October 01, 2013


 Army switching to ‘green’ ammo

The U.S. Army will soon transition to an environmentally friendly version of the 7.62 mm bullet.

Modifications to the ammunition are similar to those made to the lead-free version of the 5.56 mm round the Army began using in 2010. Thirty-two grains of lead were eliminated from that bullet, while 114.5 grains of lead will be eliminated per 7.62 mm projectile.

The new 7.62 mm ammunition is expected to be issued to soldiers starting in 2014, the Army announced in a July 1 press release.

Since switching to the “green bullet” three years ago, nearly 2,000 tons of lead have been removed from ammunition production, the Army said. Using a lead-free 7.62 mm bullet could cut an additional 3,683 metric tons of lead over the next 5 years.

George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy, said he hopes the Army’s decision prompts voluntary changes in hunting practices, potentially saving millions of birds in the United States from ingesting spent lead ammunition. 

“If nonlead ammunition is good enough for the U.S. military, with all their ballistics and performance testing, it should be good enough for hunters,” Fenwick said.

Last year, the Association of Avian Veterinarians announced its support for replacing lead hunting ammunition and fishing tackle with nontoxic alternatives to prevent poisoning in free-ranging birds (see JAVMA, Dec. 15, 2012). 

Several varieties of approved and effective, lead-free ammunition and fishing tackle are available, according to the AAV. For these reasons, the association is advocating for the replacement of lead-based sporting ammunition and fishing tackle. The organization also recognizes the need for collaboration among all affected stakeholders to develop educational materials about lead intoxication and encourage appropriate regulatory and enforcement action.