finding lead...


May 10, 2014, 12:52 PM
so i recently decided to cast my own bullets. the production cost would bring it down some because I have a friend who can hook me up with some wheel weights. My cousin also works at a tire shop and says he will try to get me some.

a couple of days ago my friend dropped off about 25 lbs worth of mixed wheel weights. I did give him 100 rounds of copper plated 9mm I loaded to show him i mean business. He said there's more of where that came from. I was about 1/3 done sorting through them and noticed about 80% were lead and the others were zinc/steel. I did test them out with a pair of pliers and tapped them on a piece of metal to be sure.

before I start investing in the molds and equipment, how are you guys doing with lead? i mean finding a good or free source reliably? I keep hearing that the wheel weights are going towards zinc, steel and plastics now... also where is a good place to get them online if that were to be the case.

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May 10, 2014, 03:44 PM
When I first started casting, I had a tireshop that would give me about 35 pounds each month. only 20lb after being cleaned up. lots of junk weights. They have since changed ownership so the deal is no more.

Then I mapped out every tire shop in the area and hit them all in a day. I ended up getting a full bucket for $15. After that- the scrap yard. traded in a little bit of copper and all my junked brass, spent primers and scrap wheel weight clips. walked away with 60lbs

Next, I discovered my favorite source- the range officer gave me the OK to run down and get a scoop of the berm every once in a while. Each visit, I take a scoop with a 30 cal can and end up with 12-15 pounds of clean rance scrap that is perfect for 38 & 45. the berm is very rich with lead.

And lastly, my neighbor dropped off 225lbs of wheel weights that were collecting dust, they must have been old as ive found very few steel and zinc weights. I figure Ill keep casting as long as I get lead for free. I dont think casting would be worth it if clean ready to cast ingots were much more than $1/lb...

May 10, 2014, 04:54 PM
Free lead for me has all but dried up.

Wheel weights are a great base, but you will need a source of tin for most bullets to cast well.

May 10, 2014, 05:54 PM
My suggestion for Free Lead is Construction sites, especially Demolition of old buildings.
I work in construction, and spent 10 years working in demolition.
I collected the Lead Pipe roof flashings, the Lead Pipe joint packings and even lead lining from X-Ray lab walls.
I also use to work as a Mechanic in a tire shop many years ago, and stockpiled wheel weights back then, and those were the good ones before these enviromentally friendly crap they use to ballance tires with now.
But recently I have started buying pre mixed lead for bullet casting from a smelter that is 70 miles away.
It is a blend of 92/6/2 and a BHN of over 15
Luckily, I have a friend that lives down there , so he picks me up 60 pound ingots when I need them .
I also buy additional Pure Tin from them for smelting with my lead from the construction sites.
But 95/5 plumbers solder is about $30.00 a pound right now, and there are not many other scorces of tin available.
If I ever need Antimony, I order that from a company in California in Raw Form. ( Crystal Rocks )
Recently one of my Co- Workers tore out an X-Ray room and ended up with 200 pounds of pure lead.
I had also taught him to cast his own bullets, or he might have shared that lead with me.

May 10, 2014, 09:11 PM
Lots of guys selling range lead, wheel weight lead, sailboat keel lead, and other kinds on ebay right now. Seems to run from one to two dollars a pound.
Like most of you, my sources of "free" lead are dried up. A nephew who bike commutes in Chicago picks up wheel weights for me but I'm going to tell him to forget it as only about 10% are even lead now.

May 10, 2014, 09:35 PM
Unlimited supply of lead.

I belong to an indoor range and every few months we have a range clean up where we remove the lead from the backstop. Those that help can take what they wish, last week I took none. We had approx. 15 five gal. buckets 1/2 full of lear. Each bucket will weigh approx. 80 to 100 lbs.

I still have 5/6 buckets to smelt into ingots.

May 10, 2014, 10:07 PM
I used to do a lot of casting but now I buy mostly commercially cast bullets for handgun. There is only so much free time in my day and my job leaves me with a wee bit of play money most weeks.

I'd like to set up a plate rack using urethane plates so the bullets don't turn in to splatter like steel plates do so I can recover them. When I retire, I will have time to mine the berm and recycle.

May 10, 2014, 10:08 PM
I get my lead from the local scrap yard. It's mostly lead pipe and sheeting, which is for the most part pure lead. Have gotten high antimony lead and various solders from the many sellers on the cast boolits forum. Also have a software program that tells me the BHN of various alloys, which helps me to make alloys suitable for my purpose.


May 10, 2014, 10:10 PM

My "source" today is primarily range salvage. I got some dirt cheap when our rifle range mined the berms. There was alot of lead. Same when they excavated all the shot from the topsoil. I work construction so I have been lucky to demo and get some scrap pipe and flashing as well as xray wall lead. I worked automotive for 15 years and got tons of lead from the tire balancing machine. They would ask the guys to get rid of it, so someone had to do it, sigh, I suppose so.... :D

Linotype is a thing of the past too. Lead in general has become the environmental/liberal whipping child in more recent times, unfortunately.
The really old refrigerator/freezers from the days of yore used lead as well in the walls.

There is a guy on you tube called the ammo channel also mainjunker
he talkes about where you can find scrap and how to process.

Tin has been limited to old solder I can find at garage sales, or job site when the excess material is wanted back at the shop. (seldom happens now)

My other source is helping other guys get what they need or want and many times without asking they have scrap lead they were saving and decided to give to me.

Don McDowell
May 10, 2014, 10:43 PM
Where I live, there is so little salvage lead, to be had that I would not get any shooting done if that's all I used.
So mostly I buy certified alloy from Buffalo Arms or Rotometals.

May 11, 2014, 12:28 AM
Check out Seafab metals in Casa Grande Az. and see how the prices compare plus the shipping costs.
They are the Smelter and you are buying direct.

May 11, 2014, 11:50 AM
It pays to know a fellow that has owned a garage for 60 years and has tons of scrap lead wheel weights stored on the back 40 in old pickup truck beds.:D I am in the process of teaching him how to reload as well.:cool:

loose noose
May 11, 2014, 12:08 PM
I still get the vast majority of lead from tire shops in the immediate area, granted there is getting to be an abundance of zinc etc. in the mix however I do sort thru the stuff prior to casting. BTW I've got plenty of tin that I stocked up in a few years ago.

The only catch is that I've been questioned about the use, to which I reply personal only, as I'm not a commercial entity. I haven't had a problem getting a huge bucket of the wheel weights to date.

May 11, 2014, 12:21 PM
Plenty of free lead out there, be creative. Just picked up a free sail boat two weeks ago off craigslist. 700# of lead out of the keel. A chain saw and sawzall makes quick work of it.

May 11, 2014, 01:01 PM
I'm still able to find lead here where I live. I managed to scrounge 1600 plus pounds last year and have about $150 in it. Thats counting the beer and donuts that I gave away and the stuff that I bought.

Networking is the key to finding lead. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers. The more people looking, the better. Ask all of the tire stores in your area. Check all the scrap metal places.

Check out There is a whole thread on lead and lead alloys. They discuss all types of lead and offer lots of ideas on sources. Lightman

35 Whelen
May 11, 2014, 02:38 PM
Leads still out there and contrary to what we're lead to believe, lead WW's are still in use. Fact is, I dropped my little beater pickup off at Discount Tire last Friday and they put lead weights on the wheels with the new tires. Also, while I'm waiting I troll their parking lot and pilfer around their dumpster where I always manage to find a pound or two laying around.

For the love of Pete....stop sorting your wheelweights and pinching them with pliers! Throw them all in a smelting pot, keep the temp under 700 and zinc and steel weights will float to the top where they can be scooped up after you flux the melt. No need making things more difficult than necessary.


May 11, 2014, 02:49 PM
I atleast do a quick visual sort on my wheel weights... Id rather spend an hour sorting a bucket than have 150 pounds of junk lead. There are zinc weights that are scary similar to some lead weights... here is the meager 275ish pounds ive collected up, paid $0 for all of it. now I just have to find a way to evenly blend all this lead into one alloy that I will work with for the next 12 months...

35 Whelen
May 11, 2014, 03:25 PM
Melting point of zinc: 787.15 F
Melting point of lead: 621.43 F

May 11, 2014, 05:08 PM
@ Reefinmike.
With that much lead, it would be hard to Smelt it all together all at once.
I would melt as much lead as I could at one time in an old Cast Iron Dutch Oven pot that I found at a second hand store.
I would build a fire out in the back yard, and set the pot over it.
When the lead is melted, then pour it into Manageable ingots.
Then once you have all the loose lead cast into ingots, then mix and remelt different ingots , then cast new ingots.
Repeat this process as many times that you feel is needed ot have a good representation of one common blend.
I usually like to do the first smelting with the lead seperated buy types of lead.
IE ; melt all the wheel weights together, then the plumbing lead, then the range lead in different Batches, and Mark them for refferance.
Then you can judge how many ingots you need to melt with the other types of ingots to start your blending.

May 11, 2014, 11:36 PM
In my area the tire shops seem to have gone to steel or zinc for the clip-on wheel weights. I recently got just over 50# of scrap wheel weights from a shop. After cleaning and sorting, I came up with 12# of lead. Most of it is the soft "stick-on" variety, so I will have to add tin or solder to it. But it didn't cost me anything, so I'm 12# ahead. L)

The good old days of free lead wheel weights seem to be gone around here.

May 12, 2014, 12:15 AM
Look in to castboolits lots of lead available.

May 12, 2014, 08:35 AM
In my area the tire shops seem to have gone to steel or zinc for the clip-on wheel weights. I recently got just over 50# of scrap wheel weights from a shop. After cleaning and sorting, I came up with 12# of lead. Most of it is the soft "stick-on" variety, so I will have to add tin or solder to it. But it didn't cost me anything, so I'm 12# ahead. L)

The good old days of free lead wheel weights seem to be gone around here.

+1. In NY, I believe state law mandated non-lead wheel weights a number of years ago. When I get wheel weights from a buddy who owns a garage, I am finding that about 2/3's are non-lead - and, it's only going to get worse as time goes on.


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