Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

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Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:58 pm

I got hold of a small lot of 38SPL brass the other day and started thinking about pouring some lead bullets for them, and then the "wonder if I can" side of me kicked in. I fired up the little HF lathe and started messing around trying to make the dies to make copper tubing jacketed .357 projectiles. I found a short piece of 3/8 copper tubing, cut off a .425 section, formed the base with a base forming die. Drew it down through a series of drawing dies and trimmed to length. Swaged out a 9mm lead bullet to form the core, seated, the core and ran it through the point forming die complete with hollow point. Touched up the point a tad with the Lee 38spl bullet seater and final sized. These are 125gr projectiles. As of now I haven't sent any of them down the pipe as I want to put a cannelure on them first, but I am pleased with the way they look.
I can definately see that swaging is taking a toll on the 3/4 inch aluminum plate that I made the press out of LOL! It now has a definate arch to it !!

Make-up of the point forming die

My swaging lube. I started out using RCBS case lube but was getting expensive. Petroleum jelly and Marvel Mystery oil seems to work pretty good although when forming the base I add just a touch of the RCBS lube to each jacket to make it turn loose of the die a little easier. Roughly a 2 tbl spoon petroleum jelly to 4 tbl spook MM Oil mix.

The bullet on the far left is a factory 125gr jacketed hollow point. The one next to it is one where I was playing with jacket length, and the rest are ready for the cannelure.

Another view; I'm just itching to test these - Smile

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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Reload3006 on Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:15 am

Hot diggity them look good. and you did all the tooling yourself what a job. Yehaw
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Pathfinder on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:04 am

Oh man! Those are looking sweet! Nice and uniform. Twisted Evil
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by hawcer on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:25 am

Great job!

The look better than the factory bullet.

this makes me think I'm missing a lathe in my garage....

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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:14 pm

wow - thanks guys!
Reload, making the dies, punches, etc. is a lot of fun at this point. I think that is why I started persuing swaging, it gives me projects to try on the little lathe with the added bonus of saving some cash and getting to shoot more Smile
I'm working on an idea for a cannelure tool - don't know how it's gonna turn out but if it won't work, I'm gonna have to load 'em up and test them without the cannelure lol.

Thanks Pathfinder. Hopefully the uniformity will result in consistancy.

Heck fire hawcer - yes sir, you need to find one to occupy that spot in your shop that you made to put a lathe LOL! The sad part is that now I want a bigger one heheheh.

I'm thinking about 4.4 gr Titegroup over cci primers for these 125 gr pills. From the data I've looked at it starts at 4.3 and goes to 4.6 - what would ya'll recommend?
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by hawcer on Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:10 am

That sounds like a good starting load. If you find you need a little more pop...try a little slower powder.,like Unique....especially since they are hollow points.

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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Reload3006 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:42 am

How well are you liking your lube? an interesting concoction. I have been using 50% anhydrous Lanolin and 50% Castor oil. It works pretty good and is for the most part cleans up easily with soap and water. I do use MM oil in my tractor works geat for keeping your injectors clean.
as far as case lube I just use my swage lube now for everything.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:26 pm

Good point hawcer. I have a litle of the Unique left but it is pretty old. I will definately give it try though. Maybe get in the medium range for titegroup and unique and do a side by side comparison? And then again it may be better to work up a load individually and then compare ...

Reload, it works fairly well as long as there is not a huge amount of pressure involved. Works pretty good for the drawing dies. When point forming and there is a lot of surface contact between the jacket and the die I wet it with the jelly/mm oil and just a touch of the rcbs stuff on the jacket. It seems to give it a little more body. Without adding the rcbs it seems like the jackets try to stick to the die a little - if that makes any sense.. At the very least it makes the rcbs lube go further. I tend to think that your mix may give better results, I wanted to try this out because it was readily available Smile


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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by scorge30 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:53 am

I rarely load .38 or .357 as light as 125 gr, but I would prefer either Unique or Bullseye for shooting those bullets.

I prefer heavier bullets for the .357 at least 158 gr and for my .357 Max guns nothing lighter than 180 gr.

I have a favorite 210 gr truncated cone Ranch Dog gas checked cast boolit stuffed over either A1680 and a small rifle primer, or RL7 with a small rifle magnum primer that both my .357 Max barrels love.

Its a shame I traded all that 9mm LE brass I had at the swap meet a few weeks ago. I understand that they make good .38 cal bullets.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:12 am

Thanks for the info Steve. I hadn't thought about 9mm casings - I pretty much have a one track mind and guess I had copper tubing on the brain - lol! If I can ever get a chance to test these and they work out ok, I want to experiment with something a little heavier. I can't tell at this point if it is a blessing or a curse that reloaders/swagers/casters are eternally looking for the next best load handgun
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Reload3006 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:35 am

You have to draw the 9mm brass down to use it but it makes ok jackets too. something for you to try. I got a bunch of cheap FMJ 9mm bullets and so I put them in my .357 dies and swaged them up to 357 gonna test them out. If you dont want to go through the hassle of making the jackets etc you can just bump a smaller bullet up. I was amazed at how well it worked.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by scorge30 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:46 pm

Never thought of swaging a smaller bullet up, but I knew the 9mm brass needed to swaged up a tad to make .357 bullets.

I wonder if some of that crappy import 9mm Makarov brass will work for .357 bullets?

I see quite bit of Comm Block mil surp 9mm Mak brass at the range, most of it is Berdan primed so it goes in the scrap metal bin.

I also see a lot of .30 Tokarov (sp?) at the range which is also Berdan primed. Most of it is ex-Soviet and corrosive so might not be worth bothering with.

I am wondering if there is a book out there that will tell the clueless what you can use to swage bullets?

If I was going to get into swaging, it would be nice to have a book that will tell me what would be good sources for jackets, like 9mm brass, 38 spcl and .357 brass, etc.

I am still waiting on my 22 LR derimming die set, that never got here this summer.

I just got (a few minutes ago - thank you nice Fed Ex lady) finally after almost a year of waiting, my TiN coated .359 bullet sizing die from CH4D.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Reload3006 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:50 pm

scorge30 wrote:Never thought of swaging a smaller bullet up, but I knew the 9mm brass needed to swaged up a tad to make .357 bullets.

I wonder if some of that crappy import 9mm Makarov brass will work for .357 bullets?

I see quite bit of Comm Block mil surp 9mm Mak brass at the range, most of it is Berdan primed so it goes in the scrap metal bin.

I also see a lot of .30 Tokarov (sp?) at the range which is also Berdan primed. Most of it is ex-Soviet and corrosive so might not be worth bothering with.

I am wondering if there is a book out there that will tell the clueless what you can use to swage bullets?

If I was going to get into swaging, it would be nice to have a book that will tell me what would be good sources for jackets, like 9mm brass, 38 spcl and .357 brass, etc.

I am still waiting on my 22 LR derimming die set, that never got here this summer.

I just got (a few minutes ago - thank you nice Fed Ex lady) finally after almost a year of waiting, my TiN coated .359 bullet sizing die from CH4D.
Yep Richard Corbin has a book or DVD one of the two on cases to bullet jackets. Its in his online store in the clearance section.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by scorge30 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:04 pm

Thanks!! More info is always good!!!
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by chingachkook on Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:54 pm

Hey Eagle, I pretty much stick to cast bullets for most all my firearms, but wow, some pretty awesome looking bullets there sir. I am truly amazed by the knowledge and quality of the folks here at ATG and very much regret not finding ATG until recently. Please keep up the good work and posting those pictures as you progress and I'll keep my fingers crossed that all works out to your advantage.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:41 pm

Many thanks ching! Hey man, that is what it is all about Smile I learned from these guys and just had fun. Maybe by posting pics of my trials and errors someone else can learn the same way I did without making the same mistakes LOL...

I didn't post any pics of the numerous ones that I tried that looked like crap affraid
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by scorge30 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:54 pm

eagle60 wrote:I didn't post any pics of the numerous ones that I tried that looked like crap affraid

What did you do with the flubs?

I'd be tempted to shoot them to see how they worked. Might make decent plinkers.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 5:14 pm

They got thrown into the salvage can - melt the lead to reuse and either melt the copper or put it into the bucket of copper to be sold for scrap. Let's just say I am a firm believer in the law of self preservation sofa
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by scorge30 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:13 pm

Well I understand that, but I would be tempted to shoot the flubs.

Melting them down though & recycling them is probably best for everything.

I believe it was Ammoguide over on Youtube, that was using a chop saw and some old CH4D dies to make jackets from tubing.

I know Corbin sells the dies and the tooling so you can make jackets from either sheet or strip copper. Fairly pricey too ...
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:37 pm

At this point, the jacket preparation consumes the most time. The biggest problem that I have ran into is trimming the jacket after I get it drawn down to size. They are usually from 1/8 to 3/16 too long and the little harbor freight cut off saw just mangles the heck out of them. The little vise doesn't do a good job of holding short pieces. The best way I've found is to chuck them back in the lathe and trim them down. It is a slow process.
I would love to be able to afford the jacket making setup from Corbin. But then again, a man could buy a heck of a lot of jackets for what he would pay for the machinery. Using 9mm cases to make 38's sounds interesting, I may chase that rabbit also.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by scorge30 on Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:06 am

IIRC Ammosmith on Youtube ended up trashing a little Harbor Freight chop saw (I have the same model but use mine a lot less).

He ended up buying a really expensive ($200+ IIRC) chop saw to cut tubing for jackets. Have to cut a lot of jackets to make that saw pay for itself.

I think he was also trying to trim some of the cases and tubing in either a Lyman or RCBS case trimmer as well with some success.

Gotta admit the Corbin stuff is nice and works like a champ. Yeah its expensive, but then how much is frustration and wasted time worth?

I wonder if there is a way you could cut the tubing short and then draw it to proper length?

The Corbin tools draw the copper jackets to proper thickness, and then pinch it off at proper length.

Might look at using some of the 9mm and Mak brass too. If your LE range is like mine here, there is almost always scattered Berdan primed 9mm brass, .380 and various odd ducks like .30 Tokarov (sp?) and .32 ACP laying around.

With the popularity of the "mouse guns" nowadays, I am seeing more brass at the LE range from the little guns like .25, .32 ACP, and .380. I guess the fuzz is using the little guns for their hide out or back up piece.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:04 am

I wonder if there is a way you could cut the tubing short and then draw it to proper length?


That is a good point, and I had considered doing that but I think that it needs to be a tad long so that it can be trimmed nice and even. I must have a little mis-alignment between the punch and die because the jacket is a little longer on one side when I finish drawing it.
I wish that there some LE ranges close by that I had access to. Most of the local ones have gone away.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Reload3006 on Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:11 am

LOL welcome to the wonderful world of jacket drawing. you can make yourself a pinch die. and pinch them off to length. all a pinch die is is you want a square sharp shoulder in the die its self. the punch will have a pilot the size of the id of the jacket and the back portion of the punch should be a tapered cone about 45 degrees to a larger diameter than the od of the jacket. set up of the punch and die is critical as if you close the gap between the face of the die and the taper of the cone too much it will crack the die. They also have to be hard So I would use some A6 if i could get my hands on it you should be able to harden it your self. when you machine it just get as good a finish on it as you can then polish it after its hard with a stone keeping it square.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by Reload3006 on Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:13 am

Oh yea the die should have an adjustable punch to bottom the jacket out to length. that way it will push down into the die until it hits the punch then it will bell until the cone gets to the shoulder at what time it pinches off the excess.
Good Luck and Happy shootn.
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Re: Making Copper Tubing Jacketed .357 bullets

Post by eagle60 on Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:51 am

Well do tell ! It didn't dawn on me to try that.. I have actually done this (when I didn't want to) during the course of trial and error when making the dies I'm using now LOL! I could see where the timing of everything making contact would be critical.
I was having trouble getting my head wrapped around your descripton because my son shot a buck with his bow yesterday afternoon and we had to track him a little over a 1/4 of a mile after dark. We found him and wound up getting turned around in the woods and had to call to get one of his frinds to blow the horn so we could get out. It was 12 this morning when I went to sleep and then got back up at 3:30 with sinus problems out the wazoo! It was a nice little 9-point though..

Would this be anything like you are talking about?

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