Affordable Non Lead Ammo
The words "cheap" or "affordable" don't usually coincide with non lead ammo. Non lead bullet materials that are strong enough to withstand the pressure and friction a bullet sustains and heavy enough to perform well in flight often cost 2-3 times more. The current level of demand, and coinciding limited supply/production of non lead bullets, also mean that traditional ammo's economies of scale don't apply as dramatically to non lead ammo. As California legislation continues to restrict the use of lead ammo and improved ballistic reports come in on non lead ammo, more manufacturers are getting into the non lead ammo game. Each new manufacturer adds more options, more competition and can help lower the average costs of non lead ammo.
One of these new manufacturers that Clark Armory has recently partnered with is Alchemist Ammunition. Alchemist Ammo has grown from National Police Ammunition (NPA); a company that has been supplying frangible and non lead ammo to the law enforcement community for a number of years. Alchemist Ammunition has formed to bring NPA's three rounds: Frangible C3, Z-Clean and HELO, to the civilian market for the first time. The most notable of these rounds, price wise, is the Z-Clean.
Alchemist Z-Clean Ammo features a unique solid zinc projectile. As shown below, these projectiles have no jacket or supportive base. This zinc construction is extra strong and certainly not frangible. Like most non lead ammo the Z-Clean's bullet is lighter than regular FMJs with the 9mm Z-Clean weighing in at just 100 grains. Although light, this is heavier than many non-lead alternatives, such as PolyCase's Inceptor RNP 9mm Ammo whose copper polymer bullet is only 84 grains. The marginally heavier Z-Clean bullet should help cycle some stiffer-springed pistols.
Most notably, a box of 50 9mm Z-Cleans retails for only $14.09. A similar box of 50 brass-cased full metal jackets currently goes for around $10.00 (plus shipping on both of course). While still ~40% more expensive, the Z-Clean's price is certainly more affordable than the typical +100% or more difference between standard plinking ammo and their closest non lead counterparts.
Will Alchemist's Z-Clean be the first in a long line of price decreasing non lead rounds? It is too early to tell. The Z-Clean is however, a good step in the right direction and time will tell if they will be the new standard for lead free plinking or just a price reducing innovation for others to build upon.