When the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and a few of its tree-hugging pals submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for a ban on lead ammunition, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the feds were about to go house-to-house seizing the stuff. Once again, the pro-gun guys played Chicken Little. The EPA curtailed their caterwauling a few days later, denying the petition as a jurisdictional overreach. In other words, they tossed that political hot potato as quickly as they could. And yet, as I’ve argued here before, who’s afraid of lead-free ammo? As CBD founder Kierán Suckling pointed out, lead-free ammo can be extremely effective. OK, yes, it’s significantly more expensive. For now. But check this out . . .

Winchester’s Ballistic Silvertip lead-free bullet recently received the “Best of the Best” Award from Field & Stream magazine. Here’s the presser:

The truly innovative lead-free load takes varmint hunting to a new level, using fragmenting copper core technology to incorporate a lead-free bullet in both .223 Rem. and .22-250 Rem. in the Ballistic Silvertip line.

This technologically advanced bullet brought to you by Winchester and Nosler features a gilding metal jacket and a plastic tip to reduce tip damage and promote long-range performance. The fragmenting copper core is engineered to explode on impact.

Now how much would you pay? Wait! Don’t answer! First, here’s a list of all of Winchester’s lead free ammo:

308 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
375 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
416 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
458 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
223 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
5.56MM Centerfire Rifle
7MM Centerfire Rifle
270 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
300 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
30-06 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
338 Caliber Centerfire Rifle
22-250 Caliber Centerfire Rifle

So, how much does it cost to protect birds from ingesting lead ammo remains with Field & Stream’s award-winning lead-free ammo? Winchester’s a box of 20 lead-free .223 Remington and .22-250 in Ballistic Silvertip cost $26.88 for (.223 @ ableammo.com) and $26.49 for 2o (.22-250 @ midwayusa.com). Worth it?

15 Responses to The Revenge of the Lead-Free Bullet

  1. "Winchester’s a box of 20 lead-free .223 Remington and .22-250 in Ballistic Silvertip cost $26.88 "

    WAAAAAAAY too much for 20 rnds. For $2 less I can buy a box of 50, HSM 50 grn ballistic tips and when I'm going through 300-500 rnds a day shooting prairie dogs or targets "green ammo" is not an option. I would also like to see how well their .308 copper ammo would open up and kill a deer at 250-500 yds w/150 grn bullets. Here in ND we have open land and long shots are very typical and you don't get good at shooting when .308 ammo costs $42.00 for 20 rnds! I'm pretty confident in saying it wouldn't touch a lead core bullet for killing power at anything over 200 yds w/308 MV's. I've tried Barnes all copper bullets and they don't come close to killing as good as lead core bullets in my experience and all my friends who tried copper bullets agree w/me on that.

    Show me a legitimate study that lead ammo is killing birds, thats just some bullshit story to pull on peoples heart strings.

    • I should clarify the copper bullets I've tried were shot out of a 30-06 bolt-rifle. I now use a .308 AR carbine for deer & antelope hunting. I also have never tried copper bullets on varmints or predators from my .223.
      Perhaps these bullets would be great from a rifle that has a MV above 3,100 fps?

    • I am getting ready for a pig huntin CA. I’ll be using my Rem 700 in 308 cal. The rifle can deliver 1/4 to 1/2 MOA with a 168 gr bullet. I’ve done, so im spraking from experience. Because of CA law, I got Buffalo Bore Supercharged lead free 150 gr rounds. Very expensive!!!! $50 per box of 20!! I went out and tried it, re-zero my rifle for this load. I was not impressed. The best groups i was able to achieve were 1.25 to 1.5 MOA….compare that to 1/2 MOA 168 gr the same day shooting. I did account for human error, but even with that, the 150 gr groups were still at 1 MOA or larger. Conclusion? The accuracy of the 150 gr LEAD FREE is not good enough for hunting. Shooting past 100 yrds with this load is simply not an option because the spread at 200 yrds and beyond is simply to big for accurately hit an snimal vitals…..resulting in lost game.
      I also tried regular lead rounds. And again, after proper zero, i was able to achieve 1/2 MOA groups. So, just because the lead free bullet expends that doeasnt mean it fullfill all hinting needs. In hunting, accuracy and shot placement is more important than bullet expension.
      But for my hunting purposes in CA, seems like I will have to limit my effective range with the 150 gr LF ammo to 50-100 yrds max. The bird excuse is so dumb!!!

  2. 99.9% of the bullets I shoot end up buried about a foot deep in the earthen berm behind the target backstop. I doubt very many birds are digging down that deep to get lead lumps for their gizzards. And have you ever cleaned out a bird and looked at the gizzard? I have.I didn't see any 30 caliber gravel in there, either. Certainly no 45 caliber sized lumps. Nope, all very tiny pieces. At one point the issue was shotgun rounds because the shot size actually matched the stuff in the gizzards. Saying rifle and handgun bullets are poisoning birds is ridiculous. This is a total BS job.

  3. Back when you were running TTAC, awards given to the automotive industry from print rags earned nothing but scorn from you and your staff. Now? An award from Field and Stream? Don't that take advertising dollars from Winchester? Maybe you ought to show just a little bit of skepticism. Just saying …

    • Too much cheerleading? I'll watch out for that. But I was trying to be fair and balanced, as they say. Anyway, rest assured that TTAG will not be co-opted. You have my word on that.

  4. I live in Ca. After going to BC Canada Bear Hunt. I went to Paso Robles Ca, Bison Hunt. Lead Free zone. Had to order them, didn’t have any. Double Tap 7mm Rem Mag140 Lead Free at 288 yards. 1/2 inch from aim point. No reset on scope prior to hunt after using Hornady 154gr in Canada. Hit right in front of the right ear and entered the brain. Instant kill shot with copper bullet. Having a Bison burger church BBQ tomorrow at my house. I don’t like the price but I do love Double Tap Ammo. Real good stuff and legal in Ca..

      • Yeah, for the police. Advocating murder is over the top, and I hope the cops follow up on that comment.

        That said, I see no problem with using lead-core bullets for hunting. They work just as well today as they have for hundreds of years.

  5. Yup. Worth it. If I had the option I’d go lead free for everything.

    So far, I use only steel shot when hunting birds (I still use lead for clays, because I have no other option yet).

    In my muzzel loader, I’ve discovered I can get pure copper bullets (a few different brands) and I’m resighting for them (I’ll burn the rest of the lead at the range).

    I’m about to buy a .223 and discovered I can get copper for it as well (Barnes).

    I don’t mind paying a few extra dollars for the copper. Although steel target loads for the 12g are still a little expensive for the number of shell you use.

    I’m switching to all lead free as soon as reasonably possible.

  6. Yes please to lead free ammo. There’s a LOT of science showing that lead is bad for people, it can’t be that much of a stretch to think that animals are also affected? I eat what I kill, I don’t want it full of a known poison, thank you very much. You may not care, I do. The availability of lead free is something that I now check before buying a new calibre.

    There is a growing variety of lead free ammo. Like lead ammo, some sucks, some is excellent. Some just won’t suit your gun, some will.

    As for avoiding lead fee ammo because you once bought a box that didn’t shoot like your favourite lead ammo, who hasn’t shot mediocre or plain crap lead ammo?

  7. Lead free ammo for edible small game is a gyp in the .22 Hornet and .410 ammo.
    EDIBLE small game. I could care less about frangible varmint bullets. Small bore hunters who eat what they shoot have no good, affordable options.
    Further, the current iterations of lead free .22LR are a damn disgrace. 20 cents/shot for inaccurate, ineffective rimfire ammo?! Obama said things would be different.

  8. I’m old enough that if I eat lead, it’s probably not going to make that much difference health-wise, but I’m not serving lead-laced meat to my great nieces and nephews. From everything I’ve read and a number of the people I’ve talked with, lead-free has some distinct advantages for the kind of deer and elk hunting I do, which is open range with shots limited to about 200 yards from a .30-06. Factory loads are pretty expensive, so I’ll be handloading all my centerfire ammunition and I’ll just have to settle for using a .223 on squirrels. As far as I’m concerned, the ban in California on lead ammunition is to my advantage because one weight lighter lead-free bullets are as effective as their heavier lead counterparts, which means I can count on a slightly flatter trajectory and more energy on contact with the target.

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