Another thing to consider is where you'll be shooting. Most indoor ranges won't allow unjacketed bullets. They've become very conscious of airborne lead, and it plays hell with their ventilating systems.
Of course, outdoors is less of a problem. However, as emm2 wrote, there's more opportunity for lead fouling, and if you use them in autos, you can end up with feed problems.
Lead round nose bullets work fine in the 9MM. Keep lead bullets at low speed and you won't be bothered with lead fouling the barrel.
On the subject of air borne lead contamination at indoor ranges, it is not from unjacketed lead bullets. The air borne contamination is from the primers. It is a good idea to do as little indoor pistol shooting as possible, it can be hazardous to your health. HMB
Take a look around - there are several sources which you might choose over the lead bullets.
Winchester produces bulk packs which used to be well priced - I haven't bought any in a while (got many several years ago) but the price was amazing when compared to boxes of 100/500. As I recall they used to have about 1500 9mm in one box.
IMI produces bulk packed bullets as well - typically in military calibers - which again were a great deal compared to other production. They came in lots of 500, 1000, 2500. (Widener's list 1000 9mm for $59 right now)
Several companies produce 'gilded' lead bullets - these are essentially electroplated with a cover metal (copper, brass, bronze??) that is harder than the lead and reduces fouling - priced close to plain lead bullets - much less fouling.
I'd spend some time looking around in the internet before I backed into one corner...
Another thought would be to approach a shooting range that sells commercial production reloads - they tend to buy in bulk form one or two producers who might be convinced to sell bulk bullets as well. - worth a try.
Sarge has some excellent advice. I might add, I used to shoot a lot of steel targets a few years ago, well maybe more than a few. I shyed away from bullseye because a double charge was to easy to miss, used unique with excellent results. I bought about 1300 pounds of linotype lead from a friend who got out of the printing business which is perfect for casting. I did however use gas checks on the .38, .41 & .44, and didn't experience much leadi ng in the long barrel smiths. Rule of thumb, we used the following ratio when casting other than linotype, 2% tin, 6% antimony and 92% soft lead. Even used this to load .243 and .30 cal light plinking loads. Good luck. Bill
Lead bullets and some guns are not compatible. For instance Glock warns you against shooting anything but jacketed bullets because of their Polygonal rifled bores which seem to lead up quickly and can cause problems.
You should have no problems with conventionally rifled barrels.
Those swaged lead bullets that're sold in bulk by speer and others are good up to about 1000fps. Beyond that velocity leading will be a problem. Good lubed cast lead plainbase bullets properly sized and of the proper alloy should be good up to about 1500fps. With a gascheck......up to beyond 2000fps. My pet .30-40 Krag load pushes a 190 grain gaschecked bullet cast from Ly #2 alloy at a muzzel velocity of 2250 fps........not even a hint of leading.
In my experience I (finally) found that using faster powder with cast and swaged lead bullets obturates the bullet more quickly and prevents the hot gasses from burning up the lube. The lube burning causes more smoke and more leading. Don't push the velocities and use Bullseye, 231, HP38 or other fast pistol powders and you'll be better off. If you need to get higher velocities, use jacketed bullets.
BTW, I hate cleaning lead from barrels and cylinders.
Lead bullets are good for around 1100 fps in the plain base variety and more in the gas check variety.
The thing with lead bullets is that the diameter MUST BE AS LARGE AS THE THROAT OF THE CHAMBER to shoot well and to minimize leading.
This means that you will have to carefully measure the chamber throats in a revolver and buy bullets that are that same size or even .001" larger. Otherwise, gas will get around the bullets and start melting the lead even before they get to the barrel proper.
In a semi auto, the diameter must match the non rifled area just ahead of the chamber.
Also, you have to be careful not to crimp them in too tight or the mouth of the brass will scrape off enough lead to make them undersized.
If proper care is taken, lead bullets--properly sized--will sometimes shoot better than jacketed bullets.
The top velocities, at least for plain base bullets is limited though to about 1000 to 1100 fps.
I have shot many thousands of hard cast bullets through Glocks with no leading problem. Glock barrels are much easier to clean than conventional barrels. But I also clean my barrels often. I suspect the people who have trouble are the same ones I see cleaning the plastic out of their chokes with a pocket knife.
I've always considered jacketed bullets too expensive and unnecessary.
I shoot lots of cast boolits, I use mainly wheel weights, dropped from the mold into a bucket of water, they will "knit up" nicely in about 2 weeks time becoming much harder, the lube used has alot to do with leading the bore, I also add 10% linotype to my pot if I want a real hard bullet, a little tin from new plumbers solder will make pretty bullets.
Since I despise lead clean up in the barrel I generally always use a gas check, I have some Lyman 31141 bullets I load up to 2000 fps in my 30-30AI contender barrel, a hoot to shoot and very accurate.
one word on the subject, load devolpment can be a pain in the ol wazzu, once you find a good one hang with it
Try 5 grains of WW231 with a 155 gr semi wadcutter for a great 357/ 38 plinker
44 mag try 9.3 grains of 231 or 9 grains of Unique with a 240 bullet
all are safe target loads and work good for me. these loads are well below max and are published in several manuals, have fun.
I used to shoot handgun sports every weekend for years. I have done a lot of reloading, for 38 super, 45acp, 44 mag, 357 mag, etc.
My advise is to go with the jacketed bullets if you can afford them. Much less smoke, no barrel fouling, feed better.
BE CAREFUL using lead bullets then following up with jacketed bullets to clean out your barrel. I have seen split barrels in 1911's and severl Smith & Wesson revolvers with barrels split at the forcing cone by doing this.
Also, if you shoot reloads in a Glock it voids the warrentee.
I do not know if you are new to reloading but if so, some advice. Make sure you identify your powder any time it is removed from its' container. I use old business cards with the powder written on it and placed in the powder dispenser with the powder. Someone above talked about Bulleye. That was a great example. It takes very little and you could overload a case several times over with it. My two cents worth. Bob R.
Cast bullets can be too hard as well as too soft. I used to think that the harder the better until I shot a bunch of commercially cast 429421s out of two 44 magnums. I used the same powder charge I'd always used with my own bullets of the same design, cast of wheelweights with an added three ounces of 50-50 bar solder to help fill out the casting, and which had never given me leading in either gun. These were loads in the 1100 fps range. Worst leading I've ever had. I went back to my own bullets after cleaning out the lead, a long and laborious process (moved and can't find my Lewis lead remover). Now no leading. I'm using the commercial bullets for plinkers now. Wish I hadn't bought three boxes of them.
The writer above is correct in using jacketed bullets to remove leading. I've done it for years for light to moderate leading. If leading is heavy, I think you're asking for trouble in the form of the aforementioned split throat. For light leading, a couple of cheap jacketed bullets will take most of it out.
I've had an old Dan Wesson with the ported barrel and it specifically says not to shoot lead bullets in the ported barrel. I sold it to a friend and shared the warning with him. He ignored it. Took us a long time and the application of considerable heat at the muzzle nut to "unsolder" it from the barrel. Sometimes the manufacturers are looking out for us and not for their lawyers.