The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 17, 2009, 06:16 PM   #1
Jeff H
Senior Member
Join Date: August 20, 2009
Posts: 169
cast vs swaged

Being new to the whole lead bullet thing, I'm not really sure what the difference is and what the benefits/short comings of each type are. A little explanation would be helpful.

Jeff H is offline  
Old September 17, 2009, 06:29 PM   #2
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 13,656
Casting is melting lead or a lead alloy and pouring it into a mold to form a bullet.

Swaging is using a pressure ram to force a slug of lead wire into a forming die hard enough to force it to assume the shape of the die.

Swaging alloy has to be malleable enough to be formed in a die at practical pressures. There is a limit to how hard it can be, therefore. Cast bullets are not quite as dimensionally uniform as swaged bullets, but the mold lets you pour alloys without regard for their solidified hardness. Typically, cast bullet are therefore harder. Also, you can mold recessed rings into them for accepting larger quantities of lubricant than you can get the surface of a swaged bullet to accept. Taken together, these two things mean they can usually be driven to higher velocities. Swaging is more suited to high speed mass production than molding, so most lead bullets from large volume bullet makers are swaged, while cast bullets are more common among smaller volume and independent lead bullet makers.
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member
Unclenick is offline  
Old September 17, 2009, 07:35 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: December 16, 2004
Location: Grand Forks, ND
Posts: 5,323
Unclenick nailed it.

Swaging by design will produce very soft bullets. This is fine and in many cases desirable in lower pressure rounds, but this limits how hard they can be driven. No metal is melted.

Casting is where you physically melt metal and pour it into a mold. As mentioned before, this means you can use a wide variety of alloys that are MUCH harder than swaged.

It used to be the general rule that swaged bullets would be cheaper and more available than cast, but over the last decade or so it seems, commercially cast bullets like Oregon Trail and others have come on the scene and sell quality cast bullets at a very competitive price vs swaged bullets
I don't carry a gun to go looking for trouble, I carry a gun in case trouble finds me.
Crosshair is offline  
Old September 17, 2009, 11:18 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: November 22, 2006
Posts: 2,685
All of the above it true and I’ll add that a cast bullet has to cool in the mold where a swaged bullet is stamped out in the blink of an eye, thus a lot greater production rate.
jmorris is offline  
Old September 18, 2009, 07:58 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Northern Indiana
Posts: 6,117
Although I agree with jmorris on the production rate,,,, the equipment for casting bullets is much simpler and cheaper.
Since I use lead bullets in every case that I load for handguns (7 total) and two of them are mag I have never used Swaged due to the hardness issue. Cast on the other hand I purchase from Penn bullets and I have pushed his hard cast in a 44 mag rifle up to 1400 fps and had little leading.
My recommendation is and always will be cast.

Unclenick nailed it. +1
Ozzieman is offline  
Old September 18, 2009, 02:45 PM   #6
Junior member
Join Date: December 10, 2006
Location: MANNING SC
Posts: 837

the only swaged bullet I use is the hornady HBWC because of my S&W 52.
the S&W mod 10 bull gets cast wc from lyman 4 cavity.I have used the hoenady in the 10 when shooting bullseye because it has a bomar rib and target trigger.
TEDDY is offline  
Old September 18, 2009, 06:36 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: January 1, 2000
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 2,678
cast vs swaged

Swaged must be soft[er] because they are made in a pressing process.

Cast bullets are harder and can be made as hard as you have the metal to make them.
MADISON is offline  
Old September 19, 2009, 01:47 AM   #8
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 13,656
Despite the above, there are occasions where the swaged bullets seem preferable. My old 3" Charter Bulldog will keep groups under 2" at 25 yards shooting the 240 grain Hornady swaged SWC over 2.9 to 3.9 grains of Bullseye powder. This is target and even sub-target velocity, but for that application the uniformity of the bullets outweighs the disadvantage of their softness. Also, with the pressures as low as those loads produce, a soft bullet obturates the bore more easily to help avoid leading due to gas bypass.
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member
Unclenick is offline  
Old September 19, 2009, 08:10 AM   #9
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,104
I've never had any success in using swaged bullets at anything other than the lowest velocities.

I simply quit using them because they didn't allow me to get where I wanted and if I tried, would lead the hell out of my bore.
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old September 19, 2009, 02:09 PM   #10
Junior member
Join Date: November 12, 2000
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 9,494
What they said is true for swaged lead bullets but soft lead can be swaged into jackets also for some very premium bullets. I swage 451 cal only and because of the precise weight control the bullets shoot as match bullets.
Very cool stuff.
Edward429451 is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:56 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.06134 seconds with 9 queries