find that the jackets have circular rings in the shank
area, like badly-made cannelures, this is a sure sign that you have
overheated the cases to the point where they are rough and dead
soft. Then they will not have enough strength to resist folding like
an accordion against the pressure needed to shape the ogive or
nose. This kind of folding usually happens in the point forming
operation, as does the flap of metal that folds at the ogive when
the jacket is too hard.
Sounds tough, eh? Too soft, and the shank gets rings in it.
Too hard, and the nose folds over. But there is quite a wide range
between those extremes where the bullet forms very nicely, with
barely any suggestion of the little fold lines you would see on all
commercial spitzer bullets (less so on round noses) if they were
not polished out in a tumbler before being boxed. The ogive curve
on the spitzer shaped bullets brings the metal close at the tip and
thickens it, and it tends to develop lines that look like scratches
but are actually folds. This is normal, but not commercially at-
tractive. So, commercial bullets are polished to remove or bur-
nish over this minor cosmetic flaw, and you don t see it. (If you
inspect the bullets very closely, you may in fact see some remain-
ing signs.)

A jacket drawing die is also the second die included in a set of
copper tubing jacket makers. In this case, the die is made to re-
duce the standard diameter of the tubing after you have rounded
the end of the tube in the CTJM set s first die (the end rounding
die ). There is a limit to the amount of reduction that can be
done in one step, based on the pressure it takes to unfold the
rounded end of the tube (since the draw die s punch presses on
this rounded end from the inside, to push the tube through the


draw die). There is no specific number for the reduction possible.
It depends on many factors, such as the wall thickness of the
tubing, the hardness and grain structure of the particular lot of
tubing, and the angle and polish of the die surface. Reducing dies
are designed partly by experience and partly by testing and ad-
justment for your particular set. Arbitrary changes may not work:
only the reduction which has been tested is guaranteed to work.


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