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End of the line for the lead bullet? Regulations, bans force switch to 'green' ammo
Quote:End of the line for the lead bullet? Regulations, bans force switch to 'green' ammo

When the last bullet-producing lead smelter closes its doors on Dec. 31, it will mark a major victory for those who say lead-based ammunition pollutes the environment, but others warn 'green' bullets will cost more, drive up copper prices and do little to help conservation.

The bid to ban lead bullets, seen by some as harmful to the environment, started slowly more than a decade ago. But with two dozen states, including California, banning bullets made of the soft, heavy metal, the lead bullet's epitaph was already being written when the federal government finished it off.

First, the military announced plans to phase out lead bullets by 2018.

Then the federal Environmental Protection Agency, citing emissions, ordered the shutdown of the Doe Run company's lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., by year's end.

Whether by state or federal regulation, or by market forces, lead bullets will be all but phased out within a few years in favor of so-called green bullets, experts say. While many believe that this will help the environment by keeping lead from contaminating groundwater, others say switching to copper-based bullets will cost hunters and sportsmen more and have little effect on the environment.

"Whatever the EPA's motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and cost of traditional ammunition," the National Rifle Association said in a statement

Critics of lead bullets say that in addition to lead finding its way into the water supply and food chain, people who handle ammunition have been found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Lead poisoning harms organs and tissues and can result in brain damage.

"Switching to nontoxic lead ammunition will save the lives of eagles, condors and thousands of other birds every year – and, importantly, will keep hunters and their families from being exposed to toxic lead," the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a phaseout of lead bullets for hunting by July 2019.

The Army has been researching a more environment-friendly bullet at the Picatinny Arsenal, in New Jersey, since 2010. A lead-free version of the 7.62-mm rounds fired from M-14 rifles will be issued to troops in 2014. That will follow a prior switch to a greener 5.56 mm "Enhanced Performance Round" the Army switched to in 2010..

“The EPR replaces the lead slug with a copper slug,” Lt. Col. Phil Clark, product manager for small-caliber ammunition at Picatinny, told the Daily Caller. “This makes the projectile environmentally friendly, while still giving soldiers the performance capabilities they need on the battlefield.”

The army has projected that use of green bullets for small-round ammunition could eliminate the purchase of nearly 4,000 metric tons of lead between now and 2018.

Jim Yardley a retired financial controller and blogger for, estimated it would cost $18,431,000 to replace the lead with copper.

“Nearly $20 million, not to improve the effectiveness of the ammunition used by our troops, but to protect the environment,” Yardley wrote.

In 2010, Doe Run settled with the EPA and state regulators for $65 million and a pledge to close the 120-year-old smelter by year's end. Doe Run General Manager Gary Hughes said the company tried to bring its smelter into compliance so it could continue to produce lead products, but abandoned plans in 2012 due to federal regulations.

"We hoped to be building another such plant by now; however, constructing a full-scale plant, given other regulatory compliance spending requirements, puts our company at financial risk," he said.

It is unclear if another company will open a new lead smelter in the U.S. that can meet the more stringent air quality standards. But with the biggest buyer of ammo switching to copper-core, "green" bullets, and the number of state bans on lead bullets growing, ammunition makers are adapting. One such company is Florida-based Liberty Ammunition, which has ramped up production of green bullets by adding a second production shift.

“Copper is not cheap,” said Matthew Phillips, Liberty's vice president of sales and marketing. “Luckily, we’ve managed to find a way to keep the cost down.”

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A lot of speculation with not much substance. It appears they tried to piece meal a story together.

The shut down of the smelting facility has no impact on ammunition manufacturing.

"Last month, we contacted one of the nation’s largest lead foundries, along with several bullet makers and ammunition companies. The results of our investigation were published on November 8. To summarize it, the ammunition industry doesn’t use much lead from primary smelters, if any. Pure lead like that produced from Doe Run’s primary smelter is used for sensitive “specialty” products (certain electronics, medical devices, etc), not ammunition. Lead for ammunition comes almost exclusively from recycled lead, the bulk of which comes from recycled batteries.

Ammunition makes up just 3% of U.S. lead usage, and what is interesting about the entire lead market is that many companies who manufacture products that use lead are—where they can—trying to find lead substitutes, or are producing products in such a way as to reduce the amount of lead they are using because of the associated headaches (both regulatory and public relations-related). There are some ammunition industry experts that suggest that if this trend continues, the recycled lead used for ammunition might actually decrease in price, through with the potential for rising prices in other ammunition components (brass, copper, powder, primers, etc), that might not translate into cheaper ammunition.

There simply is no evidence that the closure of Doe Run’s primary smelter will have any near-term impact on ammunition production in the United States. You don’t have to take our word on it. The industry has said so itself."

"Despite the hysteria to the contrary, the primary smelter in Herculaneum has almost no direct impact on the U.S. ammunition market. Pure lead, in fact, is not desirable for the creation of ammunition as it is too soft. Pure lead is primarily used in the creation of low-contamination specialty products."

"Tim Brandt of ATK (Federal Premium, CCI, and Speer ammunition), noted that they had just added this to the top of their frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Q: Does the recent news regarding a major U.S. lead smelter shutting down mean you’ll have trouble obtaining lead for manufacturing conventional ammunition?
A: At this time we do not anticipate any additional strain on our ability to obtain lead."

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Did the first couple of attempts to scare everyone with this "no more lead" stuff fail?
Copper bullets? On the bright side, this might finally be the end of the penny.

One pre-1983 penny can make one 40 grain .22 LR bullet (95% Copper 5% Zinc)
Coops;128932 Wrote:One pre-1983 penny can make one 40 grain .22 LR bullet (95% Copper 5% Zinc)

Great news for all of us who reload 22LR. Dodgy
NRA Life Member, NRA Certified Instructor:  HFS, Pistol, Rifle, PPIH,PPOH
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Admit nothing.  Deny everything. Demand proof.
If we lie to the government, it's a crime. If the government lies to the people, it's called politics.
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spblademaker;128995 Wrote:
Coops;128932 Wrote:One pre-1983 penny can make one 40 grain .22 LR bullet (95% Copper 5% Zinc)

Great news for all of us who reload 22LR. Dodgy

LOL. Comment of the week.
spblademaker;128995 Wrote:
Coops;128932 Wrote:One pre-1983 penny can make one 40 grain .22 LR bullet (95% Copper 5% Zinc)

Great news for all of us who reload 22LR. Dodgy

You could pack pennies in a 12G shotgun shell. Smile
A directed rebuttal to the article in the OP.

"SKINNING FOX: Claims that the ammunition industry is ditching lead are categorically false.

I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to revisit this same basic story but the answer remains the same: lead ammunition isn’t going away for a long, long time, and those claiming otherwise are ignorant of the industry.

Fox News is just the latest news outlet to screw things up, with Perry Chiaramonte exhibiting sloppy reporting in a post entitled: End of the line for the lead bullet? Regulations, bans force switch to ‘green’ ammo."

[Image: pafoasig.png]
streaker69;129010 Wrote:
spblademaker;128995 Wrote:Great news for all of us who reload 22LR. Dodgy

You could pack pennies in a 12G shotgun shell. Smile

Pennies don't work, use dimes...even then the results are not what you'd think they'd be.

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