Block title

When I give presentations about nonlead ammo, people in the audience often ask about cost. Some worry that nonlead ammo might be so expensive that they’ll be priced out of hunting. But are those worries warranted? I compared the prices of nonlead and lead ammo to find out.

Many people shoot a .270 Winchester cartridge, and so do I, so I’ll focus on ammo for that caliber. Midway USA ( offers a great selection of ammo and a good place to compare prices. To find nonlead options, I searched for “.270 Win”, and in the bar to the left, I checked “Lead Free” under “Product Features”. I ran this search on June 11, 2019.

A box of the least expensive lead ammo is about $10 cheaper than the nonlead ammo. Both boxes had about a 25% discount too. Lead ammo wins.

But hunters seeking the best bullet performance might opt for pricier options. Let’s consider those. The most expensive lead ammo costs $18 more than its nonlead counterpart. Nonlead ammo wins.

But the cheapest and most expensive boxes of ammo don’t tell the full story. Dozens are available at mid-range prices ($25-45/box) where cost differences become negligible.

So, will the cost of nonlead ammo prevent people from hunting? I don’t think so. If I buy the cheapest ammo for my .270 Winchester, I’ll save money with lead. But if I buy anything at mid-range prices, I won’t notice a difference.

Personally, I buy inexpensive lead ammo to shoot at the range. Before hunting season, I sight in my rifle with nonlead ammo. Regardless, compared to the cost of optics, a rifle, and the gas to get me to my hunting spots, the cost of ammo seems like a bargain.

About the Author

Mike McTee

Mike came to Missoula to attend the University of Montana and explore the local rivers with a fly rod. Two years later, he still explored the local rivers, but with petri dishes and microscopes. While working in a microbiology lab, he also spent time at MPG North monitoring the groundwater, surveying the distributions of aquatic insects, and assisting with restoration.

Once Mike earned his B.S. in Environmental Chemistry, he began working full-time at MPG Ranch. He started as a research technician, but later managed a restoration team and irrigation. Mike transitioned into a full-time researcher when he began studying contamination from biodegradable trap and skeet shooting targets to earn an M.S. in Geosciences from the University of Montana.

Mike now works on a variety of projects ranging from plant invasion to the chemistry of shooting sports. When away from work, he and his wife often take their fishing and hunting gear on long walks through the backcountry.