Bullet Swaging Your Own Bullets with CMA Custom Ammo

Obsolete Arms and Ammo
By Bob Shell

9mm Bullet Swaging
9mm Swaged Bullets
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Apache Junction, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)-  In this article I am discussing making jacketed bullets by swaging with my friend John from CMA Custom Ammunition.

There are various ways of making bullets including casting, bullet swaging and machining them.

CMA uses the swaging method which entails forming them under pressure using dies. The dies determine the shape and caliber of the bullet. Both jacketed and lead bullets can be formed this way.

One advantage to swaging is you can have a die made to make any type of bullet that you can dream up.

There are some dies made by a couple of companies that are capable of making your bullets. It is fairly expensive to get into swaging and can be downright costly in some instances. So if you want to swage be prepared to lay out some cash when getting started.

A better option might be buying custom bullets from a custom maker such as CMA. His prices are very reasonable which is another plus.

Most bullet companies swage their bullets under various criteria depending on what the projectile is going to be used for. If you like specialized bullets then a small company may be the place to check out. One such company that makes unique bullets and offers some loaded ammo is CMA. For info you can go to www.cmacustomammo.com for more info and availability.

Let’s be honest! Anyone who reloads likes to experiment with various loads and bullets and this is a great way to achieve that goal. You might be able to suggest an idea to John at CMA and he might be able to make it, but check with him first. All custom bullets require tools and dies specific to that particular slug. Since I do some swaging, I am well aware of the needs of custom bullet making.

Hollow Base Tiger Claw Design Bullets
Hollow Base Tiger Claw Design Bullets

As with all aspects of shooting the proof is in the pudding. How well do they shoot. I have used some of the hollow base bullets in 45 and they produce good accuracy even in a Taurus Judge, which can be finicky. Their stack-ems separate very well as they are supposed to.

Light and button bullets can be useful in some self defense loads where excess penetration could be an issue. I have just received some 44 and 45 hollow base bullets which I have shot with good results. John also sent some 9 mm in 69 and 135 grain hollow points which performed well. The 69 should make a nice bullet in the 380. With such a light weight they should help make the 380 a serious social load.

The Swaging Bench all Set Up
The Swaging Bench all Set Up

We have shot some of John’s bullets and accuracy is always good. Even the S&W Governor revolver, which isn’t known for accuracy, shot them well especially the hollow base types. Many of his bullets are made for self defense and with his designs I see some good potential there. He makes some stackers, which are different, and with two or three bullets hitting an intruder at the same time, keeping your family safe should be no issue.

John sent some 45 ACP 200 and 220 SWC bullets which should be good for target or small game hunting. They are FMJ’s and have a prominent bevel, which is lacking on most of these type of bullets. The advantage of a bevel is you don’t have to flare the case as needed in most handgun loads. That will extend the life of a case because beveling works the case mouth which will cause splits. With normal loads case splitting is the main cause of failure.

I finally got to meet John and he brought some samples to shoot. One interesting one is a 45 ACP 125 grain Tiger Claw HP. I am looking at a lightweight bullet that will cut down on recoil and still be effective. After shooting this bullet in 2- 45 autos , I see a lot of potential for it. Accuracy is outstanding and at 1200 fps recoil is pleasant. The cavity is large which should expand readily in most medium. He uses full length jacket with a plastic ball behind the lead core. While that changes the balance point of the bullet accuracy isn’t compromised, in fact it might help out in that department. The full length jacket aids in feeding.

One complaint that I have run across is the recoil of some 45 ammo. Even some of the hot 185 grain ammo drew some negative comments from mostly female shooters. I use a load of 7.5 X 231 and get real good results. A 125 grain HP at 1200 FPS makes a nice controllable round in the 45 and would be effective for self defense. I let a couple of female shooters try it and they have a very positive review of it. They would carry it in their 45 ACP pistols. Yes, women carry and shoot 45 autos.

Like many of us John started out with a single shot 22 with the help of his grandfather. He progressed along and at the age of 12 received a 22 auto loading rifle. Like many other people in the industry John progressed through the necessary steps in learning about handloading and bullet making. I would suggest that you contact him for prices and availability especially if you want a custom bullet. With the demand for ammo and reloading components there is always room for a good custom bullet maker.

Bullet Swaging Dies
Bullet Swaging Dies

He is a life member of the NRA Since 1979 and a Life Member of The Colorado State Shooting Association (CSSA) as well as a member of the 50 Cal Shooters Association, Army Marksmanship Association and the Elk Foundation. I try and keep myself current of activities that affect the shooting and hunting industries that we all hold so Dear.

Bob Shell
Bob Shell

About Bob Shell
A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit: www.bobshellsblog.blogspot.com

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Kaiser

John Kaiser, Garland, Texas

Don Dietz

Bob, just recently discovered your articles. I too love old guns and have accumulated a nice collection. Of course, I am always scrounging around for ammo or components for reloading for things like the 1903 Siamese Mauser and my recently acquired Mle 16 1892 Berthier. I would like very much to read your article “From the 30 and others” but I don’t have a Kindle. Is this article published anywhere so I can either purchase it or down load it? Cheers, Don.


very interesting and well written.