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Casting and Swaging Bullets: A Primer

Casting and Swaging Bullets: A Primer

Did you know you can make your own bullets at home? Not only that but you can even make jacketed, hollow points, or any other variety of options at home. Keep reading to learn more about it.

Casting and swaging are the two primary ways a hobbyist can make their own bullets at home. Both share some common benefits such as personal control over the quality of end product, satisfaction of being a key part of the process in the creation and even potential cost savings (though this is not always the case). 

Corbin Swaging Press

Casting is the process of melting down alloys (primarily lead), pouring the molten liquid into a mold, and then polishing it all off with some finishing work to give you your lead-based bullet at the end of the process. All in all, it’s a fairly cheap hobby to get into both on the upfront cost and the supplies. Even cheaper if you exercise a little networking such as soliciting tire weights from your local automotive shops for free. There are some drawbacks associated with casting such as the risk of working with molten metal, but that can be safely mitigated. It’s time-consuming, but then again it’s a hobby so that may not be your concern either. For me, the biggest drawback is the limitations on the range of ammunition I can create utilizing solid lead bullets and the barrel fouling as well associated with a non-jacketed bullet.Though the fouling can also be somewhat mitigated by utilizing Base Guards.

Lyman Casting Set

That’s where swaging comes in. Where casting works by melting the source material swaging works at room temperature by pressing the material into the shape desired. This cold forming process along with associated equipment and supplies allows you the ability to make virtually most types of bullets you can imagine or desire to include jacketed. Swaging has its drawbacks as well. The biggest of which in my opinion is the startup equipment cost. This is especially true if you start looking at the higher end hydraulic powered presses. Another check against swaging would be the learning curve. While I don’t consider swaging extremely hard to understand and pick up on, I do think it is more complicated to learn than casting. That said both are in a sense an art that the true hobbyist will spend a lifetime seeking to perfect.

In the end, both casting and swaging have their positives and negatives associated with them, and it comes down to what you want out of the experience and what your personal needs are for the bullets you intend to create. As for me, I say why not go with both!

Swaging Die
Bullet Mold for Casting

Hopefully if you were not already familiar with these two processes this article at a minimum spikes your curiosity enough to look further into them and see if it’s something you could benefit from and enjoy.

Do you currently make your own bullets? Share your story below in the comments!

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Modern Warrior Disclaimer: At the Modern Warrior Project we value the benefit gained by leveraging various experts in the field. One of the many ways we do this is by sharing post from a number of guest authors on our site. Like most things our opinions may vary on different topics, techniques, and various other things in which most of us hold deep opinions. While we may not always share the same opinion of any given author we think it is important to let it be heard and let the reader determine their position on any given topic of discussion. Provided the material does not fundamentally go against our values or we consider it to be ‘Bad’ advice we will alway lean towards publication. Bottom line: The opinions and statements expressed in our blog are those of the author unless clearly stated it is an MWP  positon on the given subject. 

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