The  manufacture  of custom bullets has grown tremendously in  the 
     past decade:   people with a diverse range of jobs (and quite a few who 
     were  between jobs),  people who had successful  professional  careers, 
     have found custom bullet manufacture to be pleasant,  profitable, and a 
     wonderful  way  to plan a comfortable retirement income or to  build  a 
     business at low cost that can be turned over to a son or daughter.
          There is no typical custom bullet maker,  as far as I can tell.  I 
     know doctors,  carpenters,  locksmiths, attorneys, laborers, people who 
     had  severe physical handicaps,  people who are the picture of a robust 
     outdoors  athlete,  people  with  gruff  personalities  and  a  lot  of 
     mechanical aptitude, and people who are extremely pleasant, quiet types 
     who have a hard time with a screwdriver.   All of them seem to be doing 
     quite well in the custom bullet field.
          Today,  you  can  purchase  a complete  package,  ready  to  start 
     production   of  bullets  so  advanced,   and  so  difficult  for  mass 
     production,  that  none of the big names in bullet making  can  compete 
     with you.  It may seem hard to believe, but none of them have machinery 
     capable  of  forming some of the extremely  tough,  thick  jackets,  in 
     heavier weights of large calibers,  that you can easily make on a small 
     machine that fits in your den or garage.
          The  reason  they don't (and can't) compete in so  many  areas  is 
     their  committment  to volume.   Their very size dictates that  limited 
     production items are not profitable to them.   The wiser executives  at 
     these  firms welcome my customers into the field:   they know that  the 
     need  for quality specialty bullets can be met by custom bullet  makers 
     and that there is no direct competition,  but in fact a benefit:   they 
     can  now  forget  about pressure to make unprofitable (to  them)  small 
     runs, and just refer clients to you, the custom bullet maker.
          Besides, the kind of equipment needed to mass produce heavy walled 
     jackets in larger diameters is extremely expensive.   The stroke length 
     and  tonnage of the multi-station presses for high speed production  is 
     quite  beyond  anything used for ordinary target and  smaller  diameter 
     hunting bullets.   It would cost a minimum of half a million dollars to 
     install the equipment required, and the market for specialty bullets of 
     this kind is far too small to be investing even that kind of money, not 
     to mention the promotion, inventory, and special materials required.
          On the other hand,  what is unprofitable to a big outfit is enough 
     to  keep  a  family  or two living in  high  style!   A  custom  bullet 
     typically  is  sold for prices from 50 cents to over  two  dollars  per 
     bullet.  They are NOT price competitive with mass produced bullets, and 
     they don't have to be.   Even at twice those prices,  there are between 
     ten  thousand  and  one  hundred thousand  (typically  fifty  thousand) 
     bullets sold in any given specialty size and caliber each year,  on the 
          Who  pays  that  for bullets?   People who  own  exotic  calibers.  
     People who like to hunt big game and have experienced repeated failures 
     of cheaper mass produced bullets.  People who want a specific weight or 
     style in some caliber and don't mind investing a little more than usual 
     to  try  it.  People  who...  well,  basically,  people  interested  in 
     something better, different, or unavailable elsewhere at any price.  
          You  don't  sell  a lot of these bullets  to  local  plinkers,  of 
     course.  But serious competitors, people spending five thousand dollars 
     or more to make a trip to Africa for hunting,  special police teams who 
     need  bullets  of  unusual design  for  tactical  situations,  and  the 
     everyday  handloader  with  a spark of curiosity in his  soul  -- these 
     people  are  the  ones who produce backlogs  for  my  customers,  often 
     cleaning  out  their  entire  supply at  trade  shows  or  by  magazine 
     advertising sales.
          The  machine  that  makes it possible is the  Corbin  Hydro-press.  
     Everything  about the machine is designed so that you can get into  the 
     field  at  minimum  cost,  and  grow  without  having  to  worry  about 
     outgrowing  the  capacity of the equipment.   It is capable of  forming 
     solid brass bullets in one stroke,  making a 10-gauge shotgun slug from 
     a  chunk  of raw lead,  forming partitioned jackets  in  heavy  tubing, 
     making brass,  copper,  or even steel jackets with thin or heavy walls, 
     and extruding lead wire in any diameter.
          It can turn right around and reload some ammo for you,  too, using 
     regular  RCBS type dies and shell holders.   When you suddenly  realize 
     that  all  your  reloading  presses are  now  complex  progressives  or 
     turrets  and  you  have lost the old rugged simplicity  of  a  powerful 
     single-station machine, the Hydro-press greets you with a "can-do!" and 
     barely  begins  to  unleash  its tremendous power on  jobs  that  would 
     shatter the fragile parts of modern reloading machines.
          It's  not large -- only 34 inches tall,  23 inches  wide,  and  15 
     inches  deep (about like a small refrigerator).   But the design is the 
     essence of rugged simplicity.  We use a Hydro-press to cold-forge steel 
     parts (used in other Hydro-presses, by the way!).  It can stamp, blank, 
     coin,  trim,  and punch steel,  in addition to its regular duties as  a 
     profit center for your bullet making.
          The  major advantage of the Hydro-press is its built-in electronic 
     controls  and  logic  circuits:   the "brains" of  the  press  and  the 
     sensitive  transducers  that  tell it what is going on  in  the  world.  
     Anyone can assemble a hydraulic cylinder to a ram,  somehow adapt it to 
     a set of dies, and let it slam blindly back and forth.  That won't make 
     good  bullets,  however.   The ability to control pressure in the  die, 
     exact  position  of the punches,  and precise amount of time  that  the 
     pressure  is being applied,  is needed in order produce a  consistently 
     good product.
          The  Hydro-press uses transducers that sense the position  of  the 
     ram  and  control  its movement though  logic  circuits.   The  earlier 
     versions  used  high  quality limit switches to tell  top,  bottom  and 
     loading position.  Current versions use electronic proximity  detectors 
     that  have  no moving parts and do not contact the  ram.   Solid  state 
     timing  controls  the  application  time  of  the  pressure.   Pressure 
     transducers  control  the  level  of pressure  applied.   All  this  is 
     automatic, locked away in the steel innards of the cabinet.  
          What you see is a colorful Lexan-laminate-on-steel top panel, with 
     a  digital  counter,  adjustable  inspection  light,  key-locked  power 
     switch,  selector switches for various modes of operation, and brightly 
     colored  oversize  push-buttons to cycle the press.  At the  left  rear 
     corner  of  the cabinet is a massive steel press head  with  inch-thick 
     plate  for a base and head,  and hardened,  ground tool steel  ram  and 
     guide rods running on bearings.   
          As powerful as it can be,  the Hydro-press is also sensitive.  You 
     can set the pressure, speed, and timing in seconds. It can reload a .25 
     ACP case just as easily as it cold-flows a solid hunk of copper.  Blind 
     force  cannot  begin  to accomplish the tasks you can handle  with  the 
     intelligent  Hydro-press system.   The dies and tooling for the  Hydro-
     press are capable of sustaining much higher pressures than smaller dies 
     for  the  reloading press or Mity Mite.   They  use  1.5-inch  diameter 
     blanks, with 1-12 TPI threads.  The press head accepts a floating punch 
     holder  with  1.5-inch by 12 TPI threads,  and an adapter for  standard 
     7/8-14 TPI dies as well.  The ram can be adapted to 7/8-14 TPI, or to a 
     conventional shell holder.  Shell holders for 20 mm and for 50 Browning 
     Machine Gun cartridges are also available.  
          Fifty  caliber  MG dies (for reloading) are made by C-H  Dies  and 
     they fit directly into the head of the Hydro-press.   I recommend them. 
     Corbin  builds  a lead wire extruder kit,  jacket maker  kits,  and  of 
     course the full range of bullet swaging dies for the Hydro-press.
          Calibers  are  virtually limitless.   No small arms bullet is  too 
     large.   Weights  and  styles are also quite open to a  wide  range  of 
     designs.   If  you want something that cannot be made in a hand  press, 
     this  is the system that is most likely to handle it.   (If the  Hydro-
     press won't handle it, chances are it cannot be done.)
          The  dies  and  punches are massive,  far too large for use  in  a 
     reloading  press or the Mity Mite.   And smaller dies do not  fit  into 
     this  press for good reason:   it would be too easy to destroy the dies 
     by  using  pressures  only  a Hydro-press die  of  that  caliber  could 
     sustain.   All of the kinds of dies previously discussed are  available 
     in this system.   They work the same way.   The only difference is that 
     the  die  goes into the ram so it faces straight up,  and the  external 
     punch fits into the floating punch holder so it faces straight down.
          This  arrangement  makes it possible for you to drop  a  component 
     into the open mouth of the die,  then move your hands back to the  two-
     hand,  safety  controls to start the stroke.   In the key-locked manual 
     start mode,  it would take a contortionist to put a part of their  body 
     in  the way of the moving ram.   (An automatic mode,  controlled by the 
     key switch,  is also available -- you need to know the code sequence to 
     start it.  It is handy for sizing long runs of cartridge cases with the 
     ram set for a moderately slow travel).
          Rather than describe all the modes and controls of the Hydro-press 
     here,  I will refer you to the book "POWER SWAGING", which is all about 
     the  use of power presses including the  Hydro-press.   Basically,  the 
     adjustment  is still done with the punch holder,  just as it is in  the 
     Mity Mite.   The main difference is that you can control exactly  where 
     the start and stop of the stroke takes place, so that the stroke length 
     is  adjustable  to  precisely what you need for any job.   (Up  to  six 
     inches of stroke can be used, if need be!)
          The press can stop and reverse itself,  after a applying  pressure 
     for  whatever time you tell it (0.1 to 10 seconds).   It will  continue 
     down,  eject  the bullet gently to the top of the die,  and then  raise 
     slightly to retract the internal punch so you can put another component 
     into  the  die.   The  point  at which it reverses can  be  a  physical 
     location set by the position transducer,  or it can be a pressure level 
     achieved  by the compression of the material,  sensed by  the  pressure 
          Naturally,  if you set the press to stop when it reaches a certain 
     position,  it is possible to adjust the punch holder so that the bullet 
     has yet to be contacted,  or so that it is pushed too far for the shape 
     you want.  I like to set the stroke length first, leaving myself enough 
     room  to easily put components into the die but not wasting time moving 
     the ram any further than it needs to go.  Then, after I have a pleasant 
     working  stroke  length set up,  I back off the  punch  holder,  put  a 
     component  into  the die (core,  jacket,  whatever I might be doing  at 
     the time), and run the press ram up to the top of its stroke.    
          With the position switch and pressure switch both turned off,  the 
     ram will simply stop when it reaches this point.   It is now as far  up 
     as  it  will go during this particular job.   Then,  I screw the  punch 
     holder down by hand,  until the punch contacts the material within  the 
     die.   I  back  the ram down slightly (press the green  "ENERGIZE"  and 
     yellow  "DOWN"  buttons,  then release them after the ram moves down  a 
     bit).   Then  I  give  the punch holder another quarter  to  half  turn 
     downward,  just to put some compression on the component on the next up 
          The  ram is then moved up (press the green "ENERGIZE" and the  red 
     "UP" buttons).   Again, with pressure and position switches turned off, 
     the  ram  will  do  one of two  things:   if  the  component  is  being 
     compressed  and  is resisting with pressure equal to that of the  press 
     (as  read  on the gauge),  then the ram will simply stop and  hold  the 
     pressure.   I  can read it on the gauge,  and I can hear the motor  and 
     pump inside the cabinet as it pushes oil over the by-pass valves.   Or, 
     if the pressure I have set is great enough to move the component into a 
     more compact shape,  so that the position sensor is activated, then the 
     pressure gauge will drop to zero, the red LED light on the top position 
     sensor will come on,  and the ram will stop.   The motor and pump  will 
     make their usual idling sound.
          It's  easy to tell whether or not you have formed the component to 
     a limit that was set by position or by resistance to the pressure.   In 
     some jobs,  you want consistent pressure.  This would be true of a core 
     seating  operation.   The  Hydro-press can form seated cores  far  more 
     accurately  than you can do it by hand,  on the larger  calibers.   (On 
     small calibers, I still think a person can do it better -- given enough 
          But on a core swage operation, or when making a lead bullet with a 
     LSWC-1-H (note that the die designations are the same as the Mity Mite, 
     except  that  the letter "H" is added to indicate the  big  Hydro-press 
     design),  using  constant pressure would simply move all the  lead  out 
     through  the bleed holes!   It would come out very consistently,  under 
     the precise control of the pressure and logic circuits, but there would 
     be no indication of when to stop pressing.
          In this operation, you adjust the pressure sensor to a value lower 
     than  that listed in "POWER SWAGING" as maximum safe pressure  for  the 
     caliber  of  die.  Then,  you actually stop the ram using the  position 
     sensor  (turn  on  the "POSITION" switch).  The  location  of  the  top 
     position transducer will control the length and weight of the bullet in 
     this  case.   It is extremely important to use sensitive,  high-quality 
     transducers for this kind of work,  because variation in their range of 
     sensing will cause variation in bullet weight.   I use a highly precise 
     electronic proximity detector that can sense position within millionths 
     of an inch, far better than the human eye.  
          In  manufacturing a bullet jacket with the Hydro-press,  the  same 
     basic  steps  are  used  as with thinner materials in  the  Mity  Mite.  
     First,  a piece of tubing is cut to length.   The length is  determined 
     experimentally  and  is different for various weights,  styles of  tip, 
     ogive  radius,  and  kinds  of bases,  as well  as  for  partitions  or 
     conventional cup jackets.   (We work this out when we build the dies -- 
     design is a large part of the making of a tubing jacket set).  
          Tubing is cut to length using a turret lathe with air feed,  or an 
     automatic  screw  machine.   Corbin  cuts  tubing  for  customers,  and 
     furnishes  the correct temper and wall thickness,  alloy and length  to 
     make  the bullet you order.   Or,  you can farm this out to a local job 
     shop,  or  cut  the  tubing yourself with a  fine-tooth  saw  (bandsaw, 
     circular  saw,  or even a hand saw,  using a V-block and a stop to  get 
     even, square cuts).
          Boxes of from 100 to 5000 pieces of tubing are normally  purchased 
     with the dies.   One end has been deburred and chamfered.  The other is 
     left with as much of the cut-off burr as possible on it.   It will form 
     the  base,  so any extra metal is welcome and causes no  problem.   The 
     piece of tubing is placed over a punch that fits precisely inside, with 
     a  length  that  allows  at least half the caliber length  of  tube  to 
     protrude beyond the punch tip, unsupported.  
          The punch has a shoulder that presses on the other (chamfered) end 
     of the tube. One simply installs the END ROUNDING die (or, as some call 
     it, the JACKET MAKING die) in the press, making sure that the steel pin 
     that  passes through the punch head is indeed installed  correctly  (on 
     top  of the knock-out bar,  but under the retraction spring -- pictures 
     in   POWER  SWAGING  illustrate   how).    Thof  tube  to 
     protrude beyond the punch tip, unsupported.  
          The punch has a shoulder that presses on the other (chamfered) end 
     of the tube. One simply installs the END ROUNDING die (or, as some call 
     it, the JACKET MAKING die) in the press, making sure that the steel pin 
     that  passes through the punch head is indeed installed  correctly  (on 
     top  of the knock-out bar,  but under the retraction spring -- pictures 
     in   POWER  SWAGING  illustrate   how).    Th end of the tube will now be rounded like a  round 
     nose bullet,  and will have a small projection on the end.  If the tube 
     isn't closed this far, check the position sensor and make sure that the 
     right  pressure is being used,  and the position sensor isn't coming on 
     before  that pressure is reached.  (If it is,  move the floating  punch 
     holder down a bit -- don't adjust the position sensor).
          The  next  step  is to draw that piece of rounded-end  tube  to  a 
     diameter that will fit into the core seat die for your  caliber.   Draw 
     dies are part of the jacket-maker package if they are required.  Again, 
     it  is the working system you are purchasing,  with all the development 
     and  testing  that  went  into making it work  with  as  few  steps  as 
     possible,  not a specific number of parts.  We provide what it takes to 
     make the jacket.  Sometimes it takes thousands of dollars worth of die-
     maker labor to develop some little change that you might desire, but we 
     don't charge you for it.   On the other hand,  if we can come up with a 
     process  that eliminates one or two steps by putting in all this  work, 
     then I think you can see that it's a better deal even if you don't need 
     some specific die or punch that might otherwise be included.
          I  mention  this because not every jacket design is made the  same 
     way.   Some alloys,  thicknesses,  calibers,  or combinations of jacket 
     features take differnt paths during production.  Because this is almost 
     entirely unique,  one-of-a-kind development work done just for you,  to 
     make  your bullet,  it is impossible to predict whether your  set  will 
     include  any given number of punches,  dies,  or whether certain  steps 
     will  be necessary in advance.   Instructions are written after the set 
     has been developed and tested.   Generally, they all follow the process 
     oulined here.  Sometimes there are radical exceptions.  
          Rather  than charging you for full shop time every time  something 
     requires  a lot of working out,  we just have one standard price for  a 
     package  of  tools we call the "Copper Tubing  Jacket  Maker  Set",  or 
     "CTJM-1-H".   This  set  is NOT a fixed physical number of  parts,  but 
     varies  with  whatever is needed.   You are  purchasing  the  completed 
     concept, the process of manufacturing something that no one else in the 
     world has worked out quite this way.   If it takes an extra die or two, 
     then  the  extra material you got may be considered a bonus -- I  would 
     consider it unfortunate, since it makes the bullet manufacture a little 
     slower.  On the other hand, if we were able to eliminate everything but 
     one or two dies in the set, you might consider it an over-priced set if 
     you  just  looked at the parts received and not at the time  that  went 
     into developing this faster,  easier method for you.   I would consider 
     it  a  blessing that someone had eliminated all the extra steps  in  my 
     bullet making operation!
          But,  as I was saying,  the next step is usually to draw down  the 
     end-rounded tube.   For this, a die is provided.  The die fits into the 
     head of the Hydro-press, using an adapter that takes it from 7/8-14 TPI 
     to  the  1.5-inch  by  12  TPI  press  head.   Adapters  are  available 
     separately,  if  you  want to permanently install one on each  die  for 
     convenience,  or  you  can use the one that comes with the  press,  and 
     simply change the dies.
          A very long punch is provided,  with a base that looks like a die.  
     It  screws  directly into the press ram.   This  drawing  operation  is 
     exactly a mirror image of the usual swaging set-up.   The die and punch 
     positions are reversed,  and of course there is no internal punch since 
     the  draw die is an open,  annular or ring die.   The tubing is  simply 
     dropped over the punch and pushed through the die, coming out the top.
          After  drawing,  the  tubing  normally must be annealed  to  avoid 
     cracks  in  the base.   We make a very nice  electronically  controlled 
     furnace  for  this,  which can be optionally equipped with  a  Nitrogen 
     atmosphere for even greater control (no scale,  no oxidation).   If you 
     don't  feel ready for the electric furnace (which is the  same  quality 
     that  we  use  to make our dies,  by the way),  then a propane  or  gas 
     welding torch will do.   Heat the tip red and drop the jacket in water.  
     The water quench is to knock off scale.  It doesn't do anything for the 
          Now  remove  the draw die and punch,  replace the  floating  punch 
     holder,  and  install the regular core seating die from whatever  swage 
     set  you  plan  to use with these  jackets.   Some  kinds  of  jackets, 
     especially  partitioned  ones,  have  a  different  internal  punch  to 
     install.   Instructions  will  be included with those sets to tell  you 
     how.  Otherwise, just use the normal flat internal punch.  The external 
     punch is a special one in all cases, however.
          The  external  punch  is made for a specific  wall  thickness  and 
     length of tubing.  It fits into the jacket,  supporting the walls while 
     pressing on the open mouth.   The length of this punch is a bit shorter 
     than  the end-rounding punch,  but otherwise they appear to be similar.  
     The END-FLATTENING punch, as it is called, fits inside the drawn jacket 
     snugly,  but it does fit.   The end-rounding punch only fits inside the 
     tubing, before drawing.   
          As with most swaging tools, sorting out the parts is just a matter 
     of knowning what they are supposed to accomplish,  then seeing if  they 
     fit  into  the parts they are supposed to fit.   If they don't  fit  by 
     hand,  chances are they are not the right parts.  If they do, then they 
     probably are!
          The  purpose of the end-flattening punch is to flatten the rounded 
     end  of  the  tube,  and make a  closed  jacket.   Application  of  the 
     recommended  pressure,  as given in the instructions that come with the 
     set,  will produce a flat base.  The jacket is now finished!  It can be 
     used just like any other jacket.   The operation just described can  be 
     applied  to  the  Mity Mite system,  using the 0.030-inch  wall  tubing 
     suitable  for this press.   Tubing jacket manufacture  is  considerably 
     easier and faster on the Hydro-press, even with thin jackets, since the 
     stroke  length  is  considerably greater and the press has  full  power 
     anywhere in the stroke.  
          The Mity Mite and the Hydro-press systems both use different  size 
     dies,  and do not interchange.  The Hydro-press can use reloading press 
     swage  dies,  though I don't recommend the practice:   it's too easy to 
     over-stress a swage die by applying more pressure than the  recommended 
     limit  (the charts in POWER SWAGING are for Hydro-press dies,  not  the 
     smaller diameter reloading press dies).   However,  the Mega Mite press 
     is  a common ground for all Corbin dies.