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Thread: Learning curve with new swage dies and making bullets?

  1. #1
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    Learning curve with new swage dies and making bullets?

    I'm interested to hear all stories of the learning curve you all experienced with your first set of swage dies and/or additional sets of swage dies in a different caliber. Doesn't matter what what brand or caliber.

    What challenges did you encounter?

    What went well? What didn't?

    What was easier then expected? what was more difficult?

    What took longer? What went quicker?

    etc. etc.......

    My hope here it to help others that are/or possibly will be experiencing the same challenges. I also hope to be able to better my products and/or instruction manuals to make this learning curve as easy as possible.

    I'll share a few...many stories of my own personal experiences as I have time, maybe even some experiences I have helped customer's threw (while changing the names to protect the innocent ).

    I suppose it would be a good thread to also list anything that may have helped the process of making better, faster or higher production numbers. What techniques did you find out for yourself that worked well? What didn't..... etc.

    For example I know a customer that mentioned the use of a progressive press with auto feed brass and cast bollit core feeder to complete the first few steps of making 40 cal bullets from 9mm. He used the progressive to 1. bell the case 2. seat the core (simply push 120 grain cast boolit into bottom of 9mm brass) and 3. XTP notch the topof the case. When he was done with a run he had thousands of pieces of brass with seated core and notched tip ready for one final point form in a single stage press. I recall he made over 50,000 bullets in the first couple months he had the dies.

    Good shooting and swage on!

    Brian
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I'm having trouble forming a consistent nose with full length 9x19 brass. I'm trying to stay below 175 gr. .399 jacketed with a B.T. one step die. So I'm going to trim the brass enough to minutely expose the lead at the tip.

    I decided to buy an RCBS trim pro2 powered. (Midway has the best price.) The spring loaded cutter arm is really nice. My first project was to trim .40 S&W to .74". No saw involved. I trimmed enough to develop my .45" bullets (pills, just to bug that one member). Then to bell them and seat the core with B.T's die. Run them into a .243 case sizing die (ala MannyCA), then through a lee .451 bullet sizing die. I'm hoping for a consistent soft nosed bullet (pill). More to come. Heck I may even learn how to post photoes.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
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    Please use videos, is a lot easier to understand watching the procedure.

  4. #4
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    Videos....? Sure. Any other info you have to share?

    How about this one...

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp862k3bMs8&t=79s

    Or any of these..

    https://m.youtube.com/user/BTSniper1911/videos


    BT
    Last edited by BT Sniper; 03-03-2020 at 08:19 PM.
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    Back in stock with new low price!
    Click link below!
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    also check in and say hello on my new face book page!
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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy PWS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdfoxinc View Post
    I'm having trouble forming a consistent nose with full length 9x19 brass...
    Could be due to varying "case capacity" even with same head stamp brass? All I've used for jackets is spent brass and some lots/batches are super consistent, others... not so much. I haven't tried weighing them or messing around with it much, just know it can be a PITA sometimes.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I've been weighing each case and adjusting the core to +- 1 gr. Less thank 180 hr bullet the lead doesn't fill out around the HP pin. Making the nose out of balance.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    Learning the feel of how much pressure to seat a core takes a bit of time. The proper amount of lube for different tasks is a learning experience. How hard you can push a bullet in to the point die before it gets stuck is an on hands only proposition.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    (1) I have learned to STOP when the force needed to run the press arm becomes excessive. It is an expensive lesson to learn (twice).

    (2) It is better to use too much case lube when drawing down a 9mm case to make a .357 jacket. If case gets stuck, a lead core can be used to grab and push the case through. Sometimes putting the die in the freezer overnight helps.

    (3) Swaging is not an exact science, it is a culmination of quality tools, dies and experience in front of the press.

    (4) Too much time in front of the press makes the wife angry...

    (5) Take notes, lots of them. It saves time re-inventing the wheel when changing core weights and jacket lengths.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I trimmed a batch of 40 S&W to .74" long. Placed a 175 gr lyman .40 pure lead bullet in each. Notched the top of the brass in my hornsby blank making die, then seated the core with a Lee .429 bullet sizing die ram up into a .308 sizing die. Then nose formed into a .243 sizing die. Next is running the resulting bullets through a .451 bullet sizing die.

    Brian I sent yo an email requesting a custom .45 push rod. Please respond.

    Also have you recreated your method of rolling the brass over into the hollow point? I was reading one of your old threads where you showed some bullets with this done to them but you did not explane how.
    Last edited by jdfoxinc; 03-09-2020 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Added comment
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  10. #10
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    random thoughts:

    If working for maximum consistency, then I run enough to get the dies to temp, (100 or so, depending on design) and then maintain pace until done, with the bullets used to warm things up being used for load development or fouling bullets.

    Prettier bullets may not shoot better inherently, but I find myself treating them like they will subconsciously.

    Point forming dies aren't that hard to make, but point forming dies that work well and give the dimensions and finish you want ARE hard to make. So I'll keep buying them from people who are better at it than I am.

    More pressure isn't always the best thing.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    What do all of you trim your .40 brass to for 230 gr bullets? I trimmed my first batch to .74" that is perfect for 250 gr bullets. But still has a bit of brass extending beyond the lead with 230 gr.

    I still want to know how to roll the brass into the HP on 9x19 brass made into 175 gr .40 cal bullets.
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  12. #12
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    Do you mean like this?



    I don't trim casings to make swaged bullets. All I do is use BT's Notching Die and then use the hollowpoint forming punch to fold the excess into the hollowpoint. They open up just like Hornady's XTP bullets.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I'm using B.T.'s one step 9x19 to .40 die. I drop core in brass, notch with a blank making die, and into one step. This will require a core seating step. I'll have to figure something out. Many my lee universal flairing die to seat core, then one notch, then one step.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ReloaderFred View Post
    Do you mean like this?



    I don't trim casings to make swaged bullets. All I do is use BT's Notching Die and then use the hollowpoint forming punch to fold the excess into the hollowpoint. They open up just like Hornady's XTP bullets.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    Is that a H&G#55 soup can for a core? Also, how do you determine where you put your cannelure?

    Oh and on subject of the thread. Brian most my issues are with point forming and determining how much exposed lead at the tip/point. I swage .45 boolits. But I am using CHd dies. Sorry. Some day I’ll get yours.
    Last edited by nccaster77; 03-16-2020 at 09:53 PM.

  15. #15
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    No, it's a Magma 148 gr. WC mold. The picture is of .429" bullets, but I make all my swaged bullets the same way. I've got CH swaging dies for .357", .361", .400", .410", .429" and .452". For me, trimming brass just takes too much time, so I just fold the excess brass down into the the hollowpoint. It doesn't seem to affect how they open up, and to tell you the truth, most of them are used to shoot paper, dirt clods and pieces of clay birds on the impact berm.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Brian. I didn't mean to monopolize this thread.

    Any way, I attempted to reproduce ReloaderFred's rolling of the brass into the HP without success. The Hornady blank making die I have crimps untrimmed 40 S&W brass till it looks like a loaded blank. Because I'm using a .243 sizing die to point form the bullet I don't have a HP forming punch. I think these to be longer than 230 hr hardball bullets. (I apologize for not posting photos I'm still learning.) Then the 9x19 brass is shorter so it only gets crimped just enough for your "one step" die HP forming punch to enter the crimp. If I keep the total weight down to 175 gr the lead does not get formed completely around the punch forming an unbalanced bullet.
    Last edited by jdfoxinc; 03-21-2020 at 06:17 PM.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I use drawn 5.56 brass to make 30 caliber bullets.
    There is some variance in jacket weights even if I sort by headstamp.
    To get consistent bullet weights, I now set in an underweight cast core and add lead bits until I reach the desired weight +/- .1 grain.
    I skip the core swage and core seating steps and instead melt the core into the jacket with some flux added.
    As can be seen in the photo there is some difference in how much lead shows despite the consistent weights.
    For appearance, I sort out the best bullets, but get 3 shots groups with the rejects which are just over a 1/4" at 100 yards when using my Ruger #1.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I too have noticed some variation in the noses of 224 bullets formed with 22 lr case jackets. I have had slightly better luck using cores swaged in an old Biehler & Astles core swage die. They used an idea that seems to have been lost in the intervening 60 years since the die was made or maybe it's just too expensive to make the die using their system. The die produces a core with a slight taper of .002 to .003 and the internal punch forms a slightly rounded edge on the small end of the core. This makes sense to me because the shape of the core more closely matches the shape of the inside of the jacket. B&A or maybe it was Halgrimsom proved that with cores shaped in this manner there were fewer imperfections between the lead and the jacket wall by dissolving the jacket and examining the core. Evidently, small amounts of air are trapped in the core affecting the nose and unbalancing the bullet. These cores seem to work better for me than parallel sided cores.

    Bob

    PS: These cores do require that cores be placed in the jackets with the smaller end with the slightly rounded corners down.
    Last edited by midnight; 03-30-2020 at 03:30 PM.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Grullaguy what do you use to draw down your .223 brass?
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  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdfoxinc View Post
    Grullaguy what do you use to draw down your .223 brass?
    I use BT Sniper draw dies. I have .350", .330", .318", .312" and .307"

    I anneal and clean between each draw to ensure consistency and prolong die life.

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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