Winchester announces lead free .22LR and .22 Magnum and .223

It is lead free day here at The Firearm Blog*, this being the second lead-free ammo post!

Winchester has announced a new line of lead-free ammunition.

CCI currently manufactures lead free .22 Magnum called TNT GREEN but as far as I know Winchester are the first US manufacturer to announce lead free .22 LR. It is rumored that more companies will unveil their lead free rimfire at SHOT 2009.

The new Winchester SUPER-X .22 Long Rifle will propel a 30 grain THP (tin hollow point) at 1650 fps. This is a hot “hyper velocity” load which generates 181 foot pounds of energy, only slightly less powerful that the CCI Stinger at the muzzle.

It is likely that the case will be extended in length, like the CCI Stringer. The extended case can prevent the round from chambering in some rifles.

 Wikipedia Commons Thumb 6 61 .22 Lr.Jpg 280Px-.22 Lr
CCI Stinger length compared to standard .22LR (Wikipedia)

The new SUPER-X .22 Win. Mag (.22 Magnum / .22 WMR) pushes a 28 grain JHP at 2200 fps. The under 30 grain bullet means it will won’t perform as well as standard .22 Magnum 30 grain rounds.

SUPER-X .223 Rem lead-free pushes a 55 grain bullet at 3030 fps. Like the .22 Magnum, there is a significant performance hit. The round is being marketed as varmint cartridge..

This new range should be available in Spring 2009.

* That was a joke. I bought 100 rounds of “toxic” ammo today.

Hat Tip: Shooting Wire.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Thanks for the update on Winchester doing their best to make California condors happy.
    I also linked you on my site

  • I don’t see much how 55gr at 3030fps is much of a performance hit.

    Also, I doubt the case is lengthened on the TNT Green ammo; tin is much less dense than lead and the lighter bullet is likely still the same overall length as a standard lead .22lr projectile.

  • jdun1911

    The Army did a lead free green program a while back. They found out it did more harm to the environment then lead. I wonder it these lead free bullet use the same material.

    BTW Houston and New Orleans is snowing. Kids remember Global Warming is junk science.

  • jps

    Nice little tie in with global warming there … as if lead had anything at all to do with global warming in any way shape or form.

    I saw a federal agent at Outdoor World bring his wife and newborn to an indoor range recently. They got a stern lecture from one of the range masters (an older woman, obviously a mom herself) about washing their hands like crazy considering the harm lead exposure does to small children.

    Personally, given that I can’t leave the range without a throat full of all sort of noxious stuff I don’t really want in me, I view this as a good thing. The copper plating on .22 ammo is wafer thin and .22 is the dirtiest ammo around. Less brain damage causing chemicals = better.

  • jps, you are breathing in a lot more than lead at the range. Winchester .22 ammo is so dirty that switching to tin alloy bullets probably won’t help.

  • jdun1911

    The whole lead free thing is tied to Global Warming/Green movement. Lead was never a concern until Global Warming junk came in around 10 years ago.

    Lead is the last thing you have to worry about at the range. If lead was a problem then we would have a crap load of profession shooters brain damage, right? I mean they shoot at least 40k of lead bullets a year and been doing it since they were 5 years old.

  • USAmedic

    You’re right. Pb has not been a problem before all this Global Warming stuff. Well? Maybe except for the lead based paints – in your kid’s bed rooms, cribs, playground equipment, toys, etc., and EPA workplace guidelines since the 50’s!!!!!!!!!

  • As a CA resident living in the blasted condor “lead free” zone I will soon have to buy load free 22LR to carry in the pistol I use to dispatch coyotes. The CA lead free stuff is BS based on bad science but our law makers don’t care.

  • Tom in CA

    I’m looking forward to the new 22 LR ammo. Its about time! I read the “Condor Study” where dead birds were analized and living birds had lead in their feathers measured. Its a shame to see this cast as an anti gun issue because the study did show that the birds were eating lead fragments and it was killing them. It was well done and had nothing to do with any gun control agenda. For us to try to hang it on the anti – gun crowd only makes us Second Amendment suporters look stupid.

    Other states have foung lead poisioned raptors and I will guess that several more states will pass similar laws and withinn a few years we will have a Federal ban on hunting with lead bullets.

  • Tom, did you read the entire study? It was anything but bias and at no point did it prove the lead found in these blasted birds was linked to lead from a bullet. It merely showed there WAS lead present and not it’s source.

    Condor’s are dumb animals and will eat anything and like things which are shiny. Read some of the condor stuff and you’ll see all the stuff which have been surgically removed from condors. Bottle caps and glass or two of the items which come to mind. So it is entirely possible they were getting the lead from a source other than bullets.

    If lead truly were the problem that was killing off condors wouldn’t it be doing the same to other vultures? Why don’t we hear about their numbers declining and an effort being made to save them as well?

  • You guys are all missing the point. It has nothing to do with lead bullets or the Stupid Condors. It’s a new “GREEN” way to attack the gun toting public. Like the guy said, the Army tried Green Bullets, and dropped the idea. Lead has been part of out lives for more than some of us have been around. Almost all of the lead in the environment came from “LEADED GASOLINE” not from shooting lead bullets. The Anti Gun Crowd just figured out a new “GREEN” way to go after guns. If they can make the ammo we shoot illegal, guns will be worthless in a decade. Soon, very soon all lead bullets will be illegal everywhere, watch and see. “We’re all going to have to sacrifice for the greater good”. Who’s greater good I ask?

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.
    Hillary Clinton: “We’re Going to Take Things Away From You on Behalf of the Common Good”

  • Liberty4Ever

    I’m not very familiar with the California condor study. There are many examples of the anti-gun ninnies using any method they can to limit gun ownership and use, but I’m not sure this lead issue is just anti-gun nonsense. Lead is toxic. I cast my own lead bullets and I reload, and I’m careful about washing my hands when I’m finished and I only cast outside when I can get a good crosswind to blow the fumes away from me.

    Lead in the environment from leaded gasoline was a big problem, but we haven’t had leaded gasoline for decades, so that argument is meaningless. Was that some anti-car propaganda to make us all drive less and limit ownership of cars? Lead has been removed from a number of products and we’re probably better for it. I intensely dislike government regulation, but I hate environmental pollution too.

    At lower exposures, lead poisoning is a subtle problem. Who notices when a couple IQ points go missing? Lead is a carcinogen, and who thinks to blame lead exposure for some of the cancer we have? Lead causes neurological and reproductive damage, and while the damage is very real and very noticeable, it’s often difficult to trace to some previous lead exposure.

    Shooting will survive the efforts to reduce lead exposure. It’ll be inconvenient, but at least we’re getting something for the trouble, unlike some of the BS data that’s flaunted to mislead a gullible public about social issues such as guns and crime. More guns equals less crime, but they keep disarming law abiding citizens, shifting the balance of power to armed criminals who never obey gun control laws, and then when the crime rates increase, they use that to justify even more gun control.

    Trying to make a lead ban into some sort of attack on shooting after every other industry has reduced or eliminated lead makes gun rights activists appear to be self centered cry babies who are no better at analyzing real data than the lying and denying gun control harpies who ignore facts and shout their propaganda. Lead IS hazardous, and trying to say it isn’t makes us look stupid. People will think we lost too many brain cells from excessive exposure to lead.

    Even though it’s off topic, I’ll briefly address the similar climate change propaganda. Atmospheric CO2 is a major contributor to global warming. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 by almost 30%, and that is increasing the rate of global warming. It IS warming our planet. It’s having a few other effects on the biosphere too. Weather patterns are changing and weather is chaotic. Saying that it’s snowing in New Orleans so global warming is a hoax only shows how ignorant you are about global warming, and that’s ALL it proves. Picking one data point is meaningless and ridiculously simplistic. Average global temperature is easy to measure, it’s been measured many different ways and the planet is warming. It’s not the source of any scientific uncertainty. It’s well defined. To claim otherwise is once again ignoring incontrovertible evidence in an attempt to cling to an opinion. Facts trump opinions. It’s basic science. All of your wishing won’t change the data, so check your faith based belief system at the door where science is involved. But I know from trying to discuss the science of global warming that this isn’t a scientific debate. It’s a political argument. Global warming deniers will shun the real science and find some weatherman in Oklahoma or a chiropractor in Oregon and claim that these scientists are saying that global warming is a hoax. Whatever.

  • Liberty4Ever, global warming is a joke. Haven’t you seen how many scientists have recanted their statements?

    Anyway, did anyone hear about this ammo at the Shot show?

    • Heath, I dd not hear about any new news coming about of Winchester about this since SHOT. The Winchester PR people send me news and press releases, so I probably would have heard any new info.

  • Denwar

    Lead free ammo was never related to global warming!!

    LEAD affects the environment by contaminating soil, ground water & water ways.

    If manufacturers can replace lead with a suitable replacement that has less impact on the environment then so much the better for all of us gun owners!!

    Protect our sport & our environment!!

    • Denwar, the small amount of lead does nothing and has never been proven to do anything.

      By using lead free you are not protecting the sport, you are probably harming it if you are using lead-free ammo where you can legally use lead.

  • JD


    well said!

  • Bill

    I’m happy to see the tin bullet. Having several friends that work in wildlife rehab, I’ve been aware of significant numbers of eagle deaths in my area due to lead poisoning. The eagles are picking up bullet fragments from gut piles during and after the deer season, They used to get more lead poisoning from crippled ducks and geese, prior to the lead ban for waterfowling. Now, beside the eagles, they are seeing a pretty large number of trumpeter swans and loons dying from lead poisoning. The swans, in the summer, are ingesting old pellets in the marshes. One swan this summer had 67 pellets in its digestive tract. It only takes one to kill it. The loons are getting lead from fishing sinkers. In the winter, the swans that are sticking around here in MN and WS are being poisoned mostly from sinkers and jigs caught in the root mat of the water weeds they eat.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t really to have my selfishness cause these beautiful birds to die an ugly and painful death because of something I have done.

    Lead-free shotgun shells were expensive at first, but now they are similar to the lead shells. Once we learned how to use them (shorter shots, larger, faster pellets), they were at least as effective as lead. Copper rifle bullets are a little expensive, but extremely effective, and how many does one shoot in the season? If it is more than three or four, better spend some serious time at the range!

    I’d think someone who loves the outdoors would embrace lead free ammunition for a whole lot of reasons.

    • Bill, lead bullets are used all over the world, and yet no countries that I know of are banning lead bullets.

      You are using the lead shotgun pellets stats as a reason to lead lead bullets. You must know the difference? One shotgun shell contains many lead pellets which are fired into the air and drop down onto the ground. A bullet usually will stay inside the animal that was shot, and eventually hit the ground, probably penetrating it. How often do you find bullets on the ground? Copper jacketed bullets would be easy to spot. Not only that, but one hunter may only shoot one round (one bullet) when hunting, or 3-4 in a season, compared to a shotgun bird shooter who will easily discharge 100’s of shot.

      Hunters contribute more to conservation, through taxes, than any other group.

      • Bill

        Steve, it took me 5 years to find your reply. Sorry about that. Hopefully you will see mine. I’m a hunter and fisherman, and have put out a lot of lead in my day. No more, though. The eagles are getting lead from bullet fragments in gutpiles. One tiny fragment has a 100% chance of killing the bird in short order due to brain damage. The strong acids in their stomach dissolve the lead, and it gets in their blood. It is an ugly thing to see. Here in MN, we lose 40% or our trumpeter swans to lead poisoning, some to old hunting lead, more and more to fishing tackle. The pair of trumpeter swans that have nested on my little lake for years both died from lead poisoning last fall (they were banded, so pretty easy to identify when they were found). Polk County Wisconsin near here lost 30% of their trumpeter swans last fall due to low water and new areas to pick up old hunting lead. They pick up a pellet from the bottom with the gravel they need, grind it in their gizzards, and it causes brain damage and death. 1 pellet = 100% chance of death. We have great alternatives. Solid copper bullets are more effective than lead. (jacketing simply does not hold the bullet together, so must be solid) Steel shot in shotguns works as well as lead when you know how to use it, and costs about the same. Why would a sportsman feel good about doing something that will cause a gruesome death of a bird that they didn’t intend to kill, especially if it is simply because they are being a cheapskate?

  • Ptarmigan

    How is it that there isn’t a massive movement toward lead free fishing products also? I believe that more people fish than shoot (Just an observation… haven’t looked up the numbers on this). They too are in the wild areas and waterways.

    • Mirrim Blackfox

      The Simple answer is, there is. Lead free fishing weights are relatively easy to come by. But there is slightly less of a push because we also recover and reuse our fishing weights much of the time, when shooting the lead is just left in the field.

  • george

    Lead free shotgun shells are significantly more expensive than lead.

    Shotgun pellets have far more surface area than bullets and waterfowl have different anatomy than most upland game birds.

    I didn’t read the Condor study, but I’d bet bonded bullets would be nearly as good as lead free.

    The CDC did a study and found human lead levels in hunters was below average. Even so, I’m moving to heavy for caliber bullets when I use lead bullets for big game (lower velocity = less fragmenting). The deer I shot with a 6.5mm 140g Remington PSPCL at about 2500fps showed no fragmentation and the bullet passed completely through. Contrast that with a small elk I shot with a 165g 30-06 bullet at about 2700fps and there were visible lead fragments.

    The falconer who did the X-ray study deliberately chose 7mm Magnum wounds so that he’d be sure to see fragments. Still, gives you something to consider.

  • Larry

    I have been hunting and target shooting for about 40 years, and I have no idea how many thousands of rounds I have fired or how many pounds of lead. I fully support the right to own and use firearms.

    I also have a degree in biology and education. I consider myself an environmentalist. Lead is a problem, and working on ways to cut its use in ammunition is good science and not a move to do away with guns as some would like to think. It is time hunters and shooters stop looking so stupid and start working with conservations for the overall good of our planet and its life forms.

    Sportsmen already contribute a lot of money due to taxes on ammunition and other products as has been pointed out. They can also join groups like Ducks Unlimited and Quail Unlimited.

  • Liberty4Ever

    “The CDC did a study and found human lead levels in hunters was below average.”

    I think that’s completely meaningless and a big red herring. People don’t consume lead shot, bullets or bullet fragments from the environment in the same way that some forms of wildlife can, regardless of whether these people are hunters or not.

    There are some reasonable examples of how various forms of wildlife ingest small chunks of lead. Birds don’t have teeth so some birds eat pebbles to grind their food as an aid their digestive process. It’s their instinct to do this. Other animals accidentally consume lead contaminates that are in their food. People would be almost 100% effective in removing any lead bullet fragments from any animals they shot before eating them. Hunters don’t eat gut piles like scavengers do, and that’s where most of the lead bullet fragments will be.

    It should be easy enough to show wild animals that have been poisoned by environmental lead resulting from shooting. Unless you believe these cases are hoaxes by anti-gunners for political purposes, then those are the issues we need to address. Talking about lead levels in hunters compared to non-hunters is a dog that just don’t hunt.

    The shooting sports community, including manufacturers and shooters, needs to examine the evidence and verify that there is a problem, and then use that evidence to structure an appropriate solution. We don’t need any draconian bans or blanket solutions to non-problems that are crafted to chip away at our right to keep and bear arms, but we also can’t ignore any problems that result from our actions. With rights come responsibilities. We have the right to keep and bear arms, but we must ensure that we do so in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

    I guess this means I’m going to be forced to abandon my plan to introduce a line of depleted uranium bullets for sporting use.

  • David K,1607,7-135-3307_29693_30031-90418–,00.html

    Lead released into the environment makes its way into the air, soils, and water. Lead can remain in the environment as dust indefinitely. “The lead in fuels” contribute to air pollution, especially in urban areas. Soils near highways, freeways, and smelting facilities have higher levels of lead than soils in other areas because of their exposure to lead dust, which accumulates over time.

    Other ways lead can enter the environment are through mining practices, steel industry, crop enhancers, improperly disposed of batteries.

    Yes lead bullets do contribute to the lead in the enviroment, but it is such a small part, it shouldn’t be an issue but the Wacko Environmentalist and Anti gun crowd will jump on anything that they can use to further their agenda.

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.
    Hillary Clinton: “We’re Going to Take Things Away From You on Behalf of the Common Good”

  • bob g.

    Another point about lead — every time you pull the trigger, lead vapor is released, both out the end of the barrel and out of the chamber as well.

    I’m tired of hearing that any change in ammo or firearms manufacturing is due to the wacko {fill in the blank}. Some of the materials used in making bullets is harmful to people. I’m glad they’re getting rid of it, and I’m willing to pay more for ammo because of it.

    Good for Winchester.

  • Keith

    I don,t want tin bullets. It is more expensive and too light. I want bismuth which is more dense than lead. You get better ballistic coefficients and accuracy. If Hornady could duplicate the 40gr boat tail for the 22 mag without need to compress the charge, The .17 would be a wimp. But the plastic nose takes away weight, as the boattail elongates the bullet. Bismuth would add the weight back and shorten the bullet so it would fit. Run the ballistics on that at 1900fps and you will be ecstatic.

    And yes, the lead is terrible for groundwater. Many outdoor ranges could not sell out to developers, as the cleanup cost is horrendous. If you shoot indoors and the range does not have exhaust fans you are foolish.

  • Get the lead out. If you are not part of the solution; you are part of the problem. Larry, I agree with you 100%. I wrote an article for The Varmint Hunters Magazine that said basically the same things that you posted. It was rejected by the Editor because he wanted to keep in line with his advertisers. (bullet and ammo companies) If hunters would only take the lead in some of these controversial issues instead of always dragging their feet, perhaps we would not have so many problems convincing the public that hunters are knuckle-dragging, blood-crazed morons.

  • I read recently that they’re (Hornady ??) working on some lead free stuff for the 17 HMR which is due out the first of next year. I know a few guys here in CA who hunt the lead free zone and own 17 Remington’s which have since become paper weights. For their sake, I hope they also sell the bullets for reloaders.

  • Lead free hoax NOT

    Lead free ammo has been a movement to protect ALL birds of prey, which includes the bald eagle, and codors, turkey vultures…etc

    For those IGNORANT that lead build up in birds of prey body prevents proper forming of shells in eggs, you must live in a state where education funding stops at the 5th grade. Heard about this in the early 80’s……….

    For all those varmint carcass left behind in the field, and or wounded left running a bird of prey will clean up.

    SO in 2011, even if it raises costs a bit, THUMBS UP to manufacturers for adopting such ….

  • John Halverson

    Sadly, many gun proponents are still shouting how raptor deaths due to lead bullets are only “anecdotal”. Please contact the Minnesota Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota and ask them how many anecdotal dollars and anecdotal hours are spent on the one hundred and some anecdotal eagles they treated in the anecdotal year of 2010. Ask them for a copy of the anecdotal records showiing an anecdotal spike in anecdotal eagles with anecdotal lead poisoning beginning each year during Minnesota’s anecdotal deer season.

    I apologize for the sarcasm, but I wanted to make a point. I also want to thank the NRA’s American Hunter magazine for some very good reviews on their advertisers lead free bullet choices. I’ve found several excellent performing big game rounds (243 and 30-06, America’s most under-rated cartridges) and I am proudly choosing to go lead free, even when their magazine labels me as an anti-gun wacko.

    Good hunting, folks!

  • Norman Witzler

    I think tungston would be an excellent lead substitute. It has a higher density and hardness than lead. Aren’t those heavy shotgun loads made of tungston? The cost would probably be double that of lead.

  • One_Jackal

    Lead is inert. Lead can’t leach into groundwater. I grow hay that is fed to some very expensive animals. I also shoot a lot in the fields. I have the soil tested every two years by the USDA. The level of lead in the soil is never above what would naturally be in the soil. Every time a horse dies that was insured it’s feed and hay are tested. My hay has been tested dozens of times over the years, no lead has ever been found in my hay.

    Most shooting ranges have piles of dirt behind the targets. If the shooting range was to be used for another purpose the piles of dirt can be screened with common equipment used to screen topsoil. The lead that is removed can be recycled. I have piles of dirt on my property that I shoot into. Most of the bullets from high velocity rifles only go six inches deep. Pistol bullets only go a couple inches, even 357 mag bullets. I retrieve as many bullets as I can, not for safeties sake but curiousity.

    People claim that buzzards and other scavengers are eating lead bullets. All modern hunting rifle bullets go through the animal. Even birdshot fired from shotguns goes through small game. Exactly how are scavengers eating lead bullets? If lead is found in scavengers it is from another source. Hunters are a convenient .scapegoat.

    One thing that is shot in this thread is a bunch of bull.

  • John Double

    I want rimless 22lr,and rimless 12gauge to be a thing,for modern day guns,more than lead-free ammo.

    Companies ought to put their competition aside for a moment,and try and create standardized ammo like that…

    HK had rimless 12gauge called CAWS,but it didn’t take off.
    But now with how popular semi-autos are…

    Something on the lines of rimless 22lr existed,but it was centerfire.
    If we had rimless 12gauge and 22lr,it would solve feeding issues.

    Who want’s double stacked 10/22,and pistol mags?

    Who want’s no more awkwardly long saiga & ar-15 mags ?