SWAGING IN THE RELOADING PRESS

          If  your reloading press accepts standard 7/8-14 TPI dies and  its 
     ram will take regular RCBS button-type shell holders,  then you can use 
     it  for  swaging  certain  calibers and kinds of  bullets  with  Corbin 
     reloading press swage dies.   A heavy-duty press makes the work easier, 
     but any modern press capable of resizing a .30-06 case is strong enough 
     for bullet swaging in the styles and calibers we offer.
          There are limits to the pressure you can safely apply to the  soft 
     screw-stock  rams  used in nearly all current reloading  presses.   The 
     size of the frame or leverage of the press has nothing to do with this.  
     A massive press like the RCBS Big Max still has a four-inch stroke,  to 
     get a magnum rifle case in and out.   Small arms bullets,  on the other 
     hand,  need only about two inches of stroke in order to be successfully 
     swaged.  This wastes half the leverage in a reloading press.
          Single  station,  ram-type  presses are the  only  kind  currently 
     supported by swaging equipment.   Presses with turrets,  rotating shell 
     holder  plates,  aluminum  frames,  mechanical type shell holders  that 
     adjust to different size cartridge heads, progressive loaders, and bar-
     type  rams  used in H-frame presses all have features  that  make  some 
     swaging  operations difficult or impossible.   Standard swage dies  for 
     reloading presses do not require a massive press, but they do work best 
     in a simple, single-station conventional round-ram press. 
          A  special  swaging press like the Corbin Mity Mite (CSP-1)  or  a 
     combination reloading and swaging press like the Corbin Mega Mite (CSP-
     2)  has the capability to more than double the leverage in a  reloading 
     press  design.   It does this by cutting the stroke in half.   The same 
     effort that moves a reloading press ram four inches is now put to  work 
     moving  the ram only two inches.   The effort is converted into  higher 
     pressure within the die.
          Such  presses have many special features designed to allow  higher 
     stresses,  equalize the torque on the ram, align the die and punch more 
     precisely, and provide for automatic ejection of the bullet on the back 
     stroke.  The die can be designed to withstand higher pressure, since it 
     doesn't  have to fit into the constraint of a standard reloading  press 
          In these presses,  any caliber from .14 to .458 rifle bullets with 
     tubing  jackets  as  thick as 30 thousandths of an inch  are  perfectly 
     feasible.   In a conventional reloading press,  you are limited to  the 
     .224,  .243,  and .257 rifle calibers,  and the .25 ACP, .30-32 Handgun 
     and  carbine  (130 grains or less,  no spitzer rifle shapes),  9mm  and 
     .357/.38   Handgun  calibers.    Within  those   calibers,   there   is 
     considerable latitude for weight and style variation.
          Regardless  of the press or system,  you can make lead bullets  or 
     gas-checked bullets in any die capable of jacketed bullet swaging. And, 
     you  can use longer or shorter jackets in the same set of dies.   There 
     are some dies made just for lead bullets,  combining the steps of  core 
     swaging  and  core  seating so that you can make a lead bullet  in  one 
     quick stroke,  and these special (model LSWC-1) dies are not  generally 
     suited  for use with more than a half-jacket.   These dies are not made 
     for the reloading press, in any case, since they require bleed holes in 
     the die wall.  
          Core  swage  dies and other lead-forming dies that have  extrusion 
     holes through their walls to let you automatically adjust the lead core 
     weight  on each stroke (instead of just using whatever weight  of  core 
     you  happen  to put into the die) need room around the side of the  die 
     for the lead to come out.   In a reloading press,  the die is put  into 
     the  head of the press.   Because of the length and top position of the 
     ram  in a reloading press,  the die has to be located so its walls  are 
     surrounded  by the threads of the press.   This doesn't leave room  for 
     correctly located bleed holes.  
          In order to do it right, core swaging and lead semi-wadcutter dies 
     that  adjust  the core as they form the bullet are made  only  for  the 
     special swaging presses, and not for use in reloading presses.  You can 
     still  make lead bullets of equal quality in a reloading press,  but to 
     get  there,  you  must be more careful about how you cut  or  cast  the 
     cores.   What  you put into the die is what you get out,  in regard  to 
     weight control.  This is a major advantage of the special swaging press 
     systems,  and is one of the things that makes it difficult to "convert" 
     or  adapt  many  of  the advanced kinds of dies  for  use  in  ordinary 
     reloading presses.
          Reloading press swage dies are made with a UNIVERSAL ADAPTER BODY, 
     which is the same for all styles and calibers of dies.   This component 
     holds the actual die "insert" and internal punch together in the proper 
     relationship,   and   fits   into  the  7/8-14  TPI  threads  of   your 
     reloading  press.   All adjustment for different weights and styles  of 
     bullets is made by turning the whole die, universal adapter and all, up 
     and down in the threads of the press like a big micrometer thimble.  
          There  are  two punches in every swage die.   The INTERNAL   PUNCH  
     stays inside the die.   It is held there by two restraints:   the punch 
     has  a  head on the top that won't let it fall through the die  on  the 
     "downstroke",  or ejection cycle,  and the universal adapter body  only 
     lets  the punch head slide up a certain distance before it strikes  the 
     top  of the hole machined in the adapter.  The EXTERNAL PUNCH fits into 
     the slot in the press ram,  just like a shell holder.  It can easily be 
     removed and changed.  Most people own several external punches for each 
     of their die sets.
           A small hole goes all the way through the top of the adapter.  It 
     is .257 inches in diameter, and takes a quarter-inch diameter KNOCK-OUT 
     ROD  (also called the ejector rod or simply K.O.  rod).   The Knock-Out 
     rod  is long enough so that it can push the internal punch down  nearly 
     the same distance as the die is long.   That pushes the bullet out  the 
     die  mouth.   On  one end of the Knock-Out rod is a knurled  head,  big 
     enough  to  give you a good target to tap with a plastic  mallet  or  a 
     piece  of  wood.   This  drives the bullet back out of  the  die  after 
          The ejector rod comes completely out of the die, so you can use it 
     on any of your reloadin press swage dies.  Another way to eject bullets 
     -- one  with a little more sophistocation -- is to slip a Corbin  POWER 
     EJECTOR  UNIT  over the top of the die and fasten the three  set-screws 
     into  the  ring machined around each of the universal  adapter  bodies, 
     right below the knurled part.
          The power ejector is an optional accessory item.  It speeds up the 
     operation  by  eliminating  the need to pick up a mallet  and  tap  the 
     ejector.   Instead of using the regular ejector, you install a straight 
     piece  of  quarter-inch  diameter steel rod,  supplied  with  the  PE-1 
     ejector.   Following the instructions that come with this tool,  adjust 
     its ram so that all the free play is taken up when you have a bullet in 
     the  die,  ready  to be ejected.   From this  point  on,  your  swaging 
     operation  is  reduced  to two levers:   the press  handle  swages  the 
     bullet, and the power ejector handle gently but firmly pushes it out of 
     the die.  
          The  internal  punch  in  your reloading press swage  die  can  be 
     removed easily.   Identify the die insert itself.   This is the  super-
     hard  high-carbide alloy steel cylinder at the very bottom of the whole 
     die  assembly,  just protruding from the adapter about a quarter  inch.  
     Most of the die insert is up inside the adapter body, which is machined 
     to  accept  the 5/8-24 TPI threads on the other end  of  the  die.   To 
     remove the die,  grasp the small protruding surface with pair of pliers 
     and  unscrew it.   (Don't worry about marring the die -- it is so  much 
     harder  and  tougher than your pliers that you can't hurt it this  way.  
     On  the  other  hand,  don't grasp the oxide-blued  adapter  body  with 
     pliers:  it isn't very hard, and you can damage the threads.  Just hold 
     it in your hand.)
          There  are basically three dies available for the reloading  press 
     that  are swage dies,  and several kinds of draw dies.   The swage dies 
                         (1) The CORE SEATER
                         (2) The POINT FORMER 
                         (3) The LEAD TIP DIE

          The  core  seater  (CS-1-R designation,  in  the  reloading  press 
     system)  can perform two different jobs.   It can be used by itself  to 
     make  any kind of bullet that has straight,  parallel  sides,  a  small 
     shoulder,  and a lead nose from the shoulder up.   The whole bullet can 
     be  lead,  or  any amount of it can be covered by a jacket right up  to 
     that  shoulder.   Think of a Keith handgun bullet with a jacket  coming 
     right up to the semi-wadcutter shoulder and then stopping.  Right up to 
     this point,  the bullet is straight.   The jacket can't be curved  past 
     this point in this kind of die alone.  
          However,  the nose can be any shape you like.   The nose is formed 
     by letting the lead core flow down into a cavity machined in the end of 
     the  external  punch.   You  can make a round nose,  a  Keith  nose,  a 
     wadcutter (very little cavity,  if any,  in the external punch tip!), a 
     conical  nose  like a pencil point,  or anything else  including  fancy 
     multi-cavity hollow points (instead of just a cavity,  there is also  a 
     probe  or  rod in the end of the punch to make these).   The point  is, 
     while  you can just change the punch to whatever the lead core flow down into a cavity machined in the end of 
     the  external  punch.   You  can make a round nose,  a  Keith  nose,  a 
     wadcutter (very little cavity,  if any,  in the external punch tip!), a 
     conical  nose  like a pencil point,  or anything else  including  fancy 
     multi-cavity hollow points (instead of just a cavity,  there is also  a 
     probe  or  rod in the end of the punch to make these).   The point  is, 
     while  you can just change the punch to whatever  thickness to its  edge, 
     or  it would quickly crumble away.   A 0.015 to 0.025 edge thickness is 
     standard.   This small edge comes up against the jacket in our example, 
     and  presses  hard on the thin jacket material.   One of  them  has  to 
     buckle and fold.  Usually it is the jacket. 
          If  you try to make a semi-wadcutter bullet,  and the jacket comes 
     out with radial folds, much as if someone sat on your top hat, then see 
     if  you have enough lead sticking out the jacket to completely fill  up 
     the cavity in the punch you selected.   If not, that's the problem, and 
     the  solution is to use a heavier core,  a shorter jacket,  or a  punch 
     with less of a cavity.  Another solution is to use a hollow point punch 
     first,  moving lead up and out of the jacket,  and then form your  nose 
     using the extra amount of lead displaced from inside the jacket.  
          Let's  back up a minute in case anyone is lost at this point.   We 
     are  talking about the most basic kind of swage die,  the core  seating 
     die.  It is called a core seating die because it can be used to seat or 
     press  the core down into a jacket,  expanding the core and the  jacket 
     together  until  they  contact the walls  of  the  die.   The  internal 
     pressure  becomes  uniform as soon as the jacket is pushed out  against 
     the die walls evenly, and the base of the jacket comes hard against the 
     internal punch face.   This uniform internal pressure can exceed 20,000 
     psi (and usually does).  
          Compressed  oxygen gas in a welding tank is in the 2,000 to  3,000 
     psi  range.   Compressed air in your car tires is usually 35 to 45 psi.  
     When  you fire a typical rifle,  pressures momentarily peak  at  levels 
     that reach 25,000 to 55,000 psi typically.  The average pressure over a 
     second of time is vastly lower.   The swage die must be able to sustain 
     anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 psi constantly, year after year, without 
     change in its diameter,  roundness,  straightness.   It can't develop a 
     barrel shape inside, nor can it grow with the continued stress.  
          Tolerances  in a casting mould usually are held to 0.003 to  0.001 
     inches,  plus or minus.  Tolerances in the core seating die are usually 
     held to better than 0.00005 inches, plus or minus!  Your bullet doesn't 
     need  to be within that tolerance of some arbitrary standard  diameter, 
     of course,  but it is nice to know that whatever diameter it comes out, 
     it is repeatable to such high precision.  The typical absolute diameter 
     tolerance  on  the  bullet diameter is normally 0.0005 inches  plus  or 
     minus, although this has long been proven of little importance, as long 
     as the variance is held to high precision tolerances.  
          In other words,  if you have a .308 rifle,  and you know for  sure 
     that  your barrel has a .3000 bore,  with all grooves at exactly 0.0040 
     inch depth,  it still doesn't matter nearly as much whether you shoot a 
     .3079  bullet or a .3090 bullet down that barrel,  compared to  whether 
     your bullets vary from one to the next as you try to put them into  one 
     hole.   Many  competitive shooters find a bullet with nearly 0.001 inch 
     larger  than  nominal  diameter  shoots better at  long  range  than  a 
     conventional "correct" diameter bullet. 
          In any case,  the core seating die is a straight hole die.  If you 
     take  it out of the adapter body and pull out the internal  punch,  you 
     will be able to see straight through it.   The hole is round, straight, 
     and highly finished.   The internal punch is a very close sliding  fit.  
     The  external  punch  can  fit the die bore,  for  making  those  semi-
     wadcutter and wadcutter type bullets,  or it can fit inside the  jacket 
     for making rifle-style bullets.
          Let  me make a definition of these two general kinds  of  bullets.  
     It's  important  to understand what I'm talking about so you  can  make 
     proper and cost-effective decisions later on.  There are semi-wadcutter 
     styles,  and rifle styles of bullets, relative to the kind of equipment 
     needed.  When  a  swage  die-maker  talks about  a  semi-wadcutter  (or 
     wadcutter) style,  it isn't just a specific nose shape.   In regard  to 
     the kind of equipment required, it means any bullet that is made with a 
     lead  nose,  ending at a small shoulder,  and having the jacket at full 
     bore diameter all the way to the base (if there is any jacket).  
          This  kind of bullet can be made in a single core seating  die  in 
     one  stroke of the press.   One pass -- all done.   No lubricating,  no 
     sizing.   Just load it and enjoy shooting it.   Lead bullets are swaged 
     with  a  film  of  flexible,  hard wax bonded  to  them  under  swaging 
     pressure.   This  is accomplished by dipping the core in a liquid  "Dip 
     Lube",  which some people call "liquid jacket",  just prior to swaging.  
     The film evenly covers the bullet,  making it usable to speeds of 1,200 
     fps with no grooves, no separate lubricating steps.
          Cup  bases?   Hollow bases?   No problem -- just remove that  flat 
     ended  internal punch,  and install an optional internal punch  with  a 
     probe shaped like the cavity you want to form.   Both the nose and base 
     are  formed  at  the same time,  by pressing against the  two  punches.  
     Unlke  a mould,  there is no conflict between hollow bases  and  hollow 
     points.  They are independent of each other and can be mixed or matched 
     any  way you like.   In fact,  you can turn the swaged bullet over  and 
     swage it the other direction,  perhaps using a little higher setting of 
     the die to get slightly less penetration of the punch.   This gives you 
     shapes that neither of the punches has by itself,  and demonstrates one 
     of the more powerful experimental features of swaging equipment.
          We  mentioned seating the core inside the jacket.   If you  wanted 
     to,  you  could  select an external punch (the one that slips into  the 
     slotted  ram like a shell holder) with a small enough diameter  to  fit 
     right  inside the jacket.   Jackets usually have some taper in the wall 
     thickness to control expansion.  The punch will contact the jacket wall 
     at some point if it is a close fit.  Obviously there are some limits as 
     to the depth of insertion of any given diameter punch, and to the range 
     of weights of cores that you could seat with each punch.
          If the punch is too small,  lead will spurt out around it and  you 
     may not be able to build enough pressure inside the jacket to expand it 
     properly.   This produces undersized and tapered bullets.  If the punch 
     is too large,  it may not go into the jacket at all,  or it may plow up 
     jacket material as it presses down.  This isn't always bad -- it can be 
     used  to  thin the front of the jacket,  or to help lock the core  into 
     place.   Usually, though, the jacket and punch need to be made for each 
     other  to  avoid this.   Fortunately,  Corbin is  the  world's  largest 
     supplier  of  bullet jackets of all types,  and can provide  the  right 
     punches for any jacket or core weight, as well as the jackets to match.
          The  reason  for seating a core inside the jacket is to make  that 
     second kind of bullet,  the rifle-style bullet having the jacket curved 
     around the ogive,  with an open tip.   Let's define open tip and hollow 
     point for bullet swagers.  An open tip bullet has the core seated below 
     the  end of the jacket.   The jacket extends forward,  past  the  core.  
     This leaves an opening or an area devoid of lead just below the tip.  A 
     hollow  point,  on the other hand,  is made by pressing a punch with  a 
     projection  or  probe machined on the end into the core.   The hole  or 
     cavity  thus  formed in the core is further shaped when  the  ogive  is 
     made.   The result is a bullet with a hollow area in the point,  formed 
     in the lead itself.  
          A hollow point bullet can have a lead tip, or it can have the core 
     seated  down inside the jacket.   Usually,  it has a lead  tip  exposed 
     beyond  the  end  of the jacket.   But an open  tip  bullet  can't,  by 
     definition,  have a lead tip.  The reason to be clear about these terms 
     is  so that when you order tools and punches,  everyone will be talking 
     about the same thing.   It makes a big difference whether you can  make 
     what  you want once you get the tools.   A hollow point is made with an 
     optional punch,  during the core seating stage.  An open tip is made by 
     using a punch that pushes the core down inside the jacket.   It is  the 
     standard,  "default"  design for any regular set of dies that  includes 
     more  than  a core swage and core seating die.   And a lead tip  bullet 
     takes  a  lead tip forming die in rifle  styles,  but  seldom  requires 
     anything special in the blunt, wide-tip handgun styles.
          To  make that second kind of bullet,  the rifle-style bullet,  you 
     still need the straight-walled core seater.   The uniform pressure that 
     this  die  produces  is  necessary to  expand  the  jacket  to  correct 
     diameter,  mate the core and jacket perfectly, and produce the straight 
     and  round  tolerances in the jacket.   But with the core  seated  down 
     inside  the  jacket,  all  you  have now is a  very  accurately  formed 
          To  put the ogive (that's OH-JIVE,  by the way,  like  "Oh,  don't 
     gimme no jive, man!") on the bullet, we'll use the second kind of swage 
     die,  the  point  forming die (designated PF-1-R  for  reloading  press 
     dies).  Now,  the  term "point" is often confused with the term  "tip".  
     Again, it's nice to talk the same language when ordering parts over the 
     phone.   A  point  on  a bullet refers to anything past  the  shank  or 
     straight part.   A point is the same thing as a nose.   The tip, on the 
     other  hand,  is just the very end of the point.   It is the part  that 
     ends, technically, after the meplat, and begins at some arbitrary place 
     on  the  ogive curve that is close enough to the meplat so that it  can 
     have  a  different  curve and not affect the  over-all  bullet  outline 
          Simply  put,  the tip is the very end of the bullet's  nose.   The 
     point  is  everything from the tip to the start of  the  straight  part 
     (shank) and the point is the same thing as the nose.  To add confusion, 
     some  people even call the point the ogive,  so really the terms point, 
     ogive, and nose all refer to the same thing in general sales talk.  But 
     tip is different.
          The  ogive is formed by pushing the straight cylinder you made  in 
     the  core  seating die into the point forming die.   It  goes  in  nose 
     first.   If you want the nose to be made on the open end of the jacket, 
     then  the open end goes in first.   You can make a solid nose,  or full 
     metal jacket (FMJ,  as it is called, though strictly speaking, the open 
     tip  also is a full metal jacket bullet) design by pushing  the  seated 
     core  and jacket into the point forming die base first.   Special notes 
     on this technique can be found in Corbin technical papers and books.
          The  point forming die has the actual shape of your bullet  frozen 
     in  tough  die  steel,  diamond lapped to  extremely  fine  finish  and 
     tolerance  by skilled die-makers.   It is a hand-made die,  produced by 
     craftsmen with years of experience.   It isn't much like a punch  press 
     die  or  a plastic moulding die,  and people who have skills  in  those 
     fields  usually  can't produce good point forming dies without a  great 
     deal more training.  
          To  make  this  die,  both  reamers and laps have  to  be  cut  to 
     precisely  the right shape and diameter for your  desired  bullet.   In 
     reloading press equipment, the great attraction is the lower cost since 
     you can use an existing press.   If your main goal is economy,  then it 
     doesn't help that goal to increase the cost of the dies by adding extra 
     labor,  so we manufacture only standard shapes and offer no custom work 
     in  the  reloading press line.   By doing this,  we have been  able  to 
     produce  swage dies superior to those costing ten times as  much,  that 
     are  made to special order.   Corbin makes the only serious attempt  at 
     mass  production  of hand-crafted swage dies:   by eliminating all  the 
     stages of custom fitting and tooling,  we've been able to bring swaging 
     equipment of high quality to every corner of the earth,  and  introduce 
     thousands  of  people to swaging who could not otherwise afford to  try 
          If you want custom shapes and diameter, on the other hand, then we 
     do  have  another system set up to handle it at  reasonable  cost.   In 
     fact,  this  system is designed on two levels:   semi-custom and  fully 
     custom work using the same basic equipment.   The advantage is that  we 
     can use all standard blanks, that fit into standard presses and use the 
     same general parts.   Your cost is lower,  your replacements or repairs 
     are much simpler,  and the whole system is so well proven it has become 
     the  world's defacto standard for swaging.   It's called the Mity  Mite 
     system,  and  we'll  discuss it shortly.   Semi-custom outfits  can  be 
     obtained by selecting from the wide variety of off-the-shelf components 
     kept  in moderate supply for immediate delivery.   Fully custom outfits 
     can be produced, subject to the usual waiting list.      
          In the reloading press,  the point forming die is built very  much 
     like the core seating die.  It fits the same universal adapter body, so 
     both  dies look almost identical from the outside.   The difference  is 
     easy  to tell:   push on the ejector rod.   The core seating die has no 
     internal  spring.   The ejector rod will slide the internal punch  down 
     and you'll see it at the mouth of the die.  The point forming die has a 
     small  (0.080")  spring-steel wire pin passing through the tip  of  the 
     cavity.  This pin is a press fit into a steel button "head".   The head 
     is machined to go into one end of a coil spring. 
          The spring presses between the top of the die and the head of  the 
     ejection  pin.   We call the internal punch an ejection pin.  The heavy 
     rod that pushes on it is called the ejection rod,  you'll  recall.   If 
     you order a new ejection rod, you'll get this quarter-inch diameter rod 
     with the knurled head.   If you order a new ejection pin, we'll want to 
     know the diameter of wire, or at least what caliber of die it fits.
          The  reason for having a spring in this die is to hold the pin out 
     of  the main part of the die cavity during bullet  swaging.   The  only 
     purpose of the ejection pin is to push the bullet out of the die by its 
     nose.   If  the pin were down in the cavity,  the bullet would form  up 
     around  the  pin,  and then it would be stuck in the bullet.   This  is 
     exactly what happens if you forget to use lubricant.   Now it's time to 
     mention a very important part of swaging:  the correct lube. 
          For  lead  bullets,  you have seen that a wax solution called  Dip 
     Lube can be applied before swaging the core.   For jacketed bullets,  a 
     different  kind  of  lube,  serving a  totally  different  purpose,  is 
     required.   Swage lube is made to stand up to extreme pressures without 
     losing  its protective film -- a barrier between the smoothly  finished 
     die  wall  and the moving jacket material.   Ordinary  case  lubes  are 
     useless.   Don't try them.   Swage lube is a little more expensive, but 
     it goes a long way and it works.  Your dies will last virtually forever 
     if you use the right lube and clean materials.  
          Every  component needs a thin film of lube applied before it  goes 
     into the die.   Lead or jacket, there must be a film of lube between it 
protective film -- a barrier between the smoothly  finished 
     die  wall  and the moving jacket material.   Ordinary  case  lubes  are 
     useless.   Don't try them.   Swage lube is a little more expensive, but 
     it goes a long way and it works.  Your dies will last virtually forever 
     if you use the right lube and clean materials.  
          Every  component needs a thin film of lube applied before it  goes 
     into the die.   Lead or jacket, there must be a film of lube between it 
 You simply press 
     the seated core in (using proper lube), and eject the final bullet out.  
     The  bullet goes in nose first,  pressed in with an external punch that 
     is as big as the bullet base.   It comes out base first, pressed out by 
     a  tiny ejection pin that bears on the tip of the bullet.   The  reason 
     you  cannot form the complete bullet in one stroke in this die is  that 
     the pressure required to expand the jacket uniformly is not present  in 
     this kind of die.  There are two exceptions.  You can make a full metal 
     jacket bullet in this die alone.  And you can make a lead bullet.  
          The techniques for FMJ styles are discussed in other books.   Lead 
     bullets  are simply a matter of shoving the lead into the die.   It has 
     to be smaller than the die cavity,  naturally. Everything about swaging 
     assumes you know better than to push a larger component into a  smaller 
     die  cavity.   The match between core seating die and point forming die 
     is  very  good.   For many years,  bullet makers thought  that  it  was 
     necessary and desirable to have a slight pressure ring at the bottom of 
     the bullet.   This "pressure ring",  as it was called,  was promoted as 
     increasing accuracy by many die-makers of the 1950's.   It may not hurt 
     accuracy at all, and it could help in some cases.
          In reality,  though,  the story is a little different.   Most die-
     makers  of the past worked at home or in very small shops,  and  didn't 
     have  the  money for really expensive,  high-precision  instruments  to 
     measure  the bore sizes of the dies as they were being produced.   As a 
     result,  a match of 0.002 to 0.0008 inches between core seat and  point 
     form  die  cavities was about all the die-makers  could  manage.   Even 
     today,  that is typical of the best amateur work and is seen in some of 
     the higher priced benchrest dies as well.  
          Because of this difference, the seated core and jacket always went 
     into  the  point forming die considerably under  final  diameter.   The 
     pressure of swaging the point expanded the jacket slightly, but most of 
     the  expansion  took  place at the base.   These bullets won a  lot  of 
     matches,  but  they still had a bit of taper and a bulge at  the  base.  
     The  die-makers,  not knowing how to get rid of it,  and noticing  that 
     even  with this defect,  the bullets still outshot most factory  slugs, 
     started  hinting that maybe this was really a design feature put in  by 
     plan,  instead  of  something  they hadn't yet acquired  the  tools  to 
          Today,  we  still run into a number of precision shooters who read 
     the  old  literature  and come to believe that  a  "pressure  ring"  is 
     necessary  for good shooting.   I don't think that having a  0.001-inch 
     larger  base is harmful to accuracy,  but I don't think it  necessarily 
     does  anything  valuable.   On the other hand,  a bullet that is up  to 
     0.001-inch larger than standard size,  and straight,  is probably going 
     to be a good shooter and it won't expand the case neck as it is seated, 
     then  leave the case somewhat loose on the forward part of the  bullet.  
     With  much taper on the bullet,  the act of feeding the round can  push 
     the bullet back into the powder, and I know that won't help accuracy.
          We can make bullets tapered,  straight,  or with a pressure  ring.  
     In the reloading press, we don't offer a choice.  In general, it is one 
     of   those  features  that  is  best  left  to  the  die-maker,   since 
     specification of too many "nit-picking" details only runs up your  cost 
     for special charges on the die-maker's labor,  and doesn't give you any 
     more accurate bullet one way or the other.   But, if you need something 
     very special in this regard,  it is one more thing that has been pinned 
     down  and  can  be offered to anyone who feels it is  worth  the  extra 
          The  core seating die has made us some semi-wadcutters and  seated 
     some  cores  for  rifle-style bullets (I say rifle style  because  they 
     could  just as well be .32 handgun bullets or .243 rifle bullets  -- it 
     is exactly the same process,  same kind of die, and the only difference 
     is the size of the hole and the size of the components going into  it).  
     We  have used the point forming die to shape the rifle-style bullet  by 
     forming the ogive, and in two steps we have made nice open tip bullets.
          What about lead tips and hollow points?   The hollow point is made 
     by seating the core with a hollow point punch,  then forming the ogive.  
     If  the hollow point is also a lead tip,  then the lead is longer  than 
     the jacket.   Trying to eject this bullet may cause some deformation of 
     the tip, since the ejection pin has to push on the tip with some force.  
     The third die we mentioned (lead tip die) is made to finish off the tip 
     so it looks as good as or better than factory bullets.
          The  lead tip die (designated LT-1-R for the reloading  press)  is 
     much  like the core seating die,  except that it has a slightly  larger 
     bore  size,  and the internal punch has a cavity that matches the ogive 
     in  the  point form die.   The deformed lead tip fits  up  inside  this 
     cavity.  Applying gentle pressure reshapes the lead tip, shears off any 
     surplus  lead,  and  leaves a fine looking lead tip that can  be  flat, 
     sharp,  or  radiused.   The lead tip die is a nice addition to any set, 
     giving  you the ability to reform the tips and even to close  the  open 
     tip more tightly than you can do it in the point forming die alone.
          The  smallest tip opening is the same diameter as the ejection pin 
     in  the point form die.   This ejection pin has to be strong enough  to 
     push  the bullet out of your die,  or you will be constantly  replacing 
     the ejection pins and having stuck bullets.   So,  a diameter of  about 
     0.080-inch is used in reloading press sets.   This is a good compromise 
     between  design  strenght and appearance.   You can close the tip  even 
     further  by  using the lead tip die carefully.   This  takes  a  little 
     practice to avoid pressing a little shoulder in the ogive, but once you 
     figure it out, it is easily repeated.
          How  do  you  know how hard to push on the handle?   Just  push  a 
     little  bit,  very lightly.   See if the jacket and core remain in  the 
     core seating die,  or if they come back with the punch.   Normally, the 
     correct pressure just expands the jacket enough so that it stays up  in 
     the die.  In point forming, use just enough pressure to form the bullet 
     until  you  start to get a parallel pipe of jacket or lead on  the  tip 
     (pushing the bullet material up into the ejection pin hole). That is as 
     far  as you can expect to go.   Back off slightly on the die adjustment 
     by raising it higher a half turn or so in the press,  and you can  then 
     use the full ram stroke to set your insertion depth each time.
          One  key  to uniform swaging in the reloading press is to use  the 
     top of the stroke, so that each time you move the press handle, you are 
     using  the  physical limit of the press to control how  far  the  punch 
     inserts into the die. This controls amount of hollow cavity, the degree 
     to which you reshape a bullet, the amount of tip closure on your ogive, 
     and  whether or not you are going to get a good lead  tip.   Everything 
     depends on uniform stroke, uniform insertion of the punch.  And that is 
     most  easily set by raising the die,  so that the ram goes as far up as 
     it can.  Then lower the die, to obtain the desired shape or insertion.
          The right pressure should be about like sizing a case.  The larger 
     the caliber, the more pressure you will feel on the handle.  In no case 
     is  it  necessary to throw your weight on the  handle,  or  break  your 
     loading bench,  or use a cheater bar.   Doing these things will quickly 
     make the die-makers more wealthy,  because you will soon break your die 
     and  mash your punches into pancakes,  requiring that you replace them.  
     If you feel generous toward die-makers this week,  by all means jump up 
     and down on the press handle a few times.   Otherwise,  a mild one-hand 
     force is quite enough.
          Another  point in regard to destruction of parts:   always  try  a 
     punch by hand first.  If it won't fit, wipe it off several times with a 
     clean  cloth,  oil it lightly,  and try again.   If it still won't fit, 
     make sure that you have the right punch!   Punches must fit closely but 
     with relative ease into the dies.   Keith nose punches, and others with 
     deep  cavities,  expand slightly and may not fit easily by  hand  after 
     they have been used.   But they do fit, given a little oil and a little 
     gentle pressure.  I have seen .242-inch diameter rifle punches (for the 
     6mm  point  forming die) pushed into a .2238-inch diameter hole in  the 
     .22  core  seating  die.   "I thought it went in a  little  hard,"  the 
     bullet-maker said.   Yes,  I guess it might.   Comes out a little hard, 
     too.  Try it by hand first.  
          The  slot in the reloading press ram collects primer  residue  and 
     metal  shavings.   Take a cotton swab or a wood pick and scrape it  out 
     before  installing your bullet swage punch.   The material stuck in the 
     slot can tip the punch,  causing it to ram into the die at an angle and 
     tear a nasty gouge all down the side of the punch.   Again,  be  gentle 
     when  you  first  start out.   Don't use speed or force  on  the  first 
     stroke,  but instead,  gently guide things together and notice how they 
     fit.  Then go after it, once you know everything is lined up.
          Making .22 caliber bullets out of rimfire cases is one of the most 
     popular  swaging  activities today for a reloading press  bullet-maker.  
     It has been so for twenty years.   The process takes three steps.  Draw 
     the jackets, seat the cores, and form the points.  Lead tip bullets add 
     a  further step of forming the tips.   Detailed instructions come  with 
     the die sets, and further information is found in the various technical 
     bulletins and text books we publish. 
          The  photos  in  this book will give you a good idea  of  how  the 
     process works.  The most questions are about annealing and cleaning .22 
     cases.   First,  annealing  is usually done after boiling in hot  soapy 
     water and vinegar (to clean and shine the brass).  Annealing is only so 
     that the ogive will form without any folding.   If you make a big  lead 
     tip,  you  probably can avoid annealing.   There are several ways to go 
     about it.   Putting a group of clean cases in a tuna can, inside a lead 
     pot, and letting them turn dark brown (15 minutes, usually) will do it.  
     Using  a  toaster oven on high,  or putting a pan of cases in  a  self-
     cleaning  oven for the duration of the self-clean cycle is  also  good.  
     Using a propane torch or electric heat gun (Corbin FHG-1) is also good, 
     primarily for smaller lots.  
          The older books suggested 600 to 650 degrees F.  I have found that 
     modern  cases take 800 to 900 degrees F.,  and that a standard electric 
     oven doesn't usually get hot enough.  We do make excellent quality heat 
     treatment furnaces,  but for the hobbyist they are too expensive.   The 
     time  and  quench after heating are not  critical.   Quenching  has  no 
     effect  on  the  hardness.   It  merely helps to  knock  of  any  scale 
     that  might have formed.   If you use the right temperature,  you won't 
     get any scale,  and you can forget about any quench. Just let the cases 
     air cool.  Use swage lube on the punch when you draw the jackets.  Just 
     slip them over the long, 0.2-inch diameter punch and push them into the 
     die, following instructions provided with the tool. 
          Rimfire  cases  are good to about 3,000 or 3,200 fps  before  they 
     start  to  come  apart.   Actual speed depends  on  rifling  depth  and 
     sharpness.  They force you to load a .22-250 down to .222 Mag velocity, 
     but on the other hand, they also make you save powder, barrel, and cost 
     nothing for material.   When they hit, you'd swear they were going over 
     4,000  fps compared to a factory bullet performance.   And there is  no 
     problem with barrel fouling or wear:   if anything, the thinner jackets 
     are  easier on your gun than a standard bullet.   Try it!   You will be 
     surprised at the accuracy.