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6 crazy facts about bullets you won't believe

Hunters could talk about our their weapon of choice all day long. Yet there is an essential part of our setup that isn't talked about nearly as often as the weapon itself: the ammunition. We decided to take a closer look at the little bits of "fast metal" that make our rifles and muzzleloaders do the job they do. Here's what we found.

6 facts about bullets you won't believe
To start, we knew that the volume of bullets was probably pretty high — but were not prepared for how high it really was. If you include military and law enforcement, the number is above 10 billion. To put things in perspective, there are just over 7 billion people living on Earth

Bullets are in demand
Then we looked at the money. Civilian spending in 2014, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, was $8 billion. In 2011, it was $4 billion. Looking at the 2011 stats, we observed how it broke down by each category. Spending on rifles topped out the rest, with 36% of sales (about $1.4 billion) going to that category. Still, ammunition spending accounts for a good third of the total. 

Hunting is turning a profit
To keep up with all of this demand, manufacturing has to remain at high levels. Can you tell which state has most amount of weapons and ammo manufacturers in the entire country? That's right, California.

465 weapons and ammunition manufacturers in the US

Continued below.

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These manufacturers really are scrambling to keep up with demand. Here is a little scenario we laid out, just for .22s. 

.22 LR bullet production
Lead bullets have been in the news a lot, as California banned the use of lead bullets when discharging a firearm on public land, and the Department of Interior considers following suit. We found, however, that there is a longer history of lead bullet bans, especially in the last decade, and that there is more to the lead story than just ammo. 

Lead bullet restrictions
One random question about bullets that we wanted to answer was about the danger of shooting into the air. It was just one of those questions that no one seemed to be able to answer: We know it's not right, but how dangerous is it really? Here is what the data says.

Stray bullets

3 Comments

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D H. - posted 3 years ago on 02-01-2016 08:49:16 pm
So Cal

Here is Cali's plan.
Phase 1 – Effective July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and all wildlife on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves.

Phase 2 – Effective July 1, 2016, nonlead shot will be required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun, except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game birds taken on licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot will be required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds, and any wildlife for depredation purposes.

Phase 3 – Effective July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California.

Existing restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the California condor range remain in effect while implementation proceeds.

Dustin G. - posted 3 years ago on 01-20-2016 05:24:23 pm
Chico, Ca
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California did not forbid all lead bullets. You can still hunt with lead bullets except in certain California Condor areas (Southern California or A zone and a couple others) and as of this last year, all California F&G owned land. I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple years its completely outlawed though. I just purchased lead ammo for .270 two days ago.

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Charles H. - posted 5 years ago on 10-03-2014 11:52:21 pm

bullets don't kill; beds, chairs, and other furniture kills!