Bruce Potts offers some advice to a reader

Lead-free ammunition is definitely making its presence felt and I am increasingly hearing from readers who have concerns about lead-free bullets and accuracy. Here’s an example of just one such question.

Lead-free bullets and accuracy

Q: Will my .243 Win rifle shoot lead-free bullets accurately if lead is banned?

A: Accuracy and terminal ballistic issues from switching to lead-free bullets, and the implications to shooters here in Britain, are posing a problem.

It is important to understand that lead-free bullets have characteristics that will influence how well your rifle will shoot them.

Weight for weight, a lead-free bullet of the same weight and calibre will be longer because copper (lead-free) is lighter than lead. This means rifle barrels need a faster twist rate to stabilise these bullets. Your rifle, while accurate with a lead-cored bullet, may not stabilise a lead-free one.

The 6mm or .243 is a case in point. A lead Nosler Ballistic Tip of 90gr is 1.0785in long with an ogive to base length of 0.6055in and 0.5045in of bearing surface. The same weight 90gr lead-free Nosler E-Tip is 1.1805in long with an ogive to base length of 0.7245in and bearing surface of 0.6445in.

In bullet terms, that’s a big 
difference, resulting in stability and therefore accuracy issues, as well as more fouling.

Another question on lead-free bullets

Q: I see CCI now makes lead-free .22LR ammunition. Can you tell me more?

A: The debate about the eco-friendliness of non-toxic ammunition continues. Lead-free .22LR ammo makes a lot of sense because a vast quantity of lead ammo is shot every year.

The trouble is the alternatives to lead are usually a lighter metal – for example, compressed copper as in this new CCI ammo – and is therefore much faster than standard 40gr .22LR ammo.

Over my chronograph the lead-free CCI ammo achieves a velocity of 1,842fps. This makes it loud and, in my guns, it is not particularly accurate.

Due to the light 21g bullet weight, it loses energy quickly – from muzzle to 30 yards teh velocity dropped from 1,842fps to 1,564fps.