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Thread: Swaging bullets for 5.45x39

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    Swaging bullets for 5.45x39

    I don't currently own an AK in 5.45x39 but was wondering if anyone has ever swaged bullets for it? Could one swage .224 bullets with spent 22lr cases and size them down to .220? I'm just asking out of curiosity as I'm looking into buying a swaging setup to make my own bullets for my AR.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    You could size bullets down to what?, .219? after making them.224.

    But it is an extra step over just making them .219 I the first place.

    If making .224 bullets is also in your future, it seems like a pretty good plan to avoid buying two sets of swaging dies.

    It may come to pass that the derim die is about right to size your 5.45 bullets.
    To lazy to chase arrows.
    Clodhopper

  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    After posting this I checked to see how much brass cased ammo was for 5.45x39. Turns out there isn't any brass cased ammo available, and only one company makes brass cases at around $2 each case. I saw that some people were using 222 brass to form 5.45x39 brass but it seems like a real pain in the neck. Until brass case ammo becomes available if ever I'm writing off this caliber.

  4. #4
    Boolit Man
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    Unfortunately 5.45x39mm is one of those cartridges where in order to shoot it and you want to reload it you have to make your own cases and bullets. The currently available ammunition is all steel case berdan primed. The days of the cheap stuff are gone due the steel penerator and embargoes against Russia. Several folks over the years have manufactured boxer primed cases most notably PPU. which no longer manufactures the case and does not look to do a re-run in the future. I have found that boxer primed 5.56mm NATO military brass works the best in sizing to 5.45mm specs. I have access large amount of spent military cases and specifically look for cases where the annealing extends a little bit farther to the center of the cases than normal. I have found that LC 12 and WMA 16 brass works the best. I first clean, decap and remove the primer crimp from the 5.56mm NATO cases. In sizing the brass to 5.45mm I take out the decapping stem and with quarter turns on the 5.45mm sizing die size the 5.56mm NATO case all the way down. This will help prevent folding of the case. I have found that the thinner commercial brass will fold quite easily. The military brass also adds more brass support at the base as the 5.45mm cartridge is a bit bigger at the base. Once my 5.56mm NATO cases are sized down to the 5.45mm case. I will trim the new case down to the 5.45mm spec in a small lathe. After I am finish I do one final sizing operation with the decapping stem in the sizing die. Then the cases are cleaned and tumbled for reloading. The bullets are resized .224 bullets which Lee makes a custom order bullet sizing kit to .221 which work rather great, quick and fast. Maybe Starline will bring out the boxer primed brass case for the 5.45x39mm. I hope you find this helpful.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    Hickok's Avatar
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    Fjruple, you have gained a lot of experience and knowledge reloading this round.

    A question, how hard is it to pull the fmj bullets, and seat a sized down .224" bullet into the case, a "Mexican Match load" sort of?

    I have a scoped Arsenal Inc. AK in 5.45x39 that groups 2 MOA (excluding a wild flyer sometimes, I attribute to bad fmj bullets) with Tula and Wolf fmj. Would really like to have some good soft point ammo, and maybe get better groups and better terminal performance. Tried the Hornady V-max ammo, but it didn't shoot well at all.
    Maker of Silver Boolits for Werewolf hunting.

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by fjruple View Post
    Unfortunately 5.45x39mm is one of those cartridges where in order to shoot it and you want to reload it you have to make your own cases and bullets. The currently available ammunition is all steel case berdan primed. The days of the cheap stuff are gone due the steel penerator and embargoes against Russia. Several folks over the years have manufactured boxer primed cases most notably PPU. which no longer manufactures the case and does not look to do a re-run in the future. I have found that boxer primed 5.56mm NATO military brass works the best in sizing to 5.45mm specs. I have access large amount of spent military cases and specifically look for cases where the annealing extends a little bit farther to the center of the cases than normal. I have found that LC 12 and WMA 16 brass works the best. I first clean, decap and remove the primer crimp from the 5.56mm NATO cases. In sizing the brass to 5.45mm I take out the decapping stem and with quarter turns on the 5.45mm sizing die size the 5.56mm NATO case all the way down. This will help prevent folding of the case. I have found that the thinner commercial brass will fold quite easily. The military brass also adds more brass support at the base as the 5.45mm cartridge is a bit bigger at the base. Once my 5.56mm NATO cases are sized down to the 5.45mm case. I will trim the new case down to the 5.45mm spec in a small lathe. After I am finish I do one final sizing operation with the decapping stem in the sizing die. Then the cases are cleaned and tumbled for reloading. The bullets are resized .224 bullets which Lee makes a custom order bullet sizing kit to .221 which work rather great, quick and fast. Maybe Starline will bring out the boxer primed brass case for the 5.45x39mm. I hope you find this helpful.
    How many reloads can you get out of brass once it has been resized? I heard some people saying that a couple reloads and the cases start to split.

  7. #7
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hickok View Post
    Fjruple, you have gained a lot of experience and knowledge reloading this round.

    A question, how hard is it to pull the fmj bullets, and seat a sized down .224" bullet into the case, a "Mexican Match load" sort of?

    I have a scoped Arsenal Inc. AK in 5.45x39 that groups 2 MOA (excluding a wild flyer sometimes, I attribute to bad fmj bullets) with Tula and Wolf fmj. Would really like to have some good soft point ammo, and maybe get better groups and better terminal performance. Tried the Hornady V-max ammo, but it didn't shoot well at all.
    Hickok-- I have not tried to remove the projectiles from loaded ammunition and reload with a new projectile. But there should be no problem with a kinematic hammer or bullet puller for .22. I have probably the same thought as you as the design of the 5.45mm cartridge lends itself to be a potentially very accurate with right components. I went with an AR platform design as the rifle is a bit more accurate as a platform than the AK platform. A lot of the chambers of the AK are design to be loose for reliability. I have a AR with a 18' inch bull barrel and National Match sights. I have no problem putting a resized 55 grain bullet into an X and 10 ring of a SR-1 center at 100 yards. I would like to get one of those East German 5.45mm bolt rifle that was floating around surplus a number of years ago and really work up some loads.

  8. #8
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomR View Post
    How many reloads can you get out of brass once it has been resized? I heard some people saying that a couple reloads and the cases start to split.
    I have been getting about 6 or 7 reloads on the 5.56mm NATO brass that I have been using. I believe a lot of extended life has to do with the necks being annealed a bit more in depth on the 5.56mm NATO cases that I use.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check