Non-lead Ammo — Give it a Shot

Hunting Regulations Icon New Jersey Hunting

Nate Figley/NJ Div. Fish and Wildlife

By Nathan Figley, State Administrator, Hunter Education

Hunters are always searching to find the next-best-thing, whether it be learning a new technique, increasing efficiency or adding another option to their tool bag. Since steel shot was first introduced in the late 1980s for waterfowl hunting, advancements in technology have increased the effectiveness of non-lead ammunition. Fast-forward 30 years and hunters can readily find a multitude of non-lead shot options for all hunting situations, comparable in price to premium lead ammunition.

Ammunition manufacturers have developed a variety of non-lead shot for turkey, small game and waterfowl from metals such as bismuth, tungsten, zinc, tin, steel and several alloys of these metals. Big game hunters can expect to find bullets made of copper, copper alloy or bismuth-tin alloy, all of which expand rapidly and leave large wound channels for a quick, clean kill.

Most of these metals are harder and denser than lead. These properties increase down-range accuracy, bullet penetration and promote a consistent shot pattern. An unseen benefit of using these non-lead ammunition types is reducing the risk of exposing non-target animals to lead fragments that may be inadvertently ingested when left in gut piles.

The next time you head to the range, pick-up a few boxes of non-lead ammo and give it a try. Practice shooting at different distances, with various choke types until the best match is found for your firearm. Prior to shooting this ammunition, hunters should verify that their firearm and choke tube are rated for these shot types. After seeing the results on the range, you will be convinced to load up with non-lead ammo this hunting season.

For more information, visit www.HuntingWithNonLead.org