Reloading ammunition gives you powers you wouldn’t otherwise have. You can produce ammo for that exotic weapon you currently can’t shoot, whether it’s a .30 French M1935A pistol, or a 14.5mm Simonov PTRS anti-tank rifle. You can also reduce your cost per round fired, which is a big deal if you’re burning a lot of ammunition (Class III-niks, we’re lookin’ at you). Finally, you can make higher-quality ammunition than you can buy. The nation’s top competitors (and some military and LE snipers) use hand-loaded ammunition, which allows shooter, rifle, and cartridge to be tuned to a singe ultra-precision mechanism.
Most people are at least generally aware of reloading, if only because they see RCBS or Hornady reloading tools in shops and in advertising.But reloaders don’t have to accept the same mass-produced components found in mass-produced ammunition — at least, not all of them.
A round of fixed rifle or pistol ammunition comprises four general components: the cartridge case, which is reusable, and three expendable components: primers, powder, and projectile (“bullet”). Most reloaders save their casings (or collect their buddies’ casings) and purchase the other three components, but there’s one you can build at home. Modern smokeless powders are beyond safe home construction, and drawing brass into cases is a tough, complex and capital-intensive industrial process. But you can make your own bullets.
“Aha,” you think. “Cast lead bullets. Like the Minuteman with his powder horn and round-ball mold. OK for practice wadcutters, maybe, but not to feed my AR/AK/G3/FAL.” Because you can’t make high-quality copper-jacketed bullets at home.
Or can you? Which brings us to the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Corbin. They will not only sell you the equipment, and teach you the skills, to make your own swaged (rhymes with “aged”) bullets, they’ll even help you set up as a manufacturer of custom bullets — an industry that is heavily populated with Corbin’s customers.
The website is high in educational value, but rather low in organization, and it suffers from a woeful 1990s HTML design with every eye-gouging interface deficiency of the era, except — thank a merciful God — the BLINK tag. The Site Map only adds confusion, but you can figure things out beginning with the How-To pages or this FAQ. This page on making specific types of bullets is also very interesting. Wanna make bullets for your .50? Ever wonder how those bullets that have a section of jacket dividing between front and rear lead cores? The answers are here, although you may suffer many diversions trying to find them.
You may, after reading the information there, decide bullet swaging is not for you. But you’ll know an awful lot more about how bullets are made.
Of course Corbins isn’t the only company that will get you into making your own bullets. RCE, run by one of the original principals of Corbin Manufacturing Co., Inc., offers hand presses and a hydraulic press that competes with the top of Corbin’s line, and has an excellent downloadable book (albeit an incomplete work-in-progress at this time) about bullet swaging. So, there you have it: two excellent bullet-swaging websites for the price of one.