Swift A-Frame Revolver and Pistol Bullets
Handloader|December - January 2020
Expand Like Crazy and Drive Deep
Layne Simpson

By offering the necessary tools and supplies for making premium-grade jacketed bullets, Dave Corbin of Corbin Mfg. has long blazed a trail for those with the ambition to produce unique designs and start their own small businesses. Among the more imaginative was Lee Reed of Quinter, Kansas, who introduced the A-Frame bonded-core rifle bullet around 1984. An integral frame in the thick copper jacket separates a soft lead core into two sections, with the front section bonded to the jacket.

Reed’s timing was good because Bill Steigers was never able to come close to meeting the demand for his Bitterroot Bonded Core (BBC) bullets. I still have 19 of those 7mm bullets remaining from 20 received, along with a note often included by Bill to those of us who purchased them. “To conserve BBC bullets, sight in your rifle with a Nosler Partition of the same weight. Return any left over after your hunt for a full refund, as many other hunters are on my waiting list.” Swift Bullet Company is now owned by Bill Hober with the production of A-Frame handgun bullets beginning in 1996.

The ideal big-game bullet strikes a perfect balance between expansion and penetration at all reasonable distances. This is extremely difficult to achieve with a bullet of conventional, non-bonded, cup-and-core design. Build it soft enough to expand at the outer fringes of the effective range of a cartridge and penetration may suffer at close distances where velocity is high and expansion becomes excessive. Design the bullet to hold together and expand up close while driving deep, and it may expand very little or not at all at lower downrange impact velocities. Encountering heavy bone can virtually destroy such a bullet.

The A-Frame is a “do-it-all” bullet that accomplishes everything those of us who hunt with handguns could possibly desire. Positioning 80 to 85 percent of its weight behind an integral partition of the jacket along with controlling frontal diameter during expansion to no greater than about 40 percent larger than original bullet diameter, assures through-the-vitals penetration at distances ranging from muzzle-close to as far away as game is commonly taken with handguns. This also applies to the higher velocities of rifles chambered for handgun cartridges. And yet, at low-impact velocity, the frontal surface area of an expanded A-Frame remains large enough to plow a devastating wound channel through tissue and heavy bone.

Due to a wide and deep nose cavity along with thinning and skiving the jacket at the nose, the A-Frame expands quickly on soft targets such as deer. And with 90 percent or so of retained weight continuing to push the expanded section forward, hunters will find most resting against the offside hide of larger game such as moose, elk and big bears. The expanded section of a bullet with a brittle gilding metal jacket has a tendency to shear off when encountering bone, with the result being a long but narrow wound channel. Bonding the soft front core of the A-Frame to the thick copper jacket causes it to fold back while remaining intact with very little difference in expanded frontal diameter at both high and low impact velocities.

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