The fact that the BATFE wants to ban a particular firearm or type of ammunition is nothing new and, by now, most people have heard of their plan to ban M855/SS109 type ammunition. For those who are not familiar with this “green tip” ammo, it is the standard rifle cartridge used by the U.S. Military for 5.56 NATO platforms. It is a 62 grain, full metal jacket round denoted by a green tip. The part that is under question though is what is under the jacket. Like most FMJ type rounds, it has a lead core. Unlike most rounds however, it has a portion of its core made of steel.
It is the steel in the core that has the ATF calling this round “armor piercing.” According to the Gun Control Act Definitions, Armor piecing rounds are:
Armor piercing ammunition 18 U.S.C., § 921(a)(17)(B)
- 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
- 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.
- The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.
So, why include M855? It was designed for rifles, not handguns, and it is a popular sporting cartridge. Well, with the large presence of AR 15 type pistols, the ATF is saying that M855 is now a pistol round and is armor piercing. In order to protect police, the ATF claims it must ban this ammo, now that there are a number of pistols chambered for it.
There are a few problems with this logic though. Number one, this round does not meet the definition, as quoted by the ATF, as armor piercing. The core is a combination of steel and lead with a copper jacket that is less than 25% of the overall bullet weight.
The round should be on the exemption list due to its popularity in the sports community. Being a surplus round, it is cheap and easy to find and is a bullet design that works in the vast majority of 5.56 compatible firearms.
On top of all of that, it will not protect police in the slightest. The vests that police wear are designed to help protect from pistol rounds. These rounds are generally slower, larger, and more rounded than rifle rounds. 99% of rifle rounds will go through this type of vest. It doesn’t matter if it is 5.56, .30 caliber, full metal jacket, or if it is depleted uranium. It will go through a pistol-rated vest.
So, not only does this round not meet the definition of armor piercing, it is a common sport round that and the banning of it will not make our police safer. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, this action would open up a door we need to keep closed. If M855 is banned on these grounds, any pistol chambered in a rifle cartridge will mean the banning of that family of bullets in the future.
This is not about keeping police safe. The ATF is not confused and believes that M855 poses a real threat to law enforcement. They are not under the impression that this round poses a bigger threat to pistol rated ballistic vests than any other 5.56 round. After all, there job is to understand firearms and bullets. This is about backdoor attack on gun rights designed to open a door that cannot be closed.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of Patriot Surplus or its parent company.