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Swaging v. Casting

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Pigoutultra, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Pigoutultra

    Pigoutultra Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Near Fort Dix, NJ
    Why is it that bullet casting is far more popular than bullet swaging for the home reloader? Isn't casting more dangerous? Even if the risk is minimal their is still more risk than swaging. I have heard of people combining the two, first casting their bullets, then swaging them to perfection.
  2. 243winxb

    243winxb Mentor

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hopewell Big Woods
    Swaging dies are costly. Casting not that dangerous unless you have water dripping from overhead. http://www.corbins.com/
  3. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Mentor

    Apr 28, 2005
    Oregon Coast
    I do both, casting and swaging. Casting is much faster. In fact, it's much, much faster than swaging. I just finished up swaging a run of a little over 800 .44 Magnum bullets. In the time it took me to swage them, I could have cast, sized and lubed roughly 5,000 bullets of the same caliber. Of course the cast bullets wouldn't be jacketed like the swaged ones are.

    As to danger, the only danger is the heat involved in casting and handling molten metal. With swaging, you only have to keep your fingers out of the way or you'll injure yourself when running the punch into the die. Of course there are always the precautions you take with handling lead with either of them, which are basically the same as shooting. Wash your hands, don't eat while casting, swaging or shooting, don't put your fingers in your mouth or nose, don't smoke, etc., until you've thoroughly washed your hands.

    Dies for swaging also cost more than bullet molds, and if you get really serious about swaging, you'll end up with a dedicated swaging press. It's possible to use "some" loading presses for swaging pistol caliber bullets, such as the RCBS Rockchucker and some of the older Hollywood presses, but most reloading presses aren't up to the job and will eventually break.

    With bullet casting, you can do it cheaply, or go into it whole hog (which I've done) and spend as much as you can afford. There are all kinds of machines and tools to make certain tasks easier and more productive. It's just up to you how much you want to spend.

    Hope this helps.

  4. BFG9k

    BFG9k New Member

    Oct 19, 2009
    I believe the OP is wondering about unjacketed swaged bullets.

    Most swaging dies are only designed to work with pure soft lead, and will break when used with excessively hard lead alloys. Casters are, for the most part, cheap and don't like to purchase new lead--we scrounge for scrap lead like wheelweights for our cheap bullets and the extra hardness from the antimony and tin is helpful. Why?

    If you believe Richard Lee in his reloading manual, pure lead with a BHN of 5-6 is only strong enough to work with loads up to 6399-7679psi with accuracy and without leading. This would severely limit velocity and is the reason swaged bullets are generally either jacketed or plated afterwards. Jackets have been ridiculously expensive for some years now (as much as complete commercial jacketed bullets!) and did I mention we are cheap?

    Scrap wheelweights often have a BHN of about 14 which is good to 18,000psi, and Linotype is around 21 which is good to 27,000psi. So the answer is because you can get a perfectly suitable bullet for a lot less expense and labor per bullet with casting. If you exceed these pressures jacketed starts to make sense because the hardest lead alloys are expensive, but the unfortunate situation with the jackets and high startup cost has made swaging unprofitable unless you use empty fired cases as the jackets (there are now dies for this!).

    I've found I have to try many different molds and commercial bullets to find the one bullet that shoots best in my guns, and it would truly suck to go through the expense of tooling up for swaging only to find the end product will not shoot worth anything! I expect it would be easier to sell a mold, or even the bullets you had to buy 1,000 of at a time, than specialized swaging equipment.
  5. DM~

    DM~ Senior Member

    Jan 6, 2011
    upper mid west
    I have been both, casting and swageing since the 70's, and the cost of equipment alone keeps most folks from swageing.

  6. Sport45

    Sport45 Senior Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Houston, TX
    That's what stopped me. :)

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