The NSSF survey has solid data on the cost increases involved in switching from lead to non-lead ammunition, an issue that was ignored in the debate over the passage of AB 711 which banned lead ammunition for all hunting by 2019. Even if ammunition is available, the price increases are a certainty.
Shotshell ammunition increases, depending on load and gauge, will increase an average of 387 percent from lead to non-lead, according to the report. Centerfire ammunition will jump 284 percent, which is about what hunters have experienced when purchasing big game hunting ammunition to comply with hunting in the current Condor Zone. Finally, the cost of rimfire ammunition will increase 294 percent — if it is available at all.
Currently, California consumes only 2 1/2 percent of all of the non-lead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition purchased in this country. That would jump to 43 percent if lead ammunition were banned here tomorrow. In simple terms, that roughly works out that 40 percent of customers in this country would not be able to purchase the non-lead ammunition they currently shoot.
While lead shotshell ammunition is more available because it is already required nationwide for all waterfowl hunting, California hunters currently only purchase about eight percent of what is sold nationally. That number would jump to about 30 percent once non-lead was required for all shotgun hunting.
Non-lead rimfire ammunition will become the most difficult product to find for California hunters because its production is so low now. The NSSF report says that U.S. production of non-lead rimfire would need to increase by 430 percent just to meet the California demand alone.
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