Reader Rory Bagley writes:

As people have become more aware of the negative health and environmental impactsof lead bullets, there is more and more caution when using these types of bullets. While more states move to ban the use of lead, alternative bullet materials are gaining in popularity.

Yet, despite the growing acceptance of alternatives, some hunters feel lead bans violate their rights. What’s the deal with these alternatives, and are they truly necessary?

How Do Non-Lead Bullets Compare to Lead Bullets?

There are primarily two types of lead alternatives for bullets on the market. One has a 100% copper core and the other is a copper mix (95% copper and 5% zinc).

Although some argue that banning lead bullets will ruin hunting, copper bullets are just as effective, if not superior to lead bullets. Copper bullets, though, are more expensive. However, as more bullet manufacturers produce non-lead alternatives, these safer projectiles will be more readily available and therefore more affordable.

The bullet expands rapidly, providing the hydrostatic shock necessary for quick kills. Unlike lead bullets, copper bullets don’t break apart and release the toxic dust that lead-based bullets do. Non-lead bullets are able to travel farther through the target, thus increasing stopping power because the bullet can more easily penetrate tissue and bone.

In addition, non-lead bullets usually pass completely through the animal, leaving an exit wound twice the diameter of the round’s size. This may offer a benefit for hunters, as the resulting increased blood loss may leave a better trail for hunters.

The Problem With Using Lead Bullets

Lead is a neurotoxin which negatively impacts both humans and animals. It also pollutes the environment, contaminating water and plants.

People can come in contact with lead in many different ways, and one preventable way is from using lead bullets when shooting or hunting. Overexposure to lead can cause heart problems, kidney failure and reproductive issues.

The effects are worse for pregnant women and children, since lead overexposure can damage a developing fetus or cause premature birth.

The Centers for Disease Control say there is  no safe blood lead level for children. This is because children are still growing and developing, making them more sensitive to the effects of lead. Overexposure to lead causes

Animals can suffer from lead poisoning just like humans. The toxin affects animals in a similar way, by attacking their central nervous systems.

Humans may also come into contact with lead if they eat game or livestock that was poisoned by lead. The CDC tested 736 people who ate wild game, and found that 50% had higher lead levels in their blood than those who don’t eat wild game.

Lead also pollutes our environment. It contaminates water and affects plants. Soil pH, plant type, and the amount of lead are some of the factors that determine lead uptake in plants, although it varies quite a bit. For example, the edible portions of cabbage could have up to 16 parts per million of lead.

If lead is at high enough concentrations to pollute plants, it could potentially poison animals and humans by spreading through rainwater runoff. Rain runoff spreads lead from contaminated soil to rivers and bodies of water. It also can spread to groundwater sources. If that happens, lead is in the drinking water causing greater exposure risk to people and animals in the area.

Non-Life-Threatening Downsides to Using Lead Bullets

Besides the negative health and environmental effects of using lead bullets, there are negative impacts for range owners.

Indoor and outdoor range owners have their own guidelines to follow when it comes to lead contamination. If ranges are non-compliant, they risk fines, lawsuits or possible closure. Even with strong guidelines and necessary training and procedures, lead management is difficult and costly.

Outdoor ranges must register with and follow Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) rules, since spent lead bullets are considered hazardous waste. These types of ranges are subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Clean Water Act, since lead can contaminate water sources.

Both indoor and outdoor ranges have to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, if they are operating with employees. Indoor ranges have to use expensive HVAC systems to be in line with OSHA rules for their employees. There needs to be an HVAC system in each stall and it costs around $25,000 per stall.  

Both types of ranges have to find safe methods of bullet collection – often consisting of bullet traps – and disposal. Spent bullets are hazardous waste, so removal isn’t simple. Owners must find special facilities that will either pay for lead waste treatment or have the appropriate means to dispose of it.

Benefits to Using Non-Lead Bullets

Non-lead alternative bullets have some key advantages for gun ranges:

– No risk of fines for non-compliance
– No OSHA and EPA guidelines to worry about
– Less negative environmental impact
– Less expensive HVAC systems
– No risk of lead poisoning

The Argument of Lead-Based vs. Non-Lead Bullets

The first to mine lead were the Romans who used it in their slingshots. People used lead almost exclusively for ammo from then on until recent decades, with the increased awareness about the health and safety risks of lead exposure.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation calls lead bullets “traditional.” They argue that lead bullet bans are infringe on hunting rights, and merely creating a way to have stricter control on guns. Despite multiple studies on wildlife, the NSSF also claims there is no scientific evidence traditional ammo affects wildlife populations. They go on to say that it would actually hurt conservation efforts to ban lead ammo. NSSF argues less people will hunt, causing the wildlife parks to lose money that could go toward conservation efforts.

Bullets make up a relatively small portion of the cost to hunt. This is especially true for big game hunters, since they use few bullets. The average big game hunter spends over $1,400 per year to hunt. Copper lead bullets cost about $24, which is around 2% of the $1,400 hunting cost. A single box will last multiple seasons in big game hunting, since only a couple of bullets are used each season. The cost difference is even smaller if hunters are currently using higher-quality lead bullets. A high-quality set of lead bullets costs around $20. This is only a $4 dollar difference from the safer, non-lead alternative.

Furthermore, people will still hunt using lead alternatives. In fact, 80-90% of Arizona’s hunters use non-lead bullets voluntarily in areas with endangered California condors.

The U.S. Military is currently using lead alternatives they call “green” bullets. A few years ago, after rigorous testing, they began phasing out lead bullets and plan to be lead free by 2018. Soldiers can’t be on the frontlines using ineffective bullets with so many lives at stake. After testing, the green bullets were even more lethal than lead bullets. Furthermore, non-lead supporters argue that if the bullets are good enough for the military, hunters should use them.

The Ban on Lead Bullets

There have been moves to ban lead bullets on state and federal levels. Most notably, one of the Obama Administration’s last acts was to attempt a ban on the use of lead bullets. Shortly before leaving office, Obama expanded federal rules on lead bullets. Effective immediately in his last week in office, the ban tried to protect fish and wildlife from lead poisoning. The ban covered all federal lands, and all hunters would need to be compliant by 2022.

However, the federal ban was brief. On March 2, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke repealed the lead bullet ban. It was Zinke’s first action as secretary.

Under federal law, hunters can’t currently use lead ammunition when hunting for waterfowl or while hunting in refuges and areas with waterfowl, based on evidence that it is toxic to waterfowl.

In addition, at least 30 states have their own rules regarding lead ammo. For instance, the range of the California condor bans lead ammo currently. The state of California plans to ban lead ammo on all grounds by 2019.

Despite the repeal of the federal ban, states continue to manage lead bullets in state parks increasingly. For a full list of state rules, follow this link.

87 Responses to Non-Lead Alternatives to Lead Ammunition Just Make Sense (Happy Earth Day!)

  1. I am not a green but about 75% of the bullets I buy and fire are copper and brass now. My reasons have nothing to do with health, environment, laws etc. I don’t much like the price of copper and brass either but the bullets that proved best (on paper targets and gel) just happened to be of those materials.

    • For instance the 300gr Maker copper subsonic .338 expanded the most of any subsonic .338 bullet I have tried and does so in just 19″. The lead bullets I have tried not only don’t expand as much, they over penetrate a lot more. Also, so far the Barnes 125 TTAC-XP has done the best from my 5.25″ .357. They are very expensive and the increase in expanded diameter might not be enough to justify the price for most people but for me I have little aversion to lavishing money on my ammunition to get even small improvements. When wanting maximum penetration from both of those weapons I use lead though. Soft lead Outlaw State EXOTs for the .338 and flat nose hard cast lead 200gr for the .357.

  2. I have no problem with phasing out lead in bullets. However legislation has made this difficult. A cheap and safe alternative like iron or soft steel is illegal because it is classified as “armor piercing”. The armor piercing bullet ban needs to be either revised or repealed before trying to phase out lead bullets

    • Do not take this as legal advice – I am an ignorant savage. From my reading of the U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 44 › § 921 hard bullets, even in pistols, are not illegal (federally) if you load them yourself or buy them from someone else, because it is only manufacturing and selling them professionally that is prohibited. The bullet itself is the the “ammunition” under that law and thus if you get the bullet from someone else loading it and firing it are not illegal. I have heard that many state laws cover that “loop hole” though.
      Regular copper bullets under that law are much more clearly legal as well.
      From that law:
      (B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—
      (i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
      (ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

    • This.

      There are lots of great alternatives to lead but many are banned for handgun use by the GCA of 1968.

  3. Lead is present naturally in most soils/environments. Some of the uses are more problematical than others, including lead water pipes (no longer used), lead in paint… no longer used. And lead in gasoline, no longer used either. I can’t see the lead ammunition coming anywhere near that level of use, but I support the idea of any manufacturer offering alternatives. Just as with the “smart guns,” it should certainly be an option.

    Since the world has used lead for many things, including ammunition, since at least Roman times, and the last rather extensively in all of the “wars” since, I’d think every person and animal on the planet would be dead by now from lead poisoning… if any of this scare mongering were true.

    • Lead poisoning of someone getting shot is a significantly secondary to actually being shot. Lead is one of the most plentiful metals on earth and few are softer for anywhere near the same price. Jacketed bullets clearly protect the shooter from lead contact. The only remaining trace amounts are in the primer, which is a bit more problematic for indoor ranges, but can be easily handled with good ventilation and filtering. For outdoors, there is plenty of lead in the soil.

      • Yes indeed, I’ll skip being shot for sure. 🙂 There is a potential for lead exposure no matter what ammunition you use, as well as other more or less toxic products of fired ammunition. So, washing one’s hands, face and any other exposed skin after shooting is wise. A shower is best, but be sure to wash at least your hands before eating or smoking. Do NOT touch your eyes before washing your hands. A baby wipe at the range would be minimal, but is not a substitute for washing.

        Just remember to use tepid water and mild soap for the first pass, then rinse with warm water. Hot water will drive the particles into the skin and they won’t easily come out. If your hair is exposed while shooting, wash in the shower with tepid water and shampoo first, then follow with warmer water and a second shampoo to remove all residue.

        The same is true if your skin is exposed to insecticides, any weed chemicals, and a host of other things that are commonly used around the house and yard.

    • yeah, if lead was half as toxic as the current crop of hand wringers say it is, all those civil war battle grounds would be barren wastelands instead of the lush green monuments they are now…

      • Ever see a musket or Minnie ball dug up from a 150+ years ago? It has a white oxide coating on it that kept it from decaying back into the ground. A number of metals protect themselves from completely dissolving into the environment this way. Steel will eventually totally decompose while iron, from which steel is made, takes much longer. Metals vary greatly in decomposition rates.

        • This myth that lead somehow leeches into the soil or poisons the target of one’s shot has been thoroughly debunked. The alloys used are completely insoluble. As previously mentioned, the lead in the primer is vaporized, creating the only lead exposure risk. But, if you want your ammo to have a reliable shelf-life longer than a year or two, it’s currently the only option.

  4. I’ve heard that copper mining is a horribly dirty business. Terrible on the environment.

    • To be fair, all mining and manufacturing is dirty, and may involve the use of caustic chemicals and a lot of coal fired electricity.

      That includes the polysilicon used for solar panels as well…

    • The solution to that is coming: asteroid mining. There are two companies set on doing it in the near future, and the prospects are good enough NASA is looking into it.

      Though my favorite reason for NASA getting into asteroid mining is that there are some near-earth asteroids with an estimated value of $20 trillion — that would make a nice dent in the national debt.

  5. Earth day was created on 22 APR 1970. The 100th Birthday of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, by John McConnell who was also a member of CPUSA in San Francisco. Also helping to create earthday was Ira Einhorn, AKA The Unicorn Killer, and Gaylord Nelson, Democrat Senator form (Surprise!) California. Since the fall of the USSR the environmental movement has become filled with Watermelons. Green on the outside Red on the inside, with much less concern for “Mother Earth” and much more concern with control of the People.

  6. In the golden universe where gun control was about facts, I might actually agree that lead bullet bans were about the environment. Except not, bans are about restricting the ability to hunt (and make no mistake, the left would like to ban hunting).

    Keep in mind, the left wants to simultaneously ban lead bullets then classify copper bullets as armor piercing so that they can ban those too. This has nothing to to with the environment!!

    There are just not enough bullets being shot during hunting to meaningfully pollute the environment. Lead can be alloyed with something to harden it and reduce fouling. The vast majority of the lead in bullets is confined to gun ranges.

    Besides, the real environmental problem comes from the primer, not the bullet. The heavy metals in the primer are released as a very fine soot.

    When I see steel cased copper bullets with green primers as cheap as mllsurp Wolf, I will absolutely buy it.

  7. Custom molds and cast lead projectiles is the only thing keeping a lot of oddball weapons shooting. Even the relatively common 38 S&W has no jacketed bullet for it, much less a non-lead option.

    No comparison of barrel wear was made.

    With lead you shoot, mine the berm, melt, re-cast, and shoot again. Try that cost effective recycling method on copper and see how far you get.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go tell my 97 year old grandfather he messed up by using lead bullets on game all of these past years and he’s going to die early as a result of health complications.

  8. So much fail in this article. The devil is in the details. It would be good for someone to go line by line and expand on what is said as most of the statements are misleading or half truths.

    • Brandolini’s law (also known as the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle): the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.

  9. Well, before we decide “Lead bad, other stuff (copper) OK.” do some research on injecting that other stuff into the environment. Like Lake Washington between Seattle and Bellevue (suburb to the East), which developed terrible, horrible, bad, not very good algae blooms because of … wait for it … copper particles thrown out of brake pads of autos commuting across the lake.

    There was a ban. No idea whether the ban is still in place, besides, it’s Seattle, so there is no trendy, statist intervention that does not Need Doing Right Now (for the children.) Like how they’re making things better for lower income folks by mandating a higher minimum wage, thus destroying the business that used to employ these people. Yeah, the base wage is more “livable.” However, less people are making that wage, and they’re not counting the people added to the 0 wage pile.

    Progress!

    Let’s not do the half-the-situation arguing that so many of the anti’s do:

    One effect – Guns get loose from lawful people sometimes, so ban them so the bad guys don’t get those guns.

    The ignored effect – Guns in the hands of lawful people *defeat* some number of abuses and crimes, often unreported because the mere presence or visibility of a defensive arms stops the problem before it happens.

    We get annoyed when they leave out effects that don’t support what they’d like to have happen — arguing like lawyers, where you start with how it’s supposed to come out, then “marshal” the facts and arguments to support that. Arguing like a lawyer is not an exercise in understanding.

    • a great point regarding the copper from brake pads….if anyone remembers when lead gasoline was banned in the U.S., and the cat. converter was introduced, and ten years later in Europe?…..it was discovered that the deposits in the ice core samples taken north of these areas had a much worse contamination from the heavy metals inside the converters than from lead. also, the new gas additions polluted the waterways more…..the engines that were ruined from the lack of lube that the lead provided in the valve system, and in an out of the box opinion, the additional fuel that has to be used to make the same amount of power as leaded gas

      • Ethanol in gas.

        Let’s burn less fossil fuels sounds pretty good. Based on the mandate:

        – Food prices go up. (Impacting poorer people more than richer.)

        – Increased farming of more marginal land (to meet higher demand.) Increased fertilization, energy consumption to produce, and runoff.

        – Damage / wear to engine components and fuel systems (causing, net earlier retirement of otherwise still useful machinery. Again, poorer people impacted more.)

        – Mandated “blends” Just Plain Don’t Work in entire classes of engines. (Mostly poorer, entirely rural activities, but those people don’t count anyway.)

        – A windfall for anyone who owned the right stuff, or could do the right things, before the mandate. So many Senators from farm states, kinda in favor of this environmental “protection” while opposing all the others.

        So, well-heeled eco-warriors get to feel smugly righteous, while the people who actually do things are more evil, because of more damage & consequences to the land, driven out of business, have their activities eroded, and costs inflicted.

        Do not get me started on the “biodiesel” push. Or the effort to cure problems from “runoff” in the Chesapeake.

        It’s almost as if the game were picking sides first, then finding a policy to help us & hurt them.

  10. At the very least, everyone should wash their hands after shooting, gun cleaning and handloading ammunition. If you like to bring snacks to the range, please consider keeping baby wipes in your range bag and using them each time you go from shooting to eating. My job for the last five years has been hazardous waste remediation, including specific training in lead handling. Basically, on your skin isn’t a big deal, inhalation is bad, but mainly only large quantities or certain types, but ingestion is the most common and most dangerous form of lead poisoning. So wash hands after shooting. Oh, and feel free to insert your best “getting shot is the worst type of lead poisoning” joke here.

    • I may have enough lead in my system to set off a metal detector, but I don’t know. Used to wash heavy machinery & car parts in Leaded Gasoline, was around lots of cars using LG including race cars that required heavy doses of Lead in the gas. Would shoot hundreds of rounds of ammo per week with hand washing, etc. Lead pipes brought water into the house where I lived for many years. Hell, maybe you could melt me down to make bullets.

  11. Yep Earth Daze was created to be a new religion. I was in high school when it was “celebrated”. I didn’t know any better as a teenager. Now I do. I’m not pro-pollution. I’m about freedom of choice. As Mama Liberty mentioned we’d all be dead if that horrible lead was as bad as they portray it. Hey millions have died after DDT was banned. Gotta’ save those birds because “nature” is more important than fellow humans…?

    • Sadly, far more humans have died as a result of the “ban” on DDT… from malaria and so many other insect born diseases. And so far, no real alternatives even offered. I’ve seen no real evidence that any birds were saved since the ban.

      As with almost all of this “green” religion nonsense, there isn’t much actual science involved, or rational thinking. If they FEEL it, it must be true – regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

      • I was neutral on the DDT ban until some college courses where we ran data of bird populations vs. DDT use — a number of bird populations did rebound. And since God put all those species here for His reasons, not as our toys, we have a responsibility to protect them.

        Yes, there’s a flip side to it, but that’s life — there are very few decisions that result in nothing but good, at least since the Fall.

  12. Except there’s one, HUGE problem about abandoning lead. Federal law prohibits pretty much any other effective metal. Furthermore, you cute using copper as an alternative. This is a HORRIBLE IDEA. Do you pay attention to the economics of metal prices, mining, and use? Thought not. Do you have any idea why copper keeps getting more and more expensive? Because it’s in high demand in several fields, and the earth has a limited supply left. You can go off on your green hippy bullshit all you want, but at the end of the day we use lead bullets or we use none.

  13. This article is filled with holes. Safety boy here gets to dictate to us his subjective viewpoint? He sounds like all the other gun banners with “science” obscuring “fact.” Those of us who shoot a lot would most definitely be affected. Copper is incredibly expensive in the long term if you shoot more than the average fudd. As someone above mentioned how about he tell my Great Uncles all of whom lived into their nineties and they hunted and fished using lead Ammo throughout their lives. It also shoots better for me than any copper projectile. Ultimately this is about freedom. If I want to take my chances with lead than it’s my business, not some busybody on Ttag or a gun banner in Washington. Suprising to see this article on a so called pro gun website.

  14. Does anyone have leads on cheap non-lead target ammo. I’m willing to spend a lot more on my defense rounds but most people shoot a lot more ammo at the range and a small price difference adds up quickly.

  15. BS article. Too many lies and instances of misdirection to list. Also probably get called a flame and deleted anyway.

  16. What a terrible article. The net weight of lead bullets fired at game every year is vanishingly small, and a drop in the bucket compared to other sources.

    Lead-free projectiles are extremely expensive, and frequently impacted by laws banning “armor-piercing” projectiles. Simply, using lead-free projectiles is completely infeasible for target shooting, or anything more than a couple of boxes at game per year. It is fairly obviously an attempt, with dubious scientific evidence, to make hunting and shooting unaffordable.

  17. I will never understand why the environment is a Left vs Right issue. If caring about the world around me and wanting to preserve the planet for my children and their children makes me a “hippie dippie,” then I guess that’s what I am. I mean, I do get angry at parties when people throw their recycle in with the trash. There are two cans side-by-side. How freaking difficult is it to take a second of your time to throw your beer bottle in the right can? I feel that the comments here are pretty much in line with the “all about me” mentality that is so pervasive from the Right. There are a few good points mixed in. If the Left only wants to ban lead ammunition so that they can then label alternatives as “armor piercing” and ban those too, then we have a problem. But all things being equal, I would hope hunters would be willing to spend a few dollars more for a box of non-lead ammo just because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t hunt, but I am getting rid of my lead fishing tackle. It doesn’t hurt me, and if it saves some waterfowl or keeps a kid from getting sick from eating tainted fish, that’s a win for everyone. Go online and watch a video of a bald eagle dying from lead poisoning because it ate the discarded innards of a deer that had been killed by lead shotgun pellets and tell me if that’s “fake science.”

    Some of you get your panties in a fearsome twist if someone burns the flag or takes a knee during the National Anthem, yet you don’t care if a bald eagle dies from lead poisoning? I suppose that is a fitting symbol for the new idea of freedom in America.

      • Pete,

        There are about 150,000 bald eagles in the U.S. Obama gave 30 wind farms license to kill 4800 eagles each. An estimated 10 – 15% of young eagles die from lead poisoning before their second year.

        Add those together, and it isn’t looking favorable for the long-term survival of the species.

        • I don’t know. Maybe the previous administration downplayed the danger so there would be less of an outcry over the wind turbines? I don’t know how many eagles those wind farms actually kill every year, or how long it would actually take one to chop up 4800 eagles. But just doing the math, the current population would have to have healthy breeding to keep up the numbers if 30 wind farms are indeed going to kill nearly 150,000 eagles over the next 10 years.

          People not letting young eagles die of lead poisoning because they’re too selfish to clean up their gut piles would be a fine start. We teach our Cub Scouts to “leave no trace” when they’re out in the wilderness. It’s an easy lesson that a lot of people seemingly never learned.

        • When I was a kid seeing a Bald Eagle was a complete rarity here in Colorado. Now they are everywhere. Seriously they are nesting across the city of Denver. Read some more, their populations are doing fine. People are going to start complaining when their little fofo dog starts becoming food for those big raptors.

        • Yeah, you don’t know why they’re not threatened, but I do. The lead that was harming them was mostly coming from leaded gas, which is a memory in cars and being phased out in aircraft. It’s way more absorbable than metallic lead. Your speculation about the previous administration is tinfoil hat nonsense.

          I didn’t ask for your sources, you’re putting words in my mouth, but your sources are out of date and you’re misrepresenting the data with respect to lead ammo. Clearly you aren’t concerned with facts and just want to moralize.

    • Nonsense, Cjstl… Tell me the difference between ANY “eagle” dying of that lead (and we’d really appreciate documentation of it first) and the eagles being killed by wind generators, etc. Animals – and people – die every day, from thousands of things. The planet will continue to spin regardless, and regardless of any “bans.” The planet isn’t actually in any danger, but freedom and civilization just might be.

      If you want to save an eagle – or any other creature, by whatever means works for you, nobody here will object in the least. You simply can’t choose for anyone else. You, or the “government” you choose to impose it on us.

      I hunted for a great many years. I never left a gut pile on the ground, always buried it deep. Anyone can choose to deal with the problem themselves. It doesn’t require any nationwide “ban” on anything.

      • Anyone can choose to deal with the problem themselves. The problem is, many people don’t. I’m not supporting a ban on lead ammunition. I’m just wondering why everyone scoffs at the notion that it actually does harm? The undeniable truth is that copper and steel ammunition is far safer for wildlife. If you can afford to purchase alternative ammunition to hunt with, you should do it, because it’s the right thing to do.

        If you can’t afford it, or if stupid state ordinances prohibit use of “armor piercing” rounds, then there are other things you can do to help limit the risk to wildlife. As you said, you can bury the gut pile deep enough that an animal is unlikely to smell it and dig it up. If possible, you can avoid field dressing the carcass. Or you could carry the gut pile out with you. Choosing not to do these things because they’re too much of an inconvenience makes you a selfish person, and IMO, you have no business hunting. Hunters and fishermen and women are supposed to care about nature and conservation. At least all those that I know do.

        Hiding behind claims of fake science or saying wind farms kill more eagles than lead poisoning is just abdicating responsibility. We could have a whole different conversations about windmills chopping up birds, but it isn’t relevant to the current discussion. If you’re trying to ask why liberals are OK with one and not the other, I can’t answer. I’m not a liberal, and I’m not OK with either.

        You asked for sources. There are plenty. Just Google “eagles lead poisoning” and you’ll find dozens. I couldn’t find the specific video I watched a few months ago, but here is one story.

        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/16/us-bald-eagles-lead-poisoning-ammunition

        And for those saying lead occurs naturally – so does uranium. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat or won’t poison our water.

    • I care about Truth. Ever walked around under a giant inefficient stretch to the horizon windmill “power plant”? If you have you see all kinds of neat animals dead or dying so some boulder leftist can feel good why he sips his $5 dollar latte. Vast and beautiful western vistas now have alien power plants that require massive roads into areas where once there was just sage. Why is the sage grouse suddenly threatened across much of the west? They won’t nest anywhere near any tower. Eagles are cool and precious? Well then explain to me why the government allows hundreds to be chopped up every year with no fine for big wind companies. Native Americans can’t even use them for their religious ceremonies but big wind and solar can chop and fry them all to hell. I will care about that eagle choking on lead when the left starts caring about wildlife other than when it suits their anti gun narrative. Total BS.

      • Same way with solar farms. Birds flying over head suddenly burst into flames; the farm operators have a nickname for them; ‘there goes another flamer’. Hopey dopey feel good shit that cause plenty of harm no one knows about.

      • I don’t have a ton of experience with wind farms in the west, other than the stretch of I-8 between San Diego and El Centro. I do see them frequently when driving through central Illinois. I like the idea of wind power in theory, but it seems to me that something could be done to make wind turbines safer. Maybe some sort of netting, although that would likely add to the unsightliness of the turbines. Or maybe an auditory repellent of some sort.

        I agree with your point that it is hypocritical of the Left to care about one and not the other. But I emphatically disagree with you not caring if an eagle chokes on lead because some liberal doesn’t care if an eagle gets chopped up by a turbine.

        Hate on the hyppcrite, not the eagle.

    • By your reckoning all scavengers should be dead from lead poisoning. You are like all leftists, you have a choice as long as you pick the one I like.

  18. However, as more bullet manufacturers produce non-lead alternatives, these safer projectiles will be more readily available and therefore more affordable.

    Negative. Copper is very expensive. It is one of the most malleable substances, and is the second best electrical conductor (silver is better). Although I like having more options and don’t mind hunting with them, mandating copper over lead is a bad idea. Lead is a cheap garbage material, heavy, soft, and ideal for shooting out of a gun and not reclaiming. Its a shame to waste valuable and expensive copper for this use.

  19. So first the pragmatic: Lead and copper often come from the same mines, but if not the same hole in the ground then by the same process so basically no difference.

    Copper, depending on commodity prices at any given moment is 3+ times more expensive than lead, so no amount of additional manufacturing is going to make this type of bullet as cheap as lead.

    Someone made the point that there is so much lead in everything, if it was that bad, then everyone would have died of lead poisoning already. You have to ingest lead directly (like how I ate paint chips when I was a kid….jk, I think…) Lead is absolutely toxic and horrible for our bodies. Our body thinks its calcium and tries to make bones and use it for other metabolic processes, so bad mojo. If handled correctly then lead can be very useful and safe.

    The challenge I feel, is that the shooting sports are for everyone. This includes hunting most of all, but competition shooting, target shooting, long range, pistol matches and just plain fun. Although the article primarily talks about hunting bullets, that doesn’t seem to be the primary consumer of ammo. I would posit that military, police, and large volume competitive shooters consume a large majority of the ammo in our country annually. Most hunters shoot their hunting rifles a few times a year if they are lucky and then put them away. So the economic case that it only costs $4 more per box is the wrong comparison. That is comparing a very high end (partially copper bullet) to a 100% copper bullet. What will the cost be when a 5.56 military round is now required to be all copper construction? I can assure you that the new loads will cost much more than 30 cents/rd like they do today! I think a perfect cost analogy is 5.56 vs 300 Black Out. How many agencies have decided agains switching to the 300 for CQB because it will cost them $1/rd vs. $.25/rd for 5.56. I know the FBI was one that made that decision.

    We already have the infrastructure to safely manage our lead bullets at ranges. By switching over to copper or green bullets at the MIL/LEO level will have no net effect on the environment because their ranges are already so polluted with lead that it is not going to go away. One thing that it will change is it will make shooting sports much more expensive for each of us.

  20. um, buddy, copper is also a neurotoxin, just ask all the deaf carpenters who used cupric sulfate wood treatments

  21. This is the biggest pile of steaming crap I’ve ever seen on here. Full of inaccuracies, radically incorrect economic analysis… And misses the main point: Less case capacity and worse long-range performance for non-lead projectiles.

    Never mind lead comes FROM the ground, metallic lead doesn’t readily dissolve, and about a million other things wrong…

  22. I have one problem and only one problem with non lead core bullets. THE PRICE!!!
    When I can buy non lead core bullets for the same price as lead core bullets, I will happily stop using lead core bullets.
    Truth is mono core bullets are more accurate, penetrate deeper, and generally out perform lead core bullets. I just can’t afford them.

  23. The ballistic coefficient of a bullet is most influenced by the sectional density of the bullet. The sectional density is the mass divided by the cross sectional area of the bullet.

    So the pure lead bullet will have a BC that is about 27% higher than a pure copper bullet if the outer dimensions are identical.

    I’m surprised that there was no mention of bismuth. It used to be cheap until it gained in use as ammo. It does have about the same mass density as lead. It doesn’t have good malleability, so pure Bi bullets don’t engage well with rifling; but copper jacketed Bi bullets would fly the same as jacketed lead ones.

    I also confirmed my suspicion with my “holier than thou” liberal friend; they couldn’t care less about the holocaust of large birds on the blades of wind turbines.

  24. These “feel good, accomplish nothing” people really activate my almonds. Twist any fact enough and you can make it say whatever you desire.

  25. Ah the California Condor lead ban. The same one that the government had to block disclosure of it’s “facts” to the public and required a LAWSUIT to try and bring the original data to independent scrutiny.

  26. My best bullets are hollow point lead, then fill the cavity with mercury and seal it with depleted uranium. Devastating results, and yes, I am only kidding. Lead is a natural element found nearly everywhere. In days gone by, lead was mined extensively in southern WI. as well as many other states. We all survived and are fine, thank you. As a kid, I used to use my pocket knife to shape the bullets on my .22 shorts as a youthful experiment on the renegade sparrow flocks. You know, the rounds that fragmented into 3 or 4 pieces when they hit. Not effective but fun, now I am 63 and no ill effects. Lol

  27. I just have to point out something about safety here.

    Look, the threat of lead contamination from hunting in generally overblown. Lead simply isn’t as dangerous as people seem to think it is. I wouldn’t eat it and inhaling it certainly isn’t good for you but we need to put some things in context here.

    Deer or Elk hunting is a different animal from target shooting or waterfoul hunting because the latter two generally take place in a geographically confined area. Lot’s of people putting bullets into a berm or shot into a body of water over time is a problem, especially in the case of shot because it can be consumed by birds, dissolved in their guts and bad things happen. However, hunting in general doesn’t have these problems because deer/elk/mountain sheep/whatever are not stationary so you’re not going to end up with a high concentration of lead the way you do with a lake or firing range backstop.

    Yes, lead causes problems in our bodies. Insoluble lead sulfides are a culprit because Lead in our bodies will precipitate sulfur out of some of our amino acids to make these compounds and our kidneys have real trouble processing those compounds. That’s bad news. However, you really do need some pretty prolonged exposure for this to become a problem and generally, unless you work in lead smelting facility that generally won’t happen. The real problems are soluble lead compounds introducing lead into people and animals (because lead itself really isn’t that soluble in water). The Romans drank wine from lead lined jars which meant they consumed, over time, large amounts of lead, probably in the form of Lead (ii) acetate. The people in Flint had heavily chlorinated water flowing through lead pipes, that probably created some Lead chloride and chlorate. The former is slightly soluble in water but the latter is soluble. These are legitimate problems, as are places where lead shot or lead bullets are fired by a lot of people because the concentration becomes a problem.

    So yes, Lead can be a problem but in the context of hunting land animals it’s very far down on the scale of things to worry about.

    • Flint’s problem wasn’t a chlorination issue as much as it was a low PH (Acidic) issue.

      The acidic lake water ‘leached’ out the lead, making it soluble.

      The ‘cure’ was to raise the PH by passing it over ground limestone. Once the ‘magic’ neutral PH was reached, the lead was happy to stay put in the lead pipes.

      Rainwater nearly everywhere is slightly acidic. That’s what has been turning Florida’s limestone bedrock into Swiss cheese over the eons.

      And once in a while, the ground opens up and swallows houses with a sinkhole.

      We have an issue with galvanic corrosion here in Florida eating up supposedly ‘forever’ copper pipe. After about 30+ years, the piping suddenly develops near-microscopic pinholes, forcing homeowners to replace the house piping with PVC. I discovered that wasn’t inexpensive…

      • Ah, the thing I read when the whole thing in Flint first started led me to believe that chlorine was a likely culprit because the water was reported to be heavily chlorinated due to the fact that the river they were taking it out of had a lot of bacteria and protozoa in it. I would have expected the water to actually be alkaline rather than acidic because chlorine loses a lot of it’s disinfectant properties in water that has a pH higher than something like 8 hence why you might need more chlorine to make the water safe to drink.

        That was, however preliminary and I didn’t really follow it afterwords.

        Either way, the point remains that a few bullets here and there are not a problem and acidic or basic water really doesn’t matter unless there’s a significant concentration of lead in the area and other than natural deposits you’ll only get that kind of lead concentration if there’s a pretty fair amount of shooting going on. The amount of lead you’d get out of a few hunting bullets scattered about, in terms of rainwater would be measured in amounts so low it’s not worth discussing and the EPA threshold for tap-water is something like 15 ppb.

        Not to nerd out about this too hard here but, for the sake of argument, if you figure that a 170gr bullet is 100% lead then each one is 11.02 grams. Lead is dense at 207.2g/mole so it would take about 18.8 bullets at that weight to make one mole of lead atoms. If you figure that in a given 50 square mile area there are a few hundred hunting rounds in that weight class launched per year that don’t strike the target animal or, substantially pass through the target then 400×11.02 = 4408 grams of lead, 4408/207.2 = 21.27 moles of lead. I won’t bother with further actual calculations but a liter of water, of which there are 3.7 in a gallon, is 55.6 moles so that’s 205.7 moles in a gallon. So, when you consider the amount of water that flows through a stream in a year a few hunting rounds really ain’t that big of a deal.

  28. I no longer hunt anything in commie Kalifornia. I’ll spend my money in other states. The lead ban is not about the effing bird. Otherwise, the wind farms would be SHUT DOWN.

  29. Alternate materials for bullets is a good thing. Just like smart guns are good things. Government mandates for alternative bullet materials is bad. Just like mandating smart guns is bad.

    Take California for instance. They banned all non lead ammo calling it “armor piercing”. So what do you hunt with if lead is banned and everything else is banned too? How could you not look at that as gun control!?

    • California is using that concept as a means of banning guns. Just as they claimed the lead was killing the Condors which were eating animals killed with lead bullets. However, some of the birds had disappeared, and one was shot.

      When hunters go out they don’t normally shoot something and leave it lay for the carrion eaters. Any lead bullet that goes through or misses will be so lost way beyond the game that carrion eaters are after. We still have loads of super fund sites to clean up, as well as infrastructure to repair, far more hazardous to humans and animals.

      I don’t believe what the state, the so called environmentalists, etc, say. The only places where lead is concentrated to the levels claimed are naturally in the ground or at ranges. I have yet to see dead animals at any range, with Condors feasting. There are all kinds of things naturally in nature. In the mountains, we have asbestos, mercury, and lots of other things. Lead is the least of our worries.

  30. Lead is cheap, and it comes from the environment. There are rules in place for ranges to make sure they are not polluting the groundwater, and you can’t hunt waterfowl with lead shot anymore. Lead comes from the Earth and should be returned to the Earth at high velocity, just away from water sources.

  31. Lead bad. We get it.
    But lead is easy (sort of) to melt and make into bullets. Many of us cast our own. There is something reassuring about that. It’s a practical art that allows one a measure of self-sufficiency not otherwise obtained. If some have their way, ammo purchases would be prohibited or strictly limited. The pendulum swings. Trump will not always be president.

  32. Why don’t you do less fake science articles, pushing your tree hugger agenda, and more substantive content. By your theory every plant, animal, and human in Europe would have died from lead poisoning already.

  33. What caliber is this guy talking about for hunting ammo? Is he talking shotgun or something? In .308 premium hunting ammo, at least that I’ve seen, is more than $20 (for lead based), copper is around $36, and the “it’ll do” quality of hunting ammo is around the $20 a box he cites for premium. Am I missing something?

  34. When I was working, I competed in PPC and other NRA handgun matches. Since retiring, I still cast and shoot lead bullets because I want to maintain my skills, because I like to, and because I can. When competing, in some years I cast, loaded, and fired around 12K rounds. The clown who wrote this article seems to think that a single box of non-lead ammo will last a shooter for years. Yeah, right. Leaving aside the fact that I’m not aware of any convincing study showing that shooting lead seriously increases hazardous lead exposure vs. natural background environmental levels, this is clearly an anti-gun/anti-hunting article. The cost of copper will never go down, and if shooters are forced to abandon lead and lead core bullets, the manufacturers currently gouging for ammunition are not going to do us a favor and cut their profit margins. If you think they will, I have a lead mine I’ll sell ya.

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