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Making bullets using brass cases as the jacket.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by fireman 9731, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. fireman 9731

    fireman 9731 Well-Known Member

    I saw somewhere, in last year or so, where someone was using spent brass pistol cases as jackets for rifle bullets.

    I guess they either used lead wire or cast slugs, put them in the spent cases and then swaged them to form some really neat bullets.

    Has anybody heard of this or do it?

    It seems like a good idea... economical and resourceful.

    I already reload and cast my own so I would be interested in trying it out.

    Could you use a regular swaging die to do it? Like one from C&H? Maybe size your cases that you would use for jackets first in a bullet sizing die or two and then swag the lead and it into a bullet?

    I also remember a setup that would make jacketed 22 caliber bullets using spent 22lr cases.

    Anybody have any info? I would be very interested if it isn't too cost prohibitive....
  2. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Well-Known Member

    Been done for decades.

    RCBS stands for Rock Chucker Bullet Swage and how the company started was making a Rockchucker press with swage dies to make .224 diameter bullets out of fired rimfire casings.

    Go to www.castboolits.gunloads.com and head to the swaging forum there. They will help a lot better than this forum.
  3. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Well-Known Member

    I make jacketed handgun bullets from fired pistol brass. I've made 9mm and .38/.357 bullets from .32 Auto and .380 acp brass. I'm currently working on .44 Magnum bullets from .40 S&W brass.

    You have to anneal the brass prior to swaging, to make it dead soft. Annealing the entire case, including the base, really makes a difference. For cores, I'm using cast bullets that haven't been sized or lubed yet.

    I'm forming mine in regular C-H swaging dies on a really massive Hollywood Sr. press, but I've also made them on my Rockchucker. As noted by RhinoDefense, if you'll go to the castboolits forum, there is a lot of information there, plus some pictures of my set up and some of the bullets I've made.

    Hope this helps.

  4. longdayjake

    longdayjake Well-Known Member

    I looked into doing this a long time ago and found that there are no actual savings in doing it. Not to mention the amount of time it takes. I would probably do it if I was retired and had a reloading bench in front of my TV.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

  6. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    It was either Speer or Sierra, but I saw in a book pictures of their first rifle bullets. The jackets were from fired .22LR cases.

    It would be interesting to measure just how off balance the things were, but post WWII, that all you had.
  7. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Well-Known Member

    It was Vernon Speer, who started making .22 bullets in his garage from expended .22 cases. I gave the Speer reps at the SHOT Show some of his bullets, and the box, from the early years. They believed what I gave them had been made in the garage, and were appreciative.

    Hope this helps.

  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I believe Joyce Hornady had a lot to do with that too.

    The way I understand it, Joyce Hornady & Vernon Speer built thier first swaging machine and started selling bullets in American Rifleman adds.

    They later split up, with Hornady staying in Nebraska and Speer moving to Idaho, where both companies are still located.

  9. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    I seem to recall that, as well. The press was made from a Model T axle, IIRC.
  10. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Well-Known Member

    Speer and Hornady approached Huntington about making a better swage press. That was the birth of the Rockchucker press. Speer whined to Huntington about the crappy reloading dies at the time, so he started making reloading dies for his Rockchucker swage press and machined the ram to accept the shellholders. Rest is history.
  11. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

  12. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Well-Known Member

    Um, you use fired brass off the ground you pick up for free. There is no expense in doing that. That's the point.
  13. res45

    res45 Well-Known Member

  14. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Well-Known Member

    CH-4D is backordered in some calibers at the present time. They make their dies in batches and send them to an outside vendor for heat treating, which can take from 4 to 6 weeks, depending on his workload at the time.

    As for the cost of jackets from expended brass, there is no cost for range pickups. I was setting on about 8 five gallon buckets of once fired .40 brass for awhile, and was running out of room to store it. I sold some for a few cents over scrap price on the forums, but it was more effort than it was worth, and my stockpile was building up faster than I had room to store. I finally took it to the scrap dealer and got roughly $1,900.00 for it as scrap metal. I put that money back into reloading components.

    Now I make .44 Magnum bullets from .40 brass, but that's still a limited amount of use, and it takes quite a bit of time to anneal, seat the cores, notch and swage. The finished bullet looks very similar to the Hornady XTP, but realistically, how many .44 bullets does one need? I stopped making them at about 1,000, which will keep me stocked in this caliber for awhile.... In addition to all the factory bullets I already have on hand.

    Hope this helps.

  15. fireman 9731

    fireman 9731 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info.

    Its seeming a little cost prohibitive at the time but still interesting.

    I see a lot of people making .451 bullets out of 40 S&W brass but Im looking to make .458 bullets for my 45-70. Is that as feasible?
  16. MichaelK

    MichaelK Well-Known Member

    You'll need to order a custom die set from CH if you want .458". They are about 3X the price of their stock sets. I have made .430" bullets from .40 brass with their standard .44 die set. I'm thinking of getting a .444 to shoot the very nice bullets I've made. I got my die sets early on, so I've beaten the rush. I've got .308", .357", .400", and .430". Good luck buying anything right now; as I understand it, CH has a 6-12 month waiting list for the stock sets. I would suppose that custom is even longer.

    I have to agree though with the other posters. Bullet swaging is more a labor of love rather than a cost saving measure. If you want to make inexpensive .45-70 cartridges, stick with cast. Swaging becomes a whole new hobby all in itself!

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