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Thread: Another Bullet Making Thread (lots of photos & video)

  1. #1
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    Another Bullet Making Thread (lots of photos & video)

    It has been a few years since the forum had a tutorial on bullet swaging. The thread Stephen Perry started as well as Al Nyhus' were just great. I thought one more couldn't hurt.

    In January I decided to make my own 6mm bullets for our PPC, BR, and Wasp. After feedback from a few forum members I called George Ulrich. And was that ever a smart choice. George not only delivered everything I needed but he spent considerable time answering my countless questions. So what I'll show below are all the steps, theories I've collected, and general techniques on bullet making. Just note I'm new to this. Short of some bullets I made with my dad and Homer Culver in the 90's, I'm a complete novice.

    This'll be old hat for many of you but hopefully informative for others.

    Thanks,

    -Lee
    www.singleactions.com

  2. #2
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    Step 1 - The Work Area

    I wouldn't think of getting into this without a dedicated swaging bench. I took the DIY approach and got everything I needed at Home Deopt. Material cost ran $40 and it is fairly stout:



    You’ll see the core cutter mounted to the right edge. This one is homebuilt and I’ll cover how it works later on.



    Minus the presses and dies, here are the components needed to craft benchrest bullets (some of which I may or may not use).



    -Lee
    www.singleactions.com

  3. #3
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    Step 2 - The Dies

    After a long discussion with George, I landed on a 8.5 ogive pill from his carbide dies. Jackets have been sourced from Bart Sauter (ie, Hines Tactical, 0.820").

    Here are the Ulrich dies. The first is the core swager (aka, “squirt die”) at it’s made from steel. The second is the core seater, the third is the point-up die. Those are carbide:



    The punches. Top to bottom:

    • Core swaging punch
    • Core seating punches – 0.2110”, 0.2115”. 0.2120”, 0.2125”, and 0.2130”. These much be matched to the jacket. The appropriate size is 0.0005” under the jacket’s inner diameter.
    • Point-up punches



    At first I asked for two presses. I planned on using one for core swaging and core seating. The second would be dedicated to point forming. But I changed my mind and just ordered a third. That way I can set the dies and never worry about losing adjustment when swapped. It should arrive shortly.

    Core squirting press mounted:



    Auto-ejection top:



    A view of the punch and converted ram:





    -Lee
    www.singleactions.com
    Last edited by Lee Martin; 04-20-2016 at 10:15 AM.

  4. #4
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    Step 3 - Cutting Cores

    The first part to making bullets is core cutting. For 6mm we start with 0.185” pure lead wire that contains no more than 0.5% antimony. Higher amounts impede swaging and can be hard on the dies. Mine is 0.1%, which is pretty much plain lead.



    The wire is measured and cut to 18” lengths:





    You get 25 cores per so to make 1,000 bullets I’ll need forty. Before processing I wipe them with an acetone soaked rag. This just removes loose particles and surface contaminants.



    The core cutter - I almost ordered this until my dad said to hold off. After rummaging through his shop he found one he built in the early 1980s. Like many of his contraptions it wasn’t pretty but was way over-engineered. The plates are half-inch steel tensioned by a small-block Chevy valve spring. Its cutting inserts are machined out of 4140 and honed 0.192”. This supports the rod and still gives it adequate room to drop.



    Underneath is the stop. He used a plain bolt with the top ground smooth. This is moved up and down until the desired core weight is reached. Then the nut is locked in place (note the Chevy valve spring):



    We want the core overweight prior to swaging. Excess is bled off under pressure, giving uniform height, weight, and diameter. Calculations are as follows. In this case I’m aiming for a 67 grain bullet:

    Cut core weight = (total bullet weight) – (jacket weight) + 2 grains
    My jackets average 22.40 +/- 0.01
    Cut core weight = (67.0) – (22.40) + (2.0) = 46.60 grains

    The stop is adjusted until they land around 46.60. Plus/minus variations of 0.10 are acceptable.



    Top view of the cutter:



    Always discard the first core off a rod. The hand snipped end is never flush. Here’s a brief video of me blanking cores:



    It takes about an hour to make 1,000.

    -Lee
    www.singleactions.com
    Last edited by Lee Martin; 04-19-2016 at 12:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    Lee, I admire and envy those who can and do all of the necessities for BR shooting. You not only make your own action, but your own bench w/ cover and now your own bullets. Congratulations and best of luck in your shooting endeavors. James Mock

  6. #6
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    Nice pics and set-up - a good beginning, Lee.
    The scissor style cutters are a little slow, but can produce very precise slugs. Good bullet making! RG

  7. #7
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    Yep, some nice stuff there Lee! How much for 20,000 bullets? Just kidding of course...

    R.G. - what other kind of core cutters are there?

  8. #8
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    Good stuff, Lee.

    Maybe R.G. will post a pic of his 'Yama-Honda-Zuki' core cutter....slicker than slick! I cut cores at his place with it and smiled for a week afterward!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Nyhus View Post
    Good stuff, Lee.

    Maybe R.G. will post a pic of his 'Yama-Honda-Zuki' core cutter....slicker than slick! I cut cores at his place with it and smiled for a week afterward!
    Thanks guys. And that does sound slick Al. Of course, if I were smart I'd buy them direct from Charlie. But I'm stubborn and like doing everything myself.

    I'll also have the piece on core lubrication and swaging up in the next day or two.

    -Lee
    www.singleactions.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilbur View Post
    Yep, some nice stuff there Lee! How much for 20,000 bullets? Just kidding of course...

    R.G. - what other kind of core cutters are there?
    Well, there's the one, that Al mentions, below (ok- above here), dreamed-up by yours truly and my [late] Uncle, Ray - when combined with, as Al calls it, "BLACK JUICE", and a tolerance for boredom, one can crank out about 3.5K slugs per hour. Used to be some pics on the SGR forum, where I once posted a "how to" thread, complete with pics, but I think they got dumped a long time ago.

    Also, don't laugh at the red press(es) - the desirability of the Lee Classic Cast presses came to me many years ago - albiet second-hand - from Ferris Pindell! That story, including my original conversion, was also, once posted on the SGR site. Mr. Pindell wasn't, exactly, a closet idiot . . .

    With regards to both radial and axial alignment, just as my spies were informed by Mr. Pindell, the Lee Cast press, "blows the competition out of the water" - and at 1/2 the price . . . oh, and MADE in THE USA! And I almost forgot - the most readily convertible press you're apt to find. RG
    Last edited by R.G. Robinett; 04-20-2016 at 12:14 PM.

  11. #11
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    Making everything yourself is really the way to go if you're just making your own bullets. The time and energy saved by getting cores from Charlie Hood is tremendous if you make a lot of bullets. "Bullet count wise", it may actually be cost effective but I don't know....somebody knows if they will post.

  12. #12
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    The SECOND happiest day of my shooting life might have been the day I opened all of those boxes to see my new bullet making equipment.

    The HAPPIEST day of my shooting life was probably the day I stood up and said...... "screw this, I'm calling (insert name of bullet maker)".

  13. #13
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    Lee - your lead wire looks pretty straight, and you may be doing this already, but if you roll the lead wire (all pieces at once) under a small board it will make it perfectly straight. Only takes a couple of seconds and straight wire is a good thing...

  14. #14
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    For the confused, you cut slugs first,(this is where you roll a short length of wire between two boards) then you insert the slug into the squirt die to squirt the cores. Just pointing out the difference between a rough slug and a finished core.

  15. #15
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    Charlie is DA MAN.
    I got a shipment the other day.....Cleaned and boiled today....Nice.
    I thought to make some .224 bullets a few years ago. George just happened to have a used set of dies. Charlie only does .22 lead once a year.
    So I am talking to Lowell. He says he's got a squirt die I can borrow. All good.
    The lead wire shows up 3mos. later. I was in the middle of 2 operations when it showed up. WOW. That was heavy...I remember rolling the box. Then the spool up stairs....
    I Hope that Charlie and Cheryl Hood live long and natural lives....I hope to never squirt lead again. Mind blowing boring stuff.
    Heck, even not natural if the lead cores keep getting made.
    Oh, and I forgot to cancel my order from Charlie. It came a day after finishing the cores.....So I ordered more jackets.....EH!

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