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Thread: Help Deciding Between Lead Sources?

  1. #1

    Help Deciding Between Lead Sources?

    Seriously wanting to get into cast boolits. Been reading what feels like for ages and could use some more seasoned opinions to help steer me in my search for lead. (And if you've cast even just a few times, you're more seasoned than I.)

    Background: I live about as inland as you can get in the US, am not in a state that bans lead WW's or boolits or much anything else for that matter. Once I get out of my little city, there's not much civilization for a few hours any direction. Not retired, with middle class income. Would be casting mostly for the enjoyment of doing it and to reduce my reload cost for plinking. Primarily 9mm/45 ACP but if I can figure it out, to get some cheap rifle boolits for more affordable range time on .30-06, then all the better.

    Here's what I've been able to find so far...

    Range scrap - $0.50/lb. 30 yard indoor. Mixed with jackets, almost entirely handgun, seen little rimfire there.

    Recycler - $0.79/lb. Wheel weights from buckets or pick thru a pile of everything else mixed together.

    Aaaaand. That's it. Haven't found any tire shops wanting to sell to me yet. There's only one outdoor range and they've said I can't pick the berms. No radiological pharmacies. There's one off-road pseudo-range on public land, but it's the wooded get-drunk-n-shoot-your-beer-cans type place with no RSOs and I don't feel terribly safe going to the berm there. Not seeing anything on Craigslist. Everybody else seems to be shooting at random spots on public land. I'll keep looking, but for now that pretty much leaves only online buys.

    Am I wasting my time if I source locally at these prices? Seems shipped ingots are about $1.25/lb on here. $1.25-$2.00/lb on eBay. $1.58 for reclaimed ballast, $1.74 for reclaimed ballast on RotoMetals, etc. I'm an avid DIYer and would probably find the process enjoyable, but it seems like it'd take a while just to break even on a pot, ingot mold, ladle, etc. while paying for the propane.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    lwknight's Avatar
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    What is to decide? You take all you can get. First the cheaper stuff. Then the rest.
    All good clean seriousness, 80 cents a pound is not bad for scrapyard junk even though you do have a goodly amount of waste. Problem with wheel weights is that so much is zinc so be very careful selecting your scrap.

    Best deal yet is if you can resell the copper jackets to pay for the scrap. Range scrap yields a lot of good lead but usually a lot of copper weight too.

    Then you can buy tin and antimony from rotometals to make your alloy to specs.

    I don't trust evil bay at all unless I know the seller. If you can get alloy from a reputable seller for $2.00 per pound, you are on par. Some folks are lucky enough to get the cheap stuff but not all of us.
    Last edited by lwknight; 01-08-2018 at 07:57 PM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Seems like the scrap yard would be good if you can get them to haggle or sneak some solder (tin content is very valuable) in with the lead you buy. Otherwise, order ingots from one of the vendors here. I have chosen to skip smelting lead and go with ingots. Buying from vendors here I can still keep my lead costs down enough that my 38 boolits run me less than 3 cents each. Will the savings pay the mortgage? Nope, but they are enough to justify buying casting equipment and my time spent having fun playing with molten metal.
    "I have learned from experience that a modicum of snuff can be most efficacious." - the Baron von Munchausen

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    DerekP Houston's Avatar
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    I've had no issues using range scrap, if you are willing to render it down more power to you. Personally i'd go with the scrapyard and wheel weights, they were much easier melting into ingots for me vs range scrap.

    I buy my range scrap off the forum here around $1 per lb, nice clean and ready to go.
    My feedback page if you feel inclined to add:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...raight-Shooter

    Thanks Yall!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    First off wecome. I think you'll enjoy your stay. Range scrap will give you around 80% of the total weight after melting and cleaning and a perfectly good alloy for the pistols you mentioned. Approxamently a 10.5 BHN. If you just get the lead WW's that will yeald about the same after the clips are melted It will be about a 12.5 BHN. My experance with misc scrap mixed from one of my local scrap yards will come out around 10 BHN unless there is a large amount of roof flashing then it would less. I use all three methods of gathering scrap and use the Powder Coat method with no problems for several different calibers. Thats my .02. & feel free to ask any questions.
    Good luck
    Sometimes it takes a second box of boolits to clear my head.
    Feed back thread http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...?261449-jeepyj

  6. #6
    Boolit Master MyFlatline's Avatar
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    I like you have never been able to buy WW's in my area, scrap yard lead was running .75 to $1.00 per pound. No guarantees on the mixture. There are some here that sell clean lead ingots for a very good price. A friend ordered some from The Captain and had it dropped shipped to me for me to cast some for him. I was impressed with the quality. If I ever run low, I will go that route next time.

  7. #7
    Vendor Sponsor D Crockett's Avatar
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    Tehhappygunner go to the main page of the forum go down till you see vendor sales open that page and I think the Captain is down near the bottom of the list talk to the captain via pm and she will get you all the lead you want D Crockett

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    I have made ingots from wheel weights, dental x-ray lead and range scrap. I have purchased from venders here and ebay. If you can force yourself to forgo melting, fluxing and making your own ingots, check here for vender-sponsors. I can recommend the Captain.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master BNE's Avatar
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    Welcome to the addiction. I recommend you just buy ~50 pounds at first. Any of the above sources will work. BUT the next step is to be constantly vigilant. It sounds like you have read and have good info. A lot new folks do not do that, so good for you. When I say constantly vigilant, I mean let your friends know you are looking. Make friends of the guy at the scrap yard. Over time, a steady source will pop up. The start up is hard. Be patient. Get help from the good folks on this forum. Enjoy.
    I'm a Happy Clinger.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to the hobby and to the site! The prices you are quoting are not bad. The range scrap could possible make good bullets as is. Melt and cast a few bullets and see what you get. The scrap prices, although a little high could get you some good alloy. If you get established as a regular customer the pricing could improve as could the selection. Just saying! The vendors on this site also offer a fair product for a fair price.

    Start networking now. Tell your friends, family and co-workers that you are interested in lead and have them start looking. Always be vigilant, the stuff turns up everywhere and in unexpected places. Place an ad in the local paper or on the local swap shop. Ask at your local tire shop or talk to your local mechanic shop or wrecking yard. Try to get aquatinted with your local telephone guy, local plumber, local roofer, or even the local scrapper guy. Maybe a small local print shop. Its out there!

    As a beginner, look at your cost of a smelting set-up as an investment. Yeah, it will take a little while to get ahead, but you should. A cheap dutch oven, a cheap turkey fryer, a few cheap kitchen spoons and a few muffin tins will put you in business. You can also buy smelting pots and ladles on here for reasonable prices. You can stay there or graduate to bigger and better stuff if you want.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


    Walter Laich's Avatar
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    I buy from this site and use vendors when I do.

    Reason? it's already been smelted and cleaned, ready to go. I know I pay a little more but it's worth it to me

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  12. #12
    Boolit Man
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    I started with couple free WW buckets but unless its free i would never mess with WW again. I dig out some range scrap myself but again I wouldnt pay for it. I buy everything I need at my scrap yard at $0.85/lb. Price wasnt that appealing to me until I realized that for that price I'm buying "anything in the lead bin" which includes solder, 50/50 tin bars, lino pigs and even some babbitt pieces. They also sometimes have those nice clean 25lb bricks of pure lead to mix it all with. Its a one stop shop for me so I swing by every few weeks and dig out my treasures. I also find tons of Lee, Saeco and RCBS ingots so I always pick those up too. Most are WW but some are harball or lino so its good stuff either way.
    To sum it up i scavenge free lead from my dentist and range scrap I dig out but if I'm buying everything else at scrap yard. Take your time and dig in there. You'll be surprised what you'll find sometimes. One day I got over 100lbs of clean pure lead bricks. Another I found 2 lino pigs close to 50lb and I always find some sort of tin in there too.

  13. #13
    Boolit Man
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    When I was buying a lot of lead, I had a guy I knew who was in the hardware business. He had a lot of scraps of roof flashing and sold it to shooters. It was very soft and easy to deal with because it was a lot of smaller pieces. I don't know if lead flashing is still in use as this was a few years back, but it's the best I've found (except for the 300lbs of linotype stashed under my friends workbench. I found it when I was cleaning out his workshop after he passed)

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    For me I would not get WW because of the zinc that is too much in it. I go to the salvage yard and get soft lead and go from there .Just need to watch for the zinc that some times get mix in it. but not much.For me WW have too much waste in it then that of soft lead. If the WW where given to me I would take it. other then that I would just stick with the soft lead. and I get my alloy to mix at Roto. Range lead you will do good also like stated.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Building contractors are sometimes tearing down old houses with lead flashing. I put a donation in their coffee fund. The last time I got a 200 lb. roll for $20.00
    The only amendment the Democrats support is the 5th.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master pjames32's Avatar
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    Welcome to the addiction and the forum! I'd buy some lead from a vendor on here, then look for sources. If you get wheel weights you will need to sort out zinc and iron. A box of donuts at the tire shop to introduce yourself usually helps. I have a tire shop where I leave buckets with my name and phone number written on them. When they call the mgr gets a 12 pack of his favorite beer. Salvage yards are great if they will sell to you and let you rummage the bin to look for the good stuff as has been mentioned here. Good luck!
    NRA Benefactor Member

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Pre fluxed/poured ingots from one of the vender here would be a great way to get started, (BTW welcome!). If you decide that you like casting then start acquiring a pot ingot molds and lead. Put the word out your looking for lead, you never know who will come up with some. Check back with the junk yard, around here "lead is lead" and they toss rolls/bar of solder in with lead pipe ectra.
    It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years (Abe Lincoln)

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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
    triggerhappy243's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehHappyGunner View Post
    Seriously wanting to get into cast boolits. Been reading what feels like for ages and could use some more seasoned opinions to help steer me in my search for lead. (And if you've cast even just a few times, you're more seasoned than I.)

    Background: I live about as inland as you can get in the US, am not in a state that bans lead WW's or boolits or much anything else for that matter. Once I get out of my little city, there's not much civilization for a few hours any direction. Not retired, with middle class income. Would be casting mostly for the enjoyment of doing it and to reduce my reload cost for plinking. Primarily 9mm/45 ACP but if I can figure it out, to get some cheap rifle boolits for more affordable range time on .30-06, then all the better.

    Here's what I've been able to find so far...

    Range scrap - $0.50/lb. 30 yard indoor. Mixed with jackets, almost entirely handgun, seen little rimfire there.

    Recycler - $0.79/lb. Wheel weights from buckets or pick thru a pile of everything else mixed together.

    Aaaaand. That's it. Haven't found any tire shops wanting to sell to me yet. There's only one outdoor range and they've said I can't pick the berms. No radiological pharmacies. There's one off-road pseudo-range on public land, but it's the wooded get-drunk-n-shoot-your-beer-cans type place with no RSOs and I don't feel terribly safe going to the berm there. Not seeing anything on Craigslist. Everybody else seems to be shooting at random spots on public land. I'll keep looking, but for now that pretty much leaves only online buys.

    Am I wasting my time if I source locally at these prices? Seems shipped ingots are about $1.25/lb on here. $1.25-$2.00/lb on eBay. $1.58 for reclaimed ballast, $1.74 for reclaimed ballast on RotoMetals, etc. I'm an avid DIYer and would probably find the process enjoyable, but it seems like it'd take a while just to break even on a pot, ingot mold, ladle, etc. while paying for the propane.
    50 cents a pound is not bad for indoor range scrap. if the range uses a steel snail as a bullet catch, there will be no rubber or sand. and if they do not allow reloaded ammo, then there is little (very little)possibility for Zinc contamination.

  19. #19
    Thanks all for the great info. I keep coming back and reading it all again periodically throughout the day to try to give it the best chance to soak in. Greatly appreciated. What a great community!

    Quote Originally Posted by triggerhappy243 View Post
    50 cents a pound is not bad for indoor range scrap. if the range uses a steel snail as a bullet catch, there will be no rubber or sand. and if they do not allow reloaded ammo, then there is little (very little)possibility for Zinc contamination.
    They do allow reloads, except in their rental guns, with the understanding that if you blow up their ballistic glass lane partitions that they're going to bill you the $4000 per pane to replace. That may scare some away from the prospect... unsure... I try to not peek at others' ammo.

    Honestly can't say I know what type of trap it is. Only the provided cardboard backers are allowed so shouldn't be any homasote in there.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    No decision, buy both.

    Smelt each down separate then mix together roughly half and half with 1 or 2 % added tin. You are good to go.

    A good cast iron dutch oven and a propane fish fryer will do the smelting easy enough.

    Get yourself all the clip on wheel weights you can while you can.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check