The Truth About M855 5.56 NATO Ammunition


The White House has said recently that banning “armor piercing” ammunition like the wildly popular M855 round is “common sense” and would make our police officers safer, which is a bold claim. Given the quality of journalism on display among the major networks these days, its no surprise that the facts of the matter have been muddled and obfuscated to the point where the details being presented bear little to no resemblance to the actual facts. Some hyperbole is expected, but in an age when the talking heads on TV start claiming that common rifles can shoot down airplanes and blow up railroads you know that fact checking isn’t high on the priority list. I wanted to take a minute and discuss the truth about the M855 round, what it is, what it does, and why it is being targeted.

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M855 Ban In Perspective

According to Mark Glaze, the ATF’s proposed ban on M855 ball ammunition is designed to protect police from armor-piercing rounds. The former Everytown for Gun Safety mouthpiece reckons the fact that many common rifle bullets can do the same thing – and how – is neither here nor there. Nor is the doyen of civilian disarmament concerned that gun owners will be deprived of cartridges that they use the ammo for target shooting and hunting (a.k.a., “sporting purposes”). Gun owners should “use other target shooting ammunition that can’t pierce through the Kevlar vests that police officers wear on the streets.” Which is a problem . . .

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Focusing on M855 Is Missing the ATF’s Ultimate Intent


Reader SAS 2008 writes:

While I agree that M855 should not be classified as armor piercing because its core is not “entirely” composed of the restricted materials, I am concerned that everyone is focusing on M855 and missing the point of the ATF proposal. The title of the document is: ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE “PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES” WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C), So while it may be useful to comment on M855 and U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B)(i) we had better also comment on the problems with the proposal’s definition of what is primarily intended for sporting purposes . . .

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ATF Ban on M855 Ammunition: The Real Issue and The Real Answer


By Daniel O’Kelly, Director of the International Firearm Specialist Academy (reprinted here with permission)

Everyone is surprised that ATF has announced plans to ban M855 ammunition (steel-core 5.56 NATO). The issue has been raised as to whether the cartridge has sufficient “sporting purposes” as a means to fight the ban. Make no mistake, the “sportability” of the cartridge is not the real issue. We at IFSA agree that M855 ammunition should NOT be banned. However we would like to offer some explanation as to the methodology being used by the Government in this situation. The definition of Armor Piercing (AP) Ammunition is . . .

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Manchester UK Gun Club Director “Spared Jail”

“A gun club director has been spared jail after he was caught flouting his weapons licence,” we learn via the good folks at And what, you ask, constitutes “flouting” firearms-wise in The Land of Hope and Glory?  “Police firearms licensing officers found Frank Wright, 67, was keeping ammunition in his bedroom when it should have been locked away in a box in his loft. They also found he had dangerous ‘hollow point’ ammunition – designed to expand on impact – which he wasn’t allowed to keep at all.” Note: his guns were legally secured. The ammunition was not. Spock, damage report. . .

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9mm Ammo Quest: Federal Premium Hydra Shok

Sometimes oldies are goodies. Sometimes oldies are moldy and rotten. And sometimes, oldies are okay, but they’re a lot better in your memory than they are in reality. Which brings us to Federal Premium Hydra Shok. Hydra Shok was one of the first great hollowpoints. It’s a legendary design that has endured since 1988 — that’s 27 years of continuously being on the market. Hydra Shok was one of the first bullets introduced . . .

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ATF Accepting Comment on M855 Ammo Ban Until March 15


As you’ve probably heard by now, the diligent public servants at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced on Friday their intent to ban some common flavors of AR-15 ball ammo, ostensibly because of its “armor piercing” capability. This may or may not be a fait accompli, but gunnies have until March 15 to register comments with the ATF on the move. Instructions for how to do that can be found here. Pro tip: for maximum effectiveness, keep it simple, clear and cogent. As an example, here’s reader John D.’s missive:

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Nova Scotia Ammo Shortage America’s Fault?


While in school, I took a class comparing Canadian and American law. The tutorial featured a webconference with a companion class in British Colombia, so we actually interacted with the Canadian students. The professor alternated his presence between the two classes. On the first day of class, the professor asked everyone what it meant to be a Canadian or an American (as the case may be). The American students hit on the themes you’d expect . . .

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Question of the Day: Got Ammo?

Sportsman's Finest, Austin, TX (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

The great ammo shortage of 2013/2014 is now . . . the slightly less great ammo shortage of 2015. At least in terms of .22 caliber pills. Other calibers are gradually catching-up with demand – despite the fact that ammo-starved consumers are stocking up like never before. Gun owners who were formerly just-in-time ammo buyers are now ammunition hoarders. How’s supply in your neck of the woods and are you buying more ammo than you used to?


ATF Moves to Ban M855 And SS109 5.56 Ammunition

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It looks like the ATF is once again trying to make it as difficult as possible for hunters and target shooters to enjoy their Constitutionally protected activities. Last week the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives posted a white paper on their website which attempted to do some very shady wordsmithing, the end result of which would be a ban on some of the most commonly available 5.56 NATO ammunition in the United States — ammunition used regularly for bona fide “sporting purposes.” Yet the ATF doesn’t seem to give a damn about that. Which is worrying, since the law they’re trying to apply specifically exempts projectiles which have a legitimate “sporting purpose” . . .

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9mm Ammo Quest: Speer Gold Dot G2 147 Grain JHP

Speer’s introduced a new version of their legendary Gold Dot ammunition.  Called Gold Dot G2, and subtitled “Next Generation”, it’s a revision to their long-time fan favorite and police ammo staple, the Gold Dot. This particular ammo is the 9mm, 147 grain flavor. What’s new?  Well, the most obvious change is that the ammo’s hollowpoint cavity is now plugged with an elastomer tip, similar to the polymer tip employed by Hornady in their Critical DutyTM and Critical DefenseTM lines of ammo.  In Speer’s own words . . .

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ShootingTheBull410 on the Ballistics of the Mech Tech Carbine Conversion for GLOCK

Jeremy S. recently reviewed the Mech Tech Carbine Conversion Unit for the GLOCK 20 and 21. This high-quality upper unit converts your handgun into a pistol-caliber carbine. While Jeremy’s test covered pretty much everything, he decided to send it to me to do a little ballistic testing, especially since I’d shown an unhealthy obsession with converting my GLOCK 21 into as many different guns as I could (previous installments included converting it to 10mm, and creating potentially the world’s only 9mm GLOCK 21.) So would I like to test converting it to a carbine rifle? Yes, yes I would . . .

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