Is the Future of Lead Ammunition Doomed?

Doe Run Lead Smelting Facility

[disclaimer] The headline could read: “Last U.S. Lead Smelter Closes Due to Obama and EPA Regulations.” Firearm enthusiasts suddenly understood the U.S. Army’s new found obsession with lead-free ammunition and blogs published everywhere proselytizing the link between the shutdown and gun control.

Doe Run Lead Smelting Facility
Did the anti Second Amendment crowd use a backdoor to accomplish what they could not do in front of the public?

Was there a conspiracy? Did the anti Second Amendment crowd use a backdoor to accomplish what they could not do in front of the public? I do not believe the government or the antis are savvy enough to have come up that as a sole purpose for unleashing the EPA, but they are kooky enough to use it as an added excuse.

There isn’t much we can do about it now. A 120-year-old company is going the way of the dinosaur and as for U.S. production; it was the last of its kind. Too bad spotty owl enthusiasts and protectors of polar bears could not be a little more sympathetic when it comes to the extinction of American business.

Either way, it isn’t going to bring ammo prices down any.

The facility being shut down is Doe Run. The plant worked with ore fresh out of the earth, otherwise known as primary lead. There are still smelters in the U.S. working with recycled lead, but most have moved to Mexico. The majority of recycled lead is from old car batteries, so be sure to compliment any anti-gunners you come across and tell them how much you admire their electric or hybrid car. You might even add something about how you would like to have it one day… So, the question comes down to a couple of key elements. The first will be the availability of lead—or lack of it—and how it will affect ammunition manufacturers. That really should not change much. Cars have lead batteries and recycling will continue. Car batteries are also a primary source of lead for recyclers and likely the genus of what you have been shooting for years.

Hornady .50 Cal Round Ball Ammunition
Lead affects more than just how defense enthusiast. In fact every shooter from .22 LR to .50 caliber muzzleloaders could feel the effect.

Second, ore will likely go south of the border for processing than be repatriated to the U.S. This should make lead just as available, but once again result in the loss of U.S. jobs. The big question for shooters will not be availability as much as it will be cost. The materials will have to do a lot more traveling and that adds cost. Doe Run was centrally located in Missouri. A trip to Mexico and back burns a lot more diesel fuel. However, Mexico has fewer regulations and lower labor costs, which could negate or lower costs. I’ll leave the answer to that question to economists and commodities experts.

For now it is a wait and see game. Operations dependent on primary lead for their products will have to scramble for a new source. Others using recycled lead, (ammo manufacturers) will not be affected as much. The biggest change will be the number of customers using primary lead that will switch to recycled lead. If that happens, demand will increase and material prices to manufacturers will be passed along to us, the consumer.

What is your take on the shutdown? Will it affect ammunition prices, fishing supplies or another industry? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section. [dave]

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Comments (17)

  1. I don’t make a habit of sounding-off to comments made in newspapers or blogs but I can ‘t resist asking one simple question: WHY??
    We all knew that Obama was a liar, meglomaniac, self-serving, narsocistic jerk DURING HIS FIRST TERM IN OFFICE. Likewise we all knew his handpicked minions were also liars, cheats and thieves. So knowing these facts WHY in Heavens name did we sit humbly by and re-elect the JERK and allow his henchmen (women), to stay in office?? Not only did we allow this travisty but we have stood by and allowed them to stay in power!!! You can’t tell me that these nation-wreckers and Constitution destroyers cannot be gotten rid off.
    O.K. we elected a bunch of Republicans that gave us a lot of lip-service about how they were going to change things to get back our country as we knew it. So far they’ve done NOTHING except fold before our corrupt government! I think (my opinion) we should hold a LACK OF TRUST VOTE and get rid of all these incompetant a—-les! It has been said by the GO.P. “leaders” that an attempt to Impeach Obama would be too expensive, would probably not get the required backing of Congress and the Legislature and would give the powers-that-be more “ammo” ( no pun intended) to use against the Republicans. We have NOTHING to lose by trying. The way things are going we’re going to lose EVERYTHING if we allow these incompetants to continue doing things their way anyhow.
    Are we all so blind, stupid and lazy that we won’t try to correct our previous blunder?

  2. The plant in doe run supplied the US with 8% of the lead we use that’s it. We get 92% of the lead we use from other sources. The EPA is going to shut down copper smelters next, which there are only three of left in the US. Write your congressman if you don’t agree with these closeures.

  3. Some one more pr less defamed my chsracter and being as how I cannot catch a Californiia Vondor along the lower Columbia I would advize that person to go to acali Condor sites .
    As to lead not a problem I eould like to refer all to read of What is ongoing at Wades gun shop in Bellview Washington state.
    FIRST ARTICLE PF LAD POISONING AND haxarsd was on Fed 13 revised on Feb 14 2013.
    Latest article gives results to date upon health status of Wades employees and especially the construction crews that were going to rebuild favilitys.
    Yes I have been there under old owners and was once member.

    The very best produced llead protective gun ranges are built by Savage Systems.
    Sorry but I know a hell of a lot of men that used to work in logging forge rooms and damn near all died of lung ailments and cancers .
    Also a heck of a lot of reloaders who poured own for years now advise only well ventalated and I resect tjeir gun sence.
    Ever eonder what your blood count for lead is.?
    Temporary lead exposure is not as dangerous as long term daily exposure such as Workkers at Wades who while given mask , now we know why they needed the mask, but to the initual human expodure to levels found at this range will mess tou over big time no matter how hard you canbeat your chest hollering for proofSo check on article in Nov 7 Seattle Times on Gun range.
    You know what pisses me off the most is all the years I havr had to lisren to macho assholes that think by yrlling and sticking out chest they can prove science wrong.
    Damn it I fought chemicles from timbrr firms that killed and harmed wholebfamilys.
    The amoubts of lead the workers took home and then unknowing thr danger of washing their clothes with familys hell even in samr machines, TODAY WE HAVE 30 WIVES AND CHILDREN SUFFERING FROM HIGH LEVELS OF LEAD IN THEIR BLOOD. I worked with real men but damn it I never caused harmm to any and there is no more dangerous a parent as the ignorant ones from coal miners to a town in Norther
    CALI WHOSE WHOLE WATER SUPPLY WAS RUINED BY simson timber that even after being caught used the chemicals on docks that let it run to sea.
    When a young Low 20’s man got liver cancer wad first time workersheard of protective needs for them and familys.
    The proof bullshitters have cost many lives to be lost or ruined I ere on side of caution to aid my fellow man.
    Yes even the village idiots deserve help

    1. Hey hidebehind -you sound like a nice guy but please dont drink before you comment.

  4. Rob: How about melting down wheel/tire balancing weights? I used to teach SCUBA diving at Santa Ana College in the mid 70’s through the mid 80’s and once a year I’d take in my Coleman camp stove, diving weights molds and we’d give the newbies a chance to make their own diving weights a little cheaper.
    I know the molds for bullets are available. Have you guys tried using wheel weights? I know they’re not pure primary lead but our five pound weights tipped the scale at about 4.6 to 4.8 lbs but that was close enough for what we were doing. Do you think that would work? I use melted wheel weights for making my different fishing weights and they’re close enough to work fine. Hank

  5. Dave, from what I have read on other posts/sites, the Australians put out some pretty good ammo and powder. I have used some .22 rimfire from Australia and am impressed with its accuracy and quality. I would have no problem with Australian ammo or powder.

    As for Canadian products, I am ignorant. I agree: the Hazmat regulations are a joke, but the politicians have enacted these laws right under our noses (no surprise, since that’s the way they work), and unless there is an armed uprising (Oh, please, NSA, I am not advocating such action), the situation will only get worse.

  6. Something else most people do not know is that powder and primers are no longer made in America either. These have to be imported from Canada or Australia and the government places strict import limits on how much can come into the country. Most of the material imported goes into making military ammunition so it doesn’t take much to understand the various shortages we have been seeing. It would seem obvious that if you cannot attack gun control head on, then you can approach it obliquely and minimize ammunition. As an aside, the EPS is now also making huge charges to transport powder across the roads using “HazMat Fees”. These fees do nothing other than make the movement of powder and primers more expensive and costly. Time to stock up.

  7. Neil,
    Right On Dude! Time to also wipe the elected slates clean and start fresh, and disqualify anyone as a replacement who has ever had one of the current crowd as an employer, teacher, neighbor, coworker, or relative of any sort, blood or in-laws … this is for the purpose of reducing the chances of the replacement people having been influenced at any time in their lives by the current bum-per crop prior to being hired to fill the job. I could stand to lose a few lbs off my beltline, and would gladly stock up on those lbs in ammo boxes rather than beer and chips and ice cream, if only the mrs. would allow 🙁 LOL

  8. Hide Behind: The EPA has created an aura of fear among us….but without any proof that lead in ammunition has become the toxic nightmare that they have portrayed. In California, the protection of the California Condor (an endangered species) has included the banning of lead bullets in areas where the Condor thrives. The problem is that there has been no scientific date that proves that lead-based ammunition has been the cause of the condors’ endangerment or that it poses any threat.

    If lead is to be made into such a culprit, I want to see some clear evidence produced by an unbiased independent research facility. I do not wish to continue to be told by a patronizing government that lead ammunition in all its forms is such a danger to humans and/or wildlife. After having had to endure the lies by Obama and his corrupt administration, I no longer believe in either our Great Leader, nor his henchmen in the IRS, NSA, State Department, Justice Department, BATEF or any of his other Socio-communist sources. Show me the evidence. I want EVIDENCE!

  9. Its time to start melting range lead gents. I grew-up doing that.
    …and no….sand does not get stuck in it to ruin yer barrel. Sand floats to the top like Styrofoam to be scooped-off.

    Considering how few people have the interest to re-load, even fewer will even consider melting range lead.

  10. Does snyone find it odd thst we hsve been concerned eith lead poisoning from our firearms for a very msny years.
    Many an indoor range swung to lead free primers and bulles and not by urging of EPA but due to findings ofvEPA..Seemd to be that lead reduced pisyol rounds especially are having their caps busted by the milloons yearly in or outdoors.there are already new material fillers and mineral combinationd for bullets that kick ass pure snd dimple andvwe buy them as soon as they hit the shelves.
    Expens I’ve damned right they are but whst does a simple deer hunt cost by end of seasonMost gun owners will never approach firing a 100 RNDS A YEAR OF BULLETS.OUR SHOT SHELLS FO DUCKS ARE LEAD FREE AND CONTRARY TO THE SCREAMS OF HUNTERS YEARS AGO OUR FLYWAYS ARE GAINING IN DUCKS AMD IT IS THE FARM HUNTS THAT LIMIT THE LIMITS NOT THE COST OF SHELLS.
    The mexican and Canadians do not give a fig about enviro concerns so lead will not be in short supply in fact the mine applicationd in Canada are gettting into the rediculous as they get appeoved then sold and sold again.
    The only place that I a stupid son pf a bitch can see a real need for ammo firms hi tech is in the rimfire ammunitions.
    This has been the backbone to introducing millions into our shootng fraternity.
    Have been an enviro freak since 1950’s after seeing the ravages upon game and fish in the industrialized south and east.
    Lead is a killer long time but a killer none the less and who knows there may be lots more like myself whose breathing of lead made me a stupid son of a bitch.

  11. If you haven’t been stocking up; start now. If you have been; keep doing it. The nice thing about ammo is it stays good for 70+ years if it isn’t kept somewhere too hot or moist. Using one of the Foodsaver vacuum bag systems will keep ammo good almost indefinitely.

  12. The author misses an important point. The US has signed the UN Arms Treaty which includes ammunition transfers between countries. While it has not, and likely will not be ratified by the Senate, the countries that have executed the treaty can curb shipments of firearms and ammo to the US for any number of “reasons”. My belief is that ammo prices are sure to rise, and shortages will occur.

    And to suggest that the new EPA regulations on lead smelting are not driven by ideology is simply foolish. If the EPA can kill the coal industry for ideological reasons they surely will kill the lead industry.

  13. This news is disappointing, but not surprising. It is just another example of eco-nazis having run amok. Sadly, it affects anyone who uses lead ammunition (that makes it just about all of us) for use in our firearms, whether it be for home defense, target shooting or hunting.

    It just goes to show that if anti-gunners can’t overturn the 2nd Amendment outright, they will make an end run around it by inhibiting the ingredients for manufacturing ammunition by the major ammo makers or by reloaders. I would bet that gun powder, brass and primers will be up for grabs by vote-greedy legislators.

    AR-15s have already been targeted for extinction by the California state legislature (the recent L.A. TSA murder was another example of how media overkill can cause liberals to demand “action” against legal, law-abiding AR owners). Of course, we all know that it will have no effect on any screwball who is hell-bent on mass or serial killings.

    Our own Diane Feinstein ranted yesterday that AR-15s should be “outlawed.” Frankly, I feel that Diane was never particularly bright, and it now appears that she is entering into the realm of senility. Just what we need: another senator who is either stupid or senile, and a President who is a liar.

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