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Lead Ammunition Ban: What you need to know

Lead Ammunition Ban: What you need to know

Viking Arms has crafted the definitive guide on lead-free ammunition, providing essential insights amidst the HSE's latest consultation on lead ammunition use.

With proposals to ban lead shot within five years and potential restrictions on rifle ammunition, shooters and hunters may need to adapt swiftly. This guide demystifies the changes and equips you with the knowledge to make your voice heard before the 10th December deadline.

Discover how the ban could shape the future of airgun pellets, live quarry, and target shooting. Learn about the transition to sustainable ammunition like Sellier and Bellot's eXergy Blue and Lapua's Naturalis range and explore technical advancements from Haenel and Merkel accommodating non-lead options. With insight from professional hunters like Mark Lacey and advice from leading organisations, this guide is a crucial resource for all shooters looking to stay ahead of the curve in sustainable practices.

As the industry shifts towards eco-friendly solutions, understanding the implications for your firearms, from twist rates to bullet stability, becomes paramount. Viking Arms is here to guide you through this transition with expert analysis and technical support.

To embrace the future of shooting access the full guide and become an informed advocate for sustainable hunting practices.

Click on the image below to understand what the proposed ban on lead ammunition could mean for you:

Lead Free Ammunition


This current consultation runs until 10th December 2023. Get your voice heard by submitting your thoughts here:

What do the proposals mean for airgun and air rifle shooters?

Lead airgun pellets

It is positive news that the previous proposal to restrict the outdoor use of lead airgun pellets has been dropped and there are now no restrictions proposed within the current consultation. This result was thanks to lobbying and the submission of technical evidence from organisations such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Gun Trade Association (GTA), Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA), National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and others.

Lead shot for live quarry and target shooting 

The consultation proposes a ban within five years or less, depending on the consultation outcome.

BASC and the GTA’s position is that clay pigeon shooting with lead shot could continue where grounds have the correct risk measures in place, and they can ensure lead removal, as per the HSE guidance for target shooting with rifles.

Both organisations support the voluntary transition away from lead shot and single use plastics in shotgun ammunition for live quarry shooting. They believe that further regulation is not required in this area.

However, in this latest consultation both BASC and the GTA will be recommending to the HSE that any transition time for cartridges used in live quarry shooting must take into account the world shortage of components due to the war in Ukraine, and the need for manufacturers and assemblers to source new machinery to produce steel cartridges with biodegradable wads.

What could the future look like for target shooting ammunition?

Lapua among other brands have brought to market their Naturalis range to cater for the need of non-lead ammunition.

Here’s a look at how the Lapua Naturalis 6.5X55 SE, all-copper, monolithic ballistic tip non-lead performs:


Rifle ammunition for live quarry shooting 

No restrictions are proposed currently, but this could change depending on the consultation outcome. The evidence of secondary poisoning through rifle ammunition is not conclusive and if restrictions were put in place, it would be a precautionary measure.

What does this mean for hunters and stalkers

Many ammunition providers are already ahead of the game. Ammunition like the Sellier and Bellot eXergy Blue range are already being used by professional hunters as an alternative to lead ammunition.

Here’s a look at how the Sellier & Bellot BLUE eXergy 180-grain non-lead performs in a technical test:


And other brands are following suit. In early 2024, Federal’s Eurocopper non-lead ammunition will hit the UK market, imported by distributors Viking Arms. Subscribe to Viking’s newsletter to be the first to hear about its arrival:

Thinking about transitioning? What does it mean for your rifle?

Switching ammunition isn't a straightforward task; understanding the internal ballistics of your firearm is crucial, especially considering the twist rate in your barrel.

Traditionally, manufacturers tailored the twist rate to the designated cartridge, typically for lead core bullets. The twist rate is vital as it gives the bullet gyroscopic stability, ensuring it travels point-forward. While bullet proportions have remained consistent over the years, the upcoming shift to non-lead ammunition has made bullets longer. Consequently, these bullets may not stabilize adequately in traditional twist rates, especially in smaller calibres.

Predicting Bullet Stability

Using tools like the Berger Twist Rate Stability Calculator, you can gauge the stability of a bullet in your rifle, provided you're aware of your barrel's twist rate. A gyroscopic stability factor (SG) between 1.0 and 1.5 suggests a marginally stabilized bullet, which will experience some pitching and yaw. This can increase drag and compromise the bullet's efficacy. While this might not be a significant concern at shorter ranges, it can impact accuracy, and factors like ambient temperature can exacerbate these effects. An SG below 1 indicates an unstable bullet that may start tumbling upon exit from the barrel.

Statistics reveal that nearly 70% of rifles used for deer management in the UK are of .243 calibre.

Yet, manufacturers like Haenel and Merkel have revamped their designs to accommodate non-lead ammunition.

Haenel NXT 

The Haenel NXT stands out as an environmentally conscious rifle, boasting:

  • A barrel optimized for lead-free ammunition.
  • A trigger guard and magazine well made from tree resin, a natural byproduct.
  • A lightweight stock crafted from laminated sustainable beech, combining durability with eco-friendliness.


Merkel K5 Single Shot Rifle 

The Merkel K5 fuses traditional sportsmanship with modern adaptability. It features:

  • A Bavarian cheekpiece, stock, and open sights catering to classic enthusiasts.
  • Compatibility with lead-free ammunition.
  • Available calibres: .223 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5x57R, .270 Win, 7x65R, .308 Win, 30.06, 8x57IRS, and 6.5 Creedmoor.


It's essential to note that there's currently no legal mandate for using lead-free ammunition for deer hunting in the UK. However, the UK Government is contemplating a lead ammunition ban under the UK's new chemical regulation regime, UK REACH.

Rifle ammunition for target shooting

Under the proposals, the use of lead ammunition could continue at approved ranges where mitigation measures for lead removal are in place, with a two-year grace period allowing alternative ranges to adapt. 

Have your say on the consultation now:

*The online survey form provided by the HSE contains a lot of technical and confusing questions. Instead, you can submit your response via the general comments section at the end of the HSE survey response form. If you would like to write more than the word limit of 2,500 characters then you can upload your comments as a Word document.

Don’t delay, your opinion and experience needs to be heard. Respond before 10th December 2023.

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