Lead-Free Hunting Rifle Ammunition: Product Availability, Price, Effectiveness, and Role in Global Wildlife Conservation

Abstract

Proposals to end the use of lead hunting ammunition because of the established risks of lead exposure to wildlife and humans are impeded by concerns about the availability, price, and effectiveness of substitutes. The product availability and retail prices of different calibers of lead-free bullets and center-fire rifle ammunition were assessed for ammunition sold in the USA and Europe. Lead-free bullets are made in 35 calibers and 51 rifle cartridge designations. Thirty-seven companies distribute internationally ammunition made with lead-free bullets. There is no major difference in the retail price of equivalent lead-free and lead-core ammunition for most popular calibers. Lead-free ammunition has set bench-mark standards for accuracy, lethality, and safety. Given the demonstrated wide product availability, comparable prices, and the effectiveness of high-quality lead-free ammunition, it is possible to phase out the use of lead hunting ammunition world-wide, based on progressive policy and enforceable legislation.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    These companies are listed alphabetically. Consult their web sites to see the range of loaded rifle ammunition produced. Ammo Bros., ASYM Precision Ammunition, Barnes Bullets, Black Hills Ammunition, LLC, Brenneke, Corbon-Glaser, Custom Cartridge, Inc., Cutting Edge Bullets, D Dupleks Ltd., Double Tap Ammo, Dynamic Research Technologies, Federal, GS Custom Bullets, LLC, International Cartridge Corporation, Lapua, Miwall Corporation, Monolithic Munitions, LLC, North Fork Bullets, Nosler, Norma, OPG Gun Ventures, LLC, P-Bar Co. LLC, Pierce Premium Rifle Ammunition, Remington Arms, RWS, Safari Arms, Sako, Sellier & Bellot Ammunition, Silver State Armory, Sinterfire, Inc., Snake River Ammunition, Stars & Stripes Ammunition, Styria Arms, Tombob Outdoors, LLC, Weatherby, Winchester, and Woodleigh.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the personal funds of the author. I thank the journal reviewers for their constructive comments on previous drafts. The author is not affiliated with, or supported by, any ammunition manufacturer.

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Correspondence to Vernon George Thomas.

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Thomas, V.G. Lead-Free Hunting Rifle Ammunition: Product Availability, Price, Effectiveness, and Role in Global Wildlife Conservation. AMBIO 42, 737–745 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-012-0361-7

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Keywords

  • Lead-free ammunition
  • Toxicity
  • Hunting
  • Global conservation
  • Regulation