Lead ammunition review: 53% are using lead alternatives, or will do this year

The survey shows that shooters are embracing the shift away form lead ammunition, but many have been

The survey shows that shooters are embracing the shift away form lead ammunition, but many have been prevented from switching due to lockdown Credit: TRAVELARIUM/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A survey by the GWCT suggests that many shooters have already moved away from lead aumminition, or are planning to this year


* 53% of survey respondents are either using alternatives or will do this year.

* One in four is already using non-lead cartridges.

* Covid has been a barrier to people moving away from lead.

As Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announces plans to consider the phasing out of lead shot, studies by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) suggest that many shooters are already embracing change.

The conservation charity has been surveying those who will be affected by a ban, with interim results showing the majority intend to move away from lead within the next shooting season. Of more than 2,500 respondents, more than 20% have started testing alternatives such as steel and bismuth. In addition to this, a further 28% plan on testing the alternatives when the shooting season starts this autumn.

Most Read

It is clear that the pandemic and its impact on the shooting season has held back many who are eager to make the change. Several respondents highlighted the fact that they were willing to try alternatives but lacked the opportunity to do so. One noted that “I was pleased with the results from standard steel and planned to switch to it once my stocks of lead ammunition ran out. I was poised to make the switch when Covid restrictions intervened in December”, with another explaining that “I only shot one day last season. With the lack of shooting, I have a stock of lead ammunition and have been unable to replace it due to restrictions of movement”.

GWCT director of policy, Dr Alastair Leake, is reassured by the feedback. He says: “Just one year on from our joint statement on lead ammunition, these responses are encouraging. Our drive for a voluntary transition from lead will be nearing its final year once this review is complete, which we hope will show the power of cooperation rather than legislation. Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed down those wishing to change. If Government wishes to speed up the transition, it might consider an amnesty scheme for those stuck with a supply of lead cartridges. Recycling lead is energy-efficient and conserves natural resources, so it’s worth some thought.”

Some still have concerns over the performance of non-lead ammunition and any potential damage it might do to their guns. The GWCT is running the survey until the summer and plans to make its findings available to help inform the conversation around alternatives. Understanding the barriers to a move away from lead can help guide the cartridge manufacturers in what needs to be done.

If you shoot game, please share your views in the short, anonymous survey