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Lead Free Pellet round -up

Lead Free Pellet round -up

There are varying degrees of pressure being applied to shooters all over the world to abandon lead-based ammunition. Depending on your discipline, this may or may not be feasible, either now or in the future. However, some manufacturers are investing time, effort and resources in order to produce lead-free alternatives, so I thought I’d try a few pellets that are applicable to both Field Target and Hunter Field Target (FT & HFT) use and see what kind of results I get, compared to the more usual fare.

To lead or not to lead

There are two things that strike me immediately about lead-free /green pellets, first is the price, which can be up to twice that of the traditional product and the second is the weight, or lack thereof. I predict that both of these facts are major factors in why it is currently rare to find anyone using this sort of projectile. That said, there must be a market and people must be buying them, otherwise manufacturers would not make them and distributors would not stock them.

When choosing pellets to test, I decided to try and get the closest equivalents to lead products that are already used, or at least applicable to FT and HFT. That ended up being a pretty short list and getting hold of them looked like it was going to be difficult, as most of the mail order suppliers had some, but not all of the pellets I had chosen. In the end a local dealer came to the rescue. H&N Field Target Trophy green, Baracuda Match green and Excite Dynamic, RWS Hyperdomes and SMK Thunder Bolt.

The FTT and Barracuda Match have direct equivalents available in lead, the Hyperdomes are very similar to Superdomes and the last two are both a similar design to H&N Snipers.

What’s in the tin?

For a start, not as many pellets as would usually greet the eye, with one exception. The tins contain respectively. H&N FTT - 300, Baracuda - 200 Excite - 300, Hyperdomes - 200, Thunder Bolt – 500.

All the pellets are bright silver and are clearly not made of lead; they are also all much lighter than their lead equivalents. FTT - 5.56-grains, Baracuda - 6.5, Excite 8, Hyperdomes 5.5 and Thunder Bolt 5.

Looking at the individual pellets, they are all well made with sharp clean edges and good uniformity pellet-to-pellet. Some brands were brighter than others and when I opened the tin, it was apparent that the Excites were more akin to Sniper Magnums than Mediums, which was my mistake but what the heck I have them here, so let’s give ‘em a go.

To the Chrono, and beyond

story continues below...

I am using two rifles for the test, both .177; my RAW TM1000 and BSA Gold Star SE. The reason for this choice is because they are both unfussy about what I put through them, producing good accuracy with a wide range of pellets. So, time to chrono. I will fire a 5-shot string of control lead pellets through both rifles to get a baseline.

Later I will use them to set an accuracy baseline. Some surprising results were gained in the initial chrono testing. Obviously the light weight of most of the pellets has a bearing on both velocity and energy, but the fact that they all struggled to reach 11 ft/lbs had me a little worried about their ability to not reach the target but to knock it down once it got there.

I have used in the past have performed poorly, but the new generation designs were remarkably good with both rifles. The BSA really didn’t seem to mind what it used, they were a little left of my usual zero but I was able to put 5 to 6mm groups together using a 10 mag scope. The TM1000 was a little fussier, some of the Thunder Bolts were a little tight and these did not group well, however with those that fitted the barrel well I was able to place pellet on pellet. The TM also liked the Excites a lot and I managed to put 5-shots through the same hole, exactly as I would expect to do with lead pellets

Proper accuracy testing was done at regular ranges between 25 and 55 yards with the baseline set using lead pellets and with strings of five shots taken from the FT sitting position (sorry UKHFTA). The groups were shot at the same time of day, over three days (August 16th, 17th and 18th) in the same location and in almost identical conditions.

As a final test, I took the TM1000 and the H&N Baracuda green’s to my FT club, and on a breezy afternoon I managed to drop a tricky 50 yard target five times out of five, not only proving consistent accuracy, but also that the H&N’s actually have the power to do the job at that range!

Conclusion

Let’s start out being fair here; it is early days in the world of quality lead-free pellets. Several manufacturers added the caveat that their pellets are suitable for up to 30m/27 yards, so expecting them to perform beyond that is a bit of an ask, but if you don’t try you won’t know!

I will let the figures speak for themselves, but almost universally the lead-free pellets perform just as well as their traditional counterparts at close range. Out to around 35 yards some of them can hold their own, BUT, most of them are easily taken off track by the wind, and not very much wind can make what looked to be a good group into a disaster in the time it takes to reload the rifle.

The obvious winner was the H&N Baracuda green, as they were the only pellets that held a reliable group beyond 45 yards. This was an interesting exercise, but for now I would say that pellet weight, or lack of it and the price will restrict the use of these pellets to those that are compelled to by legislation and those who control vermin at close ranges in environments where lead is unacceptable.

My thanks to Damian at Pull the Trigger in Plymouth, as he was able to supply all but one tin of pellets from stock: www.pullthetrigger.co.uk Tel: 01752 257384

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

7 Comments

  • Do anyone knows who make 9 mm lead free pellets?

    Default profile image
    Fuan
    06 Nov 2020 at 10:47 PM
  • Andrew. "Toff bashing"? Come on. A more likely effect is that several tens of thousands of ordinary working folk will have greater difficulty replacing/modifying their shotguns so that they can use steel shot.
    As sure as god made little green apples, if shotgun cartridges are forced (eventually) to go lead free, so will all other forms of shooting. What will happen to muzzle loading firearms/shooting? Classic fullbore rifle shooting where some of the calibres are far from standard? Black powder cartridge rifles? All those disciplines might be seen as "a bit niche", but together they form a fair chunk of the shooting sports in UK.

    Default profile image
    Christopher McEvoy
    05 Mar 2020 at 12:16 PM
  • I’m sure you can also discover so many things related on this topics like Hookupandmore - horny women online and the other similar educational websites. I can provide you with some of them if you want it.

    Default profile image
    Guillaume Lemelin
    21 Jun 2019 at 04:03 PM
  • I’ve used both H&N Barracuda Green and Field Target Trophy green for target shooting up to 35 yards and had good results from both. I wanted to go lead free as my girlfriend has a dog and she was concerned about it eating stray pellets. I don’t really fancy lead poisoning either come to that. I’ve found both my Daisy 880 and HW30s can stack these on top of each other when I’m paying attention. What they lack in weight I’ve found they can make up for with hardness. I’m currently rebuilding my pellet trap, which was rated up to 12ft/lb, after shooting through it last weekend. Both of my guns shoot about 7ft/lb with these pellets. I mostly used the Field Target Trophy because they are slightly cheaper and put slightly smaller dents in pellet traps, they were what went through it over the weekend though; I keep the Barracuda for longer range shooting now. My only concern is whether the greater hardness will translate to increased barrel ware over time.

    Default profile image
    John
    11 Feb 2019 at 08:48 PM
  • I’ve used both H&N Barracuda Green and Field Target Trophy green for target shooting up to 35 yards and had good results from both. I wanted to go lead free as my girlfriend has a dog and she was concerned about it eating stray pellets. I don’t really fancy lead poisoning either come to that. I’ve found both my Daisy 880 and HW30s can stack these on top of each other when I’m paying attention. What they lack in weight I’ve found they can make up for with hardness. I’m currently rebuilding my pellet trap, which was rated up to 12ft/lb, after shooting through it last weekend. Both of my guns shoot about 7ft/lb with these pellets. I mostly used the Field Target Trophy because they are slightly cheaper and put slightly smaller dents in pellet traps, they were what went through it over the weekend though; I keep the Barracuda for longer range shooting now. My only concern is whether the greater hardness will translate to increased barrel ware over time.

    Default profile image
    John
    11 Feb 2019 at 08:46 PM
  • Thanks for that article. It is not just other things in the "environment" that lead poisons. I read about a guy who was target shooting in his cellar who got colitis, lost his job and his wife and never really got better. I was suffering from a medical condition at the time I red about that so I stopped using lead pellets. My condition disappeared in a matter of weeks! I was lucky. When I explained my lead exposure to my GP he said that he was 99/9% certain that the lead caused it. He said that "lead is an enigmatic toxin, it always poisons you but it’s effect can lurk under the surface for years and the conditions people develop from lead toxicity are so varying that it is often difficult to pin down". With lead pellets we breath in lead from muzzle blast as well as absorbing it through skin contact. A great pity that manufacturers make tin/zinc pellets so light. Prometheus ‘Dynamic PCP-1’ were 7.95 grain and available in 4.46mm and 4.50mm - they were very flat trajectory and the most lethal hunting pellet I’ve ever used - but H&N took them over and didn’t stick with them. Governments are supposed to help with things like this. Regulation against lead is clearly needed, even if some toffs will find it difficult to get new barrels for their Purdey shotguns.

    Default profile image
    Andrew
    21 Aug 2018 at 02:47 PM
  • Good read, we’ve tried them also as there’s 1 hft-location that requires leadfree. Most of us came to the same conclusion: bara greens shoots best.

    There are a few nasty side effects though: seating a pellet will bugger your thumb because they require much more pressure. Not a very pleasant thing doing that over a full course. The trick i use is to set it up with my normal hand and then push it in with my gloved hand.

    Second thing is wind. Because of the weight they are extremely sensitive to it. Found out that even the slightest breeze will change the trajectory significantly. On a wind still day it can be almost as good as with your regular lead pellets though.

    Default profile image
    HPL
    21 Mar 2017 at 07:54 AM


Lead Free Pellet round -up

Lead Free Pellet round -up

There are varying degrees of pressure being applied to shooters all over the world to abandon lead-based ammunition. Depending on your discipline, this may or may not be feasible, either now or in the future. However, some manufacturers are investing time, effort and resources in order to produce lead-free alternatives, so I thought I’d try a few pellets that are applicable to both Field Target and Hunter Field Target (FT & HFT) use and see what kind of results I get, compared to the more usual fare.

To lead or not to lead

There are two things that strike me immediately about lead-free /green pellets, first is the price, which can be up to twice that of the traditional product and the second is the weight, or lack thereof. I predict that both of these facts are major factors in why it is currently rare to find anyone using this sort of projectile. That said, there must be a market and people must be buying them, otherwise manufacturers would not make them and distributors would not stock them.

When choosing pellets to test, I decided to try and get the closest equivalents to lead products that are already used, or at least applicable to FT and HFT. That ended up being a pretty short list and getting hold of them looked like it was going to be difficult, as most of the mail order suppliers had some, but not all of the pellets I had chosen. In the end a local dealer came to the rescue. H&N Field Target Trophy green, Baracuda Match green and Excite Dynamic, RWS Hyperdomes and SMK Thunder Bolt.

The FTT and Barracuda Match have direct equivalents available in lead, the Hyperdomes are very similar to Superdomes and the last two are both a similar design to H&N Snipers.

What’s in the tin?

For a start, not as many pellets as would usually greet the eye, with one exception. The tins contain respectively. H&N FTT - 300, Baracuda - 200 Excite - 300, Hyperdomes - 200, Thunder Bolt – 500.

All the pellets are bright silver and are clearly not made of lead; they are also all much lighter than their lead equivalents. FTT - 5.56-grains, Baracuda - 6.5, Excite 8, Hyperdomes 5.5 and Thunder Bolt 5.

Looking at the individual pellets, they are all well made with sharp clean edges and good uniformity pellet-to-pellet. Some brands were brighter than others and when I opened the tin, it was apparent that the Excites were more akin to Sniper Magnums than Mediums, which was my mistake but what the heck I have them here, so let’s give ‘em a go.

To the Chrono, and beyond

story continues below...

I am using two rifles for the test, both .177; my RAW TM1000 and BSA Gold Star SE. The reason for this choice is because they are both unfussy about what I put through them, producing good accuracy with a wide range of pellets. So, time to chrono. I will fire a 5-shot string of control lead pellets through both rifles to get a baseline.

Later I will use them to set an accuracy baseline. Some surprising results were gained in the initial chrono testing. Obviously the light weight of most of the pellets has a bearing on both velocity and energy, but the fact that they all struggled to reach 11 ft/lbs had me a little worried about their ability to not reach the target but to knock it down once it got there.

I have used in the past have performed poorly, but the new generation designs were remarkably good with both rifles. The BSA really didn’t seem to mind what it used, they were a little left of my usual zero but I was able to put 5 to 6mm groups together using a 10 mag scope. The TM1000 was a little fussier, some of the Thunder Bolts were a little tight and these did not group well, however with those that fitted the barrel well I was able to place pellet on pellet. The TM also liked the Excites a lot and I managed to put 5-shots through the same hole, exactly as I would expect to do with lead pellets

Proper accuracy testing was done at regular ranges between 25 and 55 yards with the baseline set using lead pellets and with strings of five shots taken from the FT sitting position (sorry UKHFTA). The groups were shot at the same time of day, over three days (August 16th, 17th and 18th) in the same location and in almost identical conditions.

As a final test, I took the TM1000 and the H&N Baracuda green’s to my FT club, and on a breezy afternoon I managed to drop a tricky 50 yard target five times out of five, not only proving consistent accuracy, but also that the H&N’s actually have the power to do the job at that range!

Conclusion

Let’s start out being fair here; it is early days in the world of quality lead-free pellets. Several manufacturers added the caveat that their pellets are suitable for up to 30m/27 yards, so expecting them to perform beyond that is a bit of an ask, but if you don’t try you won’t know!

I will let the figures speak for themselves, but almost universally the lead-free pellets perform just as well as their traditional counterparts at close range. Out to around 35 yards some of them can hold their own, BUT, most of them are easily taken off track by the wind, and not very much wind can make what looked to be a good group into a disaster in the time it takes to reload the rifle.

The obvious winner was the H&N Baracuda green, as they were the only pellets that held a reliable group beyond 45 yards. This was an interesting exercise, but for now I would say that pellet weight, or lack of it and the price will restrict the use of these pellets to those that are compelled to by legislation and those who control vermin at close ranges in environments where lead is unacceptable.

My thanks to Damian at Pull the Trigger in Plymouth, as he was able to supply all but one tin of pellets from stock: www.pullthetrigger.co.uk Tel: 01752 257384

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Lead Free Pellet round -up - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

7 Comments

  • Do anyone knows who make 9 mm lead free pellets?

    Default profile image
    Fuan
    06 Nov 2020 at 10:47 PM
  • Andrew. "Toff bashing"? Come on. A more likely effect is that several tens of thousands of ordinary working folk will have greater difficulty replacing/modifying their shotguns so that they can use steel shot.
    As sure as god made little green apples, if shotgun cartridges are forced (eventually) to go lead free, so will all other forms of shooting. What will happen to muzzle loading firearms/shooting? Classic fullbore rifle shooting where some of the calibres are far from standard? Black powder cartridge rifles? All those disciplines might be seen as "a bit niche", but together they form a fair chunk of the shooting sports in UK.

    Default profile image
    Christopher McEvoy
    05 Mar 2020 at 12:16 PM
  • I’m sure you can also discover so many things related on this topics like Hookupandmore - horny women online and the other similar educational websites. I can provide you with some of them if you want it.

    Default profile image
    Guillaume Lemelin
    21 Jun 2019 at 04:03 PM
  • I’ve used both H&N Barracuda Green and Field Target Trophy green for target shooting up to 35 yards and had good results from both. I wanted to go lead free as my girlfriend has a dog and she was concerned about it eating stray pellets. I don’t really fancy lead poisoning either come to that. I’ve found both my Daisy 880 and HW30s can stack these on top of each other when I’m paying attention. What they lack in weight I’ve found they can make up for with hardness. I’m currently rebuilding my pellet trap, which was rated up to 12ft/lb, after shooting through it last weekend. Both of my guns shoot about 7ft/lb with these pellets. I mostly used the Field Target Trophy because they are slightly cheaper and put slightly smaller dents in pellet traps, they were what went through it over the weekend though; I keep the Barracuda for longer range shooting now. My only concern is whether the greater hardness will translate to increased barrel ware over time.

    Default profile image
    John
    11 Feb 2019 at 08:48 PM
  • I’ve used both H&N Barracuda Green and Field Target Trophy green for target shooting up to 35 yards and had good results from both. I wanted to go lead free as my girlfriend has a dog and she was concerned about it eating stray pellets. I don’t really fancy lead poisoning either come to that. I’ve found both my Daisy 880 and HW30s can stack these on top of each other when I’m paying attention. What they lack in weight I’ve found they can make up for with hardness. I’m currently rebuilding my pellet trap, which was rated up to 12ft/lb, after shooting through it last weekend. Both of my guns shoot about 7ft/lb with these pellets. I mostly used the Field Target Trophy because they are slightly cheaper and put slightly smaller dents in pellet traps, they were what went through it over the weekend though; I keep the Barracuda for longer range shooting now. My only concern is whether the greater hardness will translate to increased barrel ware over time.

    Default profile image
    John
    11 Feb 2019 at 08:46 PM
  • Thanks for that article. It is not just other things in the "environment" that lead poisons. I read about a guy who was target shooting in his cellar who got colitis, lost his job and his wife and never really got better. I was suffering from a medical condition at the time I red about that so I stopped using lead pellets. My condition disappeared in a matter of weeks! I was lucky. When I explained my lead exposure to my GP he said that he was 99/9% certain that the lead caused it. He said that "lead is an enigmatic toxin, it always poisons you but it’s effect can lurk under the surface for years and the conditions people develop from lead toxicity are so varying that it is often difficult to pin down". With lead pellets we breath in lead from muzzle blast as well as absorbing it through skin contact. A great pity that manufacturers make tin/zinc pellets so light. Prometheus ‘Dynamic PCP-1’ were 7.95 grain and available in 4.46mm and 4.50mm - they were very flat trajectory and the most lethal hunting pellet I’ve ever used - but H&N took them over and didn’t stick with them. Governments are supposed to help with things like this. Regulation against lead is clearly needed, even if some toffs will find it difficult to get new barrels for their Purdey shotguns.

    Default profile image
    Andrew
    21 Aug 2018 at 02:47 PM
  • Good read, we’ve tried them also as there’s 1 hft-location that requires leadfree. Most of us came to the same conclusion: bara greens shoots best.

    There are a few nasty side effects though: seating a pellet will bugger your thumb because they require much more pressure. Not a very pleasant thing doing that over a full course. The trick i use is to set it up with my normal hand and then push it in with my gloved hand.

    Second thing is wind. Because of the weight they are extremely sensitive to it. Found out that even the slightest breeze will change the trajectory significantly. On a wind still day it can be almost as good as with your regular lead pellets though.

    Default profile image
    HPL
    21 Mar 2017 at 07:54 AM


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