This study describes the preparation of a low-cost adsorbent (hybrid coal gangue–polyacrylamide (HCGPAM)) based on activated coal gangue and acrylamide, and explores the effects of using it to remove Cu2+ and Pb2+ from wastewater. It investigated factors such as the impact of the initial concentrations of Pb2+ and Cu2+, adsorption time and temperature, and solution pH. The HCGPAM was fully characterized using Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS), and the Pb2+ and Cu2+ concentrations were measured using graphite furnace AAS. The adsorption performance experiment was conducted at 25 ℃ with initial Pb2+ and Cu2+ concentrations of 100 ug⋅ml− 1, an adsorbent dosage of 0.350 g, and an adsorption time of 30 min. The pH values of the Pb2+ and Cu2+ solutions were 5 and 4, respectively. When the adsorption effect was at an optimum, the Pb2+ and Cu2+ attained adsorption rates of 59.05% and 80.6%, respectively. The HCGPAM can be used to treat polluted sewage and therefore has favorable prospects for commercial application.