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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 . . .

“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;”

This definition was agreed upon in the mid-’80s between the pro-gun and anti-gun forces as a middle-ground against the Senator Charles Schumer’s catch phrase “cop-killer bullets”. At first it was suggested that any bullet be banned which can penetrate a cop’s vest. Law enforcement and many others were all for that definition until the NRA fought it because the unthinking hadn’t realized that it would ban ALL rifle ammunition.

That was the only definition of AP ammunition until the Swedish M39B (9mm Luger) cartridge arrived on the surplus market in the late 80’s. Being intended for use in the Carl Gustav M45 (Swedish K) submachinegun, it had a much thicker jacket than normal 9mm Luger cartridges and a higher velocity, which allows it to penetrate soft body armor.

So, since the problem didn’t fit the solution (the M39B didn’t qualify as AP), a new definition was added to the definition of AP ammo. It was added that AP ammo would include;

“A full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile”.

Notice that the definition didn’t just say M39B, because that would leave the possibility to re-name the cartridge all allow it to come into the U.S.

During a career with ATF, it was obvious that it is not the ATF itself that takes the initiative to rule on many of the anti-gun issues that arise, rather they receive directives from anti-gun administrations in Washington, and are directed to write whatever needs to be said in order to make the intended action occur.

Keep in mind that ATF applied the first AP definition to steel core 7.62×39 ammunition on 2/2/94 during the Clinton administration, in order to prevent it’s importation. Then ATF Director John McGaw said at the time that “…(t)hese bullets when used in handguns pose a life-threatening risk to all law enforcement officers.”

Someone should have pointed out to him that ALL 7.62×39 rounds will penetrate soft body armor. But having been a Secret Service Agent until he became ATF’s Director might explain his lack of familiarity with ammunition technology. So concerning the ability to penetrate soft armor, there is no difference between any other load in that caliber and the ones having a steel core.

Then, about a year ago, ATF stopped the importation of 5.45 x 39 cartridges with steel core bullets by ruling them to be handgun ammunition. Do you see the pattern? Just recognize any cartridge with a bullet made of the listed metal(s) (more on that in a minute) as being useful in a handgun, and it becomes un-importable and unable to be manufactured.

It was surprising to IFSA at the time of both “bans”, that although there are pistol versions of the AK47 (7.62 x 39) and pistol versions of the AK74 (5.45 x 39), that ATF left out 5.56 x 45 ammunition with steel core. There are certainly more AR15 pistols in circulation than either of the other two models, and the AR15 pistol emerged onto the market much before the other two did. Again, not that we support the ban in any way, but it was apparent that the anti-gun administration was behind both additions to the list, so why did they leave out the most obvious one?.

We teach the topic of Armor Piercing Ammunition in our seminars and it’s well-covered in our online course on Ammunition as well. We always point out first, that there is a difference between what will penetrate a Policeman’s body armor and what qualifies as “Armor Piercing Ammunition” under the definition. Many cartridges, including all rifle ammunition will do so. For instance, most loadings of 7.62×25 pistol ammo will easily do so, but it is not considered “Armor Piercing unless it fits the definition.

Again, ANY loading in 7.62×39, 5.45×39, or 5.56×45 will penetrate all soft body armor, so why are the steel-core loadings being singled out? Easy. Because once the Armor Piercing wand is waved over them, they can no longer “be imported or manufactured except for Government use”. The definition is again being used as a tool to keep ammunition out of the hands of pro-gunners.

Here’s the real tool that should be used to fight the ban. Point out to ATF that the bullet of M855 is not within the definition of Armor Piercing ammunition. Because the bullet is partially made of lead, it is NOT “constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium;” Therefore the definition of AP does not apply.

But then it doesn’t apply to the 5.45×39 or the 762×39 cartridges either.

And that’s the problem. Sometimes ATF rules that things fall within definitions that they clearly do not fall into if you only read the requirements of the definition . If you’d like to see more examples, read the Declaration we wrote for U.S. District Court, in Ares Armor vs. B. Todd Jones, wherein we pointed out that most of the firearm “receivers” on the market don’t fall within ATF’s own definition of a receiver.

We at IFSA are all for the regulating of firearms in an attempt to keep them out of the hands of criminals, but what happens if ATF were to be ordered to rule solid lead bullets as “armor piercing”next, even though they don’t fit the definition? A regulatory agency should at least be required to operate within their own definitions.

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  1. Look behind the curtain guys!

    What caliber doesn’t have an armor piercing option available?

    That’s right, darn few. Virtually every popular centerfire handgun round -to say nothing of rifles-has an armor piercing option. A fact Hillary Rodham Clinton is sure to exploit come January 2017…..

    • The real question is- What are we all gonna do about it when it happens? Sure everyone is gonna scream Molon Labe! and Shall Not Be Infringed!- But then what? Because if they keep on going like this, its gonna get bad. Real bad.

      • Sorry to jump in at the top of the string, but this idea really should NOT get lost somewhere down where no one will read it…

        “We at IFSA are all for the regulating of firearms in an attempt to keep them out of the hands of criminals, but…”

        “We support the Second Amendment, but…”

        There is a disconcerting similarity in these two phrases and it needs to be pointed out that you either support the 2A AS WRITTEN or you do not support the Second Amendment!

        How many times must we point out that the 2A says, “…shall not be infringed.”

        Why is it so hard to understand that if you give government the authority to regulate handguns to keep them from criminals they will play the same game of redefining what a criminal is (in their opinion) as they are playing with the definition of ammunition the government allows you to buy, possess and use?

        • It also say’s. “being necessary TO the security of a free State” NRA version is, “being necessary FOR the security of a free State”…

      • The Republicans talk during election season but never do anything. Both Repubs and Dems play golf with the same people often at the same time. Don’t vote for a Republican. If that man is virtuous he needs to leave the affiliation of evil. I tried for ten years working in the party to get legitimate patriots elected. They never make it to the top. The two party system isn’t designed to allow that and it’s getting harder to break the rules. Both parties have been owned since 1913. Both parties destroy our liberty every day and lie about it and we believe it.

        I heard at the Gun Show today how we’re going to elect a Repub for President in 2016 and it’s going to be alright. Don’t people know that we have a House and Senate fully in Repub control and nobody defunds ObamaCare even though they said they would. Nobody protects gun rights, closes the border, gets rid of the Patriot Act, NDAA provisions, Fast and Furious Prosecution, Lois Lerner, More War, I could go on and of course the Republicans won’t Impeach the Communist. There’s no difference people. It’s that way at the state level too. George Washington warned us about the dangers of parties. DUH! Only Independent Candidates for my family. I will knock doors for them.

        People can say “Come and Take It”. and I say “They’ve been doing that for a hundred years” When machine guns became a novelty and not normal the 2nd Amendment began to die.

        The New World Order UN agenda is not going to take your gun. You are going to throw it away when you run out of bullets or they will pick your neighbor up for unlawful possession and when it’s your turn he won’t protect you because you weren’t there to protect him.

        POLITICS = FREEDOM and only participation in the process (outside of the Parties) will restore our gun rights and the rest of them. I believe GOD will help us when we help ourselves. The Power to save or destroy our Country is still with the People.

        Where are more men willing to sacrifice time for Liberty instead of sports and Entertainment?

    • Can someone please forward this article to Fox News! Even Rush Limbaugh fucked this story up on the air yesterday.
      Even when they get the story accurate, they don’t go far enough in telling the complete story. It is frustrating to me, someone who has only owned an AR 15 for one year but knows enough to spot deceptive reporting, but what really irritates me is that there is a vast population being deceived.
      The uninformed voter is either learning that A) the ATF is banning only ammo that pierces armor worn by cops, B) they are banning all ammo used in AR 15s, C) they are only banning armor piercing “handgun” ammo.
      Show after show after show has a segment on this story and no one on any network has correctly, completely reported the facts. Even when there is a pro gun contributor debating an anti gun pro government contributor, the pro gun person fails to inform the viewer the total facts in the case.
      Just this morning on Fox And Friends, I thought Tucker Carlson was going to win the debate when he said “but other hunting ammo will penetrate body armor. Why not ban all that too?” The retort from the anti was “This just covers that which is fired from a handgun”…………crickets. I was yelling at the TV!
      Yesterday on “The Five”, Kimberly Guilfoyle had a chance to smack down Juan Williams but she showed her ignorance on the subject when she said [paraphrasing] “This ammo is used to shoot targets not go through armor. They need this ammo to make holes so they can see where the shots hit”. All true but STILL CONFUSING THE ISSUE!

        • In California, it wasn’t really eco-nut groups, but a lot of eco biased scientists with questionable research that ultimately persuaded a bone-headed legislator to author a bill proposing to put the lead ban into law. Unfortunately, Gov. Brown signed the legislation. Now, we (Californians) are stuck with this nonsense.

        • “it wasn’t really eco-nut groups, but a lot of eco biased scientists with questionable research

          So, it was eco-nut groups, then…

        • So…What happens when this misapplied federal solid metal core ban on import and manufacture of M855 ammunition (steel-core 5.56 NATO) meets up with California’s new ban on using lead core rifle ammunition bullets?

          What are you gonna use if all the bullet materials become banned?

          Shoot your AR much…not any more.

          Remember “I’m not coming after your guns”?

          So I guess Obama didn’t – technically, directly – lie; just by extension.

  2. And if the ATF pulls back from its absurd position, Obama will ban importation by Executive Order. If he can let millions of illegal aliens in, he can keep millions of legal cartridges out.

      • Why? Wouldn’t that be Congress?
        Wouldn’t be Congress able to revert any executive order simple by changing the laws that the order is based on? Take for example the ban on 7.62×39.

        • The real problem, which I keep trying to point out to people, is that Congress can’t change the law to prevent this sort of thing unless they have a veto-proof majority in the Senate, which they don’t.

          If Congress passes a law to stop this (or anything else Obama does) he simply veto’s the bill and it goes back to the Senate to die unless the Republicans can bring over 13 Democrats to vote with them. Ditto impeachment. There’s no point in pursuing it since there’s no way the Democrats will vote for it.

      • That sounds like a violation of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution – the Supreme Law of the land. Fortunately, Obama is a “constitutional scholar” and knows that the right to keep and bear arms – to include M855 – shall not be infringed. I sure wish he wasn’t our president.

        • I suspect that was the only class he attended in law school…but only so he could figure out how best to circumvent the Constitution.

          Besides, Obama’s got his top US law enforcement officer on hand to give him all the advice he needs on how to circumvent the law. And I doubt Holder’s going anywhere. He’ll still be working for Obama…just not as Attorney General.

        • While I do agree that this is 2nd Amendment violation (which this law (armor piercing projectiles) should have never been made in the first place. Unfortunately, since it was passed into law it also is considered to be the “Supreme Law of the Land”, by definition.

          Article VI of the Constitution reads: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land;”

          Repealing the law is the only way to fix it.

    • I keep saying this in numerous articles to only be ignored that presidents since Reagan have been signing executive orders left and right banning guns and gun accessories to the point that Canada has better import gun laws than we do, how pathetic is that????

      Canada doesn’t have any retarded 922r, can still get guns and ammo from China, still able to get steel core surplus 7.62×39 from Russia and the Czech Republic, and can also buy REAL SIG rifles directly from Switzerland not the substandard crap made in New Hampshire.

      • No executive order was signed to ban M855 ammo. It wasn’t needed, he need only to pick up the phone and call Todd Jones (ATF Director – a “brother”) and tell him to ban it through ATF ruling – much easier and less controversial than an executive order.

    • There is a difference between “within his powers” and “do whatever because no one will stop him.” Every president should be impeached for overreaching and violating people’s rights. Many in the past would’ve been gone from the cabinet before the first year was up. It’s never too late to start. I was reading an article earlier on the DHS budget vote. Some representative said something along the lines of ‘the president is acting outside of his authority (immigration orders), and we have to push back (DHS budget bill)’. I say horse shit! If he steps out of bounds, impeach the fucker. Putting up a donkey show isn’t going to do anything. The criminal above the law is getting arthritis from signing one executive order after another. WhoTF needs Congress and Supreme Court then?
      If in the recent past they didn’t teach children about our rights in school because of the government orders. Now it’s because the teachers can’t read the first 5 amendments without blushing.

  3. The Real Answer: Impeachment.

    Seems the only way to stop him now. He seems more an administrative law expert than a Constitutional scholar.

    Maybe now we can see the dangers inherent in administrative law with agencies having so much power.

    Well, now that the democrats are back in control of both houses of Congress after a few months of pretending that the republicans took over, we can be sure that no one will stop him.

    • He is neither a Constitutional law scholar nor an administrative law expert. He is either (a) a scofflaw thug who happens to occupy the white House and is “opposed” primarily by spineless Congressional “leadership”, allowing him to do what he wants, or (b) a feckless figurehead tool of a coterie of such scofflaw thugs.

    • Even if the Republicans in the House had the balls to impeach him, and even if they were successful, the 67 votes required for a conviction in the Senate are not there. Clinton was impeached in the House, but only 50 Senators voted to convict him. The result? Slick Willie stayed in office and the Reps ended up with a lot of egg on their face, and subsequently lost control of both houses.

      Do you think Obama would do anything different after being impeached? Nope.

  4. We all see the pattern, this administration is hell bent on ammo control, gun control, healthcare control, Internet control, immigration control and other regulatory control.

    • Yeah there you go! Thats the spirit! Just roll over and let em F you in the A! It’s not like the ATF has lost in court RECENTLY over the SIG arm brace or the DOD lost in court over the M855A1. They can be beat. It’s hard. But it can be done.

      • The key phrase here is “arbitrary and capricious.” The law clearly has nothing at all to do with what it claims to be intended. It’s not merely a matter of unintended consequences or abuse of application. The law hasn’t a damn thing at all to do with it’s declared purpose, and the restrictions it places are completely nonsensical with no basis in the advertised purpose.

        • I whole heartedly agree. With your other posts as well. Very well said. I just don’t like someone saying “Well, I guess its just time we give up.” They can be beat, we’ve managed to beat them in other areas. If we cant beat them legislatively or in court here though, and they keep up dictating ammo bans like this, its going to get very ugly…

        • No legal way to stop it? It does not fit into the armor piercing category by any of it’s definitions and is thereby an illegal ban. It should be an easy win in court, someone just has to take it up.

      • They make up laws faster than we can file lawsuits. It’s an uneven playing field. Their arbitrary bullshit has no litmus test requirements and no time constraints. The ATF can declare all ammo armor piercing tomorrow and issue an immediate ban. How long will it take to overthrow it in court? 6 months? A year? What if they write 10 more laws in the following week, and the week after?

  5. The only real issue has always been ANTI-LIBERTY government , it’s not about guns/ammo or safety or stopping crime … They HATE LIBERTY and the American way of life.

      • Why would any politician truthfully admit that unless he/she no longer anted to be a politician? a lying politician would never admit he/she hates the voters and their country.

      • A-Rod,

        Thanks for the laugh!

        Please, allow me to translate:

        Let’s open our borders: I hate America.

        “common sense gun control”: I hate America

        Let’s fine Americans for not buying Obamacare: I hate Americans.

        Let’s ban M855: I hate Americans who own AR-15s.

        Let’s be more like Europe: I hate America.

        America has a “gun violence” epidemic: I hate America. We should be more like Europe. Let’s ban guns.

        “If it were up to me, I would have everyone turn them all in”: I hate American gun owners.

        I’m disappointed that we were not able to pass universal background checks: I hate American gun owners. Especially the NRA.

        If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor: Americans are dumba$$es.

        Nobody should be allowed to own military-style “weapons of war.”: I hate the modern guns that Americans enjoy.

        Shall I go on or do you get the picture?

        • No, they don’t hate America. They only hate some parts of America. They love contemporary San Francisco and New York City.

          The America we love, though? They hate those parts of America, and those attitudes and traditions. Pro-gun America is nothing but flyover country filled with people who aren’t like them, which is reason for hatred. Idiot rednecks. Our attitudes? Antiquated, obsolete, and harmful. Try peacefully disagreeing with their agenda and sharing a contrary opinion and see how far their commitment to diversity and tolerance extends.

      • it is true no Dem. will say I hate America in words But in actions and what they do yes…Alan West a former Florida congressman said we have a congress full of Communist/Marxist…. that also means we have a lot of GOP too that is in this group……….The FACT is AMERICA is LOST , it lost Liberty long ago and it all down hill to SLAVERY …We no longer have enough people who will fight for freedom or liberty or even the betterment of WE THE PEOPLE …People have been DUMBED down to accept ONE WORLD SLAVERY …only they will never tell you or call it that… NO MORE TRUTH in the PRESS or halls of education or government or the churches too… WE are a people without CAUSE or FUTURE.

    • Do most Americans know what form of government we have? Do most Americans care about freedom anymore? I get the distinct feeling that we are in the minority. Cripes, we can’t even get a decent voter turnout, which shows how little most people care. At least vote for the lesser of two crappy choices. I wonder if the USA will be recognizable as a Republic at the 300th anniversary.

  6. “Consider, as well, the attempts to limit the possession of firearms [or ammo], as a means towards
    their complete and permanent disposal. The futility, and danger, of this idea can be
    demonstrated by pointing one’s first and middle finger at someone with one’s thumb pointed
    straight up and the other two fingers cupped towards ones’ palm. One doesn’t have to utter
    ‘bang’ for most of the population of the earth to recognize what is being mimicked.
    Therefore, since the idea of firearms [a gun] cannot be eradicated, then their legal
    possession by the lawful must be maintained as a contradictory threat to their actual creation,
    possession and use by the unlawful [9]. Employing the maxim ‘I will not pay to raise up an
    army against myself’, hypothetically, I will not pay (provide support in any way) for you to
    prevent me from protecting myself against you, or other foe, who does not feel equal compulsion
    to support such a doctrine.
    In affect, I will not support you in your attempts to disarm me for my enemies, and to
    preempt further shaded attacks on my security, You give up your ‘gun’ and I will get you to give
    up everything else. Again, this idea can be expanded to a family, a town, a city, a country, the
    globe, the universe.
    The question is hereby asked, and answer demanded: How long will America last? [10].
    This is an unknown, and assertions can be guaranteed by no one. However the existence of
    America requires not only the desire by its incorporated societies, to defend it but by THE
    VERY MEANS. Therefore, possession and retention of arms (as a right) IS HEREBY
    GUARANTEED to outlive even the idea of America.” [TERMS,J.M. Thomas R., 2012, pg. 39]

  7. I read this horrible law a long time ago and wondered why nobody cares… It was loud-mouthed feel-good legislation promulgated and written by illiterate liberals. It’s no accident that it has absolutely nothing to do with the ability to penetrate armor.

    The problem is not whether certain ammo can penetrate armor. The issue lies in a fundamental detachment from reality that the people who support and write these laws have.

    The material capable of stopping most rifle ammunition has not yet been created/discovered by science. To make such a law is arbitrary and capricious.

    But, reading the content of the law. You know, actually reading what the law says… We see it has absolutely nothing at all to do with it’s title and advertised purpose. It’s called “OMG teh armor piercingz are evilzzz!” But there’s not a damn thing in it that has anything to do with that topic… Really? Aluminum? Plastic? Could they be any more obvious what the REAL intent of the law is; to ban any and all materials from which a bullet might be made.

    Insidious crap like this abounds in the anti-gun community. Mostly because the supporters are clueless and malevolent. Even when the truth of the deception is revealed, they don’t care because they like it this way. They’re sick people. They don’t care as long as they get to hurt people they disagree with. Dead babies be damned, they want their free stuff!

    It should be noted that there is only one known instance of so-called “armor piercing” “cop killer” bullets ever being used against a police officer. It occurred AFTER this law was passed, and the persons responsible were two police officers who were allowed to have it, shooting each other in a domestic dispute.

    • BATFE(ARBF): “Can’t have copper, aluminum, or any other metal because armor piercing”

      OK … lead it is

      EPA tap on shoulder: “Ahem. Can’t have lead because Bambi”

        • The law also doesn’t apply to bullets whose cores are not entirely composed of the prohibited materials. Or to “22 caliber”. Or not designed for a handgun.

          I guess I’m trying to point out the futility of “but the law says THIS!” at this point…

  8. But that means all the “environmentally friendly” ammunition is illegal by ATFE definition. LOL!!!!

    So ban lead ammo for enviro reasons, then hit them with the AP ban – presto chango, no civie-ammo!

    I see what they did(want to do) there.

  9. I am more pissed about the bans of 7.62 x 39mm and 5.45 x 39mm ammunition than a tentative ban on M855 5.56 x 45mm ammunition.

    Wouldn’t hollowpoint ammunition be the most effective round for stopping threats anyway? While 5.56 x 45mm ammunition has questionable stopping power in a full metal jacket with a spitzer point (especially at longer ranges when impact velocity is under 2,200 fps), I have to believe that a hollowpoint would still be pretty devastating even down to 2,200 fps or so. And at close range with impact velocities around 2,900+ fps, I imagine the hollowpoints would fragment and be downright gruesome.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want ATF banning any ammunition. All I am saying is that banning M855 doesn’t seem to hamper our ability to use alternate 5.56 x 45mm ammunition with excellent and possibly even superior terminal ballistics. Unless taking M855 off the market drives up prices, will it really have much effect on us? Again, this does not excuse the ATF … I am simply wondering if this isn’t as bad as it seems.

    • Have you been following the price of .223 / 5.56 ammo? They want to bottleneck the source, and then it’s easier to clamp down on every source.

    • Yes, hollowpoints (preferably with plastic tips, so as to not affect BC) are generally better all around. Copper ones will actually reliably expand even at high velocities. Basically, if you want ammo that will perform well in a 5.56 SBR (like 8-10″), you need a good hollowpoint, like e.g. Barnes TSX (that stuff still expands out to 150 yards!).

    • The impact to the market is precisely why the M955 ban is so bad. M855 and its equivalents are a non-trivial percentage of the ammunition market, and generally the cheapest reloadable brass cased 5.56 you can find. Eliminating the vast amount out there will strangle the market, driving up prices and scarcity. How much are you going to shoot your AR when the cheapest fodder out there is $0.90 a round?

    • They’ll get there. It doesn’t matter what bullets can or cannot do. Does it go in the chamber? Then they want to outlaw it.

  10. the methodology being used by the Government in this situation

    Obuma’s sorority at the Whitehouse called Holder to enquire why there are STILL privately owned guns in the US. Holder says – “can’t ban guns” ban those bullet things. ATF jumps.

    • Depends on how generous one of the multitude of “true-believin'” Progressives in the federal circuit and appellate court system is about granting standing.

      Basically, for most people to have standing to bring a court case, you must demonstrate harm. Effectively, you’d have to deliberately violate the regulation and put your life, liberty, livelihood and family at great risk of a major Fing in the A in order to be granted standing. Usually.

        • I wonder if the ATF might not lean a bit on any troublesome FFLs who try. The same bill puts the same capricious sword of Damocles over their license to do business. Edit: the Feinstein bill does that (and hopefully it too won’t be enacted by e.o. if/when it goes down in flames in congress)

  11. “Because the bullet is partially made of lead, it is NOT “constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium;” Therefore the definition of AP does not apply.”

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the definition of AP apply to M855 not because the bullet is made of steel, but because it has a steel core?

    “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;”

      • The definition in the law doesn’t require the entire bullet to be made out of steel, though:

        “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”

        ATF considers the penetrator in M855 to constitute “projectile core”.

    • The core has a steel component and a lead component, thus the core is not composed entirely of the listed materials. If you want to get pedantic, it is a lead core with a steel cap. The ATF can not redefine the meaning of projectile core to fit their desires. The original intent was to restrict AP pistol ammunition that is either solid and made of the above materials or very thickly jacketed in order to defeat soft armor.

  12. I see an all-out intensive push to BAN many more “sporting” items before Barry is through, assuming that he doesn’t pull an Eric Holder and remain on the job for an extra six months…

  13. I remember when those “evil” Black Talon Cop Killin bullets came on the market. The anti’s had a fit. “Lubolox” coated for less barrel wear turned into a bullet that could penetrate any body armor, any bldg. and slay children en mass, as even poured concrete couldn’t stop it. They even had doctors state the flower petal expansion could penetrate coroners or med staff’s gloves.
    Yet PMC Starfire HP bullets did the same thing. What happened?
    They changed the name from “Black Talon” (evil name), to PDRX1 ammo (tacticool name, not as scary, still Lubolox coated for less barrel wear).
    It’s all a scam promoted by the worst anti gun admin since the GCA, AWB, and the NFA were passed. What party was POTUS when all were passed?
    Rhetorical question.

  14. So if your argument is the 25% rule the how do you explain the FACT the there is only 17% of the bullet that is bracketed. Please take some time and be a little more informative about this epic problem.

  15. I would add that the definition also stipulates that the round must be larger than 22caliber. 5.56 is a 22 caliber projectile.

      • If the law said .220 I would be inclined to believe that was a road they could use, but .223 is within .22 using significant digits, a fundamently important step in the scientific process of measuring something. I would think that applies to the law too. Then again the ATF doesn’t care about the law anyways, it seems. 🙁

    • The definition is an “or”, not an “and”:

      (B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—
      (i) 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; or
      (ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

  16. Limbaugh had this on his show today. Talked about it for a while but didn’t get much feedback from the audience -even commented on figuring this would have lit up the phones, but seemed to think its an issue not a whole lot of folks cared about. Admitted he didn’t know about 5.56 em, em nor point 223 ammo other than for the AR. I think the deal was he is two weeks late to the story and he didn’t know what he was talking about. I’ve not found him to be the go to guy for the latest 2A news, but at least he tried this time. TTAG is pretty good at news though.


    Now, how many of us have written to the ATF Director B. Todd Jones, Assistant Director Thomas E Brandon, our Represenatitve and Senators?

    Why write when we KNOW the likelihood that an anti-gun administration will probably ban the ammo, regardless of our efforts?

    Because there will enevitably be lawsuits. Courts will read and consider the administrative procedures and actions taken prior to the rulings, including citizen input. (I have even seen quotes from citizen input in a district court’s opinion). Further, taking the time to provide input provides notice to our elected representatives that this is an issue of concern to us.

    Take a few minutes. Write a few letters or emails. Make a few calls.

    Small price for liberty.

    • From one Tom to another, this is Chris Rock “gun control”.
      Make certain rounds and calibers simply unavailable, or make them $5.00 a rd. regardless of caliber.
      The Coup de Gras of Obamas legacy, and Eric Holders biggest regret. (Was not getting the AWB reinstated after Sandy Hook). Never let a crises go to waste.

  18. A regulatory agency should at least be required to operate within their own definitions.

    HA! That’s a good one! Joke day at TTAGs!

  19. This is just a clusterfuck of tax-wasting nonsense.

    Steel tip =/= a bullet or core.
    LEAD core with trace amount of steel =/= Steel core with trace amount of other elements.

    M855 was not INTENDED nor DESIGNED to be a handgun round unlike the M39B which was.

    I don’t know how much the copper jacket weighs on the M855, but it would have to be 16 grains or heavier to apply the second definition to it. But it doesn’t matter as the round was designed and intended for a rifle, which are exempt from the clause. But, the second clause specifically states ‘designed and intended’. Every 5.56 NATO is a derivative of the .223 which was based of the .222 Remington, which was designed for the Model 722 bolt action RIFLE.

    You want to see a round that is designed for pistols and intended for AP capabilities, look at the 6.5×25 CBJ. Look at the pics of it compared to 5.56 and 7.62 NATO against steel armor. I dare the ATF to say the M855 belongs in the same category as the CBJ.

  20. I should think that M855 and similarly designed ammunition is to be considered to be in the class of “commonly available” arms. The citizenry should be armed equally as any potential foe.

  21. When did the citizens of this country vote for a unitary Executive? I thought we got rid of monarchy in 1783. This is exactly what the Founders feared and what they tried to stop from happening by setting up the separation of powers in the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Constitution is a dead letter (for the most part) these days.

    The Founders never contemplated that the entire structure of government would willfully contravene or ignore the limits placed on them by the Constitution, and they would be shocked that we citizens would be so passive in accepting it.

  22. Anyone know how the manufacturerers feel about this? Who all makes 5.56 ammo? It’s a numbers game. If more of the ammo made is being sold to the civilian market than to the government and LEO then the manufacturerers will side with the civilians. Remember when Ronnie Barrett told the whole state of California ‘No way, my rifles won’t be sold in your state’? What’s to say the manufacturers won’t say to the government and LEO ‘No way, we won’t sell you our ammo.’ So what’s left for the government left to do? Buy ‘Made in China’ ammo to oppress US citizens? HA!!

  23. Except for use by the Government… I assume this includes local Government for the purposes of law enforcement. I can understand the Federal Government supplying the military with weapons and possibly ammunition that wouldn’t be available for civilians (Yes, I understand that the 2nd Amendment is not there to protect our ability to shoot for sport), but local law enforcement damn sure shouldn’t have any equipment that isn’t openly available to citizens for the sake of “serving and protecting” said citizenry. If it does then its purpose become to control and oppress as opposed to serve and protect.

  24. It’s a ploy to send all the 855 ammo to Iraq. Ban the sale, sieze it and “dispose of it”. No cost, except shipping. Brilliant!

  25. Collectivism lads, there’s no stopping it. From your halls of government to your houses of superstition. Group think, group act. Take your sides and destroy one another. Only the roaches will be left. It’s the natural course of society, like Rome. Eventually the coming together of people produces diminishing gains, but your go forth and procreate, and congregate and control can’t be paused. You speak of the sheep and wolves, and the sheep dogs, but which animal is off on its own, minding its business and keeping an eye out on those three who will eventually come for the unearned. They’ll say I must be sacrificed at the wisdom of my betters(wolves)for the good of the group(sheep), or for security(sheepdog). A nation found on individual rights, in name only.

  26. If they succeed in banning M855 type rounds I guess an alternative is to stock up on 7.62X51 or 30.06. More lethal, longer range.

    The control freak idiots will never understand the law of unintended consequences.

    • If they succeed in banning M855, just buy M193. It’s better for most purposes, anyway. More armor piercing in practice except against polyethylene, better terminal ballistics due to fragmentation.

  27. Does the author seriously not know that the old Norinco steel-core 7.62x39mm _does_ meet the definition? Solid steel core; no lead.

    I assume this is the case with the 5.45×39 as well.

    M855 is different.

    Heck, so is .308 Israeli AP– it’s got a lead component behind the core. But that 7.62×39 did not.

    • >> I assume this is the case with the 5.45×39 as well.

      You assume wrong. The 7N6 bullet does have more steel than lead in it, but it does have lead.

      • And a pocket of air as well to give it its tumbling properties out of any length of barrel. Plus the caliber is under .22.

        They just banned it because Russia, the ammo was cheap, and domestic manufacturers leaned on the ATF because they could not handle the competition.

    • Regardless of the fact the round is entirely steel core, 7.62×39 was never designed as a pistol round. It was designed for the SKS, AK-47, RPD, and a bolt action rifle that never materialized because of the millions of Mosin’s already in circulation. Not a single one a pistol design.

      So now since China DOES make ammo compliant to the state’s draconian dictates we should be getting lots of Chinese ammo imported now right? Right???

  28. Taken from the Wikipedia page is the description of M855 as having a lead core.

    The 5.56×45mm NATO SS109/M855 cartridge (NATO: SS109; U.S.: M855) with standard 62 gr. lead core bullets with steel penetrator will penetrate approximately 38 to 51 cm (15 to 20 in) into soft tissue in ideal circumstances. As with all spitzer shaped projectiles it is prone to yaw in soft tissue. However, at impact velocities above roughly 762 m/s (2,500 ft/s), it may yaw and then fragment at the cannelure (the crimping groove around the cylinder of the bullet).[

    Cartridge, Caliber 5.56 mm, Ball, M855 (United States): 5.56×45mm 62-grain FN SS109-equivalent ball cartridge with a steel penetrator tip over a lead core in a partial copper jacket. [green tip]

    Since it has a lead core the ATF is illegally declaring it armor piercing.

  29. Anyone else think this is really about the sig brace?

    This proposed ban comes days after the ATF rescinds their position on the brace. I think the ATF is just forcing a conversation about banning XM855 on the grounds that AR-based pistols have become so popular in an attempt to create a dichotomy of the brace and the ammo. I think the ATF calculates that making the country choose will likely result in the concession of the sig braces legality.

    • ATF did not rescind anything on the Sig Brace. They’re ruling, in accordance with the original letter, merely states that if you use the brace as a stock, it makes your AR an SBR requiring the tax stamp. You can still purchase Sig Braces and use them so long as you use them as they were intended.

      I think this has more to do with a coordinated effort with the EPA which is looking into banning lead core bullets for environmental/health reasons. If you can’t get bullets with lead cores, or bullets with steel, tungston, etc cores, what bullets are left? Polymer bullets? Less The Lethal? The gun grabbing fascists think that “arms” doesn’t apply to a vital component of firearms….ammunition. Until we have a court ruling stipulating that the 2nd Amendment applies to ammunition as well as firearms, this will be an avenue of approach they are likely to keep pursuing.

    • Vote Libertarian. They’d do away with BATFE. And EPA, which is going after all ammo containing lead. No central government required background checks. Fine if a private business wants to provide that service to gun shop owners who don’t want to sell guns to former criminals, but no chance of them coming after your guns. No tax stamp as forcing you to pay a tax to exercise your property rights is an infringement upon them. Basically, they’re the people that actually believe that the host (private citizens) don’t need the parasite (public sector).

      • While this is a good idea. Voting for one other than in the primary elects more communists. Better to find a CONSERVATIVE Republican to vote for in the primary and get HIM elected. While libertarians have good intentions remember the road to hell is paved with such things.

        • the road to hell is paved with such things.

          A fast death to the Republic at the hands of democrats or a slower death at the hands of republicans. I’ll vote conscience and Liberty values. Libertarian or independent gets my vote. With D or R as they operate today, the Republic will fail. With L or I, there is hope, however slim. Now, if the GOP gets its head out of its backside and flushes the RINOs and statists… that would be a different story. Choosing between the two dominant parties is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, IMHO.

          Better that the frog figure out it’s boiling while there is still time to jump out of the pot.

  30. Start writing your GOP Presidential and Congressional candidates and start demanding that the BATFE be defunded/abolished, or at least that legislation be written and passed to abolish the non-sensical categories of “armor piercing” ammo and “short-barreled rifles.”

    Then this will all go away. Nobody would be trying to build funky AR and AK “pistols” anymore if there were no restrictions against short-barreled rifles. ARs and AKs make gawdawful pistols.

  31. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you want to pay a huge rate out of your own pocket in addition to the expensive no-benefits premium so 20-somethings can have their free birth control

    If you like your ISP, you can keep your ISP. Though we are going to dumb a crap-load of taxes and fees on you. And regulate what you can and cannot say in the interest of fairness.

    If you like your AR-15, you can keep your AR-15. You certainly have the right to own the gun. We’ll just ban the ammo.

  32. For those of you who want to write your Senator and the ATF but are too lazy to compose a letter, please feel free to use this as a start – this article fired me up!

    Senator Jack Reed,

    The ATF’s proposed ban on M855 ammunition is harassment of legal gun owners and I ask that you assist in halting this impending regulation.

    As you are likely aware due to your military service, the reality is all modern rifle ammunition (5.56 and larger) are capable of piercing armor when referring to the soft armor that our police wear so why is the administration working to remove this common ammunition used for legal sporting purposes by millions of Americans if not for harassment?

    My reading of the ATFs own rules is that the ATF actually defines Armor Piercing ammunition as ammunition larger than .22 caliber that, in part, can be loaded into a pistol and also is “constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium;”. The M855 does not fit this description as it is constructed from a material portion of lead and therefore should not and cannot be banned under the ATFs rules. The interesting footnote in all of this is that the remaining ammunition, such as the MK262 & MK318, have actually been tested to have greater lethality so, again, the alleged reason, reducing the danger to those that protect us, would perversely be in more danger when the marketplace only has greater lethality (albeit more expensive) ammunition to purchase.

    The purpose of my letter asking you to protect legal gun owners from overreach by the ATF is not to suggest that our streets shouldn’t be safer or that police do shouldn’t be protected while doing their jobs – I’m writing because this proposed regulation sounds reasonable on the surface but isn’t supported by fact and I can only come to the conclusion that it is ideologically driven by an administration that can not endure a public debate in the appropriate deliberative body of Congress.

  33. The problem is that the ATF keeps being allowed to make law on its own. Congress and the courts both need to step in and put a stop to that.


    DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS. 2 senators want to eliminate the BATF and
    with good reasons. There are enough angry progun owners to do it if we
    do not give up. Anything else is futile because there are no checks and
    balances for the batf. Calling senators should be every progun owners
    number 1 agenda. Ask congress to defund them for now as well. Start
    making shirts for sell at the gun shows instructing people to do this
    with links, etc. We have to get organized and make the thoughts spread
    like a virus. We do not need to waste this opportunity. The BATF may
    just start the snowflake to cause an avalanche of pro gun people to get
    rid of the BATF for good BUT we have to encourage other gun owners to do
    these things listed above by mouth and social media. Bloggers should help to get this movement started now that the BATF is really pushing its limits. It is time to
    put the final check to the BATF and let the them know who is in control. SPREAD

  35. I’m actually looking forward to this confrontation, to be honest. If we can get somebody competent enough to stand up to this breach of civility, we could very well strip the ATF of its ability to define “sporting purposes” ammunition, regardless of the form factor it gets used in.

    It’ll be a messy affair, but legal challenges to government overreach always are.

  36. Isn’t every rifle round that is more powerful than a .22 long rifle round capable of piercing soft body armor? If true, does anyone know a police officer that wears body armor with ceramic or ballistic plates, other than those involved in a Swat deployment? Isn’t that Obama’s P.R. game here, to ban these rounds because they will save lives, when, if I am correct, all rifle rounds penetrate police body armor (soft)? The common hunting rounds like the 30.06 Springfield and the.308 Winchester. would have a devastating effect on soft body armor. More misinformation. I am sure Bill O’Reily has already jumped on board.

  37. The author’s (Robert Farago) “real tool that should be used to fight the ban with ATF” will not work – period. He writes:

    “Because the bullet is partially made of lead, it is NOT “constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium;”

    The law, 18 USC 921 17(B), states that the following is considered armor piercing: ” a projectile or PROJECTILE CORE (emphasis added) 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”

    The PROJECTILE CORE is prohibited as much as the projectile itself.

    My opinion is, the original law, in its current form, was in fact a compromise when it was drafted and passed. This just goes to show that gun owners cannot ever compromise the 2nd Amendment and the right to defend our lives against tyranny, as it will always come back to bite you in the ass.


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