Yep, if you hunt with lead ammunition, there’s a good likelihood that you are consuming lead. While, lead levels are typically low, and game meat consumption levels are also low, it may not be a ginormous concern for you, but for children and the elderly it can pose a significant enough risk.
First off, I want to stress that we in no way advocate for legislation prohibiting the use of lead ammo.
Also, while there is a “safe level” of lead that can be in your blood, zero is the best number.
That said, we will spare you all the data and medical analysis and what not, but if you want to learn a bit more there was a study in 2008 done in Wisconsin on lead contaminated deer meat. They found lead in about 15 percent of meat samples (30 out of 199 1-lbs packages.)
I had the opportunity to help the Arizona Game and Fish Department conduct some tests on the accuracy and efficiency back in 2016. We shot common lead hunting ammunition alongside solid copper hunting ammunition to get a side by side comparison in ballistics gel. Copper hunting ammunition has made great improvements since then as well.
The short story is if you use lead ammo, the bullet will partially disintegrate inside the game animal sending lead particles all over the place. Lead also spreads in the meat during processing and butchering. As you can see in the pictures, the lead ammo we shot lost a substantial amount of its mass in the ballistic gel. The copper bullet however, stayed together and still performed effectively.
What lead is not still remaining in the recovered bullet, is left in the animal. Lead particles are in the meat (not all of it, but at least some) and the gut pile you would leave in the field. This means that either you, your family, your friends or other wildlife are exposed to lead, which is toxic. Have no fear! There’s a simple solution!
Lead free ammo!
There’s been push back over the years, and I get it, we’ve been using the same stuff for decades at least. We don’t want to change but hear me out. On top of being lead free, and not poisoning ourselves and the local wildlife, lead free, or copper bullets have some pretty sweet bonuses.
Firstly, they usually are more precise. Not only dimensionally, but their weight, and bullet coefficient are usually much more consistent and stable. Essentially, they have the potential to be more accurate. Solid copper bullets are the favorite of extreme long-range shooters like Paul Philips who has set records using solid copper bullets from Cutting Edge Bullets.
They also are effective at expanding and delivering their energy payload to the game animal. Instead of disintegrating and casting lead fragments everywhere, they remain intact and expand delivering their full energy into the animal without over penetrating and leaving the target.
So, give it a thought, try it out yourself and cut lead out of your diet!