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 Greener but less meaner? (courtesy

Lethality issues. I like that. (I should, I just made it up). New York Police aren’t having problems shooting the wrong people (or simply shooting too much). They’re having “lethality issues.” Well, so is the U.S. Army. Not that you’d know it from their PR campaign. “The EPR replaces the lead slug with a copper slug,” the product manager for small caliber ammunition for the Program Executive Officer Ammunition tells “This makes the projectile environmentally-friendly, while still giving soldiers the performance capabilities they need on the battlefield. So far we have eliminated 1,994 metric tons of lead from 5.56 ammunition production.” Awesome! Only according to, back in 2005 . . .

Army officials acknowledged that the M855 “has not been providing the ‘stopping power’ the user would like at engagement ranges less than 150 yards,” according to a 2005 briefing, the Army Times reported [pay wall].

But ballistics experts point out no bullet is perfect; the new rounds won’t be substantially more deadly, in other words.

“There is not a bullet in this world that will do that,” Dr. Martin Fackler, former director of the Wound Ballistics Laboratory at the Letterman Army Institute of Research — who also served in the Vietnam War as a combat surgeon — told the Army Times. “Even if you take the guy’s heart apart, he can still shoot back at you for 15 seconds because he’s still got enough oxygen in the blood in his brain to do it.”

Old news. But the question remains: is the new, greener round as deadly as the non-PC ammo? [h/t AWR Hawkins at].

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  1. Good.

    More lead left over for those of us who cast our own. Casting lead has been getting expensive since the EPA has started their “initiative” against lead wheel weights.

    • I hope you realize that you’ve linked the Army PR document. The M855A1 has impressive penetration through metal for a 5.56. It sure wouldn’t be my first choice as a CQB round. The 300 BLK or 6.8 would be my top choices for CQB and barrier penetration (with the .50 Beowulf as a vehicle checkpoint gun). We’re I stuck with a 5.56, the MK 318 Mod 0 USMC round is the way to go.

      • I thought Black Hills 77gr OTM was good for CQB, too? (At least in an AR with a 1 in 7 barrel twist to stabilize it.)

    • Interesting. They state that the EPR exceeds 7.62×51 ball
      but provide no data. While they do exceed the M855, in
      my view, their performance doesn’t seem exceptional
      enough to warrant a switch. Personally, I’d also like to see
      a cost comparison between M855 the EPR and 7.62 ball
      along with a complete rundown of performance

      I wonder how many of the accuracy and “lethality” issues
      could be corrected with more emphasis on marksmanship.
      It seems that the politicians with stars on their shoulders
      would rather place both blame and trust in technology
      rather than consider that firearms training may be

      • In so doing, they are comparing armor penetration between the M855A1 with stacked cone penetrator vs. the 147 grain .308 standard FMJ. The armor piercing .22 “beats” the non-armor piercing .308. Not a shock, really. In an apples to apples (i.e. AP vs AP or FMJ vs FMJ, the .308 wins all categories hands down except weight).

        • You’re correct. I’d still like to see a comparison
          though. But then someone might see it and
          ask the top brass why they’re trying to get
          5.56 to do the 7.62 job.

        • I expect is has to do with not replacing an entire inventory of rifles chambered in 5.56.

          If they were going to make a switch, I think moving to 6.8 would be more likely than 7.62, but neither is going to happen.

        • I think 300BLK would make more sense because all that would need to be changed is the barrel. Everything else can remain the same including magazines. The 6.8 would require much more “modfying”.

          But I’m not an expert on these things. That’s just based on what I’ve read here and there.

  2. Who cares if it makes our soldiers less effective in the field of combat. It’s making the world a greener place!

  3. “A greener place.” There goes another keyboard. This site is hell on my keyboards.

    I laugh, also, at the concept that putting lead back in the ground, where it came from, is “environmentally unfriendly”. Don’t smelt me, bro!

    • It doesn’t just go back into the ground; when you shoot lead ammo with lead primers, it creates lead dust and vapors that you the shooter inhale.

      Also the lead from the bullets and the dust from shooting them does go into the ground, but it can also run off and go into the ground water.

  4. I would give an example scenario for how to test the lethality of these new bullets, but I don’t need the Secret Service on my ass.

  5. “Lethality issues” reminds me of the job opening for a “Lethality Engineer” I ran across once when I was job hunting.

  6. And here I thought there was a worldwide copper shortage. Around here, the tweekers have taken to ripping out phone lines and A/C compressors just to get the copper, and stripping lead pipes from empty houses has been a gangbuster business for years. Shall we assume this will only get worse?

  7. They bitch because making pennies is cost prohibitive and then start throwing copper down range? Our tax dollars at work.

    • That’s a pretty good point.

      Maybe it’s their long-term economic redevelopment strategy for warzones. After the fighting is over, the natives can police up the copper and sell it, and get their economy back on its feet.

      • When my father was a boy in Germany post WWII they did just that. The American army would come around with a truck and the German kids would sell them fired brass. (mostly 50-cal and 20mm from aircraft that landed all over Germany)

      • Use of the local the range as been hindered a few times this week because of some dufus doing this. Parks his car in the middle of the range and squats on the berms looking for copper. I’m starting to think he must have swallowed a bunch of the lead he finds. Mmhmm.

        • Curious. There are two large outdoor ranges near me, both private. I’m not a member at either, but I’ve visited both. Both have quite strict “stay the hell off the berms” rules. Ejection is the penalty.

  8. Yeah, until we start fighting an enemy with body armor… There’s always tradeoffs in design… nothing is really free and much of warfare is about adaptation.

    If we really wanted effect we’d just use automatic fed explosive rounds (ie. grenades)… but they’re expensive…

  9. “eat copper” in a movie just does not have the same ring.

    Copper is used for a lot of stuff (like wiring) so this is going to be a very expensive switch. Why copper and not the stuff they use in non-lead waterfowl shot? the 64,000 question: who lobbied for the switch? Someone stands to make $$. I’d bet you money some lobbyist has a contract already written up. And that lobbyist happens to have ties to …

    i have seen a couple videos of copper v lead bullets. honestly, i could not see a difference. i think shot placement accounts for a lot of “stopping power.”

    seems to me it comes down to why spend less money when you can spend more. and reward a connected lobbyist.

  10. I completely understand the reason for the switch. Just because the US military is blowing the sh1t out of some foreign country doesn’t mean that it has the right to pollute it. Because that would be bad.

    • They worry about polluting other countries more than they worry about polluting ours with these hot air political figures.

  11. “So far we have eliminated 1,994 metric tons of lead from 5.56 ammunition production.”

    And increased the price of copper even more to all new astounding prices. …And increasing the cost of copper increases the cost of…Brass. So expect to pay more for all your favorite components.

  12. Well M-855 and M-855A1 never tumbled and cut up flesh like M-193 ammo did. Its was meant to counter the M-80 balls punching power by adding steel in it. Designed for shooting Soviet and Warsaw pact troops who wore none existent Russian bullet proof vest, it failed in real wars facing Arabs and Muslims wearing nothing but a white rag. The need to replace tried and true M-80 ball and M-62 AP 7.62mm ammo is not needed and is done by Obama making the Army go green. This makes our ammo goes up due to Army arsenals buying up all the copper for bullets.Powder used in both bad at fouling , though it works fine in a M-4 shorter gas system. Overall the Armys gone liberal fascist because of Obama directives.

    best recommendation is do what cops do go back to 55gr ammo.

    • Overall I agree, but I believe the MK 318 and the Mk 262 are superior to the M193. There is also value to mixing up rounds within a magazine – such as alternating Mk 318 and M855 for instance. I used to drop in a few M856 tracers first thing prior to topping off my mag with M855. When I got down to the last couple of rounds, the tracers would indicate that the mag was almost depleted. I also really like the 70 grain Barnes TSX out of the 5.56, but that is definitely a pricey round for general use.

      As to LE rounds, we use the 64 grain Winchester Power Point or 64 grain Speer Gold Dot .223 ammo from either a de-milled M16 A1, A2, or Sig M400. Barrel lengths range from 16-21 inches, depending on the platform.

      Regardless, its much easier to get ballistic effect and hard barrier penetration from a .277 cal 6.8 at 85-140 grains or a .308 BLK at 110-220 grains.

      • In your state 62-64 gr ammo may be used only in Clackamas Co Sheriffs use 62s. Washington Co Sheriff use 55gr Horandy TAP. Portland Police use 55gr HP TRU by Federal. All smaller PDs us 55gr ammo. Depend on the state your in. But 55gr ammo works well by Cops I spoke to who use 55gr ammo.

  13. The decision to switch was based upon increased lethality. It does not rely on yaw for its’ wounding effects, which is a huge departure from M855 and M193. Both of those rounds wound by rotating 90 degrees in the wound channel (yawing) and breaking apart at the cannelure. All the data indicates better wounding, and better penetration.

    The “less lead” is a distraction. Reducing the use of lead was not the point of the design. It’s just a way for the military to market this to the tree huggers.

  14. Someone should tell these people that Copper is more expensive and just as hazardous in airborne form as Lead. Green my ass!

  15. And we’ll just ignore the amount of fossil fuels used in war. Idiots are Einsteins compared to the fools who come up with this stuff.

  16. Speaking of lead, seems like I read sometime back that one reason the Roman Empire fell was they used lead in their aqueducts, which got into their drinking water, and into their brains.

    Wonder if something like that isn’t going on in certain major cities in this country. It would explain much of what passes for thought coming out of them. Including “Green Ammo.”

  17. Obviously we’re just not borrowing enough money from China.

    I wonder if they’ve taken into consideration the environmental impact of mining copper vs. mining lead. Copper mining is not a green enterprise.

  18. whats the cost diff between lead and copper? would rather have more ammo per taxpayer buck, given the military hit average.

    and i figure its only a short time before our reloading is outlawed

  19. I reckon it depends on the design, if you have a solid copper bullet it will need to have about twice the volume (2 x longer as calibre is fixed) to equal the properties of lead, you couldn’t get that into a 5.56 magazine.
    I am therefore guessing there is a large steel penetrator in a copper jacket covered by a plastic cap to maintain projectile mass and move CofG rearwards to enhance lethality once inside the body (dynamic instability). Projectile has to be spun faster in the barrel to maintain accuracy, not always easy to do.
    Simple conclusion if its copper and steel and the same physical size and shape (aerodynamically) but weighs less as the current equivalent lead bullet it cannot be as effective and will be less accurate and run out of steam in lethality terms at much shorter ranges.
    As you guys have picked a short barreled carbine (M4) which already has a reduced MV over the longer barreled rifles, this green ammo can only reduce its effectiveness and very probably makes your 5.56 squad MG rather pointless.
    Not a good look for the guys on the sharp end as usual, soldiers utility should be the sole arbiter of equipment supply eg, go on patrol in an IED rich environment in a light weight Land Rover because MPRAPV are expensive – does wonders for anyone suffering from constipation!

    • M855A1 bullets are NOT monolithic, but are of 3 piece construction.

      The steel penetrator is at the tip, a copper slug is directly behind it and the jacket is reverse drawn up p aout 1/2 way up the exposed penetrator.

      Better penetration and terminal effect that M855.

      I know, I ‘ve shot the new round.

      The only ‘drawback’ now may be the increased chamber pressure due to the change in powder used to increase velocity in the M4. There is a corresponding increase in barrel erosion wear.

      However. no one in Afghanistan is complaining about the M4 not being lethal enough now.

  20. Maybe they should cast bullets from cotton candy, oh wait, the sugar would be harmful to the teeth of various species that might eat it off the ground.

  21. Keep spending China’s money… eventually our kids are going to have to pay it back unless we default first. Oh well. It’s going to get even better when reloading gets banned next! Buckle down folks!

  22. “However. no one in Afghanistan is complaining about the M4 not being lethal enough now.”

    Er I am, once you get past 150 – 200 yards

    • I agree 5.56mm is a good round I just think going against sheet wearing wacko Muslims M-193 Ball is alot better than M-855/M-855A1 Ball.

  23. It should be approximately as deadly, as the kinetic energy should be about the same. Same charge+less weight=more velocity. It should also offer a flatter trajectory.

    Either way, ball ammo makes holes but isn’t an instant stopper. Plastic-tipped, on the other hand… but that’s not what any military uses.

    Note to RF: “Green” bullets aren’t about political correctness. BTW, PC is for the “differently brained.”

    An army is different to hunters, home defenders or law enforcement. A war spreads massive amounts of metal, frequently in areas which are occupied by the civil population, and will continue to be. Anything that can be done to keep the ammunition from harming the locals for the next couple centuries is a Good Thing.



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