Starting with a large container of cast cores, these are swaged to their final weight in a core swage die. The operation of the die is simple – the raw core is pushed into the die with a punch; the pressure of the swaging operation squeezes the lead into the confined space in the die and forces the excess lead out of a bleed hole on the side of the die. The size of the confined space in the die is adjusted so that the optimal weight is obtained.
Using my stick-on wheel weight lead, raw cores drop from the mold at about 52 grains:
After swaging, the final core weights approximately 45.3 grains:
Again, consistency in process is required to produce consistent bullet weights. Pulling the handle of the press the same way every time, getting to know the ‘feel’ and being consistent with the amount of lubrication applied to the core produces consistent results. Like the other swaging operations, the core is lubricated using the same lanolin lube used in swaging.
A benefit of the BT Sniper swaging system I purchased is the inclusion of an auto-ejection system. This system uses a press operated pushrod that protrudes into the top of the die. After the core is swaged, and as the press handle is lowered, the pushrod pushes the swaged core out of the bottom of the die. This auto-ejection system helps increase productivity since the core doesn’t have to be manually extracted from the die. Although I’ve never used them, I understand that other die systems require manual tapping on a pushrod to eject the core.
As I was waiting for my swaging dies, I realized that an opportunity existed to improve the workflow and process. When the core is pushed from the die, it has nowhere to go – and it drops on the floor. Using my 3D printer, I designed a catch tray that rests on the bottom portion of the auto-ejection system. This catch tray catches the cores as they fall from the die, saving me (and my back) from having to pick up the swaged cores from the floor. Since I do much of my work indoors, the added benefit to the catch tray is working cleaner… (and less ‘feedback’ from the integrated spousal unit).
After swaging, the cores are cleaned of lubrication in acetone, and stored in bulk in a container until they’re seated in the jackets.