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Better bullets: Snoqualmie Tribe loads green ammo

Randy “Fuzzy” Fletcher, safety officer for the Snoqualmie Tribe, trains with his Colt pistol using special green ammunition. The Tribe’s police department is the first local agency to use the mercury- and lead-free bullets. - Allison Espiritu / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Randy “Fuzzy” Fletcher, safety officer for the Snoqualmie Tribe, trains with his Colt pistol using special green ammunition. The Tribe’s police department is the first local agency to use the mercury- and lead-free bullets.
— image credit: Allison Espiritu / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Snoqualmie Tribal Police Department’s bullets may be copper in color, but they’re green in concept.

The tribe’s force is the first law enforcement agency in the Valley to use environmentally friendly ammunition.

Tribal Safety Officer Randy “Fuzzy” Fletcher said the tribe has long had an environmentally sensitive stance.

“We’re trying to do a lot of things, as simple as recycling bottles and properly throwing away fluorescent bulbs,” he said. “This is just another step in that direction.”

Geen ammunition was first used only for training purposes. A decade ago, the Department of the Army issued lead-free bullets to United States troops. Since then, ammunition has been developed for street-level police purposes.

Green ammunition operates and performs exactly the same as regular bullets. The difference is in what it is made of.

Standard bullets use a primer that ignites the gunpowder inside. The primer includes mercury and the bullets contain lead. When shot, these two components then enter the atmosphere in tiny particles, causing pollution.

Green ammunition includes copper-jacketed bullets made of a tungsten-tin composite and are lighter in weight. These bullets are also cheaper per round, which Fletcher finds amazing.

“Ammunition prices have gone up lately,” he said. “For one particular weapon I shoot, a handgun, it’s basically 90 cents per round. Green ammunition is about 80 cents per round. If you’re shooting 500 rounds a month to train, you’re talking about $50 a month, or $600 a year.”

Fletcher is making his own performance tests on the ammo.

“I should be able to finish testing within the next month,” Fletcher said. “Anyone who carries a firearm that is allowed by the Tribe will go through firearms testing with that ammunition.”

Fletcher hopes that the tribe’s example encourages other local departments to take a green approach, too.

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