Lead-Free, All Copper, High Speed
By Steve Tracy
Liberty Ammunition boldly states that its high-performance, lead-free ammo is the world’s fastest handgun round. The Bradenton, Fla. manufacturer holds multiple small-arms ammunition patents and claims to have developed cartridges that are exceptional in both accuracy and performance.
Their Civil Defense ammunition consists of a monolithic hollowpoint with increased velocity, accuracy, and barrier penetration. While the bullet’s speed is increased due to the combination of the powder used and its reduced weight, reduced recoil is also a benefit as a result. Their cartridges are created from all-new materials and non-corrosive primers.
Liberty’s Civil Defense handgun rounds are available in .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 10mm, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and .45 Colt. Their Silverado .223 Remington (also fires in 5.56 NATO chambered firearms) is a 55-grain, lead-free round for use in rifles/carbines.
Lead vs. Lead-Free
One-hundred percent copper bullets were first created by Barnes Bullets in the mid-1980s and used as a high-quality hunting round for big game in Africa. Consistent and rapid expansion with bullet weight retention and deep penetration resulted. Hunters found the lead-free rounds worked extremely well and proper shot placement provided the ability to crush and penetrate bone, create massive organ/tissue disruption, and often a large exit wound.
The shooting world has been using lead based ammo for so long, that it’s difficult to overcome our way of thinking. We’ve long known that a heavy bullet is needed to get the job done. Lead is a heavy metal and provides plenty of weight for its size. It is also a malleable material, being relatively soft. This makes it easier to produce and size. However, a lead bullet’s weight needs plenty of power behind it in order to get it moving. Knowledgeable police officers have experienced the difference in recoil when firing 115-grain 9mm rounds compared to 147-grain bullets in the same caliber. The heavier rounds usually produce more felt recoil. The same goes for 185-grain .45 ACP bullets, which feel much different compared to 230-grain bullets when fired through the same pistol. It takes a bit more oomph to get those heavier, lead-based bullets moving and therefore their subsequent recoil is increased.
Liberty is not the first bullet maker to offer lead-free, all-copper rounds. As government restrictions increase throughout the country, Liberty probably won’t be the last either. Hunting expert Craig Boddington has used non-lead bullets on all types of wild game and found it to be as accurate as any other round (although some firearms don’t like certain bullets, no matter what they’re made of) and often times to have even more effective killing power.
Liberty first came to my attention at the Make Big Noise event in Virginia during the summer of 2014. The demonstration of their ammo was impressive. As police officers, skepticism often becomes ingrained in our personalities. As a carnival fraud inspector for 14 years, my training forced me to search for ways the presentation could be scammed, fixed, gamed, or fraudulently skewed. I found none. During the 2015 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I had another opportunity to fire Liberty’s Civil Defense cartridges and I was again impressed. I bought some during a recent sale and conducted some velocity tests on my own.
Scientific ballistics tests often utilize test barrels under extremely controlled laboratory conditions. Being a cop and not a scientist, my test barrels are actual firearms, and I just have a local range instead of a lab. Oh, and I don’t have a lab coat either.