Sisk 'Wartime' bullets

I recently purchased a couple of boxes of R.B. Sisk .224 bullets, one a ‘wartime’ (WW2) box, and the other made before or after the war. On the IAA journal index, there are references to Sisk ‘wartime’ bullets in issues 384 and 385. I don’t have these two, but would appreciate seeing copies of pages related to the Sisk bullets.

The wartime bullets are quite interesting. Apparently, due tro the shortage off copper, Sisk used fired .22 rimfire cases to form the copper bullet jackets. Not only do these have the original headstamp from the cartridge case, but also the firing pin indent, the fold from the rim, and the case cannelure if one was present on the case. The bullets on the left in the picture below are from the non-wartime box.

Ho were they formed? Were the fired .22 Cases first expanded outwards, the the taper put on, and the molten lead poured in through the hole at the top? Someone today could be missing out on a business opportunity by turning the millions of available fired .22 Cases into low-cost bullets.

SISK was one of the several Bullet makers who took copper (actually Gilding metal) .22 Rimfire cases, “ironed” them out ( passed head first through a die to remove the rim; then placed a swaged lead slug inside the resulting jacket, and then
"Swaged" it up, in the appropriately shaped die, with sometimes a final “point forming” die to finish the lead nose of the soft point.

The process is exactly the same as a normal factory made Bullet, only that at home, one uses dies which fit a normal Reloading press( albeit a heavy one).
WW II and the shortage of raw materials brought out the inventiveness of amny Americans, and the use of .22 RF cases as .22 Bullet jackets is one of them. After the war, .22 Magnum RF cases were also used to make light 6mm (.243) Bullets as well.

There are still a lot of private custom bullet makers who use .22 RF cases, whether Brass or GM to make custom .223, .224 and .228 Bullets.
I know of Two in Australia, and there are probably more than a score in the USA and Canada.
And there are also Custom Bullet-making Die makers in the USA which supply the tools necessary to “de-head” .22 cases, to reduce them to a usable cylindrical bullet jacket, as well as the swaging and pointing dies to assemble the complete Bullet.
Corbin of USA supplies a whole range of bench presses and Hydraulic automatic presses to swage all sizes of Bullets, not just the .22 types made from .22RF cases.

regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics

regards, Doc AV
AV ballistics

Thanks for the thorough explanation. I had the process pretty well thought out, except I couldn’t figure how the handled the rim. Very ingeneous.


I have several boxes of those bullets by various bullet makers including Sisk, RCBS, Holmes, Jordan, Speer, to name a few. Headstamps run the gamut of every 22 RF case that was in use at the time. I pictured some of them in the JOURNAL recently but can’t recall exactly what issue it was.


I’m not aware of anyone in the US who still makes bullets that way. At least nobody does it commercially. And you can’t use the brass cased 22 RF. The brass is springy and the jacket becomes loose causing a very inaccurate bullet.


Guy- If you had the digital version of the IAA Journal archives, you could have looked up those two issues in a matter of seconds. You really should invest in a set. Besides the very helpful index, you can also do a word search of the text of one or more issues to find where Sisk may be mentioned in items not listed in the index.

The digital versions are a VERY useful tool, and so much easier to use than digging around trying to find one issue in a big stack of paper copies.

If you see something you want to save for later reference, you can cut and paste text or images with a few clicks.

EVERYONE should get a set of these!

I suppose its time for me to climb down off this stack of cash I’ve been hoarding and peel off a few bills for a copy of the archives. Thanks for the reminder - I’m always a little slow to adopt trechnology that will save me some time. Old habits, including my often futile searches through all this paper, are hard to break.

Ray, the Aussie maker in Newcastle uses a Rotary Annealing oven for his brass jackets and nickled brass jackets. Makes the jackets soft enough NOT to “spring” back and cause loose cores; in any case, the “de-heading” system actually reduces the diameter of the RF case, so that the following upsetting ( or swaging) of the core keeps the jacket tight around it.

In Bullet making “Swaging” means INCREASE in diameter, not a reduction;
This term is often misused by cartridge reloaders, saying they “Swage” the case (ie, reduce its diameters)> The correct term for reducing the diameter of any cylindrical object is “drawing”; and “ironing” is a reduction of wall thickness, with concomitant lenthening of the cylinder…ironing and drawing go together. (Explanation in Corbin’s Bullet making manuals)

The One problem with all RF case jackets is that they are too thin to handle high velocities ( over about 2500 fps), and they do break up either whilst still in the bore, or on striking the target.
I use these case-jacket projectiles in the Low to Medium velocity cartridges, such as obsolete types.

regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics


Interesting comments.

Here in the US, the ready availibility of high quality bullet jackets deters anyone but an avid experimenter from using 22 RF cases. Though the cases themselves cost nothing (or next to nothing) I would think that the expense of annealing would offset that savings very quickly.

Back during the war years when most of the custom bullet makers were using RF cases out of necessity, another problem associated with the brass cases was what they called “scaling.” Microscopic brass scales would be forced into the pores of the barrel and were impossible to remove. The buildup continued to increse until any semblance of accuracy was lost.

Perhaps the Aussie shooters do not experience that because of the low velocities mentioned. Those RF jacketed bullets of the golden age of wildcatting were capable of withstanding much higher velocities. High intensity, high velocity cartridges such as the 22 Varminter and 219 Donaldson Wasp would never have been developed without them.

I do understand the process of bullet swaging, having made a few myself. But I no longer do that (or cast bullets either) because I find that even my time is worth something and the bullets that can be bought over the counter or from custom makers are near perfect, something that I was never able to do.