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Casting lead bullets

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by myFRAGisFUBAR, Oct 1, 2013.

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  1. myFRAGisFUBAR

    myFRAGisFUBAR Member

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    So I have been reloading for a few months now and I am considering casting my own lead rounds. My question is what would a fair price for lead be? I called the better part of 40 tire shops and of those only 3 sell wheel weights. One shop wants 60 per bucket:what: and the other two just kind of mumbled something about regulars already have a claim. :confused:

    Am I better off just buying lead bars or is there another source for lead? I want this to be as cheap as possible. ANY help or info will be helpful.
     
  2. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Member

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    $60 per bucket is a little steep, I went my local recycling shop and they had a pile of lead WW's in the corner, talked them down to $0.60/lb because of the clips, and because they weren't pure lead.
     
  3. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Member

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    If I couldn't find wheel weights for free/cheap from a tire shop I'd check a local scrap yard and see if they'll sell you lead in some form or another. Some people will buy bricks/bars/pigs of lead from places like rotometals.com but at $2/lb it doesn't seem worth it. I can buy MBC 200 or 230gr boolits for $45-50 per 500. If I were to pay $2/lb for lead I'd be looking at spending about $34 just for the lead, not including shipping, and doing all the work myself.

    $60 for a full 5gal bucket of wheel weights wouldn't be too bad if its all lead. You can get between 100-130lbs of wheel weights in a 5gal bucket. I picked up a free bucket of lead, had to dump it into 2 buckets to carry it, long walk out to my truck. But check you scrap yards first. I've seen some guys claim they get sorted, meaning all lead, wheel weights for $0.30/lb. They'll be dirty but that's a good price. I sprayed mine down real good with a garden hose and nozzle to clean off most of the gunk before casting ingots. If you "wash" them just be 100% sure that you let them thoroughly dry before putting them into a casting pot.
     
  4. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    From what little experience I have, about $1/lb for ingots is about the going rate.
     
  5. myFRAGisFUBAR

    myFRAGisFUBAR Member

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    I just called the only scrap yard around and they will not sell any kind of metal to people for any reason...this is gonna be harder to find for cheap than I though.:scrutiny:
     
  6. Thompsoncustom

    Thompsoncustom Member

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    find a local range and stiffed the lead from the ground. Not to hard but takes a little time, last time I went I got two 5 gallon buckets before people started showing up to shoot and its FREE.
     
  7. myFRAGisFUBAR

    myFRAGisFUBAR Member

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    If I sift the lead out of a range backstop, is it ok to melt down and pour into an ingot mold, or do I need to add things to toughen up the alloy first? Will copper jackets and what not change the composition roo much to jave a good alloy?
     
  8. Thompsoncustom

    Thompsoncustom Member

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    Everything from the range, cases, jackets, dirt will all float on top of the lead and can be scoped off.

    What are you casting for? That's what's going to matter when it comes to your alloy but I would image you'll find that the range scrap has everything in it so the hardness can really vary but if it's a handgun and you water drop it you should be fine.
     
  9. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Member

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    Copper melts at a much higher temp than the lead. When you go to melt plated bullets or jacketed bullets that fully encapsulate the lead, you have to smash the bullet to expose the lead before trying to melt them. That lead is prettying dead soft lead. You'll have to add some tin and/or antimony to it. After I have all of my lead melted in a cast iron pot, I flux it (clean it), then alloy it (add tin/antimony). Others may wait to alloy it when it's in their casting pot but I figure adding it while casting ingots will keep the alloy more consistent.
     
  10. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Most of my bullets are cast from indoor-range bullet trap lead, and most of that is probably from people shooting .22's. It's softer than wheel weights, but harder than pure lead and it doesn't tarnish. I don't add anything to it.
     
  11. popper

    popper Member

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    Mine what you can from the berm, buy from Roto or MBC. I cast rifle/pistol still is only $15/7 per 100.
     
  12. lightman

    lightman Member

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    Free or cheap lead is still out there. You just have to ask. And ask and ask! I've scrounged up maybe 500# this year, and I have not tried too hard. Ask when you are traveling out of town. If you get serious about casting, you will soon develop a netwoork for lead.

    Tire shops( yeah, I know you talked to a bunch), dealerships,mechanic shops can all produce wheelweights. Roofing and plumbing contractors can provide softer lead. Telephone linemen/cable splicers can provide cable sheathing. Some hospitals can provide isotope lead containers. Print shops or newspaper offices may have type metal( there are several types). Some salvage yards still sell to the public, so keep looking and asking. Lots of casters mine the back stops at their ranges, or the bullet traps at indoor ranges. Old sailboats have lead ballast, as do some old airplanes or dirt track cars. Maybe even run an add in your local paper! You might also watch craigslist and e-bay. You know the dangers there, though!

    You might want to check out the castboolit forum. Lots of info there, and several members sell lead. There may even be someone within driving distance from you. Good Luck in your search, but beware that it can be addictive! Lightman
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  13. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Ask for wheel weights to make sinkers, you will get more.
     
  14. myFRAGisFUBAR

    myFRAGisFUBAR Member

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    Thanks for all of the info everyone. Ill give mining a go and I will call some local indoor ranges. And if it helps I will be casting 9, 40, and mayber 223 one day. I also plan on powder coating all of my bullets. Also is there a good way to tell if your lead alloy is hard enough or its it kind of a trial and error? Again thanks again for the wealth of info everyone! :D
     
  15. wgaynor

    wgaynor Member

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    I'd expand your search area and include the tiny mom and pop garage/tire store. Give the guy behind the counter $20 cash and tell him you'll do the heavy lifting. It's been my key to success.

    And like 243 said, they are for fishing weights. People get weird when you tell them your making bullets.
     
  16. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Member

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    I had a similar issue as you, and my final response to it all was simply to search out the classifieds in the shooting forums and pickup what I needed there.

    As mentioned above there are usually a couple fo folks selling range lead or WW ingots over on Castboolits, not to mention this site as well as a couple of others.

    It isn't free, but most usually are selling for around a buck a pound delivered to your doorstep. Most ship 65'ish pounds in medium flat rate boxes. As also mentioned you can develop relationships with some who supply a lot and sometimes order just what your wanting verses what they offer to the general public. I have a couple of folks who I contact a couple times a year and will just say hey, or ask what they have on hand or might be looking to pour or pick up. Generally I can wait until they have what I need rather than having to search all over creation and hope I get what I want. It makes it MUCH easier on everyone. When I DO buy I usually pick up two or three boxes at a time, so I have plenty to last me a while of the same alloy for the most part.

    If your looking for something specific in what your casting then Rotometals is the place to go. Yes they are a bit high, but their alloy is also certified to be what it is supposed to be and not what you or the seller is guessing it should be. If you have a source for softer lead, then you only need to pick up something like Hardball to alloy it up into something harder. If all your looking to pour is target loads not exceeding around 1000fps then just about anything could work with the right fit and lube.
     
  17. aka108

    aka108 Member

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    I'll leave the bullet casting to the guys who have the big machines. I was at the range early one morning and there was a guy there sifting out spent bullets of all types and putting them into a 5 gallon bucket. He had nearly half full. Asked him how he was going to get it back 100 yds to his truck. He hadn't taken that into consideration.
     
  18. MrWesson

    MrWesson Member

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    It varies from area to area.

    When I was in North FL I got it for free easily or cheap.

    Down here everyone has a guy or the going rate is around a doller per lb.

    If a tire shop tells you to have at the bucket they have dont just grab and lift.. a 5 gallon bucket can weight over 150lbs. I about pulled my back out when I was starting out.
     
  19. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    Around here there are enough reloaders that the tire shops are all spoken for.

    So I have to buy my lead.
    It's a LOT cheaper than buying bullets.
     
  20. david bachelder

    david bachelder Member

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    Call a plumbing supply house. They often have very good lead at reasonable prices. It probably will come in five pound ingots, linked together in groups of five.
     
  21. MrWesson

    MrWesson Member

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    What do you pay per LB for the plumbing supply stuff?
     
  22. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Go to castboolits.gunloads.com and you can usually find wheel weights already smelted down into 1# ingots for around $1 per pound. I would do that before paying $60 a bucket.
    I have paid $40 a bucket but that's my limit. You just never know how much steel and zinc weights you're going to get out of one.
    $1 a pound is a little more expensive than $40 a bucket, granted. However, the work is already done and you know every single pound is useable lead.
     
  23. dickttx

    dickttx Member

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    I had heard several places about the $1.00 per pound plumbing lead.
    I checked at the local Locke Supply. He said he would have to order it as they do not keep it in stock. When he looked up the price it was $25.00 per five pound ingot.
     
  24. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    That's likely going to be pure lead, so even after paying $5 a pound, you're gonna have to mix it to get it hard enough for bullets.
    There's a guy right now on the castboolits site selling berm mined lead ingots for $1 a pound shipped. They're coming in at 14 BHN so you wouldn't have to do a thing to them, just melt and cast.
     
  25. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    IF you mine a backstop berm, make sure you leave it in good condition. (I'm sure you all know that already, so this is just a reminder)

    My outdoor range has 2 lanes set up with falling metal targets. Whenever I go there I take a gallon ziplock freezer bag (the thick ones) and a trowel. If I'm the only shooter, I scrape up a bag of lead from right under the targets. Just takes a minute or two to get about 15 pounds if it's been awhile.
     
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