The ATF isn’t generally considered a shining example of an “open” regulatory agency — one where their functions and regulations are discussed openly and candidly. Instead the ATF seems to enjoy being as enigmatic as possible, keeping their cards close to their bureaucratic vest. But now there’s news via the NRA that the ATF is looking for public comments on their interpretation of how certain projectiles apply under the Armor Piercing Ammunition ban . . .

Under Federal law, it’s illegal to import or manufacture armor piercing handgun ammunition. The definition for that “armor piercing” part is “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.”

So while good ol’ lead is just fine, an all-brass bullet would be considered “armor piercing,” which is what Elite Ammo was producing when they were raided by the ATF not too long ago. Turned brass bullets are becoming a new “thing” for precision shooters, with a better ballistic profile than the standard copper and lead setup and a more consistent shape.

Where this gets sticky is when firearms are made that are technically handguns, but use rifle rounds. Things like AR-15 and AK pistols. Thanks to AR-15 pistols, M855 ammunition might be considered “armor piercing” under Federal law.

The exception to this ban on ammunition production is the “sporting purposes” clause that allows for the importation and production of ammunition that can arguably be used for sporting purposes. From the NRA’s presser on the ATF’s position, they’re apparently of two minds:

First, BATFE suggested that it believes that the “armor piercing ammunition” law was intended to affect all ammunition capable of penetrating soft body armor worn by law enforcement officers. NRA reminded BATFE that the law was intended to protect law enforcement officers against the potential threat posed a very narrowly-defined category of projectiles: those, such as KTW and Arcane, which by virtue of their hard metal construction were designed and intended to be used by law enforcement officers to shoot through hard objects, such as automobile glass and doors, when fired at the velocities typical of handgun-caliber ammunition fired from handguns. Neither before nor since the law’s enactment, has an officer been killed due to such a bullet penetrating soft body armor.

NRA further pointed out that the legislative history of the law clearly shows that members of Congress, including the sponsor of the law in the House, Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), a decorated former NYPD police officer, expressly did not want the law to restrict rifle-caliber bullets that happen to also be useable in handguns chambered to use rifle cartridges.

Second, BATFE says it considers projectiles to not be exempt under the “sporting purposes” test if they “pose a threat to public safety and law enforcement.” BATFE also expressed concern that since the law was adopted, various new rifle-caliber handguns have been invented. On that point, NRA made clear that the sporting purposes exemption is straightforward: it applies to all projectiles that are “primarily intended for sporting purposes”–nothing more, and nothing less. Under the law, a projectile would be exempt if it is primarily intended for sporting purposes, even if it is secondarily intended for self-defense or some other legitimate purpose. Furthermore, the law does not condition its restrictive language or its “sporting purposes” exemption on the design of a particular handgun; the law is concerned only with specific projectiles that can be used in handguns. NRA cautioned the BATFE against interpreting the law in a manner more restrictive than Congress intended.

The ATF is accepting public input on which position they should take until December 31st. So if you want to voice your opinion, head on over to http://www.atf.gov/firearms/industry/.

45 Responses to ATF Looking for Input on “Armor Piercing” Bullets

  1. Which TOP MEN are going to be determining whether they qualify as armor piercing or not? The same jokes that authorized Fast and Furious?

  2. By the way, they want to ban lead ammo for being an environmental hazard and are considering restricting all copper ammo. Anyone else notice that?

    • you beat me to the punch – they are making the same arguments that were made in the California carry case now in the 9th circuit: oh, you don’t need concealed carry b/c you have open carry. Then they ban open carry and argue that you don’t need open carry b/c look, there are sheriffs granting concealed carry permits, but just in rural areas. . . .

      • I thought the same thing. The fact is that I don’t know of a single LEO being killed by an armor – piercing handgun round. If copper, brass, and lead are banned from bullet manufacture, there isn’t a whole lot left (except ATF bullshit).

  3. Can someone help me out with this?
    My understanding is that “armor piercing” rounds are bullets constructed with a hardened core, coating, or of one material such that they will penetrate class II body armor.
    I thought the point of the copper bullets is that they retain more of their mass than conventional lead rounds and expand more fully and consistently.
    I also thought that most rifle rounds are by default armor piercing due to their high velocity, not their material construction.
    How do all-copper rounds work as armor piercing then? I’ve never used them, but I’d think that their purpose is sort of the opposite of armor piercing, to penetrate yes but more to expand, but not to circumvent body armor.

    • The federal definition of armor piercing takes only the bullet’s composition into account. It’s ability to penetrate armor is irrelevant. A bronze bullet loaded lightly so that it is incapable of piercing armor would be classified as armor piercing, while a copper (non beryllium) bullet capable of piercing armor would not be classified as armor piercing.
      Makes sense, huh?

    • Ron Paul is the broken clock canaiddte; right on one or two things but bat-poop crazy wrong on everything else. Why anyone thinks he’s an acceptable canaiddte is beyond me. The only thing I can guess as to why people like him is he’s the guilt free canaiddte to support, not due to his positions but due to the fact he’ll never win. Supporting him means always being able to say, It’s not my fault, I voted for the other guy.

      • Your comment is a hollow accusation lacking substantiating detail. Therefore, it’s pretty much worthless.
        How did Ron Paul fall under his comment? Vote for one of the two parties and keep getting the same shyte you’re currently getting! Wow. You won that one! Hahahahha!

    • No right to exist? Are they not legally constituted part of the Federal Government or have I missed a Supreme Court ruling?

      • If you read the Constitution, you will have a hard time finding authorization for most of the alphabet soup agencies that exist. The BATFE is merely the easiest to do this with, as their focus is firearms, which, according the the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear shall not be infringed. They do very little with both alcohol and tobacco, just enough to justify keeping those legal products in the name of the organization.

      • It is an organization designed to limit and regulate our 2nd amendment rights. I would consider it having no right to exist. Imagine having to get approval to vote, speak freely, etc.

    • alongside the CIA, NSA, DIA, DHS, IRS (especially that one), DEA, and im sure im missing several.

      none of those are needed, nor should they exist. a fat red line should be drawn through them.

    • ATF is evil. Put a 50 cal hole in Mrs Weavers eye while she was holding a baby (cuz they set her hubby up for…gasp…shortening a shotgun). This is how they made lamp shades out of jewish girls skin in Nazi Germany. Aint ‘Big Gov’ great.

  4. Would any of our more eloquent writers be willing to put together a form letter that we can copy/paste to the ATF email address?

    • Here’s what I used. Feel free to steal.

      I do not support any restrictions on ammunition based on either the public safety or sporting purposes provisions set forth above. As an avid hunter, I rely on copper bullets to provide a lead free alternative that still guarantees exceptional terminal performance. Restriction of all copper bullets in any caliber or configuration is likely to create more unnecessary regulation that American citizens will have to negotiate for no realistic gain in safety.

      Additionally, all copper bullets (rifle or pistol) pose no more threat to law enforcement (or the public) than typical jacketed FMJ lead core rifle rounds. Type III-A body armor (the standard for LE) is not rated to withstand ANY rifle rounds regardless of composition. There is no scientific evidence to support the position that solid copper bullets are any more lethal than standard copper jacketed lead ammunition.

      I encourage you to reevaluate adding more legislation and regulation to an already bloated system based on knee-jerk fears that are not founded in any world of rational thought.

  5. Berrylium copper is not regular copper! Regular copper is not on the banned list above. Berrylium copper is much harder and is used to make springs and such that regular copper could never dream of doing. The properties are very different.

  6. Edit: I see the ATF added an extra comma “berrylium, copper”. I bet you that comma wasn’t there in 1968. Berrylium copper is a commonly used industrial alloy with properties that would be suitable for a bullet, berrylium itself is highly toxic and soft and lightweight and not really at all suitable for bullets on it’s own. Therefore I think regular copper was not intended to be on the 1968 list of banned metals.

  7. Back when “armor piercing” ammo was the anti-gunner’s flavor of the month (it started out as a proposed ban on any ammo that met certain ballistic qualifications if there was so much as one pistol made for that round; because of rifle caliber Contenders and such, it would have outlawed most of the rifle ammo sold in the US. You remember back in the early 90s when all those cops were getting killed by thugs with .30-30 Thompson-Center single shots!) one of the “Lethal Weapon” movies’ main theme was “cop killer” bullets. There was a great scene where Mel Gibson got his hands on a crook’s MAC-10 loaded with “cop killers” and used it to kill a miscreant hiding behind a bulldozer blade. Perforated that D-8 blade like Swiss cheese. Only in Hollywood….

  8. “The ATF is accepting public input on which position they should take until December 31st. So if you want to voice your opinion, head on over”

    I think it is a trick to put people onto an ATF “to-be-raided” black list.

  9. This has nothing to do with COPPER bullets – the issue with the industry is over BRASS bullets. Please stop sending them comments about copper bullets and clouding the issue.

    • +1000

      As I was reading the post, I kept wondering if I was missing something. Beryllium copper is NOT ordinary copper, it’s a highly toxic copper alloy with enhanced metallurgical properties, most often used in aerospace applications.

      This is about brass bullets.

    • Once again we are left to imagine if you-know-who had done sinothemg like this and then denied accountability. I imagine a cartoon of a snake in Texas tall grass with a cowboy hat would have been on some paper’s editorial page. Today, of course, that snake symbolism would just be racist somehow. I concur with your sentiment, Louis. I just don’t know if it will be in time.

  10. So my buddy has some Lake City 855. Are we talking confiscation or non availability?

    The python of gun grabbers is finding a bunch of ways to nullify the 2nd. I think it’s time to learn reloading.

  11. WOW wonder what they are up to now.

    I bet money they are going after copper. They will not with OB elected to a second term in ANY WAY reduce regulations. WTF are folks smoking if you think this is about allowing brass bullets back?

    They are going after copper now as AP and while the ATF will say lead is OK it will be banned by the EPA.

    You can trust the ATF as fare as you can through them.

  12. The ATF is a full of idiots. Any rifle is capable of penetrating common body armor… including my flintlock rifle which produces more then 2,000 ft-lbs of energy with a 486 gr bullet and a 150 grain black powder load.

    My AK-47 pistol is not half bad either. No, they can’t have it.

  13. Rest assured, ATF already knows exactly what they want to to…. Public comment will not sway them from their agenda. Remember multiple long gun sales reporting? Negative comments from the public didn’t even slow them down.

  14. Doubt they would confiscate current ammo. BUT ATF if it had Obama’s blessing can ban selling of any M-855 or M-855A1 ammo. Again Obama can get his National AWB so hes going to make life suck for us in other ways.

    I prefer M-193 any way better shooting and more fragmentation in soft tissue than 62gr ammo.

    The dumb cops they can wear level 3 armor enough with crappy Level 2 crap.

  15. Ok now I am confused.
    You state that the composites are “beryllium copper” and the ATF states “beryllium, copper”
    So which is it? that is a big difference as there are solid copper bullets.

  16. to think my tax dollars go towards feeding these fucking retards and their families…

    “BATFE also expressed concern that since the law was adopted, various new rifle-caliber handguns have been invented. ”

    …which cannot be concealed in the same matter as a original handgun nor do they have the accuracy, reliability, and kinetic energy of a long gun. talk about grasping at straws.

    “Second, BATFE says it considers projectiles to not be exempt under the “sporting purposes” test if they “pose a threat to public safety and law enforcement.””

    using that logic, the BATFE needs to be disbanded because it poses a threat to public safety and the constitution.

    • It seems that this administration will go down in hostiry as the “Are you serious?” era, or error, I’m not sure. Or maybe Obama puts policy ideas on golf balls, swings and yells “Fore!” Then they fall into the rough or the hazard and he just reaches for a new ball rather than solve the problem.On the other than, the comparison to Schultz is perhaps unfair because the bumbling sergeant helped the good guys, even unwittingly — and Obama and Holder do not.

  17. til I looked at the draft ov $7328, I accept that my best friend was like they say actualy receiving money part-time on their computer.. there aunts neighbour haz done this for only nineteen months and just repayed the dept on there villa and got a new Volkswagen Golf GTI. go to, cloud68 do t com

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