Discussion in 'Shooting Accessories' started by mudcreek, Aug 12, 2019.
What is the difference between swaged and molded balls.
The simple answer is a swayed ball is made by squeezing lead in a round die to form the ball. Molded obviously are made by pouring molten lead into the ball mold.
Now the debates begin as two whether one or the other is better. Variance in diameter and weight can happen with both. Some will argue one or the other is more accurate. If you are looking for best accuracy with either, they need to be weighed and balls that are more than a grain or so heavier or lighter pulled out.
I’ve shot both, mostly shoot my own cast because they are cheap with little more than my time involved at this point.
Thanks. Answers my question.
Way back in the first half of the 19th century the British Board of Ordnance found swaged balls to be 1/64th heavier than cast as they had no air bubble in them and they invested, in modern terms, about a million dollars in a large multi crewed swaged ball making machine to make millions of swaged balls for muskets and the Brunswick rifle. They thought it money well spent and used swaging (period 'swedging') in all lead bullets thereafter. Believe me they didn't spend money easily on new ideas; they were still brazing percussion bolsters onto flintlock muskets at the time. I have copies of the drawings of the machine and it (actually they) were huge and complicated.
I cast everything I shoot excepting a box of Hornady swaged .54 given to me. Couldn't tell any difference on the target.
The biggest advantage is there's no sprue in swaged balls, so you don't have to worry about orienting it to the top.
Or using them in paper cartridges, the sprue on the. 648 round ball just goes wherever, it impossible to keep it facing "up" but its largely irrelevant.
I've used both, but find the cast ones to be a little more consistent.
I just started casting and was lucky enough to find a couple of the TC .315 factory molds but have not got my process down and get a lot of imperfections but just part of the learning curve. As far as the ones I have shot they shoot pretty much identically to the Hornady swaged balls that I started out with.
Swaged balls in sizes like. 490 or .530 are available pretty much anywhere, catch an online or in store sale at a box store like Dunhams , you can stock up for $8 a box.
For those who bang away daily or even weekly by all means stick to molded balls. For the more casual shooter I'd suggest going with the swaged ones. A lot more convenient and easier on the lungs + eyes too. Lead vapors can sure be an unhealthy thing to have to deal with. And you got less investment without having to buy the moulds.But it is fun molding your own. Heck you decide!
Casting is pretty much necessary for stuff like Minies, otherwise you're getting hit for 50 cents a pop
The difference is the added satisfaction in shooting ball you cast yourself.
For me, casting is part of the fun of it.
During the UnCivil War, Springfield Armory had swaging machines and the majority of Minie' Balls were made that way in the North. Those machines were wheel like devices that cut lead wire and used various dies to swage the cut pieces into properly shaped Balls. The machines were belt driven, though I'm not sure if the power came from water wheels or steam power. Most of the Minie Balls used by the South were purchased in England and/or cast in molds.
I've used both cast and swaged round balls. At first the swaged balls were very accurate as to size and weight, but got sloppier over the years. So for accuracy, I cast balls and weighed them. I used the ones that did not make it within certain specs just for plinking or practice, but used the ones in spec for matches and hunting.
SWAGED BALLS ARE MORE INCLINED TO HAVE AIR BUBBLES AND/OR LIGHT WEIGHT INCLUSONS.
THE MOLDED BALLS ARE MORE INCLINED TO BE SOLID LEAD WITH NO BUBBLES OR INCLUSIONS.
LUMPS OF LEAD ARE SQEEZED INTO SHAPE WITH THE SWAGED BALLS AND ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT WEIGHTS AND LIKELY TO BE OFF BALANCE AS THEY SPIN DOWN RANGE. I BELIEVE THIS TO BE THE SOURCE OF (FLYERS" AND LESS THE RESULT OF SHOOTER;S ERROR/
USING SOLID MOLDED BALLS EXCLUSIVELY WILL REDUCE THE NUMBER OF FLYER REMARKABLY.
Even Whitworth's hexagonal bullets were 'hydraulically swaged to ensure regularity of form and consistent weight'. The Polisar Brothers [hi there Joe and Steve] swage their beautiful flat-based Whitworth bullets using equipment from Dave Corbin.
In my opinion it's just the opposite.Maybe I'm wrong but it would seem to me that the swaged balls would be less apt to have air bubbles plus be more "identical" and uniform to each other in weight.
Commercially available bullets both cast and swaged are subject to hiccups in the quality control area. If casting ones own, you don't lose much $ by recasting those that fail to meet whatever weight standards you choose.
Years ago I probably cast several thousand round balls. I used them for both matches and hunting, the ones that didn't make weight I shot in practice. Then one day I loaded my casting gear to a guy I knew in our gun club. He moved and took it all with him. (is there a lesson here?) So swaged balls got the nod.
2 things I don't like about swaged balls, I believe they are harder and denser than pure lead cast balls. I don't think the swaged ball expands fast enough in a deer sized animal. A good hit animal now runs farther and has a trimmer .530 hole which bleeds less.
While the soft lead cast ball expands quickly inside the animal resulting in faster kills and a shorter blood trail.
When I started shooting black powder I was told if you can't scratch a deep groove with your thumbnail then the ball is too hard.
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