The U.S. Army is taking the expression “get the lead out” quite literally and switching to lead-free, environmentally-friendly bullets.How are they planning to do this, you may ask? They’re replacing lead bullets with copper ones. The article doesn’t say whether these are solid copper or copper-jacketed (copper-coated), but considering the Army’s ‘switching to lead-free’ ammo, I’m favoring the former.
Beyond the fact that Army officials have ‘conceded that the M855A1 (the military designation for the ‘green ammo’) “has not been providing the ‘stopping power’ the user would like at engagement ranges less than 150 yards”’, there are two other things about this that concern me.
First is the cost of materials. As of yesterday, the price of lead was $2099.69/metric ton (for simplicity, let’s call it $2100.00/tonne*); copper was $7029.44/metric ton ($7000.00/tonne*). That’s a nudge more than three times more costly than lead. (source).
Second is meting points. Lead melts at about 621 F, where copper melts at about 1983 F (source). Higher melting points mean greater amounts of energy (heat) are needed, which means greater energy costs, which means higher production costs for copper bullets versus lead bullets.
Stick together the higher costs of production and the higher costs of materials with the equal-to-poorer performance of copper bullets over lead and do forgive me for thinking of windmills and solar panel companies.
* - forgot to mention that the word 'tonne' is a metric ton, equal to 1000 kilograms (or 2,204.6 pounds).