Lead-free hunting rifle ammunition: product availability, price, effectiveness, and role in global wildlife conservation.
Proposals to end the use of lead hunting ammunition because of the established risks of lead exposure to wildlife and humans are impeded by concerns about the availability, price, and effectiveness of substitutes. The product availability and retail prices of different calibers of lead-free bullets and center-fire rifle ammunition were assessed for ammunition sold in the USA and Europe. Lead-free bullets are made in 35 calibers and 51 rifle cartridge designations. Thirty-seven companies distribute internationally ammunition made with lead-free bullets. There is no major difference in the retail price of equivalent lead-free and lead-core ammunition for most popular calibers. Lead-free ammunition has set bench-mark standards for accuracy, lethality, and safety. Given the demonstrated wide product availability, comparable prices, and the effectiveness of high-quality lead-free ammunition, it is possible to phase out the use of lead hunting ammunition world-wide, based on progressive policy and enforceable legislation.DOI: 10.1007/s13280-012-0361-7