How to find free & cheap lead for bullet casting and reloading ammo

The secrets to my success at finding lead for bullet casting. In less than one year I have collected tons of lead. Scrap Lead is getting much harder to come by these days and the cost of buying it has skyrocketed. The traditional source for bullet casters, wheel weights, has just about dried up due to bans on lead. New Zinc and Steel wheel weights are not useful for bullet casting. I cover many sources for finding lead including but not limited to:

Junk Sailboats
Wheel Weights
Dental Lead
Pharmaceutical Lead
Scuba Diving Gear
Roof Flashing
Construction Companies
Range Scrap
Yard Sales
Flea Markets
Junk Shops
Scrap Yards
And More.

DON’T SMELT BATTERIES. If you decide to then at least read this link first…

As a person with hopefully 40+ years of casting in my future I wanted to “get while the gettin’s good” so I don’t have to ever go lead hunting again. Don’t be afraid to ask at automotive and tire shops, yard sales, flea markets, junk shops, etc. You will likely be surprised on a number of occasions.

I also discuss alloys and the benefits of pure lead for cutting your harder alloys and for black powder shooting. Antimonious lead is good for most pistol bullets, you may require harder alloys for rifle casting. Pewter is a good source of tin that can be acquired cheap at thrift stores and yard sales. For the purposes of bullet casting pewter can be calculated in as pure tin, because it’s pretty close. Tin is necessary to help your mold fill out better.

It may also benefit you to talk to professional scrappers. They are used to the scrap yards paying them dirt cheap prices, if you offered them a little more you could have them finding and delivering lead to you at very reasonable prices… win-win.

One key for me was to put the word out to everyone that you are looking for lead. It will eventually start finding you. People talk to people who talk to people and word gets around.

Don’t go around with the expectation of getting it for free. Keep some cash in your pocket to pickup bargains. If you show up and there is 100 lbs of lead, and the guy wants then you don’t want to look like a fool and not have any money to begin with. Some will cost, some will be free. Don’t snub people, you never know who will end up being a great source. Be friendly, no one wants to help out a jerk. If you are denied then thank them kindly for their time and move on, don’t pester people trying to run a business. Come up with a quick and easy to understand introduction and request, people are busy so get to the point.

Some people may not be keen on you making bullets. I am in a fairly rural area where shooting is very common, people like that I am making bullets and often are curious and glad to provide lead. In a city it may be best not to mention your reason or say it is for fishing lures. Buy a fishing lure mold and carry it in your car to show them, or a sample.

Tell potential sources that you are just a hobbyist and not a scrapper. Tell them that you are having trouble finding lead for your hobby because scrappers are snapping it all up. They may take pitty on you and favor you over the scrap guys.

Don’t drive around with boxes of oxidized lead in your car, you don’t want to breath the dust from it, use a pickup or a container with a seal-able lid. Always carry a 5 gallon bucket or two and some gloves everywhere you go. You never know when you will stumble upon some lead and you want to be prepared to seize the moment. Wash your hands ASAP.

Donuts or Pizza goes a long way to win over a tire shops workers.

I also have a 3M respirator that I wear when doing dirty work with lead. Your health is more valuable than some lead.

Information on Iso lead:

Wikipedia article on lead:

Lead safety and health effects:

Building a wood burning lead smelter:

Reclaiming lead from range scrap:

Sorting Wheel Weights:

Cutting lead with a Chainsaw:

Hauling heavy lead blocks:

Photo of a solid copper bullet…