May 30th, 2017

Varminter.com Field Tests New Lead Free 17 WSM Ammo

Varminter.com winchester 17 WSM lead free no lead rifle test
Photo Courtesy Varminter.com.

The team at Varminter.com just completed an extensive test of Winchester’s new LEAD FREE 17 WSM ammunition. During multiple sessions, Varminter.com shot the ammo using no less than nine different rifles. Four, 5-shot groups were shot with each rifle from the bench at 100 yards. Results were impressive. Average group size for a 1:9″-twist heavy barrel Savage B-Mag was a remarkable 0.5005 inches. Group size averages for seven of the eight other 17-cal rifles* ranged from 0.755 to 1.03 inches at 100 yards — pretty impressive for factory rimfire rigs. A LOT of time was invested in this test, and we recommend you read the full report on Varminter.com.

» READ FULL 17 WSM Lead-Free AMMO Review on Varminter.com

Fastest Rimfire Cartridge Ever
If you’re not familiar with this cartridge, the 17 WSM is the fastest, flattest-shooting rimfire round you can buy. It stomps the .22 LR, and even offers significantly better ballistics than the popular 17 HMR. This lead- free version is impressively flat-shooting. With a 100-yard zero, it drops only 4.3 inches at 200 yards. Compare that with a .22 LR which can drop 18 inches or more from 100 to 200 yards (based on 1150 fps MV).

Varminter.com winchester 17 WSM lead free no lead rifle test

Zinc Replaces Lead in Winchester’s Eco-Friendly 17 WSM
For folks who live in areas where lead ammo is restricted, such as California, the arrival of this Lead Free 17 WSM is good news. Winchester’s new 17 WSM ammunition features a Zinc-cored, polymer-tipped 15-grain bullet with 0.118 G1 BC. The ammo is rated at a speedy 3300 FPS velocity. Winchester says that the zinc core and “thin alloy jacket with engineered sidewall profile” deliver “explosive fragmentation.”

Varminter.com winchester 17 WSM lead free no lead rifle test

*The ninth rifle, a Savage BMAG with original thin-contour barrel, was the “odd man out”. Accuracy was mediocre, averaging 1.763 inches.

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March 23rd, 2015

Norma Debuts New Lead-Free “Ecostrike” Bullet

Silver Bullet Ecostrike Bullion NormaThe Lone Ranger used silver bullets… now you can too. Well, they’re not really silver, but they look like silver and they are lead-free. Norma’s new ECOSTRIKE™ bullet features a copper core with a proprietary silver-color plating to reduce fouling. Why is Norma offering a lead-free bullet? Well, in some locations, such as California, the use of traditional, lead-core bullets has been highly restricted. The Ecostrike give hunters the opportunity to shot hard-hitting, deep-penetrating projectiles, even where lead-cored bullets are banned. Norma explains: “The Ecostrike is designed to give… penetration deep enough to reach the vital organs even on large animals. The controlled expansion and a very high retained weight guarantee a consistent behavior and deep penetration.”

Being totally lead-free, Ecostrike bullets are California-compliant, and they can be used in other regions where lead ammo is restricted. Currently, Norma plans to offer Ecostrike bullets in four popular calibers: 7mm (.284), .308 (7.62 mm), 8mm, and 9.3 mm. Spanning the range from 7mm up to 9.3 mm, Ecostrike bullets will be available for the most popular big game cartridge types. Norma also plans to produce loaded ammunition featuring the new Ecostrike bullet.

Silver Bullet Ecostrike hunting projectile lead-free ecology Norma

Silver Bullet Ecostrike Bullion Norma
“Silver Bullet” Bullion cartridges are produced by the NW Territorial Mint. The Norma Ecostrike bullets contain no silver, just copper and a proprietary plating. But they do look like silver bullets.

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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October 6th, 2011

Surprising Results in Dept. of Defense Lead-Free Primer Tests

The Weapons System Technology Analysis Center (WSTIAC), part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), recently conducted a comparison test between standard primers and lead-free primers. The test procedure, along with the surprising test results, are discussed in the WSTIAC Journal (Vol. 11, No. 2).

Key Findings of the WSTIAC Primer Study Were:

1. Lead-Free primers suffered from significant delays in ignition.

2. Lead-Free large rifle primers had a “a much larger variation in peak blast pressure” than did lead-based large rifle primers.

3. Field tests showed 7.62×51 rounds loaded with lead-free primers to be less accurate than rounds loaded with lead-based primers.

4. So-called “match-grade” primers were NOT always more consistent in pressure than standard primers.

Russian Lead-Free Primers Tested
WSTIAC scientists did some pretty sophisticated testing, measuring the blast waves of lead free primers vs. standard primers. The lead-free primers, denoted as DDNP for their “Diazodinitrophenol” active ingredients, were matched up against commercially-available primers containing lead. Eight models of widely-used, lead-based primers were tested along with two DDNP-based Russian-made primers, a large rifle primer (model KVB-7E) and a small pistol primer (model KVB-9E). Brief field tests were also conducted with large rifle primers in loaded ammunition. Testers measured primer ignition times, bullet muzzle velocities, and accuracy on 200m targets.

Lead-Free Primers Were Less Reliable, with Less Uniform Pressure
While you’ll need to read the study to understand the full results, in a nutshell, the DDNP (lead-free) primers proved somewhat less reliable than standard primers. The study observed: “The most obvious difference between the lead-based and DDNP-based primers was a perceptible delay between firing pin strike and ignition in 15 of 19 shots with the DDNP-based primers (and one misfire); in contrast, there were no misfires or perceptible delays in ignition with the lead-based primer.” The scientists theorized that: “The delay in ignition in 6 of the 10 shots with the DDNP-based primer suggests that this primer is at the low end of strength needed to reliably ignite 46 grains of an extruded powder.” The study also noted that: “DDNP-based KVB-7E has a much larger variation in peak blast pressure than other primers.”

Lead-Free Primers Were Less Accurate in 7.62×51 Ammo
One very interesting finding related to accuracy. In field tests, 7.62×51 ammo loaded with lead-free primers was tested against ammo with lead-based primers (other components were identical). At 200m, the average 10-shot group size of 7.62×51 ammo with lead-free primers was 2.5 MOA vs. 1.8 MOA for ammo with lead-based primers. That 0.7 MOA difference may well be meaningful (though we’d like to see the test repeated with multiple 10-shot groups, fired from a more accurate rifle). For precision shooters, this is a provocative finding because it suggests that a change in primer type, by itself, may have a dramatic impact on accuracy. The scientists surmised that: “ignition delay is the most likely cause of the larger average group size.”

“Match” Primers Are NOT Always More Consistent
One surprising collateral finding in the study challenges the widely-held notion that “Match Primers” are better, at least when judged by pressure uniformity. “Table 1 shows average peak pressures along with standard deviations from the mean for the primers in this study…. There are significant differences in the standard deviations observed for different primer types, and it is notable that so-called ‘Match’ primers are not always more consistent than non-match primers.” Readers should look at the bottom right of Table 1 below. Note that, as a percentage (%) of total pressure, the non-match CCI 450s have a significantly lower SD than the “Match” Fed 205m primers. On the other hand, the Federal 210M and 215M “Match” primers ARE more uniform in pressure than the non-match CCI Large Rifle primers.

ABSTRACT: Comparing Blast Pressure Variations of Lead-Based and DDNP (Lead-Free) Primers
This article describes the blast pressure waves produced by detonation of both lead styphnate and diazodinitrophenol (DDNP) based firearms primers measured with a high-speed pressure transducer located at the muzzle of a rifle (without powder or bullet). These primer blast waves emerging from the muzzle have a pressure-time profile resembling free-field blast pressure waves. The lead-based primers in this study had peak blast pressure variations (standard deviations from the mean) of 5.0-11.3%.

In contrast, lead-free DDNP-based primers had standard deviations of the peak blast pressure of 8.2-25.0%. Combined with smaller blast waves, these large variations in peak blast pressure led to delayed ignition and failure to fire in brief field tests.

Story Concept and Photos by German Salazar courtesy RiflemansJournal.com.
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March 2nd, 2011

New Hi-Vel and Lead-Free Rimfire Ammo from Winchester

Winchester is producing four new types of rimfire ammunition for 2011. Three of the four products should be of great interest to varminters, with new high velocity, high expansion, and lead-free designs. Winchester is also introducing its M-22 bulk pack .22LR ammo, designed for use in mag-fed semi-autos.

Varmint HV in .22 Magnum Rimfire
SPECS: 30gr tipped V-Max bullet, 2250 FPS
The Winchester Varmint HV line of .22 WMR ammo has proven very popular, and this year Winchester adds a new version for varminters who prefer a plastic-tipped bullet. The latest Varmint HV round features the accurate and explosive 30gr V-Max bullet. With a V-Max loaded to an impressive 2250 fps, this gives you near 17HMR velocity, with a heavier bullet for added hitting power.

Varmint HV V-Max

Varmint HE 3-in-1 Segmented .22LR
SPECS: 37gr plated HP, 1435 FPS
The unique 3-in-1 segment design, exclusive to Winchester, features a 37gr plated HP fragmenting expansion bullet pushed at 1435 fps. This “progammed” hollow-point bullet fragments into three forward segments, plus a solid rear core that gives more penetration (and energy). “Without a doubt, Varmint HE ammunition provides explosive impact,” said Brett Flaugher, Winchester’s Marketing VP. “The 3/1 segmenting design makes this product truly innovative, but unlike other high-energy bullets on the market, our new 3/1 fragmenting design allows initial impact shock, and deep penetration resulting in maximum terminal effect.”

Winchester Varmint HE

Varmint LF (Lead-Free) 17 HMR
SPECS: 15.5gr NXT tipped lead-free bullet, 2550 FPS
For 2011, Winchester is introducing a new 17HMR version of its popular Lead-Free (LF) rimfire ammo. The new 17HMR LF shoots a lightweight, 15.5gr tipped NXT bullet at a blistering 2550 fps, making this some of the highest-velocity rimfire ammo you can buy. Along with the new 17MHR LF, Winchester’s LF rimfire line includes lead-free .22 WMR and .22LR LF ammo.

Varmint HV V-Max

M-22 Ammo for .22LR Tactical Trainers
SPECS: 40gr, Blackened Copper-plated Lead Bullet, 1255 FPS
New this year is Winchester’s M-22 line of affordable .22LR ammo. This is designed to function well in large-capacity stick magazines. If you are shooting one of the .22LR tactical-style semi-autos such as Smith & Wesson’s MP15-22, this ammo would be a good choice. It features a blackened, copper-plated 40gr lead bullet, and is available in 1000-count bulk packs.

Winchester Product Demo Page

NOTE: To watch video, use scroll bars to move to right, then click on “VIDEOS” in top red navigation bar. Or, CLICK HERE to view page in new window.

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April 1st, 2010

New from New Zealand — Jacketless, Bio-Degradable Bullets

In recent years, environmental concerns over lead toxicity have inspired efforts to eliminate conventional lead-based ammunition. To protect endangered species from lead poisoning, California has banned hunting altogether on huge tracts of public land. In other areas which harbor protected species, hunters are forbidden to use lead-core or solid lead bullets. There is an ongoing FDA investigation into the health of venison taken with lead-core bullets. Responding to such concerns, in 2008, Barnes Bullets (now part of the Freedom Group), introduced its MPG™ (Multi-Purpose Green) lead-free bullets. These bullets are intended for hunting and for rifle training in locations where lead is restricted.

Following Barnes’ lead, BIO-Bullets, a small company in Wanganui, New Zealand has invented a jacketless bullet that is not only lead-free, but is also 100% non-toxic, and bio-degradable. The new bullets have zero lead content and are made from “all-natural”, organic compounds. Unlike conventional bullets formed in a die, the new BIO-Bullets are pressure-molded from a proprietary composite, using sintered mineral compounds in a silica matrix. The mineral compounds, interestingly enough, not only bind the bio-degradable bullet together, but they provide nutritional benefits for any game that might ingest the projectiles. If an animal eats the bullet, it won’t get sick — it will actually get healthier.

That’s right — these edible BIO-Bullets are not only non-toxic, they are actually nutritious. “When we came up with a non-toxic component mix, we realized we could actually provide a blend of flavorful nutrients in the matrix.” Said Trevor MacDiarmid, BIO-Bullets’ chief bullet designer. “It may seem far-fetched but just look at the label on a typical multi-vitamin supplement. You’ll see iron, chromium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, among other minerals. These are all elements that can be combined into a durable bullet form that is actually healthy when ingested by an animal.” MacDiarmid, who holds a Ph.D in chemical engineering, explains that the health benefits of the BIO-Bullet came as an unexpected bonus: “Our first goal was simply to create a shootable, lead-free bullet that was non-toxic. But when our silica matrix proved more than hard enough to survive the friction, heat, and pressure of a 3500 fps trip through a rifle bore, we realized we could add additional minerals into the mix that would have a salutary effect on wildlife health.”

BIO-Bullet’s founder, Steven Williams, is a gregarious 45-year entrepreneur who earned his first millions promoting dietary supplements in his native New Zealand. Noting the growing interest in “eco-friendly” ammunition components, Williams expects a huge demand for his new BIO-Bullets. “Globally, the annual sales of hunting bullets exceed €500 million in value. And the military bullet market may be triple that number — as long as you Yanks keep fighting wars”, he joked. Williams believes his new company is in the right place at the right time: “Being based in eco-aware New Zealand gives us a strong marketing advantage in launching this new product.” Williams’ company has earned the coveted “100% Pure New Zealand” certification, signifying that Bio-Bullets are “all-natural” and organic.

A select group of New Zealand hunting guides has already been using prototype BIO-Bullets in the field. The new eco-friendly bullets have earned high praise from these tough-to-please outdoorsmen. “In terms of ballistics and knock-down power, I reckon the ‘greenies’ are as good as anything on the market”, reports veteran outfitter Bart Coutts. South Island guide and deer farmer Dennis Amon said, “I’ve used them for predator control, and, as a test I even fed them to some of our captive Red Deer. The Reds ate them up like they were candy. Ever since then we’ve been calling these BIO-bullets the ‘incredible edibles’.”

BIO-Bullets will initially be available in .224, 6mm, and .308 calibers starting at $40 (NZ) per box of 100. The varmint-grade, flat-based bullets will be finished with a day-glo green outer coating, while the longer, boat-tail match bullets will be fluorescent red. Said designer MacDiarmid: “Since our BIO-Bullets don’t use a conventional jacket, we can finish them in any color by adding non-toxic dyes to the silica matrix. It’s sort of like putting the colored shell on a jelly bean. I favored a more sedate color, but the boss wanted something bold and eye-catching. Steven’s the marketing guru, and he writes the checks, so we went with fluorescent colors. But any exterior color scheme is possible, even digital camo.”

BIO-Bullets is currently finalizing arrangements with North American distributors. The company expects its eco-friendly bullets to appear on American and Canadian store shelves in time for the traditional fall hunting season.

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January 5th, 2010

Freedom Group (Cerberus) Acquires Barnes Bullets

Cerberus Capital Managment, through its Freedom Group holding company, has acquired yet another well-known gun industry company: Barnes Bullets. On December 31, 2009, Freedom Group, Inc. entered into a purchase agreement to acquire certain assets of Barnes Bullets.

In recent years, Cerberus/Freedom Group has acquired Remington, Bushmaster, Marlin, H&R, DMPS and other smaller firearms-related companies. By acquiring Barnes, the Freedom Group gains entry into the ammunition component business at a time when brass, bullets, and powder remain in high demand. As the Freedom Group continues to build a vertically integrated firearms-related mega-corp, one wonders if Cerberus will look to acquire a powder-maker next. Freedom Group already sells Remington-brand factory-loaded ammunition.

Barnes Bullets, located in Mona, Utah, is the industry-leading supplier of copper bullets, including copper-tin composite core bullets. Barnes is a major player in the “lead-free” bullet market. This has become important as lead-core bullets have been banned in many hunting areas, and lead-free bullets are required in many indoor shooting facilities. Barnes Bullets will continue day-to-day operations at Utah facility under the guidance of company founder, Randy Brooks.

Ted Torbeck, CEO of the Freedom Group, Inc. stated: “With the acquisition of Barnes, the Freedom Group continues to demonstrate our commitment to the ammunition business. Barnes offers a premium line of high performance bullets for the hunting and shooting communities; and for law enforcement, military and commercial consumers. We are excited about their R&D capabilities and the breadth of the products they bring to our portfolio.”

Cerberus Freedom Group

Freedom Group is now one of the world’s largest producers of guns and ammo. Freedom Group brands include Remington, Bushmaster, DPMS/Panther Arms, Marlin, H&R, NEF, LC Smith, Parker, EOTAC, AAC, Dakota and INTC. The company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 80 foreign countries. Learn more at www.freedom-group.com.

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October 14th, 2009

RUAG Teams with Florida Firm to Distribute Ammo in USA

RUAG Ammotec, one of Europe’s largest ammunition manufacturers, is teaming up with Florida-based Precision Ammunition LLC to distribute frangible ammunition and other products. In the past, RUAG has not seemed very interested in the US market, at least the American sport shooting market. That could change as RUAG works with Precision Ammo of Tampa, FL, which specializes in non-toxic, lead-free frangible ammo. Precision Ammunition, established in 2001, holds many patents for their Copper-Matrix NTF® Non-Toxic Frangible bullet.

RUAG’s primary goal in working with Precision Ammunition LLC is to grab a foothold in the lucrative military and law enforcement markets in the US. Cyril Kubelka, CEO of RUAG Ammotec, stated “[this alliance] establishes a US presence for the RUAG family of business to actively bid on US Government contracts.”

Florida’s Precision Ammunition LLC is best known for its Copper-Matrix NTF® Non-Toxic Frangible bullet. Copper-Matrix NTF is particularly well-suited for training law enforcement, military and security personnel, as well as being ideal for use in shooting ranges. “RUAG Ammotec and Precision Ammunition are a perfect fit for each other[.] The combination of innovative bullet design with large scale, high-quality component production reflects the increasing demand for non-toxic frangible ammunition”, added Kubelka of RUAG.

Ruag Ammotec ltd. catalogMore RUAG Products in the Pipeline?
Hopefully RUAG may use its new partnership (with Precision Ammunition) to expand distribution of its ammo and reloading components in the USA as well. RUAG Ammotec is the parent company of RWS, Rottweil, GECO, Norma and Hirtenberger. RUAG makes outstanding brass in many popular calibers, and the RWS brass is as good as it gets. It would be great to be able to purchase RUAG, RWS, and Hirtenberger products through regular commercial channels in the USA. Prior to the introduction of 6.5×47 Lapua, some American shooters tried to import RUAG 6×47 match brass on a “group buy” basis. All those efforts failed because RUAG demanded a minimum order in excess of 250,000 pieces, paid in advance.

RUAG Ammotec Ltd. has approximately 1,600 employees worldwide at production sites in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and Sweden, and operates sales companies in Austria, the UK, Belgium and France. The Group’s holding company is based in Berne, Switzerland.

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May 10th, 2008

Barnes Offers New Polymer-Tipped, Lead-Free TSX Bullet for Hunters

The Barnes Triple-Shock X-Bullet has long been considered one of the best hunting bullets for game hunters. The all-copper construction provides excellent expansion and very high weight retention. The absence of a lead core means this bullet is also legal in areas (such as parts of California) where lead-containing bullets are banned.
Barnes TSX Bullet

The big innovation in the new Tipped TSX bullet is the addition of a polymer tip. The tip increases the bullet’s Ballistic Coefficient (BC). Additionally, polymer-tipped bullets show less bullet-to-bullet variance in BC than do conventional bullets. More uniform BC can make your point of impact at long range more predictable, shot after shot.

The TSX bullet, like the previous Triple-Shock, has grooves, or “drive bands”, formed in the outer casing. This effectively reduces the bearing surface. The use of drive bands is a proven bullet technology that can reduce friction and barrel copper fouling, while allowing higher velocities for a given bullet weight.

The TSX bullet is available in these calibers and weights:

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