Tactical Handgun Choices for the Organic Lifestyle - What Would Al Gore Pack?

By Ken Hanson

Today's progressive lifestyles often run into an unavoidable conflict with the tactical warrior mindset. Specifically, how does one balance one-shot stopping power with the desire to leave a carbon-neutral footprint?

In an effort to aid the eco-warrior in making environmentally friendly choices in carry gun and ammunition choices, this article will examine defending yourself and your family in the context of ecologically friendly manufacturing processes, components and recycling within the ccw paradigm.

Is a metal gun's manufacturing process more harmful than the fossil-fuel intensive polymer materials in non-metal guns? Is a 9mm steel round greener than a 45 ACP jacketed lead hollow-point, and is there really any difference in the tactical deployment of either round? It's not just about purchasing carbon-offsets anymore!

Let's face it - whether jumping in the Prius to take your recycling to the reclamation center or on the bike to head to Yoga, there are not many green choices when it comes to handguns and accessories. So, like many other areas of environmental defense, it is up to the ecowarrior to be proactive and adopt earth-friendly practices. There is a veritable cottage industry (in the good, New England family business sense and not the monolithic corporate rapist sense) that has blossomed to provide green alternatives to the tactical operator.

Gun choice

The first dilemma to overcome is whether steel frame handguns have a more harmful footprint than polymer framed guns. While steel is infinitely recyclable, it is an energy intensive process that does not lend itself readily to use of renewable energy resources. Until breakthroughs are made, smelting furnaces and or metal forging remains a heavy user of high voltage, and high carbon footprint, electricity. Similarly, breakthroughs in polymer recycling are exciting, yet the source feeder product remains petroleum, thus further our dependence upon foreign oil and encouraging continued imperialistic ambitions in the Persian Gulf.

While breakthroughs are being made daily, until energies companies are forced to utilize renewable, non-nuclear generation, recycling of polymers and steel will remain an ecoparadox. All we can say for certain is that first-order recycling remains the most eco-friendly alternative. Buy used handguns and help keep this valuable commodity out of the post-consumer recycling stream while minimizing the electricity that would be squandered in recycling both steel and plastics.


We are very excited about the advancements being made in the use of hemp fiber in holsters! With proper bamboo reinforcing inserts, hemp shows the potential to attain upwards of 30% the lifespan of nylon holsters. Of course, it is hard to beat the ecological original wonder-holster, leather, but we have not yet found a reliable source of leather that utilizes free-range cattle that dies of natural causes. Also, due to the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides in commercial cotton growing, cotton remains a problematic "third way." We all live downstream.

Another area of advance is in the new generation of solar powered tactical lights which mount on standard accessory rails! Even as this article is being written, work progresses on producing mercury-free compact fluorescent bulbs for these rechargeable lights. Help keep heavy metals out of our landfills.


Lead kills AND causes birth defects, not to mention its harmful impact on the reproductive cycle of migratory birds. Today's operators are going "lead free" for their self-defense needs. Taking a page from the frangible projectile industry, exciting advances are being made in 100% organic bullets, such as ground walnut media compressed in bullet molds and bound with gluten-free wheat binder. Cheap, eco-friendly and reducing ricochet/penetration dangers, it is a triple threat!

Of course, bench loaders are the original first-order recyclers, reusing every single piece of brass they have ever touched until it is unsafe to do so any more. In no other area of recycling has first-order reuse reached this type of market penetration. Hats off to the hand loaders, the greenest of the greens.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the primers used in the reloading process, and work continues on reverting to the more renewable flint ignition systems originally employed on self-defense guns.

Hoping you are enjoying this April Fool's Day as much as we are.

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