Getting the lead out: GREEN AMMO

Ammo makers are loading green ammunition for both training and duty rounds


     Though there has been a push behind greening efforts in all industries, a few ammunition manufacturers took it upon themselves to innovate and create greener alternatives. Currently, all alternatives to lead ammunition are more costly than traditional lead bullets, which is a problem of note for government-funded agencies in any year, not to mention a time of economic recess like the nation is currently in.

     Dan Smith, VP of operations at International Cartridge Corp., a manufacturer that produces all lead-free frangible ammunition, is concerned that funding and acquirement challenges affecting ammunition will cause a reduction in live firearm training, which could lead to serious problems for officers. Smith, who has been a competitive shooter since 1977, says if people who handle firearms don't stay familiar with shooting, when the time comes and one is under pressure, "you won't be able to perform properly.

     "You drive that [patrol] car every day," he says. "How often does an officer get out his gun and use it in the line of duty? Some of them will go 20 years and never pull that gun out. They [need] to be more familiar with the gun so that if something happens, everybody's in a better mindset and trained to survive."

     A bit of good news for shooters, however, is that Smith says for nearly all popular calibers, a green alternative can be found.

Developing tomorrow's ammo

     Green ammo has crept up into the munitions market over the last decade, with some companies dedicating themselves partially or entirely to the eco-friendly product.

     However beneficial the green bullet is on the shooting range and its reduced risks to health compared to lead, it's difficult to push a more expensive product to cash-strapped government entities, let alone during an economic slump.

     But despite the current market conditions, manufacturers and veteran shooters say they expect ammunition to head even further down the lead-free path within the next decade or so.

     Brooks says the pursuit of a cheap, lead-free ammunition is still underway: "It's in our minds, [but] we haven't found it yet."

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