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Thread: Questions about sizing down jacketed bullets

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Questions about sizing down jacketed bullets

    I have a newfound interest in my Winchester Self Loading rifles as of late. I cast for them, and have purchased vintage and new production jacketed soft point bullets ($$$$$$), but am wishing to dive into sizing down 0.410" jacketed or semi-jacketed bullets to 0.406" and 0.358" to 0.351".
    I plan on using a hydraulic press for this process (to save both my RCBS press and my body!) to push these projectiles through a piece of Jadco QT Plus drilled to an appropriate size. The QT Plus is 1.25", my pieces are irregular leftovers from a buddy - largest is approximately 16"x24".
    Questions are:
    - Is it necessary to undersize to 0.405" (or what size?) to account for spring back?
    - Is it necessary to anneal these bullets prior to sizing? Would it help at all? Or will that affect the jacket integrity?
    - Is using the next bullet as a follower to push the first bullet in line likely to distort the bullet? Or possibly cause problems with the jacket / core interface? Would it be better to push through in a single push?
    - Does speed of the push affect the final product? I am thinking in terms of heat (The press I have available can exert its pressure quite quickly if desired).
    - Would it be necessary or beneficial to cool the working surfaces as I go? I'm thinking of water is all.

    My plan is to get the piece cut and drilled by the same friend that gave it to me, and will likely need to purchase appropriate bits for the job. I do not have any efficient means of cutting or drilling this. Then I plan on making them in long runs to minimize the number of trips to the press location.

    I would appreciate any help with my questions and please feel free to tear down my ideas if something seems impractical or flat wrong. I am very inexperienced with this entire endeavour - so apologies if that shows!

    Thank you!

    p.s. I think there is a thread on this somewhere..... I'll be darned if I can find it though!!!
    Mods please move this if I posted it in the wrong section.


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  2. #2
    I don't know if drilling, alone, will give you the finish and concentricity you will want for sizing down bullets. You might consider finishing with a reamer after drilling slightly undersize.

    Degree of springback will likely depend on the specific bullet, including such factors as jacket thickness and design. There may be some trial and error involved.

    Soft point bullets would likely be deformed if used to push other bullets through the die. FMJ maybe not, based on the reductions you describe, but a long, thin nose could get bumped, and in any event it should not be too hard to come up with a steel pusher 1.25" long if that's a problem.

    I can't tell if this is a hobby or commercial production--a 16x24 steel plate seems pretty big for a bullet sizing die. I don't think hobby production would reach a speed where cooling is an issue (although some lube would help) or a hydraulic press would be needed, but if you're talking mass production, you have gone beyond my experience. If this is hobby, you might try it out on your press first--as I said, this doesn't look like that much of a reduction, and it's not the same has swaging brass--lead core bullets can be pretty soft and giving. It might also be possible to accomplish your goal using press-mounted lee or similar sizing dies--I see Titan has .351 BL bullet sizers in stock, and in ordinary times I think Lee makes custom sizes.

    Good luck.
    --DJ

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    It’s been a while, but back when I was shooting smokeless muzzle loading rifles there were a lot of guys sizing down bullets to shoot out of their guns and shooting sabotless. I was shooting sabotless but I could shoot without sizing in my Savage ML2. There’s a couple of places making dies to do this and most of the guys doing it were using some type of arbor press to do it with. Go visit dougsmessageboard.com for more info.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Thank you for the replies!
    Definitely NOT a commercial operation - merely my own use and thinking about a few thousand projectiles total lifetime production.
    The size of the raw materials is just what I have available.
    I did look into commercial sizing dies, but I had these hunks of metal that I've just been using for making targets that is harder than a stepmother's heart that I figured would do the job.
    I appreciate the comment concerning concentricity - it looks like my buddy has appropriate drill sizes and thinks that buffing out holes would be better than trying to finish drill them the first time. I see what you are getting at with the jacket thickness playing a part in springback! What time frame are you looking at for "maximum" springback? Thinking in terms of cast bullets growing with age.
    With all of that in mind, I may test drill and size a smaller scrap with multiple sizes for a test drive before making a finished product.

    Sometimes I swear I ask questions that only lead to another dozen! I appreciate all of the knowledge and patience and willingness to share.

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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Hope this helps: some years ago I ordered .406 and .351 die sets for my WSL's. Fast forward to my interest in 10mm carbines. I swaged bullets to .406 and used a Lee push thru sizer in .401 to draw down. No problems whatsoever and accuracy was comparable, or nearly so, to Hornady factory .400's. Never tried .358's down to .351 as no need to. A lee push thru sizer is inexpensive enough. A drilled hole is not round. by the way...

  6. #6
    As JRL' said, drilled holes are not round, and while buffing or polishing might make them smoother, I just don't think you are going to be able to buff a drilled out-of-round hole and make it round with the specific diameter you seek. If you can, your skills far exceed anything I will ever be able to do. Reaming or boring on a lathe, followed by polishing, is doable, but I don't see success with drilling.

    I get the, "I already have these great raw materials" piece, but for the effort it would take, you might be time ahead to try carving a 1911 frame from scratch.

  7. #7
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    Those holes would have to be precision honed to finished size. Drill or reamer either one will leave a rough finish, and a reamer cuts different size holes depending on the hardness of the material. You can finish ream a .400" hole in mild steel, but the same reamer won't cut a .400" hole in hardened steel.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throats honed? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Click here to send me a PM You can also find me on Facebook Click Here.

  8. #8
    Boolit Man
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    Ive special ordered LEE bullet sizers for odd diameters. Hand polished if needed. I have one that is .300 that i put .308 bullets through, so no problem for you there.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master 243winxb's Avatar
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    I think Corbin said sizing down more the .005" may result in a loose core. Or was it .008" ? http://www.corbins.com/

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Isn’t a 9mm .406 at the mouth? Can you use a standard sizing die? I am not sure on spring back. My .452 swaging dies are dead on and so are my bullets.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 243winxb View Post
    I think Corbin said sizing down more the .005" may result in a loose core. Or was it .008" ? http://www.corbins.com/
    That is the interesting thing to me. From what I gather, that is a potential no matter how many steps are taken to size down?
    Wow there's a lot I didn't even perceive as an issue with this process!


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  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    i loaded for my brothers 401 wsl. i sized down Hornady 0.410 xtps and some cast bullets to 0.4065 or 0.407 with a lapped lee push through sizer. IIRC, the force to size was no more than full length sizing some brass cases. I used a rockchucker.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by BK7saum View Post
    i loaded for my brothers 401 wsl. i sized down Hornady 0.410 xtps and some cast bullets to 0.4065 or 0.407 with a lapped lee push through sizer. IIRC, the force to size was no more than full length sizing some brass cases. I used a rockchucker.
    Now there is a process I would love to learn more about. What size did you lap the die to? Was it a single pass? Or stepped down?
    I would really enjoy hearing about your experience!

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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    I took a Lee 0.401 die and used emory cloth/sandpaper on a dowel with a drill and lapped out the 0.401 die to 0.406 or 0.4065. I used kerosene or cutting oil on the sandpaper to keep from loading up the paper. I dont remember it taking that long. I started woth 180 or 220 and as I got closer to my target, I switched to 800 grit and finally 1500 grit for the polish. I overshot my target of 0.406 by just a little, but the sized bullets still chambered easily in my converted 7.62x39 brass. That is another story.

    If you do a search, there are more detailed posts about lapping out sizing dies.

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