European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 633–641

Non-lead rifle hunting ammunition: issues of availability and performance in Europe


DOI: 10.1007/s10344-016-1044-7

Cite this article as:
Thomas, V.G., Gremse, C. & Kanstrup, N. Eur J Wildl Res (2016) 62: 633. doi:10.1007/s10344-016-1044-7


Non-lead hunting rifle bullets were developed to make superior quality ammunition, and the need to reduce lead exposure of wildlife and humans. European and US hunters’ concerns about non-lead bullets involve perceptions of availability, costs, efficacy, accuracy, toxicity, and barrel fouling. These concerns are politically powerful and, if not addressed, could thwart greater use of non-lead ammunition. Product availability (i.e. that which is made) of non-lead rifle ammunition in a wide range of calibres is large in Europe and is suited for all European hunting situations. At least 13 major European companies make non-lead bullets for traditional, rare, and novel rifle calibres. Local retail availability is now a function of consumer demand which relates, directly, to legal requirements for use. Costs of non-lead and equivalent lead-core hunting bullets are similar in Europe and pose no barrier to use. Efficacy of non-lead bullets is equal to that of traditional lead-core bullets. Perceptions of reduced accuracy and greater barrel fouling must be addressed by industry and hunter organizations and, if verified, resolved. Non-lead bullets are made in fragmenting and non-fragmenting versions, but there is no advice to hunters yet given on the use of these two bullet types. The non-toxicity of ingested metallic copper, the principal component of non-lead bullets, is scientifically well-established.


Bullets Ballistics Concerns Efficacy Fragmenting Fouling 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
15 Juni Fonden, Denmark
  • 2013-A-88
German Federal Ministry Food Agriculture, Bonn
  • 09HS023

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vernon G. Thomas
    • 1
  • Carl Gremse
    • 2
  • Niels Kanstrup
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Integrative Biology, College of Biological ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, and Eberswalde-University, Wildlife DepartmentEberswaldeGermany
  3. 3.Danish Academy of HuntingRøndeDenmark

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