Aug 14, 2014

Environmentally-friendly (100% lead-free) ammunition

Note: This is an old post and things have changed. There are some comments with some updated links by readers posted on the bottom. There have been some exciting evolutions in the lead-free shooting world, including what might be (finally) totally lead-free .22 rimfire ammo. Do your research, remembering that if you want totally lead-free, you need lead-free primers as well as lead-free bullets. When we get time, we'll see about updating this post. For now, see some of the links on the bottom as well. 

In pursuit of 100% lead-free, non-toxic ammunition.

It may surprise some of our readers, but we're open about it: We here at the Tampa Bay Conservation League are all active shooters and believe, without boundaries, in gun rights.

However, we are, at the core, conservationists.  And we cannot overlook the danger and health issues with lead-based ammunition.  Without getting into the endless debates about whether or not it's really right to leave lead in our hunting areas, we believe the debate really should look at something else as well:  The effect not only on animals, but on humans.  And, not necessarily you, but children, most notably, children 6 and under, where even small amounts of lead ingestion can have harmful results.  So if you have kids, or are around kids, it's worth being considerate about lead.  

Countless studies have proven, without any doubt at all, that shooting lead ammunition is, simply, bad for your health.  When you shoot, you get lead dust on yourself and bring it into the house, into your car, into your workplace, and so on.

You can take simple precautions, starting by starting by realizing that you, your clothes and your shoes are covered in fine lead dust when you leave the range.

However, it's worth understanding where the lead danger actually is in your ammo.  

First, we'll start with the bullet.  Most bullets are made of lead, and upon firing. release lead dust. You can reduce (but not eliminate) lead exposure by using any form of jacketed bullet, but most noticeably with a TMJ (Total Metal Jacket), where the lead core is totally surrounded by a copper jacket.  Jacketing reduces lead exposure, but even with TMJ, it will not be eliminated.

Another method is to move to lead-free bullets, such as the ones offered by Barnes or Nosler, or to frangible ammunition.

However, the bullet is only part of the problem.  The primer (the part that gets hit by the hammer, exploding the gunpowder) also uses lead -- in particular, a compound known as lead styphenate.  So, even if you go for a lead-free bullet, you're still going to get lead ingestion, through the primer (older, so-called "corrosive primer", used a mercury compound).

Even so-called "non-toxic" ammunition may have lead-primer.  You really have to check. For example, CCI makes a "non-toxic" 22LR rimfire cartridge, but it's actually only the bullet that's lead-free.  The primer uses lead.

Lead-free primer has controversy: There is a general belief that the shelf-life is shorter than normal lead primer, or that it's not as reliable. All we can say is that we've shot with lead-free primer extensively and it's never posed a problem.  High-end lead-free primers, such as Sintox by RWS, seems to be very much in the lead in technology. However, I suppose time will tell how well they hold up; but I very much suspect that you'll find lead-free primer, adequately stored, lasting plenty of time.

One thing you will notice going lead-free:  Man, is it easy to clean your gun.  There's no lead fouling, which is actually the most difficult thing to get out of a gun.

So, if you want to be 100% lead-free -- bullet, primer, the works, we thought we'd give you what we know of the current market for popular ammo.  We'll try and keep this updated as we get more information.

Note -- you really have to be very careful to insure your ammo doesn't have lead primer.  We've even been fooled into buying a "lead-free" round, only to find out it has lead primer.  Manufacturers use terms like "non-toxic" or "virtually eliminates lead".  For example, a range we know bought the CCI "non-toxic" load thinking it was lead-free, but it has a lead primer.  We ourselves bought some "lead-free" ICC ammo, but it needs to have the "NT" label at the end to have a lead-free primer; we made a similar mistake with the RWS, which has to have the NTF label (and Fiocchi has to have SFNT... you get the idea). You have to check and double-check.  We now do.

4.6x30 Heckler & KochFiocchi 46SFNT (should be verified) 

22 LR
No available 100% lead-free ammo (there are so-called "lead-free" or "non-toxic" rounds offered by CCI and Winchester, but these use lead primer).  You would need to figure out how to handload with lead-free rimfire primer, which is hard to get but has been manufactured.


.223ICC Green Elite NT 
Federal Ballisticlean RHT (42gr or 55gr)
RWS (or Ruag) Copper-matrix NTF
Fiocchi SFNT
Sinterfire Greenline
National Police Ammunition

ICC Green Elite NT 
Lawman RHT Clean-Fire 
National Police Ammunition

38 Special
RWS (or Ruag) Copper-matrix NTF
Remington Disintegrator CTF
Sinterfire Greenline
National Police Ammunition

9mmFederal Ballisticlean RHT
Fiocchi SFNT
ICC Green Elite NT 
RWS (or Ruag) Copper-matrix NTFFiocchi  SFNT
Remington Disintegrator CTFLawman RHT Clean-Fire
Sinterfire Greenline
National Police Ammunition

.357 SIG (not magnum)
Federal Ballisticlean RHT


45 GAP (Glock Automatic Pistol)

12 Gauge Slug

All of the ammo listed above is frangiblemeaning, it's basically bonded, or "sintered" metal dust). It's surprisingly powerful, suitable for defense and training (and can be quite nasty, as a Sinterfire video demonstrates).  It won't ricochet and has a harder time going through walls.  

The only totally lead-free round that we know of that is not frangible is the 5.7x28mm lead-free (model SS195LF, itself a surprisingly powerful little round).  If you want to have a "real" hunting or duty round that is 100% lead-free, you can always make your own by reloading. It's trivially easy to reload, even just using a cheap reloading kit (like a Lee Loader or a Lanes shotgun reloader), buying fresh brass, lead-free primers, and lead free bullets. A bit of basic googling... 

I have personally bought Fiocchi (it's cheap), the Remington shotgun loads, and a lot of RWS copper-matrix NTF (the RWS is well known, and is the standard training round for a major US federal agency). I use the ICC NT rounds for my .380.  The Remington is very expensive and I don't see much reason to buy it, except in the shotgun loads.  The Lawman RHT is just very hard to find (except at Ventura Munitions).  I suppose you could buy a few boxes of each one and see what you like.  

The following are good sources for these ammo types. A bit of patience will yield a lot:

Frangible Bullets  (
Ammunition Depot (
Ammunition To Go (
RP Tactical (
Surplus Ammo (
LE Targets (
Rare Ammo (
Ventura Munitions (
Lucky Gunner (

Jun 13, 2013

Lead Free Christmas Tree Lights

Christmas tree lights may have lead.  This generally comes from the plastic (PVC) wire used.

Our staff has been looking for lead-free alternatives, and we would recommend looking at Environmental Lights.  They have a wide selection of LED lights and it appears they do their best to bring the level of lead in their lights to either non-existent levels or extremely low levels.

Link here.

Nov 7, 2011

Is Apple playing games with its environmental certifications?

Apple claims on its website that it is RoHS (pronounced "rose") compliant.

RoHS is a fairly straightforward European environmental regulation and, generally, mandates limits on the amount of certain toxic substances  (lead, mercury, cadmium, and certain flame retardants) used in many electronics products.

Generally, the maximum permitted concentrations are 0.1% or 1000 ppm (except for Cadmium, which has an even more severe limit).

So, 0.1% is the limit. 

Now here's what's interesting.  There is a separate environmental law in China, referred to as "China RoHS", which currently mandates that if a manufacturer is above the 0.1% limit, they have to make a disclosure in the product's manual (it currently only mandates disclosure, not the actual elimination of the toxic substance).

Which brings me to this disclosure hidden in the back of the current iPAD 2 docking station user manual:

To translate, this document says that the circuit board and the "enclosure" (whatever that means) have lead concentrations higher than 0.1% (denoted by the "x").

In addition, the "10" with a circle on the bottom is mandated by China's law to describe how long the manufacturer believes that the product will not degrade or leach the toxic substance (the number 10 means 10 years).

Which brings us to the perplexing question:  Why is Apple saying they are RoHS compliant, when in fact, they are separately disclosing that they aren't?

It appears that Apple is playing games.

Aug 15, 2011

Gatwick Airport: The road is littered with good intentions

Leaking batteries cause issues for workers and the environment

On a recent trip to London, we noticed something odd at the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport: Very large rust-colored stains near large electrical recharging stations.

This struck us as interesting, as these type of stains are not actually rust, they are usually stains from battery acid leaks.  We've seen a lot, but we were astonished at the sheer quantity of  leakage, which has immediate environmental and health consequences, both to local water and soil quality, as well as workers at Gatwick.   It's possible that the charging stations have banks of lead-acid batteries, and hence are leaking at an unacceptable rate.

To explain, battery acid is sulfuric acid and is used in lead-acid batteries.  Since the lead plates are immersed in acid, the acid itself becomes highly concentrated with lead.  Typically, when batteries are recycled, the lead content is so significant that the acid is first leached through a contained soil mixture, encased in concrete and sent to a landfill.  It's certainly not something to casually allow to spill.

Curious, we did a bit of research and found that several years ago, Gatwick had initiated a highly laudable program to improve air quality, and one of the initiatives was to replace all gas vehicles at the North Terminal (not the South Terminal) with electric vehicles. Unfortunately for British Airways, it appears that the charging stations were all put right there in the BA area.

(Most modern electric vehicles of the type used in an industrial capacity use lead-acid batteries, as they are far cheaper than the NiCad or Lithium Ion batteries used on modern electric cars).

Unfortunately, one has to assiduously manage large-scale implementations of electric vehicles so that a) the vehicles don't leak battery acid (which they commonly do, unless one is using one of the more modern sealed types), and b) that banks of batteries don't leak acid as well.

We also noticed numerous other battery stains, throughout the tarmac and in various parking areas, indicating that the electric vehicles are also leaking.  

London Gatwick Airport has a problem, and they need it clean this up.  If the charging stations are leaking, they need to be cleaned up and sealed; and the batteries in the vehicles must be sealed, replaced or replaced with modern sealed AGM type batteries.

To wit, this is something even clearly perceivable from satellite:  Google Maps.

We'd prefer the use of gas or diesel if this is what you get instead.

Pasco eco-fest coming up...

This looks cool. November 19-20 will be the Pasco Eco-Fest, at the Jay B. Starkey wilderness park in New Port Richey. More here.

Jun 24, 2011

Supporters come out for clean water in Tampa

60 supporters showed up at a Tampa City Council meeting to push for an ordinance banning the purchase and use of nitrogen fertilizer during our rainy season...and the vote passed! Tampa now joins Pinellas County (where we are) in doing the same.

This is a great day for water quality in the Tampa Bay!

May 24, 2011

Manatee County passes fertilizer ordinance

This is great news. Manatee County is now the 36th local government banning the use of fertilizers during the rainy season. City of Tampa, Charlotte and Collier County in the process of debating similar bills. Show your support.