We have seen and heard all kinds of complete stupidity about ammo shortages. “The government is buying all the ammo!” “George Soros has bought a bunch of firearms makers , and is shutting them down!” It just goes on and on, and it never seems to get any better. As a matter of fact, it seems to get stupider and stupider all the time. I am deeply concerned about all theses rumors and the resulting hoarding of ammunition, but not because there is any factual basis to any of them that I can find. I am concerned because adult human beings are apparently believing them. I think it really should concern us when adults who vote, own and carry firearms, raise children, drive automobiles, and have access to the internet actually believe in something more fictional than Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. That is the scary part.
I did come across an article and it does scare the daylights out of me. Doe Run is apparently the only commercial smelter of newly mined lead ore in the US. That should scare any thinking person. The fact that it is being closed down is real scary thing. I don’t want to get into the whole argument about the government over regulating industry. Maybe there are good reasons for more regulation on lead smelters, maybe not. What I am upset about is the control of a vital industry by nations not so friendly to our national interests.
Will the move of smelting operations increase the price of lead? With our currency falling in value, with greater demand on resources from emerging nations, with the un popularity of American policies abroad, I would say that in the long run it has to cause an increase in price. Will it effect supply? Very possibly. Our currency is not worth anywhere near what is was a few short year ago, and the third world is rising in purchasing power and “favorableness” as a trading partner. Who says the Chinese have to sell us anything, particularly when we want to pay with worthless currency?
Being able to cast your own bullets and reload your own ammo is already critical if you are going to shoot very much. It will become more so in the future. I am personally going to start looking for alternatives to lead/ lead core bullets that can be produced at home. So far no one I know has come up with a viable alternative to cast lead bullets that is cheap and works. I have about $200 in the used equipment I use to produce thousands of cast bullets for my 9mms and 38 specials. As the price of scrap lead rises folks will be less likely to give it to you or sell it cheaply. Also, more and more lead is going into batteries for all kinds of gadgets and many time the lead is alloyed with other metals that ruin lead for use as a bullet. Zinc plays havoc with lead when it is being cast. It ruins lead for all practical purposes as a bullet alloy. Some of the things in Lead-acid batteries make lethal gasses when smelted, ruin casting qualities of the alloy, and are impossible to get out of the alloy in a home setting.
Solid copper bullets have a couple of problems. First is cost. Copper has been around $8 a lb. for scrap. It is even more in demand than lead as an industrial metal. Second, casting copper at home would be a whole different ball game than melting some lead on a Coleman stove and pouring it into a cheap aluminum mold. Swaging lead is a viable home industry. Lead can be swaged with very simple tooling and hand powered presses. Copper would require industrial presses and much more expensive tooling. There is also the performance of copper bullets. Unless the cartridge being loaded has some serious velocity the mushrooming effect of plain lead or led alloy bullets is lost. So there may be an FN Five Seven in your future. Wonder if IDPA and USPSA will have to have a rule change to allow .22 center fire pistols to shoot major?
The shotgun shell makers have had to deal with this by artificially imposed regulations for years. Bismuth, Tungsten, Iron matrix, all kinds of weird and unusual materials have been tried with varying degrees of success. The problem is all these materials are scarce, hard to impossible ( certainly cost prohibitive) to shape at home, and most have degraded terminal, internal and exterior ballistics.