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Thread: What Company Makes Commerical Bullet Swaging Machines ?

  1. #1

    What Company Makes Commerical Bullet Swaging Machines ?

    Is there a company still in business (in the USA or overseas) that makes commerical swaging presses that can produce lead bullets with grease grooves?

    I am talking about a swaging machine that can produce bullets on the order of fifty or more per minute (i.e.,, automatic feed). My understanding is that the only commercial bullet swaging machines around are rebuilt, WWII surplus arsenal machinery that is often sold at very high prices.

    So, if anyone knows the name of a company that makes commercial swaging machines, or can provide the address to their website-I would appreciate it!


  2. #2
    Boolit Master Adam10mm's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Upper Michigan
    Corbin and RCE, LLC are the two that come to mind. Corbin offers a hydraulic press.
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  3. #3
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    Buckshot's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    So. California
    ................Don't know about Corbin, but RCE doesn't make swage dies for GG boolits. Since the GG's are negatives to the boolit's OD the die must be split into at least 2 pieces along it's long axis, in order to release the slug. Since the lead slug is formed perfectly (or hopefully so) to the internal shape of the 2 pieces, easy release can be, might be, possibly might, etc be less then immediate.

    I'm not aware of any commercialy swaged GG boolit's, unless the dry lubed 32 and 38 caliber WC's and SWC's are. However I don't think they are. Rather I think the rather shallow (and knurled) grooves are rolled in after they're swaged. I'm pretty certain they're rolled either on a plate or between a trio of rollers. One creates the knurled grooves and the others merely control the boolit's OD.

    Floodgate has a Herters swage die designed to produce true GG 38 SWC's. Quite an interesting bit of machining and heat treating was involved, I'm sure. You sure wouldn't get any kind of production out of them though.

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  4. #4
    Boolit Man toecutter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Occupied California
    There really arn't a lot of companies out there that make presses specifically for swaging. But there are a number of presses which are capable of doing it. Many companies use retooled cold header presses, or bliss taper and plug presses. The only way to really decide if a machine is right for you is a matter of how it's fed (wires or slugs?) how many tooling steps are required (some companies make machines that will handle multiple steps) and what kind of dies you want to put into it.

    To top this off, you can't swage a bullet in the quantity you are talking about with a grease groove. That has to be done in a second stage on a different type of machine. CH4D makes a hand cranked unit which is capable of doing it, corbin also makes one. Both are called "cannelure" machines, but it's just a matter of replacing the tooling to get it to make grease grooves. After a process like this, you will then have to run the bullets through another sizing step, just like a cast bullet to put in the grease and make sure the dimensions weren't changed by the grooving process.

    Another thing to consider is actual speed of processing. Some bullet styles and alloys can be run faster than others, some of this also depends on process lubricants and dozens of other factors. I won't say you can't do it, but there's a reason why there arn't hundreds or thousands of swaged bullet manufacturers out there.

    You looking at starting a commercial venture, or just tossing the idea around?

  5. #5
    For right now, I am just tossing the idea around. I have already gone the "feed your cores by hand" Corbin route using a swage followed by a cannelure machine. The cannelure's produced are too shallow and do not hold enough lube. Worse yet, running a lead bullet thru a cannelure machine will enlarge the bullet 0.0004' or 0.0005."

    Then, if you run your bullets thru a sizing die, OOPS! there goes your cannelure!

    Of course, the GRAND IRONY is that in the late 1850's the workers at Allegheny Arsenal produced a swaging machine that produced swaged .58 Minie Balls (complete with grease grooves) at the rate of several thousand per hour. Too bad that 21st Century technology is so far behind 19th Century technology!

  6. #6
    Aren't there auto "casting" machines that will drop bullets at that rate of production? I'd rather have a cast lead bullet anyway...


  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Las Vegas, NV
    Part of the firearms industry does still rely on machinery made for the second (sometimes the first!) World War. Pratt & Whitney "Sine Bar" rifling machines are still prized items, and Waterbury-Farrell ammunition machines are another.

    Jim Bell of MAST has made his fortune buying / selling / reworking many of those older machines. He can also tool up new machinery for you. Currently his funded backlog is over 20 million bucks, so it may take some time to fill your order...

    Swaging a grease groove bullet could be done but as Drilling Man just pointed out, there are commercial casting machines available at significantly lower cost.

    Swaging into a hardened cavity that resembled a pair of mould blocks could be done, but the tooling cost would be outrageous. You would have to fit the ejector pins, then finish machine the cavity & flnish the pins with CNC EDM.

    I do not believe that the Minie bullets you speak of were swaged with grease grooves. Those were paper cartridge bullets, and if made to the original French design included a wood plug that fit into the conical base.

    The british government assembled a factory in 1853 to produce the Minie design at a rate of 500 bullets per minute. It was a complete plant, extruding the lead wire before it went to the forming machines. The forming machines fed wire from spools, cutting & forming Minie slugs with each stroke. That production rate was not from a single press, but several units.

    The equally fascinating production of wood base plugs involved sawing wood into square sticks a bit bigger than the finish plug, and feeding them into an automated machine to turn them & part them off. This was a spinning head machine, the wood remained stationary.

    By borrowing the technology of the day that was applied to the process of making sugar bags, the british arsenal built machinery to manufacture the "seamless cartridge bag" as they called it. Bypassing the need to make paper sheet first, the pulp was formed on fingers by using vacuum to draw the pulp onto them in an even coating. The pulp coating was removed from the finger & placed in a mould to control the outside diameter, with a wood dowel to control the inside diameter - a press mould. Heated, it would dry a batch of bags in 15 minutes.


  8. #8
    Boolit Man toecutter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Occupied California
    Why not just make a copy of the allegheny machine? If you are really interested in getting into production of swaged bullets you are going to need a fair amount of experience machining, they are constantly in need of new parts. I am at this moment working on a waterbury-farrel cold header press that is being fed pure lead wire making bullets. This is a single step process we use, after that they are thin-film polymer coated. Right now I'm designing an adjustable head spacer so you can better control the final weight of the cores. I'm probably going to spend the rest of the day machining it.

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