Lead-Free Ammo Evolution

To the chagrin of many hunters, lead bullets have come under fire in some places...

To the chagrin of many hunters, lead bullets have come under fire in some places. California has banned them in certain areas, and states such as Washington and Minnesota are thinking about making similar moves. It's not known how common lead-bullet restrictions may become, but ammo companies are smart enough to know they need to have options available for those already affected and those who may be soon.

Here's a look at some current offerings in the varmint world. (If you're hunting in California, be sure to double-check the state's website to ensure your choice is on the "certified" list.)

You'll find the Triple Shock X (TSX) bullet in loaded ammo from several companies listed below. These all-copper bullets, which are heralded for their accuracy and performance, don't come cheap--making them more suitable for coyotes, bobcats and the like where you're not looking at high-volume shooting. For that you want the Varmint Grenade, which features a copper/tin composite core with a gilding metal jacket. It's designed for instant fragmentation, producing spectacular terminal performance and reducing the chances of ricochets. Available as a component bullet in .204 (26 grain), .224 (36, 50 grain) and .243 (62 grain).

The Black Hills Gold family includes a 100-grain Barnes TSX for the .25-06 Remington, which while more of a deer bullet should definitely stop any coyote in its tracks and makes for a good choice on windy days due to its weight. Black Hills also loads Barnes Varmint Grenades in .223 Remington (36 grain at 3,750 fps) in its new (red box) and remanufactured (blue box) lines.

CCI has two 30-grain TNT Green loads (see Speer for description) for the venerable .22 Magnum Rimfire: the 22 Mag TNT Green at 2,050 fps muzzle velocity and the 22 Maxi Mag TNT at 2,200 fps.

This outfit loads Barnes TSX bullets in .223 Remington (53-grain at 3,000 fps and 62-grain at 2,825 fps), .22-250 Remington (53-grain at 3,550 fps, 62-grain at 3,500 fps), .243 Winchester (85-grain at 3,200 fps) and .25-06 Remington (100-grain at 3,200 fps).

The Vital-Shok line includes a 55-grain Barnes TSX in the .223 Remington, but little critters take a look at the TNT Green (see Speer for description) in the V-Shok line. V-Shok loaded-ammo offerings are all 43-grainers: .222 Remington (3,400 fps muzzle velocity), .223 Remington (3,600 fps) and .22-250 Remington (4,000 fps).

Big Green has developed a jacketed hollowpoint with an iron/tin core called the Disintegrator. You can find it in a 45-grain .223 Remington load, stepping out at 3,550 fps, and in the .22-250 Remington at 4,000 fps. On the heavier side of the ledger is an 80-grain solid copper tipped bullet for the .243 Winchester at 3,350 fps.

In addition to being loaded in Federal and CCI ammo, TNT Green is now available as a component bullet. This lead-free bullet features a powdered metal core surrounded by a thin jacket for explosive performance. TNT Green component bullets are available in .224 diameter in 30-, 43- and 50-grain weights.

Winchester adds new lead-free varmint loads in the Super-X line, all incorporating a tin core. The lone centerfire round is a .223 Remington 55-grain bullet at 3,050 fps muzzle velocity. The .22 Magnum Rimfire load pushes a 28-grain jacketed hollowpoint at 2,200 fps. In .22 Long Rifle you'll find two choices, a 30-grain tin hollowpoint or tin roundnose--both at 1,650 fps.

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