Missouri plant makes lead-free ammunition for U.S. military

On a recent day in Independence, a below-the-radar event occurred at the factory that's the largest producer of small-arms ammunition used by the U.S. military.

The Lake City Army Ammunition Plant produced cartridges without lead projectiles. The slugs, instead of being made of lead _ a metal used for centuries _ now are being manufactured with a bismuth alloy, which has a density roughly equivalent to lead but without lead’s toxicity.

The lead-free cartridges assembled in October were part of an initial 600,000-round test sample. This month, Lake City employees will begin producing the first order of 20 million rounds of lead-free cartridges. After testing, they could be delivered by January to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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