Non-lead Bullet Types

Barnes Triple-Shock (left) and Nosler e-Tip (right) are two non-lead designs that both show similar expansion of nearly twice the bullet diameter.

Manufacturers of Non-lead Bullets

Luckily, alternatives exist that are made of either 100% copper or copper alloys (gilding metal - 95% copper & 5% zinc) that expand similarly to lead-core bullets, but without all the fragmentation. These non-lead bullets give you the stopping power of lead, as the rapid expansion provides the hydrostatic shock needed to give a quick kill. But because they don't break apart, non-lead bullets continue to travel through the target further disrupting tissues and breaking bones adding to the stopping power. In addition, the non-lead bullets typically will pass through the animal leaving an exit wound close to twice the diameter of the entrance wound. This results in greater blood loss and a better blood trail.

Many companies now produce non-lead center-fire rifle bullets including Barnes, Hornady, Remington, Winchester, Federal and Nosler.


Rifle Ammunition










Shotgun Slugs                                Rim Fire





Pistol                                                Muzzle Loader









Pellets                                               Online Retailers

Able Ammo
Cabelas Canada
Cheaper Than Dirt
The Hunting Shack
Midway USA







Link to California DFG Website Listing Non-lead Ammo Certified for Use in State

Barnes Bullets Position Statement on California Lead Rifle Bullet Ban

Cost Comparisons of Lead and Non-lead Bullets

We've heard many comments from hunters and ranchers lamenting the high price of non-lead ammo compared to the prices they have been used to paying for traditional lead-based ammo. While prices have dropped considerably for non-lead in recent years, it's true that non-lead ammo costs more, but it must be pointed out that you need to pay attention to what exactly you're comparing.

For instance, if you compare factory loaded ammo loaded with a premium lead-core bullet with ammo loaded using a premium non-lead bullet you can expect to pay about the same as shown in the photo above taken at the Reno Cabelas in Fall 2010. In this caliber and bullet weight, the non-lead Barnes Triple Shock actually costs a dollar less than the well-known Nosler partition.
However, if you are comparing ammo loaded with a cheap soft-point lead bullet with ammo containing a premium non-lead bullet you will find that the non-lead ammo costs anywhere from 50% to 100% more. Of course, you have to decide if that extra price is worth the better weight retention, penetration and accuracy that the premium bullets offer. Many hunters feel that the cost of the ammo used represents a tiny percentage of the total costs involved with going on a big-game hunt. And arguably, the most important piece of equipment that you buy since the bullet's performance will influence how well your quarry is quickly and humanely killed.
When comparing bullets for reloading, again pay attention to which lead bullet you are comparing against. Premium non-lead bullets will cost from the same to 30% more than a similar caliber and weight premium lead bullet option.

The Barnes Triple-Shock all copper bullet gives excellent and consistent expansion.