Saturday, May 1, 2010

Finding lead post SHTF‏ and Stopping Power


I am a college graduate student (Secondary Education, Science) that
has recently realized the need for preparedness and stumbled across
your blog (which I enjoy).

I reload my own ammunition and have a significant supply of supplies,
but I have trouble finding lead from which to mold bullets. Right now
I can buy tire weights and make a pretty decent bullet from them using
my molds. Is lead more or less available to people after TSHTF and
what sources do you recommend?

Tire weights are a traditional favorite, pretty common here as well.
Softer lead will have better stopping power, will deform more on impact while harder lead will penetrate more. Some people are all about penetration, but in that caliber I’d prefer softer lead. Having said that, you really should load your gun with quality JHP self defense ammo.
Lead is plentiful and there’s lots of metal scrap places where to buy from.
A lot of people make a living that way precisely, scavenging the trash and selling anything they can, cardboard and paper mostly, but also junk iron, copper, brass and lead. Lead they mostly scavenge from old abandoned or demolished buildings, water and sewer lead pipes.
I fixed the bathroom recently and threw away a large chunk of lead. Brass is particularly sought after. Entire monuments have been stolen from parks for the metal content, and brass door knobs and handles from fancy houses and buildings got stolen too. It got so bad that you rarely see those any more. They don’t bother replacing them with brass anymore since it quickly gets stolen again.
So, tire weights and scrap lead, rest assure you’ll always find enough.

Also, I read the the difference of opinion on "stopping power" and
would like to affirm that a .44 special round will, in fact, drop
somebody. I got shot two years ago with the entrance in my abdomen
near my belly button with the exit about the same as the the top of
pants. It penetrated my pelvic bone (neat hole, not a break) and had
enough of a nervous system shock that I can't even remember getting
shot, but came to my senses with a few seconds missing and leaning up
against the wall. So, yes, I'm a pretty big guy (5'11", 215, in good
physical shape) and it stopped me cold.

Thank you for answering my question and for providing people like me
with your experiences and lessons learned so that we do not have to
learn them the hard way.

Best Wishes,

Sorry to hear that you got shot. Say, some experts say you only stop someone by shooting him in the brain or first 1/3 of the spine, anything else seems to just be a flesh wound according to them. Guess they are pretty tough guys and the rest of us mere mortals are much easier to stop.
Seriously now, in spite of popular bullshit that says only a shot to the brain or central nervous system will stop a man immediately, a shot in (or close enough in a caliber with enough stopping power) the peripheral nervous system can stop a person as well, no matter how high or exited he may be. A hip shot, or a shot in the shoulder for example, if it hits a nerve, can cause enough nervous shock to drop you, even require amputation. A shot in the kidneys will also put you down.
If you want to look for the odd ball, you’ll always find it. There’s people that got shot in the head with brain matter loss and still survived without losing consciousness, very capable of pulling a trigger and shooting back.
The human body is too complex for certainties and simplifications, all we have is generalities to follow: Bigger and faster projectiles are always better. Both temporal and permanent wound cavity matter, the temporal cavity having a closer relationship with immediate stopping power.
Shoot for the center of mass. Keep shooting until you stop the threat. Carry the most powerful caliber you can control with fast follow up shots, and don’t make it smaller than 380 ACP.
Practice as much as you can.
The rest isn’t in your hands.



Anonymous said...

FerFal is completely right.

Big Hole.

Center of Mass.

Shoot to Stop.

And yes, your .44 Spcl qualifies as 'big hole'.

CapnRick said...

Hey, Nolan... great post. Thanks for sharing.

In public service, we did not always get to choose our duty weapon. I prefer .45 cal, but dislike the compact .45 cals available as backups, so I used a 5-shot .44 special snubby, ported .44 Special revolver with the sigts removed and the hammer filed down to a nub as a backup... sacrificing the benefits of having a backup in the same calibre as my duty piece. I hear good things about the new .45 cal compacts now, so I might come to a different conclusion if I had to make a choice today.

It has been my experience that if you hit a juiced-up druggy in the kind of poor physical condition of one who has been out of prison for a while (they bulk up with regular meals and exercise while in prison) with a .44 Special, it is going to make an impact, but won't always bring them down. If you hit them in the 10-ring (sternum) the shock will help, but not always succeed in bringing them to their knees. I always carried with a semi-jeacketed hollow point as the first round up followed by a Glaser Safety slug. The hollow-point was in case the first shot had to go through a window, etc. followed by the devastating meat chopping efficiency of the Safety Slug.

Do you know what caliber/load you were shot with? Did the shooter get away?

Over 20 years ago, I was a part-time competitive pistol and rifle shooter. I spent all my free time cleaning primer pockets, cleaning brass, reforming cartridges, casting bullets, lubing and putting gas checks on the bullets.... then (sigh) the fun part... reloading at least 1,000 rounds per week with a single station Rock Chucker. WHEW! It WILL consume your entire life with that level of commitment. All of which you know. Here's some stuff I did not know when I started casting bullets...
. I later developed the normal health issues that one expects with advancing age... but, about 20 years earlier than expected. It has been suggested by specialists that lack of breathing protection during metal smelting operations may have contributed heavily in the early onset of aging and age related diseases/infirmities.

. My arsenic/lead/mercury/tin/antimony heavy metals content was off-the-charts high 12 years ago. I began chelation treatments to remove heavy metal concentrations in organs, and muscles.

. There is no inexpensive way to adequately filter out the gaseous form of these heavy metals. Sure... anything helps.

. We were having a hard time finding adequate levels of tintype and linotype to melt down for bullets. When we mixed in wheel weights to round out the mix, the lack of tin, antimony, mercury, etc. meant that we ending up with fouling issues. After two or three rounds, fouling was so severe as to create accuracy problems. Gas ports on heavy calibre rounds were slammed shut after ONE round. Has checks help, but aren't the best solution.

.More than 20 years later, I would imagine that Linotype with good mixes of heavy metal alloys to make the best possible source of lead for casting bullets must be almost nonexistent. With all the long term health hazards that exist, I would recommend that today's re loader find a good supplier of FMJ and semi-jacketed bullets for reloading. Stock up as you would for any long term survival tool, and leave the health risks to those folks best equipped to deal with them. The few pennies per round I saved ended up costing many times that amount in time/money/medicine and doctor's expense.

That said... I am VERY suportive of decisions to make sure that every single bullet mold configuration necessary be stocked and some small amount of bullet casting be done to make sure that surprises down the road need not be fatal. Being prepared means doing EVERYTHING at least once to make certain all the pieces-parts are available.

Suerte -CapnRick

Nolan said...

I do know the exact specifications because it was my gun and my hand-loaded bullets! I was surprised in my apartment as I was walking to my bedroom...I am now careful to always have my weapon either belted on or always within 2 feet of me. I didn't go into detail as it wasn't the thrust of my comment, and I'm a little embarrassed about my carelessness.

It was a 248 grain semi-wadcutter (Keith mold) powered by 15.3 grains of 2400 powder shot out of a 4" Ruger SuperRedhawk. I have it as a backup weapon for when I bowhunt hogs and a big one gets mad, I just happened to have loaded some .44 special as a "just in case" and kept it by my bed. I live in an apartment complex and in the off-chance somebody broke in, I didn't want a bullet to penetrate the crappy walls here.

I am always very careful when molding bullets, I have big fans outside and a mask. It is harder to get a constant temperature...but it can be done if I try hard enough.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of people make a living that way precisely, scavenging the trash and selling anything they can, cardboard and paper mostly,"

That is hard for me to comprehend, if I understand this correctly, people are selling paper and cardboard on an individual level?

I imagine the process is like the people who pick up aluminum cans in the U.S., but how much can a person get for a bundle of paper? Not much I'm sure, but it does beat nothing, and plenty of others make good money doing it on a larger scale.,... still.

Some thoughts before I go off to read more about casting bullets:

For the beginner, would making lead or zinc fishing sinker weights be a good first step to take before casting bullets?

Can the bullet casting dangers be eliminated, or lowered by placing the whole process in a filtered and ventilated box with holes for gloves? Something on a par with a sandblasting box.

Probably an expensive and difficult thing to do, but if it were possible to make cheaply, a kit might sell well to those who just want to do it?

"In summary, the factors that contribute to casting high quality bullets consistently over a period of time are as follows:




Impurities in lead, how dirty is too dirty?

As far as I can determine, currently, a pound of lead, or zinc cost about one U.S. Dollar.

Antimony is about $2.50 per pound.

Tin is about $8 per pound.

Mercury is about $8 per pound.

With higher prices than lead, the recyclers aren't going to be leaving the higher quality alloys laying around, leading to scarcity, and or higher prices?

I'm not sure, but I think they started using zinc as wheel weights instead of lead, a mechanic might've complained they weren't as good?

What with all the smashing of U.S. cars in cash-for-clunkers, and the popularity of recycling, maybe lead is not so commonly found anymore, or may yet get that way in some areas?

Nolan said...

I can go to a local tire store and ask for some lead tire weights and he sells them to me, probably for a little too much but he is the only person around that sells them to me. The big chain tire stores just look at me funny and say I have to buy tires too (which seems odd to me, but what am I going to do about it?).

To answer the second part of CapnRick's question: No, no person was arrested or found, or at least I was never informed if it happened. I got lucky in that the gun is pretty much the only valuable thing I have here and when I came around enough to pay attention to things, it was laying on my bedroom floor. If anything was missing, then I haven't noticed it.

A thief would starve to death in my neighborhood; I wonder what he thought he would find in my apartment.

Anonymous said...


You sure see things here not posted elsewhere. Thanks, Capnrick and Nolan for your personal and informative posts. Nolan's tale could happen to me(will try to take steps to lessen the chance);CapnRicks' is less likely as I I've always frequented only outdoor ranges for the lead issue. Lot of older rangemasters are in bad shape with lead poisoning.

Keep in mind that Glocks, one of the .45 subcompacts (I own) don't like lead bullets and JHP is the way to go.

Glad you dudes are both still up and writing.