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Thread: Bullet swaging questions.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    San Antonio, Texas
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    18

    Bullet swaging questions.

    It was recently suggested to me to up my game, I should consider getting set up and learning to swage my own bullets. I know little or nothing about swaging bullets, process, equipment, supplies, cost effectiveness, etc. Was wondering if anyone could get me pointed in the right direction, any advice appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Mt Pleasant Michigan
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    Figure about $5000 to gather everything you will need. Then when you get done, you realize you can't make as good of bullets as you can buy.
    I have the t shirt.
    Joe

  3. #3
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    Jun 2004
    Location
    Maryland
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    Swaging Bullets

    "Then when you get done, you realize you can't make as good of bullets as you can buy."

    If that quote is true, please explain why all of the top level BR shooters use custom swaged bullets.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Tennessee
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    5,284
    Here's the deal...and I write this from experience. The bullets you make will shoot well in somebody's rifle but maybe not your rifle. Bullet makers tend to shoot their bullets, win or lose, when there's a particular bullet that might shoot better...or even best. Those that have gathered multiple pointing dies have a better chance of making a bullet that will win given any barrel. Does a ten thousandth here or there matter? Yes, it does matter.

    That said, there are dies that make a bullet that will shoot well in many barrels and some dies that make a bullet that will shoot well in only a few barrels. Thing is, you don't know what you'll get and you simply can't make a judgement using a micrometer. You have to shoot the darn things and see what happens.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Tennessee
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    Didn't answer the question!

    Don't know what the cost is these days but I'll list some items needed to make bullets.

    Nearly pure lead wire
    Jackets
    Various lubricants
    Short board to roll the wire straight
    Core cutter
    Core swaging die
    Core cleaner (various methods)
    Bullet block (optional)
    Jacket washer (various)
    Core seating die
    Pointing die

    The core seating and pointing die may be steel or carbide but the core swaging die is likely steel. Carbide is way more expensive than steel but will last a long, long time. If you plan to make bullets just for yourself then steel is the better choice (opinion). Another consideration is that you might be able to sell carbide dies, should you desire, but steel dies don't sell very well....on average.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    100

    Bullet swaging

    Quote Originally Posted by JDBraddy View Post
    It was recently suggested to me to up my game, I should consider getting set up and learning to swage my own bullets. I know little or nothing about swaging bullets, process, equipment, supplies, cost effectiveness, etc. Was wondering if anyone could get me pointed in the right direction, any advice appreciated.
    What is the highest level do you think you can successfully compete at ? At some point in the swaging process you will most likely question ,do i want to shoot or swage bullets. It's a lot of work. Many good bullet wagers out there . You should be able to find a bullet that will work. Quality swaging equipment is not inexpensive and will likely cost almost what a new competition rifle will cost.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    45

    Making bullets

    Joe, I think you are a little low on your number. I think it is closer to $9000 to get set up with an inventory of supplies. I pondered over making my on bullets for years because I thought that there was “Black Magic” involved. I did my homework and asked a million questions before taking the leap. It has been a frustrating journey and I am just beginning.
    As to what is the highest level you can compete at, just look at the NBRSA Nationals results. 4-gun 13 of top 20 3- gun. 10 of top 13 and 2 gun 9 of top 11 make their own bullets.
    It is just a decision you have to make. Most of these bullet makers do not sell their bullets to the public so it is not a profit center for them. I feel at least I can control my quality level, this is not saying that I can make a better bullet but I can try my best to make the best bullet and what a great satisfaction it is when you shoot with your own bullets and finish strong.
    Harley Baker

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
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    682
    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Harren View Post
    "Then when you get done, you realize you can't make as good of bullets as you can buy."

    If that quote is true, please explain why all of the top level BR shooters use custom swaged bullets.
    Do they make their own or buy them? Chances are they buy them from someone who who has put forth the effort to make the quality the market demands or they make enough to fill their needs and sell some extras once their product becomes known.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    8,076
    We have quite a few top quality bullet makers that supply bullets for winners throughout the shooting season.

    True, many shooters make their own. I did at one time, I still have all of my equipment.

    But I can not make a better Bullet than I can buy from a top notch Benchrest Bullet Maker.

    So I buy mine. At this time, I shoot both BIB's and Barts.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2003
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    Down By the Cedar River
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    1,386
    Not sure what my entry cost into bullet making was, but I sure agree with Mr Baker on the rest of his points. I've still got a lot to learn about bullet making. But, winter is long here in Iowa and I need to stay busy.

    Later
    Dave
    Last edited by Dave Coots; 10-08-2018 at 12:11 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lower Dakota Territory
    Posts
    2,281
    I really enjoyed making BR bullets. There are a lot of subtle things that add up to a great bullet....if you're a meticulous and mechanically inquisitive person, it can be very satisfying.

    The best piece of 'equipment' to have a is a mentor that makes great bullets and is familiar with the dies you're going to use.

    Good shootin'. -Al

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Coignières - France
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    127

    Making your own bullets

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Nyhus View Post
    I really enjoyed making BR bullets. There are a lot of subtle things that add up to a great bullet....if you're a meticulous and mechanically inquisitive person, it can be very satisfying.

    The best piece of 'equipment' to have a is a mentor that makes great bullets and is familiar with the dies you're going to use.

    Good shootin'. -Al
    I totally agree with both Harley Baker and Al Nyhus, you need the best equipment you can afford and a GOOD mentor and like Harley said what a pleasure when you win a match with your own bullets!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    S.E. MI
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    2,408
    Here's some of the down side.
    Before I got my dies, presses, jackets, er, whatever.....I axed a lot of questions.
    And I got a 30-45 min discussion/lecture on the bad side of making bullets. This guy will remain name less.....he makes really good bullets...
    But, the guy who talked me into it. More of a shove off the cliff..... He is gone.
    Anyway.
    You can get good jackets these days. And last heard there is no shortage. Thanks Bart and George.....!!! It might take months to get jackets....
    Lead sometimes takes months. Charlie Hood has the best lead cores. And I don't know of anyone making Lead cores, but Charlie Hood.
    "In the before times". Less than 10 yrs ago. Jackets and lead could make BAD BULLETS! And it's not the bullet makers fault.....
    Then your dies/bullets may not work. With your barrels.....

    I took off a barrel 3 weeks ago. Gave it to another guy. He's very happy with it. Bart's Ultra's(really old and from another guy....) and this barrel worked. Old bullets and a new barrel worked. That is not the norm.
    Once the bullets are gone, they are gone......and you have a chunk of junk stainless steel that won't shoot.....
    Best group I could get at 200y was a .313" at Holton(next was a 1.4"). And No zero's at 100y. Can't win with no zero's......

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    S.E. MI
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    2,408
    It's a tough decision.
    To make bullets.

    And this SPORT is NOT for QUITTERS!
    80% of the people, that try it are QUITTERS.......BR shooting that is ...........

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    S.E. MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarlosP View Post
    I totally agree with both Harley Baker and Al Nyhus, you need the best equipment you can afford and a GOOD mentor and like Harley said what a pleasure when you win a match with your own bullets!
    Yep. It's great.
    Only won 1 2-gun......3 range records, and almost beat the 2 gun record .1931. My 2 gun score .1945....so close....
    7 plaques and 1 trophy. Then 4 plaques at the ER winter meeting.....
    That was a good weekend.........

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