View Full Version : Using .380 Auto cases to make bullets.

02-22-2009, 06:44 PM
My latest project for making my own .357 jacketed bullets. A while back I mentioned making 44 mag bullets out of 40S&W cases. Now I'm doing the same thing with .380 Auto cases to make bullets for my .357. *A fired 380 case is actually larger at .374", too big to use as a .357" bullet, so I used my Lyman lubesizer to draw the brass down, pressing .380 auto cases into my .356 sizing die. I annealed them red hot first, ran them through the die and reduced them to .356-.357 in one pass. The cases weigh about 50 grains each, so I made 110 grain cast cores out of radioisotope shield lead. Actual cast cores came out of the mold at about 112-113 grains. After seating the cores, the extruded lead reduced the overall weight to about 158 grains. I finished up with a soft point this time. Lastly, I put on a cannelure, and it's ready to shoot. Final diameter mikes out to .3572" with a final weight of 157.9 grains. Cool!

Tim Horton
02-23-2009, 12:29 AM

:o :o

I'M IMPRESSED..............

MUST see more pictures of this process.
Start to finish.

Do you leave the spent primer in the 380 case ?
How concentric is the resized case to an un-resized case ?
By that I mean if you check the concentricity of the OD of the case to the primer pocket hole or rim groove to the primer pocket, then check it again after resizing it, does it come out concentric ?

I guess I'm not worried about safety of this operation, but how accurate do they shoot ? In a rifle as well as a handgun ?


02-23-2009, 10:21 AM
Cool idea, and I agree, must have more pics.
I shoot a lot of .357 and also have been using .357 bullets 158 gr for the .35 Rem.

P.S. bet one of those would give CSI fits!

02-23-2009, 11:22 AM
Anybody who already has a reloading press and also casts lead bullets can do this. All you need is a set of bullet swaging dies that you can buy on-line. I got mine from www.ch4d.com. Look in the bullet section. Here's a pic of my swaging setup.

I made these bullets on the green RockChucker on the right. That is the die in the RockChucker that made the bullets.

You need to start out with a source of soft lead. Wheelweights are generally too hard for swaging, so you want pure lead, such as fishing sinkers or other materials. I used radiation safety containers I got from the local university. Radioactive materials that get used on campus for research must be stored safely, and they are routinely purchased inside these lead containers. Most radioactive materials used in laboratories these days have very short half-lives (days to weeks), so they must be re-ordered periodicly, and the old containers pile up. They're made of soft lead, which is perfect for swaging. I simply melf them down, then cast them in a regular Lyman mold just like you would a cast bullet. The only thing that's different is that the mold has a screw adjustment to change the internal volume of the cast core, so you can make it whatever weight you want.

When you're ready to make bullets, you first must anneal the empty cases to soften them. I heat them red hot on the kitchen stove, then let them air cool. A typical .380 Auto case mikes out to a diameter of .372-.374", too large to be a .357 bullet. I push each annealed case mouth-first into my Lyman lubesizer with a .356" sizing die. This draws the case down to about .356-.357", the perfect size for a .357 bullet.

Next, I drop my cast core into the drawn case and run it up into the core-seat die. The jackets get a light film of lanolin to lubricate them. The die has a hollow punch that first compresses the lead into the bottum of the jacket, then allows any excess to be extruded out like toothpaste. Can you see the little projection coming out of the top of the seated core? That's the excess lead that is sqeezed out so that each bullet will weight exactly the same. You break off that lead tail to bring the weight to exactly what you want.

Next the seated core goes through the swaging die. The die's internal dimensions are exactly like that of the finished bullet, so the bullet gets sqeezed into its final shape here. By changing the nose punch you can make either a soft-point or a hollow point. The almost finished bullet pops out at the end. The last thing I do is put a crimping grove on the bullet with a CH crimper (also available at www.ch4d.com) and it's ready for shooting.

I've made bullets both with and without the primer in place. I usually want to leave it in because lead will extrude out the bottum of the case, just like it extrudes out the top. I haven't measured concentricity, assuming that there wasn't anything I could do about it. I haven't shot a living animal with it yet, but I would expect the bullets to behave like a premium quality bullet with a tapered jacket.

I can think of no better way to lead the CSI people straight to my door than shooting someone with one of these bullets. Remember Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop"?

I should mention though that this hobby is expensive to get started in, and you're probably better off just buying jacketed bullets. I'm doing this for the fun of it and because I think California is in the process of outlawing lead ammunition, so it's my opportunity to be more self-sufficent ammunition wise.

P.S. Next project is making .308 and .40 caliber bullets.