Choosing the Best Bullet Swaging Press for Your Needs

6 min read

In the world of firearms enthusiasts and reloaders, making your own bullets is a rewarding and cost-effective hobby. Bullet swaging, the process of forming bullets using high pressure, is at the heart of this craft. This article delves into the essentials of bullet swaging, covering the necessary equipment, tools, and techniques to get you started on creating high-quality ammunition at home.

Understanding Bullet Swaging

Bullet swaging is the process of forming bullets by pressing or hammering lead or other metals into a desired shape using a die. Unlike casting, which involves melting metal, swaging uses cold or room-temperature metals, resulting in more precise and uniform bullets. This method is especially popular for making jacketed bullets, where a softer metal core is encased in a harder metal jacket, typically copper.

Why Make Your Own Bullets?

  1. Cost Savings: Swaging your own bullets can be more cost-effective than buying factory-made bullets, especially for avid shooters.
  2. Customization: Bullet swaging allows for customization in terms of bullet weight, shape, and material, catering to specific shooting needs.
  3. Quality Control: By making your own bullets, you can ensure consistency and quality, which is crucial for accuracy in shooting sports and hunting.

Essential Bullet Swaging Equipment

To begin bullet swaging, you need specific equipment designed to handle the high pressures involved in the process. Here’s a rundown of the essential tools:

1. Bullet Swaging Press

A bullet swaging press is the cornerstone of your setup. The Corbin bullet swaging press, renowned for its durability and precision, is a popular choice among enthusiasts. This press provides the necessary leverage to form bullets with consistent dimensions and weights. The Corbin swaging press can handle a variety of bullet types and calibers, making it versatile for different shooting applications.

2. Bullet Swaging Dies

Swaging dies are crucial components that shape the bullet. These dies come in various sizes and shapes to produce different bullet profiles, such as round nose, hollow point, or flat point. Companies like Corbin offer a wide range of swaging dies to accommodate various bullet designs. It’s essential to select the right die for the bullet type you intend to produce.

3. Copper Bullet Jackets

Copper bullet jackets encase the softer lead core, providing structural integrity and improving ballistic performance. These jackets are available in different calibers and thicknesses, allowing you to customize your bullets for specific uses. Copper jackets enhance bullet expansion and penetration, making them ideal for hunting and long-range shooting.

4. Bullet Cannelure Tool

A bullet cannelure tool is used to create grooves around the bullet’s circumference. These grooves, or cannelures, help secure the bullet in the cartridge case and can be used to crimp the case mouth into the bullet, preventing movement during recoil. This tool is especially useful for creating bullets for semi-automatic firearms, where consistent bullet seating is critical.

5. Bullet Knurling Tool

The bullet knurling tool adds texture to the bullet’s surface, improving the grip between the bullet and the cartridge case. This texture ensures consistent seating depth and enhances the bullet’s stability during firing. Knurling is particularly beneficial for lead bullets, providing a better surface for lubricant adherence and reducing barrel fouling.

Gun Bore Cleaner

Maintaining your firearm is essential for safety and performance. A gun bore cleaner is an indispensable part of your shooting kit. After firing, residues from the bullet’s material and gunpowder can accumulate in the barrel, affecting accuracy and potentially causing damage. Regular cleaning with a quality gun bore cleaner ensures your firearm remains in optimal condition, extending its lifespan and reliability.

Steps to Swage Your Own Bullets

1. Prepare Your Materials

Start by gathering your lead cores and copper jackets. Ensure the lead is of high quality and free from impurities. Copper jackets should be clean and properly sized for the caliber you are producing.

2. Set Up Your Swaging Press

Install the appropriate swaging die into your press. Adjust the press settings according to the bullet type and size you are producing. Ensure all components are securely fastened and aligned.

3. Swage the Bullet Core

Place the lead core into the die and operate the press to form the core into the desired shape. This process may require multiple passes through the press to achieve the correct dimensions and uniformity.

4. Jacket the Bullet

Insert the formed lead core into the copper jacket. Using the press, swage the jacketed bullet to bond the core and jacket together. This step may also involve forming the bullet’s nose and base to final specifications.

5. Finalize the Bullet

If needed, use the bullet cannelure tool to add grooves and the bullet knurling tool to texture the surface. These finishing touches enhance the bullet’s performance and ensure it fits securely in the cartridge case.

Safety Considerations

Working with high-pressure equipment and lead requires strict adherence to safety protocols:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always wear safety glasses, gloves, and appropriate clothing to protect against metal shavings and chemical exposure.
  • Ventilation: Ensure your workspace is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling lead particles and fumes.
  • Proper Handling: Handle all materials and tools with care, following the manufacturer’s copper bullet jackets instructions to prevent accidents.


Bullet swaging is a meticulous yet rewarding process that allows shooters to produce high-quality, customized ammunition. With the right equipment, such as a Corbin bullet swaging press, swaging dies, copper bullet jackets, and essential tools like the bullet cannelure and knurling tools, you can craft bullets tailored to your specific needs. Coupled with regular maintenance using a good gun bore cleaner, your homemade ammunition can match or even exceed the performance of factory-made bullets. Embrace the art of bullet swaging and elevate your shooting experience to new heights.

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