Norman F. Johnson
Although casting bullets, given appropriate alloys and procedures, will
provide bullets that are accurate and satisfying to fire, they can often
be improved to make them better fit varying firearms, uses, and
circumstances. Swaging can reduce or eliminate voids and, if desired,
completely change the bullet’s shape and diameter. My principle shooting
interest has always been to make a given gun shoot lead bullets
accurately; accommodating the gun/chamber, without doing a lot of
gunsmithing. The following section is meant to provide bullet casters with
a little insight into improving their cast bullets by swaging them. It is
also meant to dispel some of the old wives’ tales that have attached
themselves to bullet swaging lore.
Reasons For Swaging
I swage for several reasons.
First is to increase
the diameter of my cast bullets to fit the throats of various firearms.
Achieving this most necessary condition for good accuracy is my most
common reason for swaging cast bullets. Until I discovered that fitting
the bullets to the revolver’s throats was so darn important, I thought
that I was really a bad pistol shot. The same fitting requirement holds
for any firearm’s throat. Leading in the throat area is an almost certain
sign that the bullet is too small in diameter for that firearm’s throat.
If the bullet does not properly fit the throat, no matter the bullet
alloy, gas cutting will occur and the gun’s potential accuracy will not be
The second reason is
to enable me to make good use of my casting rejects. Some rejects are not
too badly cast, but may have poor fill-out, voids, or other minor
problems. Swaging can often make them into really satisfactory
projectiles. To retain the lube grooves, one must lube the rejects before
swaging. Weight variations, inherent in cast bullet rejects, are not as
important as many casters think. Bullet weight variations as large as 3%
do not, of themselves, impair accuracy except perhaps for the 1000 yard
shooters and the bench rest crowd where .010" is the world.
During a two to
three year period in the seventies or eighties, I did a series of
experiments using varying bullet weights for both rifle and pistol
bullets. My results made it pretty clear that a 3-4 grain difference in a
bullet of 150 grains or so did not increase group size at 100 yards.
Because of all the hype given to uniformity of bullet weight in those
days, I called Dave Corbin (interesting man) to see what he had to say
about it. Interestingly, after a long conversation, he said that he had
come to the same conclusion.
Bullet swaging dies
seem to universally be made with alloy bleed holes. Unless one has bullet
weight variations that are considerably larger than those of my castings,
I see no use for bleed holes in the swaging dies. Commercial cast bullets
and my own castings are consistent enough that one setting of the die
makes for easy swaging with no bleed hole needed. The “spring” of the
presses that I use for bullet swaging will easily accommodate the typical
three percent variation in reject castings. One can tell by the difference
in the swaging effort if he has an occasional bullet outside the typical
variation, and he can simply pitch that bullet into a container for
For a point of
reference, I am quite satisfied with 3/4 - 1" groups at 100 yards. It is
almost essential to go to the specially prepared barrel and bumping dies
used by Tom Gray and others who really understand cast bullet and chamber
characteristics if one wants to improve accuracy much further. Tom and I
do not always agree on each and every point, but his approach does work
for those who insist on the very finest accuracy.
My third reason is
to swage home and commercially cast bullets to other shapes and calibers.
Swaging .357” bullets to .44 and .45 caliber lightweights for experiments
works well. A 125 grain .357” bullet swaged to .44 caliber will really
whiz out of my little Bulldog .44 Special.
The fourth reason is
to reshape cast bullets for experiments. For instance, I use a cast .457”
SAECO 350 gr. FN to make the LBT type Wide Flat Nose (WFN) imitation for
my .45-70 guns and .45 Colt Ruger Blackhawk boomers. See Photo entitled
“350 Grain .457” SAECO Swaged to .4555” WFN” for a product of this
operation made for my .4555” throated Ruger Blackhawk. Note the gas check
was applied before this operation. It seats the check while perfectly
squaring the bullet base. The same SAECO bullets are swaged with and
without gas check to make bullets from .454” to .462” in diameter,
depending on the particular .45 caliber firearm in which they are to be
used. The above category can also include making heeled bullets for those
requiring them. See Photo entitled “Heeled Bullet” for an example of the
heeled bullet made by partially swaging a cast bullet. Note that the
bullet base has a smaller diameter than that of the driving bands.
The fifth reason is
when “bumping” is desired.
First, let’s make
sure that we understand the nature of bumping. Generally it means swaging
a bullet in an oversize die to increase bullet diameter slightly. This is
often done by using a common bullet sizer rigged with a stop of some kind.
The other meaning;
that which Tom Gray and the cast bullet rifle smiths use, is to reshape
the bullet slightly, ordinarily with a taper which is identical to that of
the appropriate portion of the chamber in which it is to be chambered
Chamber and die are cut with the same reamer.
Below I speak of the
Bumping can be
accomplished with greater control than when using a bullet sizer by using
an oversize bullet swaging die. It is a great help in keeping the bullet
and bore axes collinear (for the best launch scenario) to have a bore
riding nose. This is accomplished by making the bullet nose a “bore
rider”. For instance, imagine a typical two diameter rifle bullet where
the driving bands are a good fit to the firearm’s throat, say .309”, but
the nose is a typical .299” or .300”, too small in diameter to make the
nose a good bore rider in a .30 caliber rifle with a (very common) .302”
bore. In this instance, the bullet can be run into a .309” die, then with
the nose punch, compressed until the nose is .302”. If the nose of your
bullet will push without fair resistance into your muzzle, bumping would
be worth giving a try. The above, by the way, is a pretty typical example
of the need for bumping. Standard commercial molds rarely cast bullets
with both diameters being optimal for a given firearm. Indeed, many are
undersized in both the major and minor diameters. In this regard, as-cast
bullets made from .303 British molds work better in my .308” rifles than
do many of those that are cast from .30 caliber molds.
I started swaging on
presses that are not specifically made for bullet swaging before I knew
that it could not be done. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out
there regarding the need for special heavy duty presses when swaging. Many
slick gun magazine authors, not having sufficient personal experience,
tend to pass on much of what they read. The old wives’ tales seem to pass
on from one generation to another, much the same as do a host of other
For at least 30
years, I have swaged cast commercial and my own cast bullets, both
satisfactory and rejects, on a regular basis. Any press for which I have
dies to form the bullet I need has proven to be of sufficient strength.
None has sprung, warped, broken, or even shown excessive wear from this
usage. I have had a couple of handle casualties, which I will explain
During the early
years I used only my Lyman Spar-T which is a relatively lightweight turret
press. It is still running strong and is used for all of my general
reloading. Fifteen or twenty years ago I acquired an RCBS RS, a relatively
lightweight "O" frame that I now use for cast bullet (re)forming when I
use one of the collection of C-H dies that I have accumulated. These C-H
dies are designed to be used with standard loading presses. They were
originally made to produce half and three quarter jacketed bullets, but I
have yet to use them for other than lead alloy projectiles.
Despite what you
might have read, if you have even a moderately strong press, you have a
good potential swaging platform.
Be aware that the
following makes unconventional use of the dies under discussion, but they
work well with cast bullets.
There are a number
of bullet swaging dies now being made for use on conventional loading
presses. Since they are readily available, and since in principle, they do
not differ substantially from the others on the market, I will discuss use
of the C-H type dies. They come in nominal .308, .355, .357, .429, and
.451” with flat and HP nose punches. These are not readily adaptable to
special purpose uses but are very strong as demonstrated by my leaning on
the press handle so hard that I have, on two occasions, broken the handle
off with absolutely no damage to the dies. My solution was to have a
longer and heavier handle made. Before you roll your eyes, that solution
has been used for about 20 years with no further anomalies. I should note
that the physical effort for most swaging is not at all great. The above
two occasions were when I was preparing some special projectiles for
C-H swaging dies
come in two basic configurations. The 105 Series is a single die in .308,
.355, .357, .429, and .451. It was originally designed to make half and
three quarter jacketed bullets of round nose and semi-wadcutter
configurations. This die is useful to swage many casting rejects where
voids or poor fill-out is apparent. The grease grooves are filled before
swaging and the die is used sans bullet jacket. The nose punches of this
die have a bleed hole in its center. This die works very well for swaging
cast bullets, even with the limited nose configurations.
The main drawback of
this die type is that it is not easily modified to make bullets of greater
diameter or altered shape. A commercial bullet swaged in this die type to
a SWC configuration is shown in the photo entitled, “Commercial .45
Caliber RFN Swaged to SWC”, on the previous page.
C-H 101 Series is a
two die set designed to make jacketed bullets of the ogive type with a
flat or hollow point. It has a core seater die ordinarily used to seat the
cores in the jackets. The core seater die is not used when swaging cast
bullets. The second die is a bullet-forming die that one can use to change
the shape and/or diameter of his casting. The photo “Commercial .38
Caliber SWC Swaged to HP, Views No. 1 and 2” shows two views of the 101
Series product. C-H is located at http://www.ch4d.com. Get the C-H
catalog. They sell some really useful tools.
Some years ago at a
gun show, I was able to pick up an old but good C-H Swag-O-Matic swaging
press and a good number of top and bottom punches, dies, and other knick
knacks. This set-up is just the ticket for the cast bullet swager. Dies
and punches are easily modified or fabricated by a decent machinist and
about any shape bullet that one can imagine can be made. See photo
entitled “C-H Swag-O-Matic Bullet Swaging Press”, then see picture of the
die and associated punches in the photo entitled, “Swag-O-Matic Die with
Bottom Punch and Various Top Punches.”
Two bullets, a .44
caliber and a .45 caliber are shown in the photo entitled, “Cup Point
Bullets with Nose Punches.” The .44 bullet has been further modified to
slightly taper the cup portion of the bullet.
In the years since,
I have found and purchased two more of these presses to use as spare parts
although have found the original to be so husky that it has not needed
repair. If interested, keep a lookout at gun shows, EBay, etc., as they
are still out there. Evidently, some CBA members have a number of them.
This old C-H Swag-O-Matic,
with its simple to make die sets is, sadly, no longer produced. That is a
shame because it provided a versatility that is not now generally
available to budget minded casters and other experimenters that like to
make virtually perfect bullets at a reasonable production rate.
The picture at right,
“Swaging Flat Points From 250 Grain Redline .455” Bullets”, is an example
of a simple but effective way to make bullets suitable for hunting or
target shooting from an existing bullet. The bullet diameter can be
reduced or increased and the nose shape changed in one simple swaging
I have had some
discussions with Dave Davidson, who took over C-H, and he does not plan to
bring back the Swag-O-Matic press. However, he did say that he might
consider making a run of dies. So far I have seen no announcement
regarding that project.
As I said, the
Swag-O-Matic dies and punches are about as simple as one can imagine and
lend themselves to both modification and copying. At the start I had some
of the dies opened up a little by a machinist friend to produce special
diameters. I wrote to A.F. Sailor, then in charge at C-H, and he looked up
the heat treatment that they had used to harden the dies. My friend
annealed the original dies, opened them up, re-heat treated them, then
polished the insides to final diameter.
In the process we
found that some would crack in the heat treatment, the cracks radiating
out from the bleed hole which is on the side of the die in the Swag-O-Matic
dies. We went to an air hardening tool steel and made a handful of
undersized blanks that I can have opened up as I see fit whenever a
(bright?) new idea hits. He has also made special bottom and top punches
for my experiments.
When making up a die
for the Swag-O-Matic press, I specifically omit the bleed (side) hole.
This is because when I am swaging commercial lead bullets, sometimes the
bleed hole lines up with a bullet’s lubrication ring, tending to jettison
lube, thereby making a lube groove of non-uniform width -- not
satisfactory. Careful setup of the dies will make bleed holes unnecessary,
as you will see with a little experience. As I said, weight variation of
even the reject castings is not enough to cause swaging problems for these
dies with no bleed holes.
To date, regardless
of the rigorous workout that I have given them, I have not managed to harm
a single die made from this air hardening tool stock. They are extremely
An example of a
bullet that has been rather radically resized and reshaped with the
Swag-O-Matic press is shown in the photo entitled, “Cup Point .44 with
Slight Taper.” This bullet was formed from one with a SWC configuration.
Another area of
confusion is the belief that only soft lead or the softer alloys can be
swaged on reloading presses.
A large portion of
my alloy approximates Lyman No. 2 which is about 14 BHN. This hardness
suits most of my shooting requirements. However, I have swaged a lot of
Linotype bullets with no adverse results on these presses. Bullets
diameters run from .30 caliber to those in excess of .460” that some of my
.45-70's require. The majority are .44's and .45's.
The only problem
that I have had while swaging the harder alloys is when changing the
bullet shape dramatically - and it is not a press or die problem. For
instance, when making a gaping hollow point from a SWC, the harder alloys
will sometimes crack in the thin "skirt" area of the cup point.
Conventional hollow pointing does not present a problem.
swaged from soft alloy, the cup point can be reversed in the case to
provide a good HBWC, a bullet that is not readily available in other than
Some readers will be
concerned that hard bullets will time soften when they are swaged. This is
because grain boundary shifting in the metallic structure of lead-antimony
alloys. However, the amount of softening seems to have been exaggerated
because I can find only 2-3 BHN difference even two years after swaging. I
no longer worry about it.
As a side note, I
have run several hundred .45 caliber, 230 gr. FMJ RN bullets through both
the reloading press dies and the
Swag-O-Matic dies backwards to produce a
lead forward flat nose or hollow point for use in all my .45 pistols. Two
examples are illustrated in the photo entitled “230 Grain FMJ Swaged to
Other Configurations, Views No. 1 and 2.” For the jacketed bullets, a
little Motor Honey or STP Oil Additive serves as a sizing lubricant. Cast
bullets, lubed prior to swaging provide their own lubrication.
There is much to be
learned about bullet casting and this should be pursued until one is
comfortable with his results. Understanding the effects of alloys,
temperatures, heat treatments of bullets, mold treatments, time hardening
and time softening of castings, etc., is essential to achieving one’s
However, the added
dimension of swaging does allow one to further satisfy his shooting hobby
and realize results that casting alone may not accomplish. Why not be on
the lookout for swaging equipment while attending gun shows and other
sporting events where such equipment is offered? Swaging is a most
satisfying addition to the bullet casting hobby!
God Bless! Norm
Bumping Cast Bullets
"Can someone explain the use of bump
dies on cast bullets for
benchrest shooting? How do you determine if you need to use one and where
do you get them? Thanks, Scott Hamilton"
From Dan Hudson:
Usually if your rifle has been throated
for cast bullets, the gunsmith can make you a throating die with the same
reamer so that the bullets will fit the new throat. In use, the throating
die will fit a modified loading press and you push the bullets into the
die to taper the nose to match the throat. You can just taper the bullet
nose if the nose is large enough but if the nose is undersize, then you
would need to actually bump the bullet up to fit the throat.
The press needs to be modified to have
a method (ejector pin) to push the bullet back out of the die after
tapering. If you are going to bump the bullets, either the press will need
a stop or the die can have a built in stop. The stop is needed to be able
to bump the bullet to a larger size than it was cast. Basically you are
pushing the bullet into the die and squishing it out to fill the cavity in
the bump die formed by the stop on top, the base pin on the press ram on
the bottom and die cavity on the sides.
I'm sure that this short explanation
will bring up more questions, as I don't write explanations very well.
I do taper my bullets and sometimes I
will need to bump them. Then I just seat the bullets in the case with my
fingers and let the bolt closing in the action do the actual bullet
seating. Ideally, the bullets nose taper fits the throat taper exactly and
the bullets are seated to the same depth every time.
The only source that I know of would be
a gunsmith or yourself if you have a lathe and the reamer. Dan"
"Can someone explain the use of bump
dies on cast bullets for benchrest shooting? How do you determine if you
need to use one and where do you get them? Thanks,
From Tom Gray:
I'll try to answer you question of how
do you determine if you need to bump your bullets.
First of all a bump die is just a
component part of a Bump Press. It is the part the bullet is shoved into.
If you want the very best accuracy from your rifle or pistol, you need a
perfect fit of the bullet to the throat of the gun. Just about everything
bad that happens to a bullet happens in the first inch of its travel.
Since they (cast bullets) are so
malleable they get distorted if they
aren't supported 100% in the throat of
the chamber when it gets that big kick in the butt to start it going down
The second reason is to get the gas
check on the base of the bullet very flat and square to the c/l of the
bullet. Most methods of applying the gas check are crude at best and a lot
of gas checks get crimped onto the shank crooked. A crooked base on the
bullet will cause a flier. By carefully installing the gas check and then
running it thru a bump press, the base will be formed square whether or
not it wants to be or not. Tests that I've run have shown that bumping
good bullets to square up and flatten the base of the check took 1/4 inch
out of the groups. In CBA competition, a quarter inch is a lot.
To get a bump die that fits your gun,
you first have a gunsmith take a special reamer called a throater reamer
and re-throat the chamber of your gun. You then take that same reamer and
make a cavity in the die that is used to form or re shape the cast bullet
so that it is a perfect fit to the guns throat. As they say down in LA,
That's more better than good!! A bottom punch is made to replace the shell
holder on the top of the ram with a top surface that is square to its c/l.
The entry hole in the die is kept very close to the dia. of the punch so
that it can only enter and stay square to the rest of the cavity. This
ensures a very flat and square base on the bullet when it bumped.
I once made some bullets that were not
bumped and some that were bumped and sent them into a local auto factory
to be measured for base square ness. The report that came back was that
the ones that weren't bumped rolled around so bad that they couldn't even
make a measurement. The ones that were bumped flat and square were dead
nuts square. Many people bump their bullets too hard and end up with a
sharp corner on the bottom edge of the bullet. Some even do it so hard
they get fins. In this case harder is not better. All you want to do is
form the base flat and square while preserving the radius that is on the
corner of the gas check.
I personally like to use a freebore dia.
that is only a half to one thousandth over the groove dia. of the barrel
so as not to be distorting the bullet too much when it engraves the
rifling. Some people run bullets two to three thousandths over groove
diameter with good results.
Now to answer the question of when do
you know if you should bump? Check you bullets and see if there is any
waviness on the bases or if the gas checks are crooked. There will be your
answer. Tom Gray"
1. Can a
reloading press be used to bump bullets?
2. What is
the cost of re-throating a (say) new Production class rifle and making
the bump die set? If I
were to try the 223 again, for example, and sent a Savage rifle to a
gunsmith to have it properly throated and bump die made, how much would
I expect to pay? Thanks; joe b."
I don't know what other gunsmiths
charge for a throat job but I usually charge $25 to $40 depending if I
have to remove the barrel etc If I have to buy a throater reamer as in the
35 Rem. I did yesterday, it's $75 for the reamer and the cost has to be
amortized over the jobs you do with it. Since the same reamer is used to
make the actual die for bumping the bullets, the cost is spread out.
If one carefully designs the throater
to clean up the existing throat and then makes a die off it, the bullets
formed in the die fit the chamber throat perfectly. As they say down in
Louisiana, "That's more better than good".
The RCBS (Rock Chuck Bullet Swage)
press is, in my experience the best for making bump presses. I've made
them on Lyman's and others but prefer the RCBS for my own.
Here are a couple of pictures of my
current bump press. I designed it for a right-handed person. The first mod
is when I went to a 1 1/4" dia. die to preclude any stretching of the die
radially. When bumping very hard bullets, a 7/8" dia. CRS die can stretch
and bullet Dia. will vary. This doesn't happen with softer bullets. You
move the die up and down to determine where the taper starts on the
bullet. The knurled plug in the top is an adjustable stop for an internal
traveling nut to set the force of the bumping action. The traveling nut
under the top cross bar is picked up by the crossbar on the down stroke
and ejects the bullet from the bottom of the die.
I've made some dies from drill rod but
it is hard on reamers. This one is of stainless. Cold rolled steel works
OK but is dirty with slag inclusions in the center of the bars sometimes.
I heat treated one die too hard one time and it cracked. Sounded like a 22
RF went off. I thought I broke a cross pin in the press till I found the
crack. This press can develop up to 60,000 lbs force when it rolls over."
From Tom Gray:
"Bumping is not radical reforming so, a
lot of power is not used. Sort of like sizing a large cartridge case for a
As for the press and dies, if you want
and ejection system to eject the bullet and also have it adjustable for
the amount of bump and where you put the taper on the bullet, such a press
can be made for $250. I had between 10 and 15 man/machine hours in the
ones I made. I make a rather elaborate setup I guess compared to
others. It took me several models before I got the design exactly where I
wanted it for range of adjustment etc. I'm not making them for people any
longer as they are too time consuming and half the guys I made them for
lacked the mechanical aptitude to properly adjust them even with four
pages of instructions. Tom"
From James E.
Evitts, aka "Swagerman"
"Here is the Lee Classic press with
bullet swaging ejector mechanism. Has a little different bottom flat bar
attachment to the press's ram head where the shell-holder is ... because
the ram is a lot smaller than the ole Herters press.
be able to full stroke the press's handle the top cap shell holder on the
Lee Classic press is a screw off & on affair, this had to be shorten by
1/2 inch but requires a lathe to do it ... it is an internal cut and fit
with hex screws.
Yet all works well for bullet swaging
with a Lee press, have it set up for .44 caliber.
This apparatus has no problem with the
side rods moving or swaying...so, nothing else is required at this point.
The support rods are still the same 3/8 inch diameter as is the thickness
of the flat bars is also 3/8 of an inch thick. The flat bars on the Lee
are six inches long instead of seven like on the Herter's press. The Lee
press is a small unit compared to the big ole Herters press. It also has a
smaller press ram piston which required a different design on the lower
flat bar attachment area. This Lee press also requires the use of smaller
regular type shell-holders or bullet nose punches. Though it could be
adapted to use the Herter's type shell-holders or nose punches by changing
the top cap of the ram that threads off and on.
As I have two extra top caps I may
eventually do just that to keep busy this winter.
The Lee press is capable of bullet
swaging, but be advised that the screw off shell-holder was shortened by
3/8 of an inch on a lathe and internally sleeved and has two hex screws to
hold it together. It's compound leverage is not as good as the old
Herter's Super-O-Maximum press with its 1-1/4 " diameter long ram, but
really not too shabby.
The Lee Classic press has a ram with a
fall free primer release in the bottom of the ram where the toggle linkage
is. The link pin is not a one piece pin but rather a two piece affair much
like two cone protrusions fitting into the ram's bottom holes. So far this
has held up well, and I always have the option of removing it and
inserting a one piece link bolt or pin in its place. They only made it
that way so the primers could fall through the bottom and into the long
plastic tube to catch spent primers.
The Lee Classic press will not swage
well if you do not shorten the shell-holder as mentioned above, the press
has to have full handle stroke so the bullet will form (swage)
completely at the top of the stroke. The Lee Classic can swage anything
the Herter's press will swage. It does hollow basing, hollow pointing, or
both at the same time if you have the right punches and swaging die
plunger stems. (I made my own)
I use mostly C-H tool 4-D swaging dies,
but order them in special sizes to do the type of swaging
I want done. Sizes like .429, .452 and .454
diameter are the most common I like to use.
If you order from C&H
their regular swaging sets you'll most likely be getting their copper
jacket lead wire fitting stuff. These are not good for just bullet shape
changing ... like I do. They are not the finish bullet shape size needed
in both dies ... one is under size and the other is the finish size.
My suggestion is to order the two dies in the finish size diameter
you want to change nose shape of bullet ... but that is just me.
If I didn't have this
mini-lathe, (another home learning experience I'm still working on)
there wouldn't much progress in my hobby.
Here is the cut-down
shortened Lee Classic shell-holder so that the press's full handle stroke
can be utilized.
To the left is a full
size unaltered Lee Classic threaded shell-holder, to the right is the
shell-holder cut into and sleeved to fit inside of the lower body. Two hex
screws hold the two halves together.
These pictures and ideas
are not intended for commercial use to manufacture these bullet ejector
assemblies. They are intended to share with the common handloader or
hobbyist. Please don't abuse the privileged of copying it for commercial
use as a sellable item. Thank you,
"Can someone provide some rough
sketches of a bump/reform die that one would use in benchrest to provide
the best accuracy. I do my own gunsmithing and have the throating reamer
that I used on the rifle, plus have a full machine shop to make what I
need. I just need a little help with the parts. I have an RCBS Rockchucker
and a Swage-o-matic press. Thanks, Scott Hamilton"
Here's how I have made a few bump dies.
I readily admit this might not be the best way to do it, but it worked for
Drill and ream your die blank to fit
the pilot on your throater I use 7/8-14
threaded dies for the Rock Chucker.) Ream the die with your throater to
the proper depth - you'll want the base of the bullet at least 1/2 into
the bottom of the die when it finishes. Polish out the nose section of the
die all the way to the top, if you want the noses of the bullets larger
than the pilot hole. That's it for the die itself.
The easiest nose punches I've seen are
turned a few thou smaller than the nose diameter in the die, then
center-drilled almost to the edge. Then a couple small dimples were
drilled into the sides of the 60° angle part of the center-drilled hole.
In use, a hard bullet is run into the die, a piece of buckshot is dropped
onto the nose, the top punch is run in after it, and a soft mallet is used
to hammer the buckshot to match the nose of the bullet, and also deform
the other side of it into the center drilled hole. The two dimples help
lock the soft lead nose piece into the top punch. These don't last forever
- you have to replace them once in a while, but it's quick and dirty and
it works. Was I totally
confusing? Glenn Latham"
"Glenn, It helps to use a fully heat-treated bullet to form the soft lead
in the return punch for the taper die. That way the punch will match
closer the nose profile to the next bullets to be tapered/bumped.
Otherwise the consecutive bullet noses will be deformed. I use the ones
you made with a little lube, Ed’s Red, and it tends to help the die clean
itself. The bullets to be tapered need to be soft enough to tolerate the
taper process and pre-lubing and seating the gas checks and lube helps to
keep them from sticking in the taper die. This allows the return punch to
easily extract the tapered bullet. Also, the die can be adjusted for depth
in the press to find the right amount of taper to fit the rifle chamber
for accurate shooting. I routinely heat-treat my bullets after the taper
process, without first pre-lubing. After heat treat, the bullets are