Lead Ammunition Survey – what you’ve told us so far

In less than a month, nearly 2000 of you have completed our short one-minute survey on your use of the alternatives to lead ammunition. We’d love to hear from many more of you – please complete the survey here.

What have we learned so far?

Looking through your responses, some key themes emerge:

Last season halted your plans

Many of you pointed out that, due to covid restrictions, you spent far less time in the field last season. Some made it clear that they had a lot of lead ammunition to use up, while others hadn’t had the opportunity to properly test the alternatives. There is clearly an appetite to try them when the time is right.

Concern about your guns

Of those unsure about using non-lead cartridges, the biggest concern was whether it would damage their guns. This varied from concerns about old guns (“I shoot with an old English side-by-side made by Purdeys in 1894 with a 65mm breach, I am concerned that steel shot will damage the barrels” and “I am waiting until suitable alternatives are available for old guns”) and the availability of cartridges for specific guns, be they 20 bore, 28 bore or otherwise.

Others had a contrary experience, however, with one respondent reporting that they had sent a 1930 vintage shotgun for a service and was delighted to discover that it was perfectly OK for standard steel shot.

Concern about performance

Many people are also concerned about how steel might perform in comparison to lead. Most of these seem to centre around lethality (“steel shot in my opinion produces far more wounded quarry than lead unless the ranges are dramatically reduced”) and the impact on range. Again, this wasn’t unanimous. Several respondents spoke very fondly of the alternatives, with one stating “I found the steel shot to be excellent. It killed very well, slightly better than lead up to 50 metres.”

Concern about cost

Around a tenth of respondents so far raised fears about the additional costs of non-lead cartridges. Many comments echoed one respondent’s comment that “There needs to be a reduction in the price of alternate cartridges before any meaningful switch will happen” and that “cartridge manufacturers must play a major part in the move from lead to steel”. The manufacturers seem very aware of this and are working hard.

What happens next?

We want to gather as many survey responses as possible before the next shooting season starts. Understanding the barriers to moving away from lead can help inform the conversation about any transition and also guide the cartridge manufacturers in what needs to be done.

Please complete our survey and encourage as many people as you can to do the same at www.gwct.org.uk/leadsurvey.

Please donate today and help us undertake leading research, challenge misinformation and promote what works


Steel performance

at 9:19 on 22/03/2021 by Simon Ramsay

I would have thought those who see the steel shot performing up to their standards aren't using standard steel, rather performance steel and those concerned about performance would be using standard steel due to their older gun. It would be interesting to see performance assessments next to type of cartridge being used as this could well be the difference.

Lead shot

at 15:51 on 20/03/2021 by Steve fancy

I disagree with the ban of lead shot. I would like to see evidence of lead shot having harmed a human through ingestion of lead through eating game or wildfowl or deer shot with bullets containing lead

Lead Shot v Steel Shot

at 22:11 on 19/03/2021 by IAN BEARDSWORTH

I think there is a problem with older English shot guns however for effective clean killing distances up to 40 yards and if you use a slightly heavier load with larger shot then I have found steel shot very effective. Cost wise I think it is comparable with 12 bore lead cartridges. Regards Ian T Beardsworth

Lead shot verses Steel shot

at 21:11 on 19/03/2021 by Chris Nunn

There are two main concerns in which we should all look at in a responsible way. Firstly the science of using lead verse steel ballistic. Lead as a heavy metal produces far greater energy distribution on inpact and as a soft metal when in contact with harder tissues/ bone, fragments heightening ballistic shock value for a humane kill. I haven't done my research yet but obviously steel ball being lighter has more velocity so therefore think science has got to be measured re density of metals against velocity, stress and trauma values for a clean kill policy. Regards to older weapons been used think there should be an exemptions like vintage cars. The survey was i found at some points quite difficult to put my marker on thoughts to be debated as quite basic. No fault of brains behind this as its got to circumvent all concerned. As an X Gamekeeper/ Wildlife manager I would like to think mine and others thoughts are firstly on conservation of both fauna and flora. We are the guys on the ground seeing /feeling the ever changes to the enviroment. Which brings me onto the next point ' lead shot' and poisoning impact on our wildlife. As a heavy metal it's not good news and history has proven this,I think the debate should be science researched re toxicity values impact within ingestion values on all UK wildlife. Chris Nunn.

Lead ammunition

at 20:18 on 19/03/2021 by Will Mitchell

Just research how many people in the uk and europe put together in the last ten years have died from lead poisoning from lead consumption in food. Then research how many people have died from choking on fish bones. Ridiculous that lead is being fazed out. Trouble is none of the people involved in the decision have the slightest idea what they are talking about

Lead shot alternatives

at 15:32 on 19/03/2021 by Charles Pearson

It is surprising that there was no mention in the above of increased danger of ricochets from steel shot which is a serious problem. Some people f our higher grouse drives in Aberdeenshire are in areas of extensive granite scree where even lead can ricochet. Steel shot would be much more dangerous. The Duke of Westminster uses steel shot but provides his shooting party with bismuth for drives in rocky areas. This is a real problem which should not be dismissed!

Lead shot

at 15:22 on 19/03/2021 by Leighton Colegrave

What about comments concerning the chemistry of lead poisoning, particularly pointing out that solid, elemental lead is not particularly toxic in humans. And also the disingenuous way the term lead is used when referring to additives in paint and petrol, when actually these contained lead compounds such as lead chromate and tetraethly lead, not lead itself. Surely a number of respondents must have pointed this out.

Lead shot

at 12:00 on 19/03/2021 by Peter Taylor

I’m afraid that I am not convinced that steel shot is safe to use in my old Woodward’s They were never designed for steel and I am very concerned about steel shot game as it bleeds badly and geese especially bleed in layers in the breast

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