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Reducing Risks

Non-Lead Ammunition: Good for Wildlife, Good for Hunters

Knowing your target and what lies beyond has long been a golden rule of responsible hunting. But before pulling the trigger, today’s hunters should also consider what they are shooting with.

Lead is indisputably toxic. As they expand, lead bullets also scatter fragments well beyond the point of entry. Wildlife can ingest these fragments when they scavenge leftover carcasses and gut piles, or prey on other animals that have ingested lead fragments. Birds including bald eagles and other raptors are particularly vulnerable—even small amounts of lead can cause multiple health problems and death. Although not causing wildlife population declines in Vermont, hunting with lead ammunition leaves the door open to accidently taking more than your intended animal.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: making a voluntary switch to lead-free ammunition. Without sacrificing performance, going lead-free prevents unintentional harm to wildlife, improves hunting’s image, and addresses human health concerns. Lead particles in game meat are often too tiny to detect by sight, feel, or taste. Making the switch avoids unknowingly exposing family and friends to lead, and, as a bonus, might even result in more game to share. Non-lead bullets and shot are often more effective than their traditional counterparts.

Biting the Non-Lead Bullet is Easy

  • Non-fragmenting solid copper and copper alloy bullets are factory loaded by most manufacturers in most popular big game hunting calibers.
  • Solid copper and copper alloy bullets offer consistent expansion and excellent weight retention and, as result, deliver deep penetration.
  • Less fragmentation = less meat loss.
  • Non-lead bullets are longer. Consider reducing bullet grain size by 15–20% for comparable performance to your current lead bullet.
  • Highly frangible (brittle), non-lead small caliber bullets are available for both centerfire and rimfire cartridges.
  • Required for waterfowl hunting for over thirty years, non-lead shotshells now cover everything from woodcock to wild turkey. This includes .410.

To learn more about switching to non-lead ammunition and for tips to finding the right non-lead ammunition visit: and

An image showing the fragments of a lead-core bullet compared to a solid copper bullet.

An x-ray image illustrating fragmentation of a rifle bullet.