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Posted: 3/18/2002 9:28:13 AM EDT
http://[url]http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=105001780[/url] [b][green]GREEN GUNS[/green] Bite Your Tungsten[/b] The Army moves toward environmentally sensitive ammo. [i]BY BRENDAN MINITER Monday, March 18, 2002 12:01 a.m.[/i] If the war goes on for a few more years, America's enemies will no longer have to eat lead. That's because Military planners have spent the past eight years developing an environmentally sensitive bullet. The push to adopt green ideas within the military is decades old. But since the whole point of weapons is to kill people and blow up, burn down and destroy things, can military planners really protect the birds and the trees without endangering the servicemen who protect all of us? "It is a balance," admits Col. Stanley H. Lillie, who runs the U.S. Army Environmental Center. Cleanup costs and other environmental pressures are a driving force in the greening of the military, he says. But, he argues, environmental and military goals go hand in hand. "A good environment"--meaning a clean one--"is also good for training," and the Army wants to be a good steward of its lands, he says. After all, it's the soldiers and their families who have to live on Army bases. That's where the new lead-free bullets come in. U.S. forces fire off hundreds of millions of rounds every year, almost entirely in target practice. Most servicemen have to qualify with a rifle at least once a year; others head to the range more often; and, of course, a lot of ammo is expended testing new weapons and modifying old ones. All this leaves millions of lead bullets in the ground. It's getting to the point where concern over spent ammunition risks hindering military readiness. The Environmental Protection Agency took the unprecedented step in 1997 of ordering a halt to live-fire training and an immediate cleanup of spent ordnance in Camp Edward, Mass. The range reopened in 1999 with "green ammo"--bullets that have a tungsten-alloy core rather than a lead one. But while it was closed National Guard units and others had to travel to New Jersey or elsewhere for live-fire training. In Hawaii's Makua Valley, military officials had an outright firefight on their hands. A few years ago some ordnance landed outside the intended impact zone and started a fire that burned hundreds of acres. An environmental outfit called EarthJustice (motto: "Because the earth needs a good lawyer") filed suit and won a temporary injunction to block live-fire training in the valley. That nonsense came to an end shortly after Sept. 11. "Our president gave the U.S. military a two-word order: 'Be ready,' " Maj. Gen. James Dubik told reporters. "Our needs to train in Makua Valley is urgent and immediate." EarthJustice has settled the suit, and live-fire exercises have resumed. Soon all the rounds all branches of the U.S. military fire will be "green ammo." That concerns some critics, who note that China, a potential adversary, is the world's largest producer of tungsten. Officials point out the metal--which is also used in light-bulb filaments--is mined in North America, Europe and throughout Africa as well as Asia. Besides, they say, in the event of a tungsten shortage, the switch back to lead wouldn't be difficult. [red](cont...)[/red]
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 9:29:23 AM EDT
The ammo is already being fielded on a limited basis for the most common military rifle caliber, 5.56mm--the standard caliber for the M-16. By 2005 officials hope to completely switch over to the new ammo for that caliber and several others. Eventually, all rifle, pistol and artillery pieces will use "green ammo," making the U.S. the first nation to commit its military to environmentally friendly ammunition. Forget Kyoto. America is proving how lethal environmentalism can be. The greening of the military isn't just on the practice ranges. The ammo is only the beginning. The U.S. Army Environmental Center will soon release an environmental friendly handbook to guide military planners in redesigning equipment. The Apache and Chinook helicopters and the Bradley fighting vehicle have all been modified to conform to the military's green policies. The Comanche helicopter is designed specifically with environmental concerns in mind. Parts for its sighting devices are made from an aluminum-beryllium alloy. But beryllium is "extremely hazardous," Army spokesman Neal Snyder explains, so designers minimized their use of the metal. And repair of the parts that do use beryllium will now be done by the manufacturer, not by the military. That should cut down on pollution and the cost of maintaining a facility that can handle hazardous material. That sounds great. But will it also keep turnaround time down when soldiers are fighting a pitched battle in some far-off land and need to repair damaged helicopters quickly? In theory yes, because military personal can replace, but not repair, the units that contain beryllium. Let's hope that works out when supplies run short and servicemen have to cannibalize parts to keep the helicopters flying. Military officials say they would never risk the lives of their men. The evidence on green ammo seems to back that up. It is reportedly just as good, if not better, than standard lead core bullets. The ballistics are virtually the same; indeed, the bullets are slightly more accurate, Master Sgt. Charges Tenney told me. He's the noncommissioned officer in charge of range control at Camp Edwards, and he was there when the new ammo was field-tested. The men firing that day were concerned the new ammo wouldn't work right. But "we had no jams," Sgt. Tenney says. It's not surprising that the new bullets would have similar ballistics, because on the outside they have an identical copper shell. What's different is the tungsten alloy (it's mixed with either nylon or tin) in the core of the bullet. And the alloy "mushrooms" like lead, officials at the U.S. Army Environmental Center told me. That's important because how a bullet mushrooms can determine how much damage it will do. Armor-piercing bullets smash through by not mushrooming, but if they hit something soft like a person they may zip through without causing much damage. Softer bullets can have more stopping power because as they mushroom they transfer energy into the target. It's the shock waves of that energy that cause most of the damage, not the cutting done by the bullet. [red](cont...)[/red]
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 9:29:57 AM EDT
All of this, naturally, costs more to produce. A standard cartridge costs the military 21 cents. This new ammo costs 32 cents a round. Officials are confident, though, that the costs will be made up as the military has to pay less in environmental cleanup. They call this "lifecycle costs." Perhaps they're right, assuming the environmentalists don't sue to cleanse the dirt of copper or tungsten somewhere down the line. [i]Mr. Miniter is assistant editor of OpinionJournal.com.[/i] Copyright © 2002 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 9:32:29 AM EDT
My own take: Since it has a tungsten core, it will probably be unavailable to civilians. And the anti's will use it as a rallying cry to ban target ranges since we're "polluting". Can't shoot tungsten-core ammo because it's "cop killer bullets", can't shoot lead because it pollutes. We'll be stuck with Airsoft guns -- until they ban those for being "realistic toy guns that create a bad influence for children".
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 9:40:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/18/2002 9:41:49 AM EDT by Arock]
Powell River Laboratories has been working the "Green Bullet" program for several years. About five years ago PRL showed up at Camp Perry with some 87 and 100 grain .223 bullets. Tungsten composition cores made them heavier than lead. 87gr can be loaded magazine length. 100gr was same size as Sierra 80gr MatchKing. Nobody fell in love with them. Expensive and recently impossible to get.
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 9:53:11 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 9:55:31 AM EDT
I have posted a number of times concerning sintered bullets. I ordered hundreds is most calibers. They are a composite of copper and tin I believe. They are relatively light, but long. I have yet to try them but am hoping they will shoot well. Evidently these can be made to do a number of different jobs. They can disintegrate or be quite tough. I smashed one with a hammer it fell into a number of large pieces. Pretty tough though.
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 10:50:21 AM EDT
Perhaps these new bullets fly the same as the old ones, but do they fragment the same? Most small arms ammo in the military does not "mushroom". Correct me if I am wrong, but Military ammo is supposed to be Full-Metal-Jacket only correct? "Mushrooming" is what happens with soft-point and hollow point ammo. This is mostly used as hunting, self defense, and law enforcement ammo. It seems like they are killing the 5.56 effectiveness, and the ammo budget at the same time.
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 10:55:10 AM EDT
All this leaves millions of lead bullets in the ground.
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Where did the lead come from in the first place? The ground!z
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 11:04:18 AM EDT
What about steel core rounds? Arent those friendly?
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 11:45:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/18/2002 11:46:37 AM EDT by trickshot]
Meanwhile they blast depleted uranium all over the place. What the fuck ever. And raf, honestly, lead contamination is about the last item on the list for superfund cleanups--there are radioactive dumps all over the country that contaminate ground water and threaten the environment far worse than any lead from any shooting range ever will.
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 12:14:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 12:45:16 PM EDT
1. Look at the title of the article/Op-ed 2. Read the article/Op-ed 3. Notice anything? 4. Yet another instance of the press using "guns" to further something. In this case, an article which has nothing to do with any part of any gun of any kind. It was an article about ammo. 5. My bad, they don't know the difference. 6. My bad again, I'm still ranting because of the "good" FBI shooting.
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 1:47:37 PM EDT
Originally Posted By zoom:
All this leaves millions of lead bullets in the ground.
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Where did the lead come from in the first place? The ground!z
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Damn z, I never thought of that. Good point.
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