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Thread: How easy was it to find lead during the ammo shortage?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    How easy was it to find lead during the ammo shortage?

    I'm curious about how (or i guess if) that affected finding lead sources.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    EPA regulations is what is affecting lead sources. Guidlines for removal and disposal are strict. I didnt start casting till after the obama ammo shortages. I did start reloading then due to it, but i never had a problem getting jacketed bullets in the calibers i reloaded at the time.

    If they would relax the lead removal and disposal regulations it would make it easier. The only reason my range wont reclaim its lead or allow others to reclaim it is because the EPA.

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master MyFlatline's Avatar
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    Wasn't all that bad 6 years ago or so. I started casting because I couldn't get jacketed bullets for the rifles I wanted. Keep hoping Trump will loosen up the restrictions, as I feel the EPA has gone way overboard.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyFlatline View Post
    Wasn't all that bad 6 years ago or so. I started casting because I couldn't get jacketed bullets for the rifles I wanted. Keep hoping Trump will loosen up the restrictions, as I feel the EPA has gone way overboard.
    Agreed. If I am willing to accept the risks then we should be allowed to. Smelting is, for the most part safe with minimun pollution and safety hazzards with a bit of common since. Dont breath fumes and its hot. Its not going to poison the neighborhood.

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master dikman's Avatar
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    Don't forget that Common Sense isn't that common, unfortunately.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rcmaveric View Post
    If they would relax the lead removal and disposal regulations it would make it easier. The only reason my range wont reclaim its lead or allow others to reclaim it is because the EPA.
    Get certified and buy the Tyvek suit and respirator. Then you can do the removal and disposal.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Finding lead wasn't the problem , cars still had tires and they used wheel weights. Construction of buildings yielded lead flashing and shielding .
    My problem was finding powder and primers. For 50 years Bullseye, Unique and 2400 was all I needed, then one day it all disappeared ...I still buy primers whenever I see them and will buy any powder I think I can use and get loading data for. Lead was the easy part.
    Gary
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master MyFlatline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbosman View Post
    Get certified and buy the Tyvek suit and respirator. Then you can do the removal and disposal.
    That's about a $15,000 proposition here in Florida, Lead abatement has gone stoooopid. I won't work on older homes anymore do to the risk of fines..

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    I don't remember lead being especially hard to get during the last shortage. Certainly not anything like the other components. Lead has gradually gotten harder to find, mostly due to environmental issues and regulation. Years ago it was everywhere and free or very cheap. Many things were made of lead that are now made of other stuff. Wheel weights, flashing and roof vents, to name a few things. Telephone and some electrical cable used lead sheathing at one time. The printing industry used lots of lead but this has been replaced with cheaper and more efficient methods.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    None what so ever....now is the issue. Most manufacturers have gone green and stopped using PB for wheel weights. Glad I stocked up years ago.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    The common sources from years ago are not so common these days.
    Wheel weights were the most popular source and had lots of advantages. They were widely distributed (there are garages and tire shops everywhere), the alloy content was suitable for casting without a lot of processing, the weights themselves were small so handling them wasn't difficult and most of all - they were cheap if not free! Those days are over.
    Lead pipe was fairly common. Lead roof flashing was common. X-ray equipment used lead in the pre-digital days. Isotope containers still use lead. Telephone equipment used lead. The printing industry extensively used lead type face prior to modern printing methods. Lead was just a more common material and therefore could be easily found.

    For those of us old enough to remember, glass containers were once far more common. As plastics took over, glass became less common.
    Plumbing was primarily handled with steel, cast iron and copper pipe. Now it's predominantly plastic.

    Materials used in society change over time and while lead is something of an environmental taboo these days, it's also more expensive than other materials.

    Lead will not disappear from our society but it will become more expensive.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    During the ammo/primer/powder shortage lead was still easy to find. I expect some of that might depend on where you live and what you do for a living. Being in construction and doing service work for 42 years lead was always pretty easy to find, still is around here.

    If you use something regularly, why not stock up on it? Not at all different from what Gary described. 20+ years ago I bought enough lead from the remodel of an X-ray room to last me the rest of my life. Price, 20 cents a pound. My supply of linotype, a REALLY fortunate and totally unexpected acquisition, will probably last longer than me as will the wheel weights I have cast into ingots. I did the electrical service work for 3-4 tire shops...a fortuitous circumstance. Soooo....lead for bullets will never be a problem in this house.
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  13. #13
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
    Finding lead wasn't the problem , cars still had tires and they used wheel weights. Construction of buildings yielded lead flashing and shielding .
    My problem was finding powder and primers. For 50 years Bullseye, Unique and 2400 was all I needed, then one day it all disappeared ...I still buy primers whenever I see them and will buy any powder I think I can use and get loading data for. Lead was the easy part.
    Gary
    Agreed. Lead can be found with a little searching. Not always cheap, but available yes. Powder was hard to find, and typically online with Hazmat charges and bulk purchase being necessary. Primers a close second on the challenge level.

    BDGR

  14. #14
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    I collected every scrap of lead I could get during my working career, so finding lead wasn't an issue when ammo got scarce. I have somewhere around a ton of pure lead. I used to get wheel weights from my local tire store also, but newer wheel weights aren't the same lead they used to use. Modern wheel weights have a lot of zinc in them and you sure don't want that mixed into your bullets!
    Finding tin that's affordable is a bigger issue. Tin is not cheap, so I keep my bullets a bit softer than most people to ensure my tin goes farther!

  15. #15
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    If your plan is to start looking for lead once the shortage has started that's terrible planning. You need to jump on any deals you run across and stockpile.

    I started casting in 2015 and lead was available locally from a guy who smelted down wheel weights. That source dried up, and then I found a guy who was doing hospital demolitions and bought a couple hundred pounds from him. That source dried up and then I found a guy with a machine shop who was clearing out his shop and had a variety of alloys and I bought a couple hundred pounds from him. He no longer has any left. My last pick up was down in Kansas city and I got 100 lbs of Linotype from a guy clearing out an estate. I've picked up some small quantities(under 100 lbs) locally a few times from random sources off craigslist. In my experiences there are no consistent sources and you have to jump on any opportunity that presents itself. Most of the sources I mentioned were an hour or more drive, but worth it because I was getting a couple hundred pounds at a time or was making a trip that way anyways.
    Last edited by reddog81; 06-08-2018 at 02:56 PM.

  16. #16
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    How easy was it to find lead during the ammo shortage?
    Which one?

    the two in recent history are 2008 and 2013

    2008 was partly due to the possibly of a Democrat occupying the white house and the rise/peak of the bubble in the commodities market (remember $40+ silver about 8 years ago?) Ammo makers claimed raw materials (copper & brass) prices caused price increases, while the Preppers created higher demand by stocking up due to the possibility, and then the realization of Obama in the White house.

    2013 was due to Sandy Hook and all liberal politicians crying for more strict guns laws...every gunowner started buying ammo (even 22LR) and many started reloading also due to scarce ammo. Thus making reloading tooling of common calibers scarce, as well as components. .224 55gr jacketed bullets went from 7 each to 15 each to non-existant...same with 223/556 brass. I also recall seeing a Lee 2 cavity mold for 22 Bator sell on fleabay for over $100.

    Anyway...
    The 2008 shortage: It seemed that everyone started scrounging recyclable metals (Wheelweights and cartridge brass to name the two that most effected me), making Lead and used brass expensive and hard to find for me.

    The 2013 shortage:
    I don't think that effected me at all, in regards to Lead...BUT that's about the time that MN started it's policy to eliminate Lead from automotive wheel weights, first with a State mandate on tire replacement on all State owned vehicles, then a actual ban on tire shops putting lead WW on any new tire purchases. So that effectively made the percentage of lead WW in a 5 gal bucket, from a suburban tire shop, progressively get lower and lower, so it is really no longer worth the effort of scrounging them.

    Understanding the root cause for shortages and potential price increases/scarcity will help you understand if it will effect Lead...and for how long.

  17. #17
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    Here where I live, Pb and alloys have always been very plentiful and available at the local scrap yards. All I care to carry away for a buck a pound. There has never been a shortage of Pb here. That scenario seems to exist in liberal blue states.

  18. #18
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    Lead, not hard. Wheel weights, lead ones anyway, harder and harder all the time.
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
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    A few musings.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    Auto makers sell cars in many legal jurisdictions, different states and different countries. Just makes sense they would buy WW's that meet the strictest requirements to simplify supply chain of components and finished products.

    Lead isn't scarce. Free and really cheap sources of scrap lead are less common and working their way toward scarce. The overall amount of lead in the waste stream is declining and if that goes down faster than demand price goes up. Which is what is happening. EPA I'm sure may not be helping but good old supply and demand is doing it's thing too.

    About 5 years ago lead was about 75 cents a pound from the scrap yard, and they paid less than 30 cents so it was no problem to convince a privately owned tire store to sell you WW's for 35 or 40 cents a pound. Now scrap yard is likely to be at least a buck or even a bit more per pound and they pay more, so your going to pay more to out bid the scrap yard. Look at the graph of current price at top of page, it is running $1.12 a pound. Short of a significant economic downturn there is no reason to expect that price to fall by much for very long. One yard they will say $1.20 a pound and I'll leave it come back in a few days and by the second or third time price will have dropped to $1 and I snatch it up.

    You want to have lead going forward buy it when you find it. Make a steady investment in purchasing WW's from the vendors here, or set aside funds to make a big purchase when something good shows up at the scrap yard. Once bought $200 worth of a casters ingots from a caster who sold it because with age his eyes had gotten too bad to safely load ammo. There was 63# of linotype in there plus a couple of wood crates with a bunch of Lyman ingots. Only possible because I had set aside money to be ready for that good deal and was able to give him a better price than a scrap yard.

    If you can buy a $63 box every month or two for a year from the vendors here in the S&S forum you will have between 300 and 600 lbs purchased in a year. Network with construction people, go around and establish a relationship with scrap yards that sell lead to the public or small tire stores that will sell you WW's. Garage sales for solder rolls or pewter. The money you set aside for buying from forum vendors can be used to snatch up a good score when scrounging too.

    Eventually you will be buying it from foundry sources such as Rotometals and paying more but it will still be available. Every pound you stash before that day is saving you money.

    Strive for balance. You asked about lead but as many pointed out powder, primers, and brass where scarce and hard or impossible to find for awhile. It isn't the first time either. Probably won't be the last. A couple of years ago .223 brass was nearly 2x its current price and hard to find even at those prices. Some calibers simply were not available.

    Try to have a balance between your lead, brass, powder and primers so that you can actually reload what you need (whatever amount that is). Having 1000# of lead but only 4# of powder and 4 boxes of primers won't do you any good. Right now you can go to a store, gun show or online and buy most powders and primers are again plentiful if a bit expensive. Not going to spoil, and if you have 1000 small pistol primers, 1000 38 special cases, 8# of powder and plenty of lead I have one question. You planning to reload those cases a 2nd time? Because if you are you got no primers after you load them the first time. UNLESS you can buy them at that time.

    Balance. Enough tin for your lead, enough powder to propel that quantity of lead, enough brass to stuff it in, enough primers to ignite them all. stacked in the pantry like canned goods or extra toilet paper because you know you will use it.

    Figure out what you want for an inventory and build toward it, might take awhile but it is a nice feeling to be able to say "all I need for small pistol primers is to replace a box when I use one up" Then hopefully when you die (and not before) your wife sells them to hire yard work done until she decides to sell the house. Note: store primers with price stickers down. If I'm dead she can see what all those boxes must have cost, before that if she sees them I WILL be dead.

    Lead was the plastic of it's day, now it is a specialty metal, used only where its properties are required. Heavy and expensive to ship so it won't be unless it is the material that has to be used.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

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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