Should Ammo Be Lead Free?

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Everywhere you turn there are warnings about lead - from having to sign disclosures when buying a house in a certain time period, to keeping an eye out for toys being recalled for high levels of lead. One item that is still full of lead and available is ammunition. Different states have worked on making it illegal, so is it time for a nationwide ban? Is it anti hunter or is it pro environment? Do they have to be exclusive?

35 states got together to create a petition for the EPA to regulate the lead in hunting ammunition. Lead fragments can be left in gut piles, where condors, and other carcass eating animals will ingest it, and become poisoned from the lead. The EPA was given a similar petition in 2010 that they rejected saying they did not have power over the ammunition market.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has banned lead shot for waterfowl hunting, as it could end up at the bottom of streams and lakes poisoning animals there. California has banned it in big game hunting and coyote hunting in their state. One of the animals that they are concerned with is the California condors.

In Arizona, a state with California condors, had educated hunters on the lead issue. Also the state gave out coupons for free no-lead ammunition, to hunters that were hunting in areas with condors. Some hunters have started using non lead ammunition, and others have said they have removed the gut-piles from the wild to remove the lead from possible animal ingestion. "Hunters and sportsmen would be more engaged if it weren't so politicized," Kathy Sullivan, condor program coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department said. "We should cooperate rather than force people into actions they don't support." From


JodyStomper's picture

If you're not outraged, then you're STILL not paying attention.

I too enjoy what Barnes and other lead-free modern cupric-alloy bullets are doing for performance; a basic physical advantage is the increased length over the same weight (mass) of a bullet with lead componentry.  More length-for-caliber, assuming the rifling is of appropriate twist rate, generally means higher ballistic coefficient, higher stability at distance, and greater accuracy.  Plus, we get those nice, controlled-expansion combinations of pass-through penetration and massive temporary wound cavitation.  For these reasons, I am personally a fan of homogenous cupric-alloy bullets. 

However, I turn a deaf ear to the piper calling me to walk off of the lead-is-bad cliff with the rest of the unknowing.  Anyone buying into the hooey over animals being poisoned by lead fragments from single-projectile shots, lead fragments in gut piles, and so on, needs to revisit high school chemistry class and actually look up the USFWS data that lead to non-toxic shot use in wetlands.  A small piece of lead doesn't dissolve into your bloodstream and permeate your brain.  It takes lead in compounds that release it in its various salts and suspensions into the small intestine, and even that requires such a high volume and lengthy, sustained exposure, that it hardly bears notice.  In other words, a lot of dust, whether breathed into the lungs or mixed into suspensions that are then ingested into the gastrointestinal tract. 

How many nuclear physicists who brought us cheap power and the most powerful weapons in history grew up in homes coated in and out with lead paint?  Shouldn't they have lost all of their brain cells, according to the lead-ban logic?  How many handloading shotgunners do we know who've reloaded target shells for decades, in poorly-ventilated basement shops, with no ill effects? 

Granted, I don't want my toddlers chewing leaded paint from windowsills as a habit, which was the primary concern (for those who remember), and I appreciate the longer-lasting joints I get from tin-alloy solders when sweating new pipe joints.  But outlawing lead-core jacketed hunting bullets to protect scavengers from a virtually nonexistent hazard is just spineless nonsense. 

What it really amounts to is another step toward the antis' goal of a gradual reduction in availability of ammunition, period.  Just check about any box of ammo packaged for sale in California - not only does it spedifically mention lead, but also that copper and brass are substances "known" to cause cancer.  So we all go along with it, making further compromises that mortgage what was once supposed to be our future generations' outdoors inheritance, by agreeing that we all have to live without bullets that have lead in them.  Next comes copper, then bronze alloys, and just like that, we're all out of metals soft enough to use in rifle barrels but with sufficient mass density to provide acceptable exterior ballistic performance and proper performance at terminus. 

And before we concede more ground not only to ill-informed preservationists, but also to the anti-gun bastions:  In the process of outlawing lead-containing hunting bullets, definitions will broaden and eventually eliminate the sale of lead-containing bullets and ammo for civilian use, period.  If you can't outlaw guns, then regulate ammunition out of common availability or make it so expensive to produce that only the elite can afford to shoot often.  Hunting ethicism, human health, and the intestinal tracts of condors are but the smallest considerations.  Whether at the state or federal level, stop letting the antis push their unsubstantiated "scientific" horse-hockey on us.  Read a book!  Stop taking your scientific education from the same television networks that built Oprah's empire for her.  Wonder why the "silent majority" is silent?  Because largely, we don't remember the facts we've been taught well enough to present intelligent argument!  Learn them over again if you have to, but don't pump this "pro-environment" position on ammunition up my backside and tell me it's in hunting's best interest!  I'm still waiting to hear why we continue to allow off-shore oil drilling.  Don't tell me my bullets are the critical concern in the meantime.

WishIWasHunting's picture

My point was neither pro not

My point was neither pro not anti-lead for hunting bullets.  My point was that these states do not need to lobby for the EPA at the Federal level to have more power.  States are fully capable of creating and enforcing their own laws as they see prudent.  

Lead Free is actually good for you!

Though I resented the California politicians telling me that I had to use lead-free ammunition, I have found that the lead-free ammunition is superior to those containing lead.

I primarilly hunt wild hogs with a 7mm Weatherby Magnum (Cor-Bon Barnes 160 gr TSX or Weatherby 140 gr TSX - both deliver 2500+ foot lbs of energy @ 200 yds).  I pride myself with a high lifetime percentage of "one shot - one kills."  I have discovered that the knockdown of the lead-free is equivalent, if not superior, to the lead bullets.  Shoulder shots at 200 yards on 300 pound boar still deliver the desired results, 1 shot - 1 kill.

Every bullet that I have recovered was fully mushroomed and they appeared to have retained almost 100% of their weight.  The wound channels are superior.  I have yet to experience the need for a second shot to get the "knock down."  At closer rages (>100 yards) I experience total through and throughs, with a tremendous wound channel.

I have also seen x-ray images of lead bullets that have passed through game.  The meat was riddled with small fragments of lead.  In order to ensure that my family would not ingest any lead, would mean that a greater portion of meat would need to be thrown out and wasted.  I had never known that all of those tiny lead fragments were strewn throughout the meat that I was taking home to feed my family and friends.

I know that we all resent being told what to do... but in this instance lead-free is not only good for the environment, it is good for the hunter and their family and friends!

Why do you think that they took the lead out of pipes, plumbing solder, cups and dishes decades ago??  Because everyone went "mad as a hatter" (from lead poisoning).

You know, I don't like people telling me I can't do this or that

I am a hunter that  of all kinds of game, if I am killing needlessly other game then I am wasting the game (VERY BAD< WASTING A NATURAL RESOURCE IS STUPID) I like to shoot, hunt big game etc to include coyotes (four legged) and if I need to change my way of hunting to protect our hunting, then okay it really isn't a big deal - I change for the sport not the idiots that want to change life to a uncontrolled level (the world is not the same, we have assumed manager of the resources).

WishIWasHunting's picture

This is ridiculous!

This is ridiculous!  Thirty-five states band together in order to petition to forfeit additional state's rights?  If, as an individual state, you are concerned about lead in hunting ammunition, address that concern through your state's legislation.  The Feds don't need to step in any more than they already have.