Component crisis

I wonder if anyone has an answer to this question.

I’ve been trying to find jacketed 158g heads for reloading 357 mag to feed to my Marlin… but to no avail.

There is literally nothing out there at all in the UK. None of the wholesalers have any and they have no idea when the next shipment will be. None of the retailers have any and they have no expectations of receiving stock any time soon. This applies to components from Brazil, the US, Slovakia and Serbia. Does anyone have any idea what’s going on?

I can’t even cast my own as 6 shots of lead down the barrel leaves it looking like a smoothbore.

Happy collecting, Peter

I have not noticed it so far. I have not had any difficulty getting Privi bullets to reload for my SMLE or 5.56mm target 75grns.

And… at the risk of being boring, please can we call bullets “bullets” and not “heads”? The head of a cartridge is that part which encloses the primer, hence “headstamp”.


Not to stray away from the prohibition of reloading info on the form but check “ANY” reloading manual as to the hardness of the lead alloy used in casting

Contact me off forum using the email link below and we will talk

There are a lots of funny things going on with the supply of ammunition and components in Britain. Most of it goes back to the fact that we have no civilian manufacturer except for Eley who only make .22 and shotgun cartridges.
Everything else is imported, so with exchange rates going the wrong way and the credit crunch in full swing the importers are sitting on their hands and waiting to see what happens.
Ammunition is not a very good business proposition at the best of times. It is expensive to buy and ship, it requires secure storage, it turns over fairly slowly and (for the importer) profit margins are low.

The guys over at are heavy into casting (there are other casting forums, but that’s the one I go to) and BBQ receipies. They will even be able to help you find a good lead load for your revolver.

Don’t let the name fool you, they even put up with my ammo collecting and rifle loading habits.

What kind of Marlin do you have? I have an 1894CS, a 1980’s model with the safety and micro-grooves. I love that little gun!
Wish I could help you with a source for bullets, but unfortunately, I can not. Over on this side, components aren’t as plentiful as the used to be either. Still not a big problem to find, but prices are on the rise and have been for a couple of years.
I bought some of the Win. 158gr SJHP bullets a little over a year ago for about $70/K shipped. Too bad I didn’t buy more. That deal is long gone now.

Best of luck to you my friend!


Part of the problem in UK is that we can’t buy JSP bullets we can only buy FMJ and there are limited sources of supply.
Prices of most ammo/components are up 50% since 2005.

Bullet casting is becoming rapidly more difficult because the supply of scrap linotype metal has completely dried up (along with the printing industry that used linotype) and that was the only source of high antimony alloy needed to produce truly hard bullets needed in the Marlin.

Vince–Linotype metal, as you said is almost a thing of the past. I do not reload, but my son does for Cowboy Shooting. He uses used lead wheel weights from the tire repair shops. Lots of places will give the away to get rid of them or sometimes he buys them for 10 cents a pound. He goes through about 1000 lbs. per year.

One trick I’ve seen regarding cast lead bullets and the Micro-Groove barrels is to size them larger than normal. C.E. Harris had a good article in “The American Rifleman” back in the '70s or '80s about this.

Let me phrase this as a question about cartridge manufacturing so I dont get a lock put on this topic for going too deep into reloading… Has any manfacturer turned out ammo with zinc or zinc alloy bullets? There was an article in Cartridges of the World back a couple of editions ago, and I thought there were pictures of zinc projectiles cast in standard iron (not aluminum) molds.


Zinc bullets are not new and have been around since the early 20th Century, if not longer. Zinc will make a good usable bullet but there are so many disadvantages when compared with lead alloys that I doubt if it will ever become a material of choice.

When I lived in Southeast Alaska my shooting buddies and I shot a lot of zinc bullets in our handguns. The commercial fishing boats all used sacraficial zinc plates and they would replace them as necessary, leaving behind the remnants. We would gather them up at low tide and melt them down. Since zinc bullets are very hard they have to be cast to exact bore diameter so a special mold was usually required. Being hard, they would not expand. Compared with lead alloy, zinc is very light and bullets were only about 1/2 to 2/3 the weight. There is no practical way to alloy zinc to make it softer and heavier, as far as I know.

Zinc bullets are like steel cartridge cases. They will work but the alternatives are so much more attractive.


Hi Ron
Wheelweights used to be a good source of lead for casting over here too. I used to know a guy who was making bullets semi professionally and used only wheelweights.
These days all wheelweights used are zinc. I don’t know whether its law or just cheaper but its happening in the US too, I have seen it mentioned on reloading forums in US.
There will be a wash through period but as all tyres now are date coded and its illegal to have tyres over six years old on your car (even the spare) the supply of lead wheelweights are also in steep decline.

I am aware thate zinc makes a lousy general purpose bullet. The issue at hand is finding a source of, or a substitute for FMJ flat nose bullets to shoot through a micro-groove barrel, presumeably at paper targets, in blighty old England. Within those parameters, I think that zinc might be a good way to go. The previous post states that lead wheel weights are being phased out in favor of zinc weights in the UK, so that would seem to be a steady source of scrap zinc. So where did you get your specialized molds?

As soon as I hit the submit button, it struck me that the combined factors of restrictions on expanding bullets, reduction of cheap lead supplies, importation problems and now a steady supply of zinc wheel weights, would make molds for zinc bullets very attractive in the UK. Someone should jump on this, I can almost hear the cash register ringing!

There were some commercial zinc half jacket pistol bullets around about 20 years ago. Like an elongated gas check really. Performance was poor. The exposed unlubricated lead caused leading, as you might expect.

What is the melting point of zinc compared to lead?

The CRC handbook of Chemistry and Physics list the melting point of “Antimonial lead (hard lead)” at 554 degrees F or 290 degrees C.
“Zinc, ASTM B69” is listed at 785F and 418C. I also think it is prudent to point out that casting zinc requires serious ventilation and/or respiratory protection(as if lead doesn’t). A malady referred to as zinc shakes was common at brass foundries due to the inhalation of zinc oxide.

Noooww yooou tellll meee.! ;) ;)

To cast zinc bullets to the correct diameter you need to order a custom mold. No big deal there.

The biggest disadvantage is the weight. It’s virtually impossible to get a 357 bullet much over 85 grains or a 44 Mag bullet over 120. We also shot zinc balls in our cannons and a 3-pdr would only weigh 2pdr.