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I am going to get into reloading soon and I have read about swaging bullets. This seems to be the best way to make bullets but I have never heard of anyone who actually did this. Is there something that I am missing? Swaged Minnie balls from the Civil War that I own seem perfect and spin like a top on their nose.
 

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Long, long ago - when I first got into reloading - people swore by swaging cast bullets. As I recall, the idea was that you would cast your bullets, then squeeze the heck out of them, to make them more consistent (and to prevent any air pockets inside from unbalancing the bullet).

I don't hear much about swaging anymore. Maybe that's because commercial cast bullets are fairly cheap and pretty consistent, and even plated bullets are so inexpensive these days.

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Originally posted by jpwright:
As I recall, the idea was that you would cast your bullets, then squeeze the heck out of them, to make them more
Cast and swaged are two different things. After casting bullets, they are sized (or swaged) thru a die that forms them to a certain diameter. But, swaged bullets are made by using preformed lead that is run thru a die to form them, thereby, the swaged ones are always much softer than cast. Swaging is more expensive to do and I don't really know why people do it.
 

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I think they do it because they can. With the current selcetion of factory bullets and the prices on swaging equipment, that's got to be the case.

I thought about swaging bullets a few years ago so I could make my own jacketed bullets. The price of equipment made me change my mind.

Trying to swage down a cast bullet would probably wreck the equipment unless it was cast from very soft alloy. That technique is a possibility, but you'd then have to buy casting equipment as well only to turn out a basically inferior bullet compared to a plain cast bullet.
 

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Swaging was done by devoted shooters during World War II when bullets were not available. Using fired .22 rimfire cases for jackets, they could build some pretty fair bullets. At least they were better than nothing.

Modern jacketed bullets are so well designed and produced that no home reloader could come close to the quality, and certainly not for the price.

Lead pistol bullets can be swaged, but, as WP pointed out, the set-up is expensive, and you have to purchase consistent diameter soft lead wire to fit the machine.

Cast bullets can be as good as most pistols can appreciate, and better than most shooters. You can use scrap lead wheel weights, and the set-up is inexpensive.

Swaging is for the advanced experimenter, usually a bench rest shooter, who wants to relearn all the lessons himself and has unlimited time and money to do so.
 

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About corbin presses and making swaged bullets: you can make excellent bullets, but the equipment is expensive and unless you like spending a lot of time and effort into making your own bullets I suggest just casting or bulk buying cheap ones.
 
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