View Full Version : Swaged Grease Groove Bullets

01-03-2007, 08:24 AM

Got a catalog from Buffalo Arms and it shows swaged grease groove bullets with no seams obviously swaged in a swaging press.

Does anyone know the process to swage bullets with grease grooves in them?

Does anyone know who makes the equipment to make them? I don't see anything at Corbin or RCE.


01-03-2007, 10:47 AM
I read somewhere they cut the grooves in after swageing....said with no guarentees................Dean

01-03-2007, 01:58 PM
The swaged factory bullets I have appear to have rolled-in cannelures.

01-05-2007, 12:03 PM
Corbin claims their cannelure tool for jacketed bullets will work with hard lead.



Can I use the HCT-1 with lead bullets?
The HCT-1 is made for jacketed bullets. The HCT-2 and HCT-3 are used for lead bullets (for lubrication knurling or grooves). However, the HCT-1 works well with hard lead bullets (soft lead tends to clog the teeth of the wheel)."

I am in the process of making a similar tool to roll grease grooves onto smooth sided boolits. I have made several push out cylindrical moulds to try different boolit weights and styles as the moulds are easy to make. Generally I use a grease cookie style lube in the .44 mag and it works reasonably well but I thought maybe shallow rolled grooves like the tumble lube grooves would be good - especially for bottleneck cartridges.

Results to come.


01-05-2007, 03:13 PM
I made a knurl for my lathe and I feed a smooth bullet in and it comes out with enough knurl to tumble lube real well. I have never thought about rolling grese grooves I might have to see what I can come up with.

01-05-2007, 07:57 PM
I always thought you could maybe make nice round bullets by making 3 interlocking rollers to run them between, thought on putting grooves in that way too. Never tried it yet :-)


11-24-2007, 01:56 AM
Herters DID make an "alligator" swaging die to do just that; I got one in .357 SWC recently in a pile of swaging stuff from "hunterldh" here. It has the shape of the boolit - with grease grooves - milled into a two-piece hinged pair of jaws, tapered on the outside, that is pushed up into a tapered outer sleeve until it closes firmly; then a lead core is pushed up into it and formed into shape, in my Rockchunker. The ram is dropped, removing the base former (with bleed hole), a solid whack on the extended knob pushes the jaw assembly out of the taper sleeve, and a stout spring opens it - and a fully-formed SWC with two grease grooves drops into your hand. Trouble is, too much pressure and the die and sleeve spring, forming "flash" along the parting line - too little and the bullet is not fully formed. Also, my base plunger is scratched and chipped (probably from pushing a too-short core too far into the die and hitting the groove rings), leaving a ragged base; I will try to machine up a better one and practice some more.

I'll try and post a photo here tomorrow.


11-24-2007, 02:25 AM
Here (I HOPE!) is a photo of that Herters "Alligator" swage set, some badly oxidized old cores I dug out, and some pretty pitiful results. But you get the idea:



Bent Ramrod
11-24-2007, 03:55 AM

I'd seen that split die in the Herter's catalogs and the Handloader's Digests of the time and always wondered if they worked the way they were supposed to. Herter's inventive reach certainly exceeded his engineering grasp that time. Never seen even a picture of the thing in real life before. Thanks for sharing.

11-24-2007, 08:11 AM
...............Nice photography Doug!


11-24-2007, 01:54 PM
I read somewhere they cut the grooves in after swageing....said with no guarentees................Dean

I wrote one of the "Product Reviews" on the swadged GG bullets from Idaho.....

The grooves are indeed turned in after swadging, .....I've always reckoned they use a vacuum pot chuck"Nest" on the nose, and a soft flat tailstock on the base.

An Acme thread milling insert, judiciously re-ground is probably what they're using for "One plunge" grooving..........that's the way I'd do it, anyway.

I've got some of the samples they sent, .....they are REALLY nice boolits.


11-24-2007, 01:56 PM
Neat comment on old Jaques's imagination exceeding Engineering capacity.

He was a character's character, ....No?


11-24-2007, 05:35 PM

Thanks! Here's an "exploded view":



11-25-2007, 01:27 AM
............Nice machining and some thought went into materials and heat treating. Doesn't look as if it was a bargain item.

I understand that the Minie' boolits supplied to federal troops were swaged. Corbin had made a 2 piece insert to produce wasp waisted shotgun slugs. A precisely swaged to size/weigth slug was placed between them and the assembly was pressed up into a die body with a tapered leade. When they were ejected, you had t pry the 2 pieces apart to release the slug.

When I bought my Whitworth from Gibbs, an accesory item was a 2 piece block setup with the flats and rifling skew machined in. The idea (their instructions) was to use a 50 cal slug between the blocks and to use a bench vise as the motive power. They also said you might have to clean off some flash. Well I guess so!!! Not optimum to be sure. Worked well to swage partial flats on as cast 45 cal rifle boolits. I had a guy in HUntington Beach gin up a blunt RN slug casting at .465" with a dished base, and these worked well.


11-28-2007, 02:34 AM
I swaged a bunch of cast and greased boolits.

Unfortunately, my ebay cheap-o dies split the nose punch on the 1st try.

By far, this is the easiest way to get yer own swaged Grease Groove boolits....
Cast a pile
Lube a pile
Swage the pile.

I think the 20 I made were probably the most consistent "Cast Boolits"
I ever made.... like 0.0001" dia difference. <.1g weight difference, base surface plate flat, nose absolutely consistent, etc......

The kitchen caught on fire before I could shoot them..... they are in a box somewhere.

Have a good one


12-04-2007, 01:55 AM
I make push out moulds similar to the old Ideal moulds for paper patching shown in an old Lyman Reloading manual. If they are bored or reamed the boolit is perfectly cylindrical and can be stepped to make a nose bore rider.

I have used these in my Marlin .44 mag quite successfully with thin lubed wad or alox on the boolit base. More recently I made one for my .303 British and even though leading didn't seem to be an issue decided to try grooving them so made a simple grooving tool - 3 rollers, 2 smooth and 1 grooved. It rolls in annular rings and swells the boolit diameter anout 0.003"

I posted pictures under Special Projects "Modifying J Bullets" here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=18089&highlight=modified+bullets

There are some more pictures somewhere else too - forgot where I put them.

While it is a little crude it works well and the boolits shoot well and do not lead. Also used it to roll grooves in "J" bullets to increase diameter for said .303 Enfield with somewhat large groove diameter and improved accuracy dramatically - for the test run anyway.

The moulds are very simple to make if you have a lathe and rolling the grooves is quick and easy much like knurling which maybe is just as good.

Varying the depth of grooves gives some ability to change final boolit diameter to fit different barrels.

I also tried it for slugs I am paper patching and again accruacy improved. I am not sure if it is diameter increase or better grip of paper patch to boolit but it worked.

I have turned up several cast boolits at the range with very fine grooves as well - not Lee tumble lube grooves but finer than I have seen before. I have never seen a mould to produce grooves that small but they do look cast and some not much bigger than my rolled "microgrooves".

Accuracy testing is still in progress but seems comparable to a Lyman 314299 I have lapped and Beagled to fit the large grooves of the Enfield.


12-05-2007, 04:05 AM

That is really an intriguing swage set. I've been swaging both lead and jacketed boolits with Corbin equipment for several years so I know a little about the process. You would get better results if you weigh your pre-swaged lead castings or lead wire lengths so that they are as close to the same starting weight as possible. Use your powder scale. With some experimentation you will be able to find a weight that works with your die adjustment or a die adjustment that works with a specific core weight as the case may be. Also, use some anhydrous lanolin to lubricate the slugs as they are being swaged. This will help the lead move about in the die as necessary in order to fill out the nooks and crannies. Only the slightest film is necessary. Doing the two above steps should decrease the liklihood of lead forming fins as it upsets before the collet fingers are fully closed. Hard lead will not fill out nearly as well nor as quickly during the cycle (requiring higher pressure that your die obviously cannot contain) as soft lead and so with this system I would not use anything but soft lead.

Next, you need to have a positive stop for your press handle or unscrew the die to coincide with the ram arriving at TDC and full compression. When the lead is being compressed, it needs to be compressed for the same amount of time for each bullet. Otherwise you will get more or sometimes less bleed-off and your boolit weights will be all over the scale. The digital stopwatch feature on my wristwatch is what I use. I've never heard of this kind of die before and its really quite fascinating.

If I want a cannelure or lube grooves in my swaged, lead bullets (which I don't) I would need to roll them in as Ricochet indicated. I like molybdenum disulfide both in the bore and dried on the bullet since it works so well in handguns and eliminates another trip through a die. In the soft lead wire I use to swage boolits with, the crimp groove is provided as the crimp die does its job. I don't imagine that the die is capable of accurately controlling the finished diameter as well as some other systems do but it looks fast and easy. The base punch you make could be designed to create a gas check shank which could contribute to better accuracy with some powders. I wish you the best of luck with this die and look forward to hearing of your results.


12-05-2007, 02:09 PM

I have considered and will apply most of your suggestions. The examples shown were a "quick-and-dirty" run with some pure lead - but fairly heavily oxidized - slugs I got with this and several other swages and tools as a single lot. Also, I had not fully figured out the operating sequence, and started pushing before the die was fully closed. Now, I use a loose plug on top of the ram to fully seat and close the jaw die BEFORE inserting the slug. Also, the base punch was in poor shape, from a previous owner using it improperly aligned - fortunately, the die itself does not appear to have been damaged, but I will have to make a new base punch; easily done, as it is not hardened (better to replace the base plug than the jaw die!). I DID use some C-H swaging and resizing die lube that came with the lot, but will go with USP "lamb-o-lin" in the future. I've still got a winter's worth of things to try out here, and I am sure I can use this set to make serviceable boolits. Thanks for the tips and the encouragement!


12-09-2007, 01:42 AM
It sounds like you are well on your way to getting shootable boolits. The cool thing about swaging versus casting is that you can begin, stop and restart the operation at any point in the process, indefinitely, without any more preparation than looking at where you left off to figure out what to do next. Keep us posted!


01-10-2008, 02:24 PM
Years ago I read about split swage dies that were used to produce minies for the military during the civil war and saw a pen-and-ink sketch of the stand/tool. If I'm not mistaken, it was in a reprint of a Bannerman's catalog from around the late 1800's. I would expect that a piece enclosing the die segments in a tapered hole would lock them together, given enough beef in the outer piece. . . .
A tool I was thinking of building was a three roller tool similar to a slip roll former wherein the relationship between the rollers could be precisely controlled to produce a bullet of whatever diameter one desired within its range of adjustment. Various grooving, knurling, ogive or other features could be added to the bullet with rollers that have the features machined into them. I had already produced similar results by roll-sizing soft bullets between two plates of 1" glass separated by three pieces of round stock turned and polished to the right diameter with the bullet centered between them. The roller tool idea seemed more practical, since round-and-round beats back-and-forth any day. This was about the time my acces to all those juicy machine tools evaporated in a job change (dang!).