Green bullet

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M855A1 projectiles for 5.56×45mm NATO rifles replace traditional lead alloy cores with an environmentally friendly copper core with a 19-grain (1.2 g) steel "stacked-cone" penetrating tip.
Solid copper bullets typical of the majority of nonlead ammunition certified for hunting in California.[1] The .25 caliber (6.4 mm) bullet on the left has a small cylindrical cavity in the nose, and the .35 caliber (9 mm) bullet on the right has a larger cavity holding an aerodynamic plastic tip.

Green bullet, green ammunition or green ammo are nicknames for a United States Department of Defense program to eliminate the use of hazardous materials from small arms ammunition and from small arms ammunition manufacturing. Initial objectives were elimination of ozone-depleting substances, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals from primers and projectiles. These materials were perceived as causing difficulties through the entire life cycle of ammunition. The materials generated hazardous wastes and emissions at manufacturing facilities and use of ammunition caused contamination at shooting ranges. Potential health hazards made demilitarization and disposal of unused ammunition difficult and expensive.[2]

The Joint Working Group for Non-Toxic Ammunition was formed by the Small Caliber Ammunition Branch of the United States Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in October 1995. Members of the working group included the National Guard of the United States, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Army Infantry School, the Industrial Operations Command, the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the United States Department of Energy Kansas City Plant.[2]


October 11, 2013 Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law AB 711 Hunting: nonlead ammunition.[3] Cost reductions from conversion to green ammo are estimated at "$2.5 million required for waste removal at each outdoor firing range as well as the $100 thousand annual costs for lead contamination monitoring".[4]

Identified hazardous materials[edit]

Hazardous material Location[2] New material
antimony projectile tungsten-tin or -nylon[5]
antimony trisulfide primer diazodinitrophenol (DDNP)[6]
barium nitrate tracer or incendiary projectile
barium peroxide primer and tracer or incendiary projectile diazodinitrophenol
ethyl acetate blank cartridge tip sealant Solventless process[7]
ethyl alcohol tracer or incendiary projectile
glycol ether painted projectile point
lead projectile steel[8] tungsten-tin or tungsten-nylon[9][10][11] copper[12]
lead dioxide tracer or incendiary projectile
lead styphnate primer diazodinitrophenol, MIC, e.g. Al/MoO3
methyl chloroform casemouth sealant and tracer or incendiary projectile
methyl ethyl ketone primer and sealants for primer pocket and blank cartridge tip Solventless process
methyl isopropyl ketone primer and sealants for primer pocket and blank cartridge tip Solventless process
toluene primer and sealants for primer pocket and blank cartridge tip Solventless process
xylene sealants for primer pocket and blank cartridge tip

Green ammunition[edit]

Jim Newill explains the effectiveness of the Army's 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (2011)

Two green ammunition cartridges are the 5.56×45mm NATO M855A1 and the MK281 40 mm grenade. Switching to the 5.56 mm green bullet, the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, or EPR, in 2010 has eliminated nearly 2,000 tons of lead from the waste stream.[13] U.S. Army representatives at a 2013 House Armed Services Committee hearing have credited the 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round “close to” those of a 7.62mm in its performance capabilities.[14]


  1. ^ "Certified Nonlead Ammunition". California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Bunting, Wade H. (September–October 1997). "Hazardous Technical Information Services Bulletin". 7 (5): 4–5. 
  3. ^ "California signed into law AB 711 Hunting: nonlead ammunition". October 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ John Middleton (2000). "Elimination of Toxic and VOC Constituents from Small Caliber Ammunition (WP-1057)". 
  5. ^ Don Mikko (June 2000). "U.S. Military Green Bullet. A Technical Report". 
  6. ^ Michael Courtney and Amy Courtney (2012). "High-speed measurement of firearm primer blast waves". arXiv:1203.2701Freely accessible. 
  7. ^ T. G. Manning; D. Thompson; M. Ellis; R. Lieb; M. Leadore; J. Colburn; B. E. Homan; D. A. Worrell; K. B. Moran; S. J. Ritchie. "Environmentally Friendly 'Green' Propellant for the Medium Caliber Training Rounds". 
  8. ^ Information Search of Toxic-Free Ammunition, DTIC A336762, 1994,
  9. ^ [1], Jack Erickson, Joel Sandstrom, Gene Johnston, Neal Norris, Patrick Braun, Reed Blau, Lisa Spendlove Liu, "Non-toxic percussion primers and methods of preparing the same" 
  10. ^ 1994 report: Tungsten ‘highly toxic', 2007, updated 2011
  11. ^ Army to scrap tungsten bullets, 2008
  12. ^ National Guard goes green with copper bullets, 2012
  13. ^ Audra Calloway (1 July 2013). "Picatinny ammo goes from regular to unleaded". Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Scott R. Gourley (May 7, 2013). "U.S. Army Touts M855A1 Round Performance 'Close to' a 7.62". Defense Media Network. Retrieved 30 December 2014.