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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:39 am 
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Making .224 bullets for loading 223 Remington.
Can make anything from 40-80 grain bullets jhp or soft tip.
500 62 grain jhp using wheel weights and spent 22lr cases
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From left: 22lr case, .224 jacket. Lead core, finished swage bullet, factory bullet.


You need:
Dies
This part costs the most money
there are a couple ways to get dies
You can make them if you have a machine shop and patience
You can buy them from a dentist that makes them part time. Mr Blackmon, a quick search here will turn up results on how to contact him http://castboolits.gunloads.com
You can buy them from a guy that makes them for a living Corbin. link to the Kit:
Corbin Swage Dies
I chose the 3rd route. $783.00+ S&H. Corbin also has several books he offers as free PDFs that you can read to find out more about swaging.

1lb Hard Rubber or wooden mallet

Reloading press
I used my RCBS AmmoMaster but from my research any heavy duty press will work the RCBS Rockchucker is a low cost favorite.
Warning: You are applying a lot of pressure and you may break your press. Must be a single stage press that uses standard dies or a swaging press.

22LR spent cases
You pick these up off the ground anywhere guns are shot. I sorted by brand so that the material and weight would be uniform. The batch I made used federal cases I still have a coffee can or 3 full of them from various manufacturers.
Step One: pick up and sort
Step Two: wash, I used an old pot that i don't cook food in and boiled them with dish detergent and vinegar a couple of times while stirring occasionally, then rinsing and drying on an old towel a few days, you want them to be as dry as you can.

Lead
I acquired mine from melting wheel weights I got free from tire shops, I already had a casting pot.
I used a core mold to make my cores. The core mold comes in the Corbin kit. Took about 2 hours to cast over 500 cores this includes initial setup and learning how to use the core mold that I had never touched before that night. You cast your cores with higher temperatures than you would casting regular bullets otherwise you get poor fill. I did not have to let the mold cool off the entire session because of the design.
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You can order lead wire in .185 diameter and just cut the wire to length based on what weight you need. You can option to get a cutter instead of a core mold in the Corbin kit.
You make the cores to be the weight of the bullet minus the weight of the 22lr case. 55grain bullet = 10.3grain case + 44.7 grain lead core
Lead is known by the state of California to cause cancer and has been banned from being used as wheel weights.
I get my lead levels checked yearly for safety.

Making the jackets
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Using the clean 22lr spent cases
I sprayed my cases with cheap silicon spray from the parts store because it was cheap and easy and covered uniformly. The cases get pushed all the way through the top of the die so i cut a hole in a butter dish to catch them and used the die to hold it while I worked. there is a sweet spot on where to set the die that makes this easier. but this is still the most labor intensive and the most likely to break your press because of the pressures required to reshape the cases into smooth bullet jackets. After you do this wash the cases again to remove the oil.

Annealing the jackets
If you have a self cleaning oven or propane grill this part is easy. put them on a cookie sheet that you won't cook on again and bake until they become red hot. If you do not have such modern technology or a wife that is understanding, you use a propane torch like I did. You might want to do this outside it smells. use the torch to heat the cases until they glow red, try to heat as evenly as possible.

Stick the core into your new jackets
Wash both the jackets and cores. I used degreaser but dish detergent should work. You don't want oil or junk between the lead and jacket.
I used a reloading tray that I made by drilling holes in a board to hold the jackets with the cores in them so they wouldn't fall all over.
Image


Seat the cores
In the Corbin kit there is a bottle of anhydrous lanolin swage lube (you can make this with recipes found on the internet)
rub a little bit on thumb and 2 first fingers, not a lot a little goes a long way. rub some on the outside of the jacket, It should be coated but not too much. With the opening facing down onto the shaft and move the future core into the die. If your die is set correctly when you move the ram down the core will be stuck in the hole. Now take the hammer and briskly smack the plunger, this may take a couple of hits but don't swing like you are Thor, things will bend and break. Catch the new core with your hand and pile in an empty tray.

Forming the point
With lube in the same place as before, you want to place to push the core into the die with the opening facing up. Initially adjusting until you find the size of opening that you are happy with, too far and you will break your dies and spend lots of money. ( I did this :cry: ) not enough and the bullet will get stuck and is a pain to remove :evil: . Follow the how to set your die directions that come with the dies it will make life better. If your die is set correctly when you move the ram down the core will be stuck in the hole. Now take the hammer and briskly smack the plunger I used string and tape to keep it from flying out of the die because it is spring loaded, this may take a couple of hits but don't swing like you are Thor, things will bend and break. Catch the new bullet with your hand and pile in an empty tray.
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Reload using what you find is the best load.
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edit: clarification

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Last edited by imrcly on Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:51 am 
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Awesome thread! I've heard of people doing this, but never seen the steps.

(P.S. Use the macro setting on your camera for the closeup photos. It's the one with the flower icon).

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:43 pm 
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This is supercool.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:25 pm 
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How well do they feed and shoot?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:31 pm 
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shoot fine, better than the 55gr bulk blasting rounds. I will hopefully have a target to show once i get a calmer day, but i managed to get a 1.5" group with 10 shots with 3 touching out of my AR at 100 yards with 5-15 mph wind gusts ar was 20" 1:9 twist. I was using Reloader 15 powder.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:20 pm 
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This is for my own clarification, I'm sure everyone else understands.

you anneal the brass (22LR) to soften it, which is to aid in shaping and barrel life?

This process essentially makes a brass jacketed hollow point?

What is done with the primer end of the 22LR casing? its got a bit of a lip, how do you get rid of it?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:23 pm 
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Wow thats awesome.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:36 pm 
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Don't get me wrong, this is cool and all and I have looked into the Corbin bullet swaging setup a few times over the years but labeling this "Free .224 bullets by swaging" is way out in left field somewhere. The title seems to overlook the near $1,000 worth of tooling needed and it ignores the time you put into it as well. If you have more time than work to fill it then this might be fine but you can buy 10,000 .224 bullets for the cost of the tooling and save a lot of time. I like the idea but free? Not even close.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:51 pm 
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BHP wrote:
Don't get me wrong, this is cool and all and I have looked into the Corbin bullet swaging setup a few times over the years but labeling this "Free .224 bullets by swaging" is way out in left field somewhere. The title seems to overlook the near $1,000 worth of tooling needed and it ignores the time you put into it as well. If you have more time than work to fill it then this might be fine but you can buy 10,000 .224 bullets for the cost of the tooling and save a lot of time. I like the idea but free? Not even close.


It's free if you already have the tools and don't count your time. Some people find reloading to be relaxing and more like a fun hobby than "work." I haven't done enough reloading to know if I'm one of 'em, but they're out there.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:21 am 
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Dude you have some mad skills there. :D

But I am with the "buying" crowd. From a time/ money standpoint it makes a lot of sense. I would have to shoot 20,000 rounds of .223 for it to be worth it to me. Now, I have probably shot more than that in .223 in my life but the military bought a good chunk of that. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:12 am 
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NoahDL88 wrote:
This is for my own clarification, I'm sure everyone else understands.

you anneal the brass (22LR) to soften it, which is to aid in shaping and barrel life?
this is to help shape it,
This process essentially makes a brass jacketed hollow point?
yes, but with the larger grain bullets it becomes a lead tip.
What is done with the primer end of the 22LR casing? its got a bit of a lip, how do you get rid of it?
in the step where you make the jacket, the die actually is reducing the size of the 22lr case, in this step it also is smoothing out that rim.



BHP wrote:
Don't get me wrong, this is cool and all and I have looked into the Corbin bullet swaging setup a few times over the years but labeling this "Free .224 bullets by swaging" is way out in left field somewhere. The title seems to overlook the near $1,000 worth of tooling needed and it ignores the time you put into it as well. If you have more time than work to fill it then this might be fine but you can buy 10,000 .224 bullets for the cost of the tooling and save a lot of time. I like the idea but free? Not even close.


Yes I understand that, but when i first started this the cost of bullets where skyrocketing and becoming very difficult to obtain. now no matter what the cost is for them, I can have as many as I want in any weight that i want. For the time I only spend 2-4 hours a week reloading usually an hour a night, and I am usually listening to audio books at the same time. I don't see it as a loss of productivity or rest because the alternative is me sitting on the sofa watching "america can do stupid chit" or chatting on irc.
This was a long term investment in self sustainability and cost cutting. I don't expect to recoup for several years. Shoot more for the same amount of money.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:02 am 
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i have looked at this myself. it is true that the cost to get started is a bit. but once up and running, i see where it can be well worth the money and rewarding to craft bullets. when the bullets were made of unobtanium, i bet you could have sold enough that you could have paid for this equipment pretty quick. and imagine all the .22 you would get to shoot for free!!! the cost of all the jackets for 500 bullets would be around $15. how much are the rolls of lead wire? thanks for sharing.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:16 am 
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Thanks for showing us all how it is done. Maybe one day I will get into it. The $1k start up is a bit of a catch.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:48 am 
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sigboy40 wrote:
Thanks for showing us all how it is done. Maybe one day I will get into it. The $1k start up is a bit of a catch.

1k is one decent AR

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:22 am 
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mikieg wrote:
how much are the rolls of lead wire? thanks for sharing.


I think he said the lead was melted down wheel weights, not a wire. They don't cost too much if you have an inside source. 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:30 am 
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dukman wrote:
mikieg wrote:
how much are the rolls of lead wire? thanks for sharing.


I think he said the lead was melted down wheel weights, not a wire. They don't cost too much if you have an inside source. 8)

I don't know the cost of the wire, it was more than free but it is a lot faster.

I know that there are ways to make wire using wheel weight lead but it was more tools than I had or wanted to buy. it requires lots of pressure that a reloading press would break or a powered log splitter.

That is why i went with cast cores, a melting pot goes about $60 and the mold came with the set.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:16 am 
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Many 'lead' wheel weights aren't lead these days. Those that are may not have the right composition for the performance you are trying to get out of the rounds you make. Different alloys of lead will not give uniform density so the weight from one batch to the next may not be the same. It is certainly possible to create high performance rounds on your own but not from scrounged materials. To hard an alloy and the soft points won't behave like soft points. Too soft and they may not penetrate as well as you need.

You can do great things with the tools to swage bullets but it isn't a simple and trouble free process, not if you have requirements that are higher than "make bullets to launch downrange". Bullet development is an involved process that may require lots of testing in ballistic media and lots of range time if you want more than cheap practice bullets.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:11 pm 
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BHP wrote:
Many 'lead' wheel weights aren't lead these days. Those that are may not have the right composition for the performance you are trying to get out of the rounds you make. Different alloys of lead will not give uniform density so the weight from one batch to the next may not be the same. It is certainly possible to create high performance rounds on your own but not from scrounged materials. To hard an alloy and the soft points won't behave like soft points. Too soft and they may not penetrate as well as you need.

You can do great things with the tools to swage bullets but it isn't a simple and trouble free process, not if you have requirements that are higher than "make bullets to launch downrange". Bullet development is an involved process that may require lots of testing in ballistic media and lots of range time if you want more than cheap practice bullets.


Yes but testing lead hardness and how to harden or soften a lead mixture was beyond the scope of this post. It would be awesome if you could write one up. The use of the Brinell scale is an interesting topic on its own.

edit: spelling

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Last edited by imrcly on Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:35 pm 
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This is awesome. While I don't have the money or means to get into this right now I'm deffinately filing it away in memory. $1k is a lot of money, but being able to jacket your own bullets is a hell of an ability to have.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:12 pm 
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I'm a plumber by trade, so I've done quite a bit of lead joints for cast iron lines.I've had most of them in jobs where I had to remove existing lines first, and more often than not, existing cast was removed, and replaced with PVC. To recoup some of my costs, I scrap the cast iron. Before scrapping it, I smash apart the hubs of the joints, and salvage the lead from them. As a result, I've never had to buy lead for pouring a joint- I just set up a cooker outdoors and melt the old stuff down in a coffee can, skimming off the old crap that floats up to the top.
Since plumbing lead is a pretty consistent alloy mix, the results when using it are pretty reliable and consistent as well. If you wanted to, you could do the same thing for a lead source, which actually pays something on the scrap cast iron end towards the effort involved.If nothing else, it should cover your gas money involved in taking it. You can also buy lead in bulk at a plumbing supply house, in chunks called 'pigs'. I believe a single pig weighs 1 pound, but I'm not positive on that.
The exact composition of plumbing lead versus ballistic lead may not be the same, but the plumbing lead would at least be a consistent makeup that you could base the rest of your work off of. As a casual observation, the two types seem pretty close, to me. This isn't based on the use of any instruments, just basic handling of the two.

I do have one question on the .22 cases- what happens to the expended primer in the original casing? does this dissolve out during the wash process? And- not that it would EVER be cost effective, but- is there a process for reloading .22 rimfire ammo as .22 rimfire again? I'm just curious on that one.
I've heard of people doing this before, and while I wouldn't call it "free", I can see this as a useful skill to become familiar with before needing it. While buying bullets is cheaper, the sources we now buy them from most likely won't be there in the PAW, so knowing these things and being able to do them would be worth untold amounts after the fact.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:32 pm 
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Awesome I was hoping you were going to post this!

So.. how consistent are the weights? Within a grain or two? And what weights are you making them to?

I can't wait to see targets.

Your pictures and write up are better than most of the other ones I've seen on the subject.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:44 pm 
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KnightoftheRoc wrote:
I'm a plumber by trade, so I've done quite a bit of lead joints for cast iron lines.I've had most of them in jobs where I had to remove existing lines first, and more often than not, existing cast was removed, and replaced with PVC. To recoup some of my costs, I scrap the cast iron. Before scrapping it, I smash apart the hubs of the joints, and salvage the lead from them. As a result, I've never had to buy lead for pouring a joint- I just set up a cooker outdoors and melt the old stuff down in a coffee can, skimming off the old crap that floats up to the top.
Since plumbing lead is a pretty consistent alloy mix, the results when using it are pretty reliable and consistent as well. If you wanted to, you could do the same thing for a lead source, which actually pays something on the scrap cast iron end towards the effort involved.If nothing else, it should cover your gas money involved in taking it. You can also buy lead in bulk at a plumbing supply house, in chunks called 'pigs'. I believe a single pig weighs 1 pound, but I'm not positive on that.
The exact composition of plumbing lead versus ballistic lead may not be the same, but the plumbing lead would at least be a consistent makeup that you could base the rest of your work off of. As a casual observation, the two types seem pretty close, to me. This isn't based on the use of any instruments, just basic handling of the two.

I do have one question on the .22 cases- what happens to the expended primer in the original casing? does this dissolve out during the wash process? And- not that it would EVER be cost effective, but- is there a process for reloading .22 rimfire ammo as .22 rimfire again? I'm just curious on that one.
I've heard of people doing this before, and while I wouldn't call it "free", I can see this as a useful skill to become familiar with before needing it. While buying bullets is cheaper, the sources we now buy them from most likely won't be there in the PAW, so knowing these things and being able to do them would be worth untold amounts after the fact.




I would love to get a hold of used plumbing lead because it is softer and can be used with harder lead to make the mix softer.
the expended primer is washed out, before you reshape it into jackets. as a side note to that, if a primer was not hit and you wash it if it is not all washed out after it dries it will go off in the press, surprising to say the least. There are places online where you can order reloading lead it usually goes about $1-$2 a pound if you look hard enough 1lb = 7000 grains = about 137 rounds of 62grain
I have never heard of being able to reload shot 22lr cases as 22lr because the primer chemicals involved.


EeeNinja wrote:

So.. how consistent are the weights? Within a grain or two? And what weights are you making them to?

they are usually within 0.2 grains. There are techniques and additional steps Core Swage Die you can take to reduce that even more.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:48 pm 
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Great post, I have considered this for a while and this post has renewed my interest. I have a question for the op, however: Can you verify the claim about making 40-80 grain bullits? The link you provided for the corbin dies said 40-50 grain. I may be missing something or not reading it right.

thanks.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:55 pm 
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gau8a wrote:
Great post, I have considered this for a while and this post has renewed my interest. I have a question for the op, however: Can you verify the claim about making 40-80 grain bullits? The link you provided for the corbin dies said 40-50 grain. I may be missing something or not reading it right.

thanks.


I have successfully made 55 and 68 grain bullets along with 62. I have not tried 80 grain at this time but the people at http://castboolits.gunloads.com in the swaging sub forum have along with a lot of other stuff.

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