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Anyone Made Their Own Swaging Molds?

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  • Anyone Made Their Own Swaging Molds?

    Has anyone ever made a set of molds/dies for swaging bullets or seen any good articles on this?
    I'm fancying having a go at making medium to heavyweight custom .22 airgun pellets in lead with a front end which just rides inside the rifling, a shorter rear section which is caught by the rifling but does not reach the od and a tapered skirt which is forced into full contact by the air pressure.
    I know these swaging molds are commercially available but I'd like something tailored to my gun and I want to play too
    Last edited by NickH; 02-24-2009, 09:51 AM.

  • #2
    The Corbin website should be able to show all you need as a machinist to make your own workable swaging dies. Their dies are first class... I used them decades ago to make .44 magnum custom bullets.

    I particularly like their die set that converts expended .22 caliber brass into .224 caliber brass jacketed bullets on the cheap!


    • #3
      been to Corbin's website, got the initial idea from there, is there any detail on making dies, seems to be all general ideas leading to the purchase of their equipment,


      • #4
        I am not sure what you are asking. Do you wish to have detailed drawing with all specifications.

        The steel has to be hard enough to hold shape, but not too hard that it is brittle. The inside has to be smooth and fit closely. There needs to be a small bleed hole for the excess lead. The nose punch is also the ejector. You will need to acquire skills in reamer making that cut smooth , Internal polishing without making dimensions change greatly. Have made a few mostly larger calibers.



        • #5
          Thanks for your reply, which looks like a definite yes and gives me some definite pointers.

          I had assumed that the nose punch would have to eject but it's nice to get confirmation from someone who's been there & done that

          I'm not looking for a detailed set of drawings, more like a procedural description of production techniques to give me a leg up & hopefully shorten my development cycle.

          I'm assuming that with a stepped outer die I'll have to make a jig to hold the nose punch an adjustable distance from the step to allow variation in length of the narrower front section then control the overall length & weight with the volume of lead used.

          All contributions greatfully received,
          Regards & Thanks,


          • #6

            i am new here however been reading posts for awhile anyway i hve recently purchased corbins press and am interested in making my own swage dies anyone know maybe the type of tool steel they use? im thinking H3.


            • #7
              .................I've made my own swage dies, and while it is not hard it IS tedious due to the accuracy you want to build in. Seven or 8 years ago I ordered a press and dies from RCE Enterprises. This is Richard Corbin, Dave's brother. I enjoy long range shooting of muzzle loaders, (to 1000 yards) and doing so with paper patched bullets is very common.

              LEFT is Richard's "Walnut Hill" press. On the RIGHT is a simple die I made to bump size cast .58 Cal Minie' bullets from basicly .575" - .580" to .595" for use in a Snider. It's simple in that there is no bleed hole to extrude lead. As a consequence when using it you have to be sensitive to the pressure you exert, or weigh the slugs into batchs or about 2/10 gr variance. Excessive pressure may stress the press, or at the least with the pressure you can exert you'll extrude lead back past the base punch.

              In this press the die screws into the hollow ram, so it's the die that moves. Before screwing the die in place you place the ejector rod in the hollow ram. The die then sits down over the ejector stem. In the top of the press a hollow threaded rod threaded in place, and this holds the base forming punch.
              In the photo of the die on the left is the ejector rod and stem. In the middle is the die body and on the right is the base forming punch.

              This is a core forming mould I made for a 2 die set (core form/bleed die and final form die) for paper patching slugs for a target rifle in 38-55. You can set the plungers to get slugs very close in weight via using the inside jaws of dial calipers.

              Continued below ................
              Son of the silver stream ..... Bullet caster.


              • #8

                LEFT Photo is the core form & bleed die. From left is the ejector, form/bleed die (bleed hole mid body), base punch, cast core and then extruded lead wire. Actually if you're extruding that much lead you're extruding WAY too much. However these photo's were from the first use, and I'd cast up a bunch of cores that were too heavy, and rather then remelt and recast them ........................ RIGHT this is the form die that gives the slug it's final shape. As before from left is the ejector ron and stem, form die, base plunger, swaged core, and a formed slug.

                LEFT photo is a closeup of a base. As you can see it's VERY uniform with a sharp base edge. RIGHT All patched up. These aren't all I'd swaged, just a sample from the 2 weights. Actually the 321gr slug were just a tad too heavy to stabilize in my 18" twist. I thought they might, but oh well.

                Continued .........................
                Son of the silver stream ..... Bullet caster.


                • #9

                  Similarly to what Nick H mentioned E.g. 'Bore riding', I made a 2nd form die in order to be able to seat the slug out a bit further for more powder space (loading with BP). LEFT photo shows the nose at .372" which is the bore my rifle has, and the RIGHT photo shows the body at .3745". The body wrapped twice with 9# 25% cotton airmail paper will net a .007" increase when dry, and .3815" over the patch. The rifle's groove is .380" and a .382" slug will drag in the throat, so .3815" gives me very good guidance and the leading edge of the patch is pressed into the leade.

                  Both these are swage dies to be used in a regular reloading press. Both are simple types with no form and bleed die. Both are also "Thumpers". You thump the ejector rod to eject the re-formed bullet.LEFT photo is a die to alter an existing cast bullet shape. Top is th ebody which threads into the press. Below it is the stop/depth setting cylinder and it has the ejector rod passing through it. By adjusting it up and down you set the length of the cavity in the die. On the left end of he ejector rod is the nose forming punch. It threads on the ejector rod. To the left is another nose form punch to form a button nosed wad cutter.

                  The punch on the rod will form a SWC. At the bottom is the base form punch, and in this case it produces a hollow base. You have to be carefull with these as most reloading press rams aren't hardened. Excessive pressure may cause the "T" slot for the shellholder to beging to collapse. This die is to swage or bump up lead slugs from .358" to .362" for the 38 S&W.

                  RIGHT photo is a similar die but to swage 45 cal slugs from a mould dropping smooth slugs for paper patching. This die does 3 things. It allplies great pressure on the slug, which will cause any casting voids to collapse, provides a more perfect base, and it also alters it to a hollowpoint design. This is done by having the ejector spin extend into the cavity the desired amount.

                  This swage die has the cavity formed inside the die body so the nose shape (unlike the other die) produces one design. Well 2 designs as one can be a solid and the other a HP. Other then that it's about the same. Top is the base plunger, die body and to it's right the depth adjusting and stop nut. At bottom is the ejector pin and rod. It isn't finished as it's end had to be threaded for a knob.

                  Last edited by Buckshot; 05-07-2009, 03:41 AM.
                  Son of the silver stream ..... Bullet caster.


                  • #10
                    What glue if any is used for the patching.I am trying to get an old 71/84 Mauser to fire again.I have some original rounds made in Karlsruhe over a hundred years ago which seem to have only one patch layer.I have extruded some lead for cores and was planning to use bare slugs but patching may be best if I use BP?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sophiedoc
                      What glue if any is used for the patching.I am trying to get an old 71/84 Mauser to fire again.I have some original rounds made in Karlsruhe over a hundred years ago which seem to have only one patch layer.I have extruded some lead for cores and was planning to use bare slugs but patching may be best if I use BP?
                      Traditionally, no adhesives are used. The idea is for the patch to detach shortly after the projectile leaves the muzzle. If the patch is retained, it's detrimental to accuracy.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HighWall
                        Traditionally, no adhesives are used. The idea is for the patch to detach shortly after the projectile leaves the muzzle. If the patch is retained, it's detrimental to accuracy.
                        The above is correct, although I have had people tell me they've used masking tape and address labels with success. I've never bothered to try it. Very possibly as a traditional paper patch is scored/cut by the lands and then blown to shreds at the muzzle by the closely following high pressure gas, the adhesive isn't an issue? Maybe their definition of success and mine differ :-) .As I said, I've not tried them.

                        Basically the paper is wetted well, and is then stretched as it is rolled on the slug. The paper at the base is rolled under the base, the base of thepatched slug is pressed tightly down onto a hard smooth surface and then given a twist, then allowed to dry. Alternately some will twist the paper over the base into a 'tail'. When dry it's clipped off. As the paper is stretched when it's rolled on, when drying it shrinks and when dry will grip the bullet tenaciously.

                        The ability of the paper to be wetted and still retain the strength to be stretched as it's rolled on, is the criteria for a paper's suitability. I had a friend who used some 4 color insert advertising paper to patch some bullets. In addition he was using a bit of toilet paper over his powder charge and a card wad under the slug. Upon shooting he had a absolute cloud of paper shreds floating around :-)

                        If you have a problem getting the paper to stick to itself, it's possible it isn't wet enough. However you can also add just a small bit of egg white to the water as an aid to 'stickiness'. Via sizing of the slug before patching, after patching, and the thickness of the paper you can achieve a very wide range of OD's. Remember, the thicker the paper to start with, the more you'll lose when it shrinks as it dries. You also do not have to have a bullet designed for patching to be successfully patched.

                        These 577-450's use a 405gr grease groove bullet as cast @.460" and then get 2 wraps of 24# bond for a dry OD of .472". If you do not have a slug in mind for your Mauser, either the Lyman or RCBS mould for the .43 Spanish will work well. They drop from the mould at about (.439" nominal) .440" or so depending upon your alloy and will weigh about 370 grs. Two wraps of 9# paper will give you a dry OD of .447" for your .446" groove, if the chamber will accept this OD. Early cartridge rifles can have issues in this regard, but you may already be aware of these. Regardless, you can easily size the patched slug down a thousandth if need be.

                        One other thing in patching is that the leading edge of the patch cannot be damaged if feeding from a magazine or in chambering. Accuracy can suffer. You can barely see in the photo that the bullet is engraved as is the patch. The patch is being pressed down into the slug and not being pushed back or wrinkled up. You might have to patch over the ogive or into a crimp or lube groove.

                        Last edited by Buckshot; 05-16-2009, 03:18 AM.
                        Son of the silver stream ..... Bullet caster.


                        • #13
                          Excellent explanation, Rick.

                          Montezuma, IA
                          David Kaiser
                          “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
                          ― Robert A. Heinlein


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 1367troy
                            i am new here however been reading posts for awhile anyway i hve recently purchased corbins press and am interested in making my own swage dies anyone know maybe the type of tool steel they use? im thinking H3.

                            I've made quite a few bullet swaging dies from .224 to .416 and my prefered steel is A-6. It's easy to machine, very stable, hardens at 1550 degrees and is air hardning i.e. no need for quenching in oil etc.

                            If you can Corbins book "Discover swaging" it has quite a bit of good information on making dies.

                            Hope this is helpfull.


                            • #15
                              Great Work Buckshot!!!

                              I have a Dave Corbin press and dies to swage .574, .568, etc., HP, SWC Minie Balls, so I am familiar with swaging techniques.

                              Anyway, Historically speaking, Metford developed the HP Enfield Ball in the mid-19th Century for use in the M/L P-53 Enfield- the idea being that the HP cavity would be filled with some type of detonating compound to blow up enemy artillery cassons from long range. Civilian British NRA shooters quickly discovered that the HP Metfords/Pritchetts shot wonderful groups at long range in their matches.

                              Shortly the time the Snider was adopted, British Ordnance appreciated the benefits of the HP round-first they filled the HP cavity with a wooden plug and in a later "Mark" of the Snider bullet, actually dispinsed entirely with the wooden plug, closing the front of the bullets HP cavity with a "spun over" lead cap.

                              BAck in the 1980's I acquired several Snider rounds of this type at a gunshow and was amazed that, while the bullet looked like a solid lead bullet, in actual fact, the "spun over" lead did a fine job in concealing the cavity within the nose of the bullet.

                              I have toyed with the idea of making up some repro Snider rounds (including the cannelures) of this type, but because making such a bullet would require a 3 piece die (excluding the nose punch for the HP) and this would require an entitely different type of (and very much more expensive) press than the Corbin Press.

                              (I have tried "roll cannelures on my Minies, but the cannelures: (1) Slightly swell the diameter of the bullet with the displaced lead on both sides of the cannelure groove & (2) The cannelures cannot be rolled wide nor deep enough in the Minies to deal with the black powder fouling. Hence, the only alternative is using paper patches in lieu of rolled cannelure grooves.)

                              What I did discover was that the SWC HP, paper patched .574 caliber bullets swaged in my Corbin Press and dies did shoot better "off the bench" at 100 yards than solid nose bullets swaged my repro, glass bedded and accurized Parker-Hale P-58 muzzleloader. Needless to say, SWC's are not "long range" bullets, but seems to do fine out to 100 yards.

                              Anyway, my question is: Have you tried HP Snider rounds in your long range shooting? Any benefits in accuracy?