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Staffan Leths led free bullets

Benefits of new lead-free bullet demonstrated

He has developed copper-based hunting bullets that work just as well or better than those containing lead. Staffan Leth, hunter and passionate sport shooter, has the best possible proof of this. RISE’s test facility has delivered impartial evidence of the bullet’s behaviour.

Lead is a major problem when it ends up in our food and in nature. Even in very small amounts, the metal can cause damage to the nervous system, especially in foetuses and young children. 

It is no wonder that society limits its use in various ways. Lead bullets and lead shot, which are used in hunting, result in 10-16 tonnes of lead ending up in nature every year. A total ban is already being debated. 

Other lead-free bullets do not work optimally 

“For me, the lead issue arose already around 1990, when people started talking about how lead in gaseous form can be harmful, and that those of us who shoot firearms a lot would need to get tested,” says Staffan Leth, whose life has revolved around weapons in various ways. Raised in Djurås between Leksand and Borlänge, hunting and sport shooting have always been central. 

Staffan’s shop, which was started as a hobby in the ’90s, currently has three employees and stocks a wide range of goods. And lead has been an ever-present issue. 

“There have been alternatives, but they have not worked satisfactorily,” says Staffan. “In 2018, I therefore started to develop a lead-free hunting bullet – and it works better than traditional lead-nose bullets.” 

Staffan is used to so-called handloading products, which is when hunters or shooters adapt their ammunition to their firearm. Handloading (or, more accurately, reloading) involves reusing previously fired casings or shells by inserting a new percussion cap, gunpowder, and slug, which is done using a special tool available for each calibre. Developing a completely new bullet required a lot of careful planning and numerous attempts. 

“When I started the development, I had a high ambition: to make the world’s best hunting bullet. In Sweden. Lead-free. And with the same precision as a professional bullet! All with a price that appeals to every Swedish hunter.” 

An ambitious goal, especially since the lead-free alternatives available on the market are often perceived as inferior. 

“The quality has varied. Many hunters have been sceptical and found that they do not expand enough on impact. They also claim that they travel sluggishly through the barrel, which builds gas pressure that results in more powerful recoil.” 

When I started the development, I had a high ambition: to make the world’s best hunting bullet. In Sweden. Lead-free.

Copper alloy with optimal design 

The bullet Staffan has now developed has a copper alloy and a design that he believes works optimally. 

“It has good expansion and expands up to double the diameter. Another advantage is that the residual weight is 99-100 percent.” 

The latter is an advantage even compared to traditional lead bullets, as it means that the bullet holds together inside the wound and does not spread small fragments that contaminate the meat. A lead-nose bullet fragments considerably, which means that you have to cut away a lot of meat around the entry point to ensure that lead residues do not end up on your plate. 

“Those who use our bullet claim to have 10 percent less waste compared to when they use lead bullets,” says Staffan. “For those who sell game meat and shoot many animals every year, that translates to many additional kilograms of meat that can be eaten, as well as more money.” 

To test his bullet, Staffan used ballistic gelatin, designed to simulate the effects of bullet wounds in animal muscle tissue. He feels confident in his conclusions. 

“But I need to verify my claims, both by having an independent party perform the same shooting tests and by demonstrating how the bullet behaves on impact.” 

He therefore approached RISE, which has a flexible test facility that allows for customisation according to the relevant ballistic requirements. During testing, a high-speed camera recording at 15,000 frames per second was used to evaluate the bullet’s behaviour. You can see an example in the video below. 

Received impartial evidence of the functionality 

“I got impartial evidence that the bullet actually works. They conducted rigorous tests and gave me videos showing the bullet’s behaviour.” 

Staffan has already started selling his lead-free bullet in several countries, and in the autumn of 2022 he also developed his own ammunition. The next step will be for other manufacturers to start using the bullet as a lead-free alternative in their ammunition. 

“Given that the ban is already enforced in some regions, it feels great to have a bullet that I believe is better than traditional lead bullets – and that we have been able to demonstrate this with the help of an impartial operator,” says Staffan. 

Here is an example of the videos recorded with RISE’s high-speed camera of Staffan Leth’s lead-free hunting bullets. The video shows how the bullet, a 308 calibre Winchester, behaves and how the top ‘mushrooms’ out into the ballistic gel that corresponds to muscle tissue. It allows RISE to measure several different parameters, such as the velocity of the bullet on impact and the trajectory of the bullet before it stops.


It is estimated that up to a million birds, which peck at lead shot, die of lead poisoning every year. In early 2023, the use of ammunition in the form of lead gunshot when shooting on wetlands was therefore prohibited in the EU. Sweden has had a similar ban since 2006, but the new rules are more extensive.  

Work is underway in the EU to expand the restriction on lead. According to the proposal, the ban would also cover lead in ammunition (both shot and bullets) used in hunting outside wetlands and in shooting sports. In addition, a ban has also been proposed on the use of lead in fishing gear, such as sinkers and fishing lures. 

(Source: Swedish Chemicals Agency) 


RISE’s state-of-the-art test facility north of Varberg performs tests on bullet-proofing and impact-resistance for all types of operations. Small and medium-sized enterprises often utilise the facility during the development or testing phase of their products and services. The shooting range is flexible and can be customised to the relevant ballistic requirements and standards with high safety and confidentiality. The operations are SUA-classified (which relates to protective-security procurement) and accredited by Swedac. 

The facility can be used for a variety of tests and can even accommodate entire vehicles. 

Glenn Langvik

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Glenn Langvik


+46 10 516 58 60

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