U.S. Army Issues New “Green” M855A1 Ammo

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AccurateShooter reports on the Army’s new 5.56mm ammunition

The 62-grain bullet for the new M855A1 ammo is a completely new design. While it may appear to have a plastic “ballistic tip”, that’s deceiving. The new bullet created for M855A1 ammo has a bismuth-tin alloy core with a steel “stacked-cone” penetrating tip. The photo at right shows the version from last year; the final production version may be slightly different (e.g. the final version tip is a different color). Apparently the latest bullet design is a winner. During testing, M855A1 ammo performed better than current 7.62mm ball ammunition against certain types of targets.

Hard target penetration is supposed to be better than the lead-core M855. I just hope it is effective in combat and not just adopted because these days lead bullets are considered by some to be politically incorrect.


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    I don’t understand the comment about lead bullets being politically incorrect. I thought the objection to lead bullets was based upon the properties and effects of lead, not on politics. Could you clarify?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Leisureguy, what I mean is that it is a political issue .

  • http://4thgeneralorder.blogspot.com/ Don

    Leisureguy, Lead+political correctness=Destroyed Environment. Just look at California and other juristictions banning lead bullets for hunting.

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    I still am not getting an understanding of the problems caused by lead bullets. Did liberals just wake up one morning and say, “Let’s oppose lead ammunition?” Was there no reason for any opposition to the use of lead in ammunition?

    I thought I recalled duck hunters finding that lead shot had adverse effects on the gamebird population. So I think that some duck hunters opposed lead shot, but not for political reasons, but to keep game stocks plentiful.

    I’m not much interested in the political issues (“Obama’s going to take away all your guns!” and that sort of thing), but I am interested in the technical aspects of shooting and ammunition. So I would be interested in knowing the technical reasons why lead is good/bad in ammunition.

    The good is pretty obvious: it is dense and it is cheap. I suppose malleability is also an advantage (expanding slugs).

    The bad is also pretty obvious: it’s horribly toxic and has been implicated (through scientific studies) as a serious environmental problem, particularly when lead was a fuel additive. Indeed, a good case was made for lead pollution as a leading cause of violence: violence has been shown to drop markedly in regions as the use of lead in fuel stopped.

    I had not realized that lead bullets were illegal in California for hunting. That’s news to me, but then I don’t hunt. But what I am interested in finding out: what was lead doing that led to its banning?

  • SpudGun

    I personally am very much against lead ammunition, it just doesn’t do the long term damage of say, depleted Uranium. I don’t want to just kill my enemy, I want generations of his family to suffer agonizing cancer, leukimia and birth defects.

    And once these all steel bullets become available to the general public, watch out Officer Dibble with your Level 3 body armor, your days are numbered.

    I am, of course, only joking and mean no offense. I was only trying to allude that swapping lead for steel bullets in war zones is akin to banning cigarette smoking inside a crack dealers house.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    It appears the different metals used in he construction of this bullet require the bullet to be longer to achieve the same weight as the previous all-lead constructed bullet. I wonder if this increased bullet length will necessitate any changes in the rifling twist to accommodate the longer bullet?

  • Pete

    Everyone knows that this whole “green” mania was created by the Luciferian Illuminatti to establish a Communist New World Order…

  • Jon

    My understanding is that this is considered “armor piercing” and “handgun” in CA and therefore politically incorrect and banned.

    Liesureguy: all forms of lead (and mercury) are not the same. Unlike lead compounds, like tetraethyl lead, the bioavailability of solid elemental lead is low. Doctors leave bullets and shot in people with no long term effects. It’s simply CA’s hysteria over lead and things that “cause cancer”.

  • Vitor

    This projectile looks very unique. Actually it’s kinda weird that this one is being introduced pratically at the same time of the MK 318 Mod. So, why 2 new projectiles for the same round? A waste of money or they want to test which one is better? Or stick with both, the Mk 318 being for special forces and the A1 for the troops?

  • Lance

    I still think older M-855 will bearound for quite a while longer since the military has millions of rounds in stock. If a more conventional war breaks out like in Korea or Iran then older M-855 will be perferd. In Afghaistain with opponints w/o aromor this round will be better. I also point out this round is made especally for the M-4 carbine.

    Agree steve?

  • Juan

    These bullets are pretty awesome. Most impressive thing I saw was that it didn’t get as damaged when shooting glass as the old(?) green tips. Besides lead is bad for the shooter and the shot.

  • Freiheit

    Trying to remember ballistics 101, will the longer round be more accurate because of ??something?? or less because it has more surface area to be affected by wind?

  • http://www.predatorwild.com Heath

    Don,

    California is using the lead as an excuse to push their anti-gun agenda and take yet another step to disarm their citizens. There is ZERO proof that the lead levels in those condors is from bullets.

  • me

    LMAO…Green bullets, from the organization that also sprays depleted uranium rounds all over the place? Or is this like the carbon credit scheme, we use environmental friendly small arms ammo and that in turn cancels out a little bit of the damage of the larger caliber hazardous DU stuff?

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    The double-cone design of the steel part is interesting. Is the double cone actually more effective than a single cone? Or was the double-cone shape just to help seal the brass?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Leisureguy, you have a good point. I will keep an eye out for Army publications on the new design.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    The final version of the M855A1 EPR (Enhanced Performance Round) differs from the illustration above in that the bismuth-tin plug has been replaced by a copper one. The reason for this is that the bismuth-tin was found to soften at high temperatures enough to move around on firing, causing accuracy to diminish considerably.

    At the NDIA presentation in May the M855A1 was stated to offer four advantages over the M855:

    1. The terminal performance against soft targets is more consistent (it yaws on impact more reliably, instead of often zipping straight through).

    2. The armour penetration is improved (it will penetrate a 3/8 inch steel plate at 375 metres instead of 150 metres).

    3. The propellant is optimised for short-barrelled carbines, producing a higher velocity in the M4 with less flash and blast.

    4. The bullet contains no lead.

    Only extensive combat experience will determine whether or not the first claim is correct.

    Incidentally, the USMC said they were pleased with the performance of the MK318 SOST, which differs in omitting the steel penetrator and using a lead plug behind an open point. This obviously has less armour penetration than the M855 but is stated to penetrate intermediate barriers like car windscreens and doors far better, as well as having good soft-target effectiveness (it apparently tends to expand on impact).

    A comment on the wider implications of these changes: they mean that US forces will be abandoning the agreed NATO standard ammo specification. Furthermore, certainly the MK318 and possibly the M855A1 will be considered unacceptable by the UK and other European NATO nations, who take far more literally than the USA the clause in the 1899 Hague convention prohibiting the use of “bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core”.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Tony, thanks for weighing in on the subject

  • HerbG

    The only question is which projectile best serves the needs of the our soldiers and Marines in combat. Lead has worked exceeding well in small arms ammunition for a very long time and it should not be abandoned unless there is something better as viewed by the actual user. The battlefield is not the place to carry out social/political experiments. I don’t know which material is superior but the determination should be made by those who are being asked to do the dying on their Nation’s behalf!

  • Ken

    Lead…DU…solid copper…steel…only question is does it perforate an enemy combatant to cause hydrostatic shock,blood loss and ultimately death? In other words… does it kill? LOL…. Cali reps will ALWAYS find a way to screw its vote casting public. Sadly.

  • Tony

    A few points-
    The problem with led arrises at the ranges mostly where the lead leaches into the local water supply and kills all. If they go green at the ranges then they go green on the field. That simple.

    Engineering wise, Lead is an extremely heavy mass, To mimic the flight caracteristics with the steel and whatever else they used, the double cone is probably used to shorten the arm of the heavier parts of the metal from the optimum center of gravity. This in effect makes the ballistics act where they want it to be. The distance from the CG optimum location (moment) times the weight (Mass) gives the arm, (the distance the cg moves.) Its been a long time since i was in engineering school, but thats the basic principle.

    Accuracy has nothing to do with anything but the bullets being made identical. more accuracy= tighter production standards. A better bullet actually has three things… holding its velocity over distance, a flatter trajectory, and reliability.

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    It sounds very much as though the decision to move away from lead was made for sound reasons, not social/political experiment. I’m astonished at the way officials’ motives are always assumed to be the worst possible, rather than the assumption that they are probably much more competent at their jobs than we would be and have thought through more alternatives than we have imagined. That’s why I started with asking whether the decision to abandon lead was really “political correctness” or based on actual evidence, and (as I suspected) it was based on actual evidence.

    What I’ve learned: Don’t jump to conclusions.

  • Martin

    Aside from the silly notions associated with lead (remember, I live atop a lead mine between the towns of Leadington and Leadwood, LOL), I wonder how much of this decision is an attempt to try to make 5.56 more lethal given all it’s bad press of late.

    An important point is the last statement saying that it performs BETTER than 7.62, which I highly doubt. The clincher is ‘against certain targets’. I would like to see these targets.

    This smells of silly PR spin.

  • Bubblehead Les

    Hmm. Looks like some of that 8mm Mauser ammo with the steel tip that I bought a few months back.

  • Lance

    I dont know why you think regular M-855 NATO is going away. Theres millions of rounds in the army invantory which will be used in NATO Europe and in training ranges here in the USA. The M-855A1 is inteded for use in Afghanistain and Iraq. The USMC Mk 318 round is a Afghan theator only round which M-855 is being used every where else round. The Navy and Air force do not intend to buy new ammo for now. And I do know the USCG is useing M-193 ammo still.

    Differnt ammo for differnt needs per theater or for training.

    Agree Steve?

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    “An important point is the last statement saying that it performs BETTER than 7.62, which I highly doubt. The clincher is ‘against certain targets’. I would like to see these targets.”

    Martin, the same claim has been made for M855, the explanation being that it has a hardened steel penetrator at the tip whereas the M80, the standard 7.62mm ball, has a lead core. The 5.56mm therefore penetrates armour and various other materials better than the 7.62mm. Of course, if you compared similar types of bullet in both calibres, this would not be true (except in some peculiar circumstances).

  • Ivan

    Why bismuth? It’s expensive material, something about 30 bucks for kilo, 20 times much more than lead.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Ivan, the problem is that most lead alternatives are very light. If the substitute is too light, the bullet will be to long and powder capacity will be reduced.

  • John C

    I don’t see why the lead issue matters in a warzone. There are going to be a lot more people dying from bullets and airstrikes than lead poisoning.

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    @John C: The reason was stated above by Tony:

    The problem with lead arises at the ranges mostly where the lead leaches into the local water supply and kills all. If they go green at the ranges then they go green on the field. That simple.

    Also, of course, a place that is “war zone” becomes later a “civilian zone” where people settle, live, etc. All that lead lying around is not so spectacular as leftover anti-personnel mines in their effects, but still quite detrimental to the population.

    That is, the reasons against require a step back from the current tactical engagement and look at the overall (and long-range) picture.

  • Martin

    Lance;

    I realize a steel core 5.56 will perform better than 7.62 ball on some targets, but the Army’s message is crafted to yield a certain perception. Trust me, I used to work in IW.

    Notice that they don’t mention 5.56 in the announcement. Only M855A1. Besides the more environmentally friendly message, they add that ‘performs better than 7.62′ stinger at the end. Everyone should realize that comparing a steel core 5.56 to a lead core 7.62 is a dumb argument. It’s meant to be misleading.

    The Army is attempting damage control concerning all the shortcomings of the M4/AR 5.56 platform. This, in my opinion, is the core reason for the change. Not necessarily better ammo, but PR.

  • Lance

    Im all for better rounds for spacific combat. BUT i really doubt that 5.56mm NATO can out do 7.62 NATO in penatration. Unless they mean at reall close range. A M-80 ball is 147gr of lead and has a powder charge or 45 grains of powder to give it a muzzle energy of 2776 ftps of energy. which due to its larger charge stays in this volicty for 500+ yards Even this new 5.56mm ball is still just 62gr of now steel and copper and has a powder charge of around 25gr of powder with a muzzle energy of 2873 ftps and will bleed off fast after 300 yards. There is now way that this round can outperform 7.62 NATO. Think thats just a little too much hurah over this round.

  • Ivan

    2Steve
    Thanks, I know that the ballistic is. I mean: it’s very strange – choose as consumable material the expensive metal. Digging of bismuth is something near 15000 tons in a year for all world market(3.9 millions tons of lead in a year for example), is it enough for military? In Iraq and Afgan consume 2 milliard small caliber rounds in a year; lets all bullets contain 3g bismuth core, it mean 0.003kg*2’000’000’000=6’000’000kg or 6000 tons… for small .22 bullets(and there are lots of .308 and .50 calibers heavy bullets too…). It will be “golden” bullets, or new joke of pentagon, or REAL BIG occasion to increase accuracy of shooting.
    P.S. I can be mistaken in numbers. And sorry for may bad english.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Ivan, LOL, acually gold might be a pretty good metal ;)

  • http://3rdman-peacekeeper.blogspot.com/ 3rdman

    The current XM193 and M855 will defeat LE soft body armor as pretty much any rifle ammo will. The only restriction on AP ammo is for handguns.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    Lance, you are correct that even a lead-cored 7.62mm will penetrate some materials better than M855A1: those which require momentum to plough through, such as timber, brick walls, etc.

    However, penetrating hard armour plate is a different matter. This depends on two factors: the striking energy divided by the frontal area of the projectile (or penetrating core), and the construction of the projectile. A 7.62mm bullet with a lead core and a copper-alloy jacket will just splash against armour that an M855A1 will punch through.

    I have a small piece of Russian armour plate 9mm thick on my desk, which was struck by three bullets: 7.62mm M80, 5.56mm M855 and the 4mm diameter, 31 grain tungsten subcalibre bullet fired from a 6.5×25 CBJ (a PDW cartridge – basically a 9×19 replacement). The first just left a splash mark, the second a shallow gouge, the third (by far the least powerful) punched a hole clear through it. You can see a photo of the this plate towards the end of this article on my website: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/PDWs.htm

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Tony, that is a bloody awesome photo! Bonus points for shooting those PDWs in a suit ;)

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    “I dont know why you think regular M-855 NATO is going away. Theres millions of rounds in the army invantory which will be used in NATO Europe and in training ranges here in the USA. The M-855A1 is inteded for use in Afghanistain and Iraq. The USMC Mk 318 round is a Afghan theator only round which M-855 is being used every where else round. The Navy and Air force do not intend to buy new ammo for now. And I do know the USCG is useing M-193 ammo still.”

    Lance, I think you underestimate the rate at which ammo is used up. The UK has a small fraction of the troops (in Afghanistan or anywhere else) that the USA has, but do you know how much 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammo the British small-arms factory at Radway Green produces? One million rounds per day! Most of this is fired in training, of course (around 80%). I don’t believe that there are any large stocks of 5.56mm ammo sitting around in US warehouses, just a “buffer” between production and use which would quickly run dry if production stopped.

    The principal environmental advantage of making the M855A1 “green” is not in combat, but on practice ranges. Of course the initial supplies are going to Afganistan first, because that’s where the improved performance is needed. Same for MK318. However, I have no doubt that the M855A1 will entirely replace the M855 in US Army use, unless some unexpected problems occur during the period of initial use. The USMC might decide at some point to replace the MK318 with M855A1, but I’m as sure as I can be they won’t be going back to M855. The other US users of 5.56mm ammo, like the USAF and the USCG, use very little by comparison with the Army and the USMC.

    • jcitizen

      Well it does make sense that any Armed Force is going to have to have stock piles in case of a protracted war; so manufacturing doesn’t have to struggle to ramp up. I remember shooting WW2 .50 cal ammo in the guard in 1980!

  • Lance

    Tony I agree that they will use alot of m855A1 rounds but its all sent to Iraq and wont be used for now for training. Fact is that it still poutes and and any range will be contaminated by metal lead or fangable metal and steel. The military every year makes billions of M-855 and wont burn threw it in just a couple of years. Look at 3006 CMP had crates of it for years untill 2008 when they finnally ran out and 3006 was stoped in production since 1973.

    All 5.56mm ammo is in use and will be for a while.

  • Mountainbear

    Hmm, a lot of people should have died from lead poisoning. I mean face it, I don’t think there’s a place in the world with more lead bullets lying around somewhere than Europe, especially given the history of that continent. Hundreds of years of constant warfare. It was pretty much a free for all zone.

    Technically I should be dead. And so should everybody else.

    Yet the only cases of lead poisoning that I know of are from way back and either related to faulty canning procedures (like it hit Franklin’s expedition) or from lead water pipes.

  • Ivan

    2Steve
    Yep, 19,3g/sm3 against 11,3g/sm3, small but heavy-heavy bullets! And mostly – excellent “green” metal, Greenpeace will be happy.

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    @Mountainbear: Lead poisoning is by degrees, and is best determined by blood tests. This article in Wikipedia provides an overview of the various routes lead takes to get into the body and the effects of various degrees of lead poisoning.

    Research has also shown that exposure to lead is connected to violence. Here’s one article and with a little Googling you can find more information.

    Some degree of lead poisoning is not all that unusual: it’s highly toxic metal in common use.

  • Keith

    Tony has hit the nail on the head. He has done his homework and knows what he’s talking about. I have seen tests between M855 and M855A1. A1 is supperior in all categories and I can’t wait to see some on my range in the future.

  • Aaron

    So the new round has less muzzle flash, does anyone know if there is any difference in noise at all?

  • fallout11

    Our longtime adversaries on the other side of the Iron Curtain long ago switched to a similar type of bullet construction, with a mild steel core penetrator of various geometries (depending on the round and caliber) surrounded by bi-metallic alloy, copper, and/or lead.
    That said, I’m in US DOD procurement, and yes, the old M855 will be around for a very long time to come despite the change. We have several billions rounds of recent production in storage presently to expend or de-mil. Guess which it will be.

  • Lance

    I still think the best thing is a new powder which is clarner and burns better than the old 748 powder used in privious ammo. This helps M-4s shoot better with less residue being scatterd in the action.

    • jcitizen

      In fact rock chuck shooters in Colorado have figured out how to use two part powders in Thomson Center 10 barrel carbines, that can reach out and touch the target in 300 yards, no problem. This is phenomenal for such a short barrel carbine! (TC is immune from Title II short barrel regulations)

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    The latest news is that the USMC will indeed be acquiring some M855A1 to see if it works as advertised.

  • subase

    I agree it’s a lot to do with PR but also it’s a practical improvement of the 5.56 round.

    Lead vapour when firing is toxic to troops who fire a large amount of rounds in training, in other words special forces. This will make increased training less dangerous to the long term health (and mental stability) of elite soldiers.

    The increased stopping power of the bullet, which appears to not rely on fragmentation anymore will be a very welcome thing for special forces who routinely kick down doors and engage in CQB combat.

    Apparently a new caliber isn’t really needed because someone figured out a way to improve the existing bullet for more stopping power. Bravo only time will tell if it translates to real world results.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    “Apparently a new caliber isn’t really needed because someone figured out a way to improve the existing bullet for more stopping power. Bravo only time will tell if it translates to real world results.”

    If the new ammunition works as advertised (which I hope it does), it will remove one of the reasons for considering a new calibre. However, it won’t much affect another one, which is the lack of 5.56mm range which has led to a major shift back to 7.62mm in new rifles and LMGs.

    A well-designed long-range intermediate in the 6.5-7mm range could exceed 5.56mm performance and match that of the 7.62mm M80, while saving a lot of weight over 7.62mm and with recoil closer to 5.56mm. Got to be worth considering for the next generation of weapons.

    It would also halve the number of different guns required, with all the savings that would bring to procurement, training, logistical support and maintenance. At the moment, we have in US service no fewer than eight rifles and MGs which may be carried by infantry on foot patrol (excluding bolt-action sniper rifles and .50 cal): in 5.56mm we have M4, M16, M27, M249. In 7.62mm there are M14EBR, M110, MK48 and M240. That’s a heck of a lot of different guns.

  • Charlie

    A new and improved varmint round is still a varmint round. A .243 win, 6 mm or 6.5 mm could be better. The 260 might be just right.

  • Lance

    I agree Charlie but it aint going to happen We will not ddrop a NATO round untill we drop NATO or force NATO to a new cailber But its not going to happen the west is too drawn in to 5.56.

    I think this is a good steep to do what is possible to make 5.56 a better round. I think thought that that USMC round is better since it has a hollow point which works better in combat.

  • http://www.3angrygamers.com Pat

    Spud, you clearly know nothing about the ACTUAL potential effects of Depleted Uranium on people. It’s actually not all that dangerous. It’s radioactivitly levels are so low as to be practically background level. I think the real threat is to people processing it, not people in war zones were a few thousands sabot penetrators are lying around. If even the WHO says it’s not that bad, then it likely isn’t.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs257/en/index.html

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    @Pat: there’s some evidence contradicting your statement that depleted uranium ammo is harmless after the battle. Check out this:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/07/24/study-mortality-fallujah-hiroshima/

    Here’s the content, sans the links that appear in the post:

    A new study in the International Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health conducted by British researchers has found a startling increase in the number of infant mortality and cancer cases in the Iraqi city of Fallujah since the 2004 U.S.-led bombardment of the area. The Independent reports that the cases “exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki”:

    Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study. [...]

    Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals in Fallujah, said it is difficult to pin down the exact cause of the cancers and birth defects. He added that “to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened.”

    Among the researchers’ findings was a “a 38-fold increase in leukaemia, a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer and significant increases in lymphoma and brain tumours in adults. At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia.”

    • jcitizen

      I might believe that is caused by depleted uranium ammo if I thought the WWII nuke bombs were less lethal because most of the bomb fuel was inefficiently burned, which I would not believe – I would say some other problem could be evident here – like typical poorly constructed 3rd world building in those cites with lead paint and other contaminants like Asbestos and such – I’m not swallowing typical results of people trying to drum up research dollars to make a buck for scientists out of a job.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    Depleted uranium is no great risk as long as it stays outside of the body but it can do a lot of damage if it gets inside. This happens on a battlefield because when DU projectiles hit armour a lot of DU dust is produced. Anyone climbing over a knocked-out tank may breathe in that dust and/or some may get transferred to their food and eaten. That’s when the problems start.

  • Roper1911

    Paraphrase of Leisureguy:
    “The bad [about lead] is also pretty obvious: it’s horribly toxic and has been implicated (through scientific studies) as a serious environmental problem, particularly when lead was a fuel additive. Indeed, a good case was made for lead pollution as a leading cause of violence: violence has been shown to drop markedly in regions as the use of lead in fuel stopped.”

    its also Scientifically proven that a one time transonic Injection of 230 grains of lead to the ocular-cranial cavity stops recurrence of violent offenses, even in the most determined offenders. In fact, %99.999 of rapist, muggers, and home invaders show acute lead deficiency in the frontal lobe of the brain.
    (shout-out if you get it.)

  • realitycheck

    And think..this project has cost 40 million dollars and produced less than 300,000 rounds of ammunition For 20 million, they could’ve purchased NEW complete 6.8mm rifles for every soldier,sailor,airman and marine in service today and nearly 8 million rounds of 6.8mm ammo that has nearly twice the energy on target as ANY 5.56mm load and has an effective range on soft tissue to nearly 1000m.

  • Sagewind1951

    The problem with lead is ‘after it’s used’. It accumulates at ranges, and even high-use waterfowl-shooting areas, is mobilized in sediments, soil to a more limited extent, and erodes with fine soil particles into streams, wetlands and in some instances groundwater. Lead is highly toxic to birds and people, especially children if ingested in soil or water. E.g. up to 200 trumpeter swans die at one lake in Whatcom Co., WA each year from ingesting ‘leftover’ lead shot from the 1970’s and prior use in duck hunting, when they ingest the pellets while bottom-feeding in the lake. The lead ban in California is intended to protect condors, and is likely over-rated (condors, vultures and eagles eat a lot of road kill, and there are literally tons of lead fagments from shed wheelweights along roadsides that can be ingested as ‘grit’ to grind food in birds’ crops, mistaken for gravel). Range cleanups cost the military billions of dollars, and they’r looking for ways to prevent future contamination there, as well as at production facilities. Lead is a ‘persistant, bioaccumulative toxin’, meaning it’s one of the chemicals that gets more concentrated in predators than in the animals they eat. It is targeted for reduction by many environmental regulatory agencies due to documented adverse health effects, though most human exposure it to lead-based paint in older homes, there are higher concentrations around historic transportation corridors (from now-banned leaded gasoline), mining and smelting areas and historic orchards (lead arsenate was used as a pesticide in the 1900-1950 era to control coddling moths). The official ine is ‘where reasonable substitutes are available, their use is strongly encouraged’. Googld Washington State Department of Ecology ‘Lead Chemical Action Plan’ for some idea of the issues lead presents, it’s uses, etc.

  • https://www.benning.army.mil/airborne/airborne/ Lt. Dan

    I hope the Army plans on issuing every soldier Hygenall FieldWipes to clean the Bismuth dust at the molecular level off skin before it is ingested. Bismuth is a toxic heavy metal and is poisoness to the kidneys and liver. Oh, btw, there is still lead exposure…it comes from the primer, which is the largest source of Lead.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    @ Lt. Dan, there is no bismuth in the M855A1. The bismuth plug was dropped last year and replaced by a copper one, as I pointed out early in this thread.

    There is still a trace of lead in the primer, but they are looking at introducing a lead-free primer.

  • Keith Applegate

    Ummm… Didn’t an of y’all ever take a high school science class? Lead, pure lead and lead/tin allows used in bullets is NOT water soluble. Studies performed at many outdoor firing ranges in several states have determines NO adverse effects to the water table, water runoff or to the environment in general. A local range here is currently in the process of “mining” the lead from their berms for the first time in over 20 years. Not because of any pollution, (they have done the testing, and believe me it rains a lot here in the Great Pacific NorthWet, and there are no higher than normal levels of lead in the surrounding water runoff) but because they estimate several TONS of lead can be reclaimed.

    According to the history channel, which also discounted claims to toxic lead levels around mines and shooting ranges, over 90%, yes NINETY PERCENT of ALL lead IN THE WORLD gets recycled. That more than any other mineral. Even more than gold.

    Do a little reading and learn what forms of lead are toxic. The high levels of breathable lead in firing ranges occur as a result of lead styphinate priming compounds and poor ventilation. What miniscule amount of lead may be burned from the base of a bullet* upon firing, get’s blown forward away from the shooter and if the range has proper airflow you’ll suffer no ill effects.

    *The exposed base of a .224″ bullet is extremely small. The amouint of lead that may POSSIBLY be turned into vapor (some experts clain that none is the correct amount) is so small as to be inconsequential.

    So unless you work in an environment where toxic lead fumes are present, or if you happen EAT lead, and it takes a fair bit, you have no reason to worry about lead poisioning.

    The reason lead shot was banned from waterways was because of some studies that indicated that some ducks, during the normal course of feeding, were ingesting lead pellets that had accumulated on the bottom of the waterways. It was never completely proven, since more studies showed no problem than there were studies that did, but became a political hotbox that only went away when they banned lead shot.
    As for the Condors in the Peoples Republik of Californication there has been NO proof to date that a single one has been injured by eating any lead from a firearm. The only basis for the ban os the THEORY that it might possibly be able to happen somewhere someday somehow.

    So banning lead in projectiles is purely a POLITICAL agenda. Politicians seem to believe that without lead the guns will become useless. And those who know otherwise understand that anything other than led will be more expensive. And if they can make shooting and/or hunting too expensive, people will stop.

    It’s all smoke and mirrors folks. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, Dorothy.

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    @Keith: I’m genuinely curious: Is there then no problem in using lead pipe for drinking water? or, say, lead carafes? Somehow I had the idea that lead wasn’t used in water pipes because of dangers of lead poisoning. But if metallic lead is insoluble in water, then what is the problem (if any)?

    • Snake

      You may ask the Romans who used lead pipes to carry their water. Pb for lead was taken from the Romans worker of lead. Lead is ok in water as long as the water is BASIC that is 7.1 pH or above. It is a cation at that stage and very stable. BUT when the water turn acid 6.9 pH and below, that is when bad things start to happen.

      When children would lick or digest lead paint, it was ok UNTIL it hit the stomach which contains HCl. Then the pH would drop and the lead causes many many problems. So lets make a lead drink and send it to Washington in BEER……

  • G3Ken

    I’m not trying to make a political statement but something needs to be said. It is not news that the anti-gun crowd has had some difficulty in advancing their agenda since the turn of this century. It is also well-known that they’ve realized that through making ammunition expensive and/or difficult to come by, they can achieve their agenda’s goals. Lead in firearms ammunition is a minute segment of the environmental issues we face. GC advocates are well-aware that banning lead in firearms ammunition will drive the costs to an unacceptable level to the everyday gun owner. That is THE driving force behind this agenda.

    • William

      Gonna disagree there, brass is becoming rare and lead does present a significant health hazard to the shooter as well, with a polymer base with a “green” tip might drop the prices on ammo significantly

  • BivviBaz

    If the US is looking to replace the M16/M4 platform in the near future, why another new round “optimised” for the M4?
    Does this tally in with the OICW/XM8/Raygun/ect being scrapped as a cheaper option to rearming?

  • damien

    Tony Williams – the DU doesnt just “turn to dust” on impact, it is pyrophoric and burns on impact, producing and dispersing a very fine dust of uranium oxide. Best described as an Armour-Piercing-Incendiary round.

  • Chrontius

    @BivviBaz: Rearming may not mean rechambering. They may also keep the 5.56 around as a PDW cartridge, where it handily outperforms everything else in the category – since most PDW cartridges are glorified AP handgun cartridges, and 5.56 is still a rifle round. Considering the massive wad of cash Magpul got handed, we may see the PDR emerge in time for the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • kerry hensley

    i would have to say that over half the comments i read are written by ignorant people

  • CaptainGroovy

    The whole argument about hunting area and firearm ranges is a red herring scam that anti-gun and anti-hunting groups have skillfully and successfully perpetuated for years. The simple truth of the matter is lead shot and lead bullets once they go down range with in days oxidize. That layer of oxidation makes the surface of the lead chemically inert furthermore lead shot 7&1/2 and under within a short period of time (normally) will dissolve completely with in 12 to 48 month depending on soil composition (soil type, acidity, moisture level, etc).