TFBTV: Why The ATF’s AR15 Ammo Ban Is Pointless

All over the news lately has been the ATF’s intent to ban commonly available AR15 ammunition known as M855, SS109, or “green tip” ammunition. They claim that is poses a threat to law enforcement officers, citing that it possesses unique armor piercing properties. To see if M855 poses a special threat to a lawman in body armor, I decided to perform an experiment using ammunition that will NOT be subject to the ban.


Pretty much any rifle round will punch through body armor, steel innards or no steel innards.

The overwhelming majority of police body armor in use today is rated to protect against pistol ammunition only, and a ban on M855 would do nothing to protect wearers of body armor. As we adhere to our “firearms, not politics” rule on the blog and TFBTV, we will not speculate as to why the ATF is proposing this ban or provide political opinion on the matter, but I believe this experiment shows how incorrect this ban is under the guise of M855 being a threat to law enforcement.

Steve says:  Some folks are going to say “why did you make this video, now the BATFE will ban my lead core 5.56mm!?!?!”. Let me be frank: your granddaddy’s 75 year old hunting rifle chambered in any medium caliber cartridge will penetrate body armour without breaking a sweat. This is no secret. There is nothing special about a mild steel core round such as the M855. The BATFE know this … but like Alex said above we are not going to speculate why the BATFE is going down this path, just show why their technical justifications are factually incorrect.

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Porty1119

    Their legal justifications are also incorrect; M855 is a composite steel and lead core. The relevant law only applies to uniform-core rounds if I’m interpreting it correctly. Ultimately, whether or not the round will penetrate armor is irrelevant. Its composition with regards to the letter of the law is what matters.

    • Brody

      That point is known and M855 makes a “sporting use” exception to that clause.

    • aka_mythos

      That’s provision a) but the b) provision of the law simply allows classification on the proportional weight of the jacket relative to the overall weight. In that way there is some potential claim. Either way the law is flawed whether it’s in its writing or in it execution.

      • J.T.

        IIRC, 80% of the weight comes from the lead part of the core so the jacket wouldn’t meet the 25% or more provision

        The b) provision also says “designed and intended for use in a handgun”, which M855 wasn’t.

        A bullet also has to meet all three criteria of that provision and M855 clearly doesn’t meet all three.

        • aka_mythos

          You’re right. I had read something that was erroneous and I since fact checked it.

        • Porty1119

          I was going to reply, but you already touched on all the points I was going to hit!

    • Miles

      You (to you, and others as well as I) are interpreting it correctly.
      ATF got their law sharks out, and a careful parsing of the statute is this: “a…core” is just that “a…core”, not “all of the core”.
      ATF sees that penetrator insert as “a …core”, as in “it’s got multiple cores, not a composite core”.
      I know it’s bogus, but unless a change in law is made, it’ll take a court case, probably all the way to SCOTUS (since the D.C. appeals court is Obamapacked) to clarify this statute.

      • The SCOTUS is a bunch of drooling bench warmers….I fear that it will stand.

  • allannon

    Didn’t the BATFE already backtrack and claim it was a publishing error?

  • toms

    I really don’t know how we can turn this train wreck around. I cannot tell if my congressman is just willfully ignorant or a full on anti. I wrote a detailed letter more or less hashing out your above video’s results and he replied with some real jewels. “while nobody supports your second amendments rights more than me, I am an avid hunter myself (yeah right), law enforcement every day put their lives on the line everyday. For this reason the ATF has determined that armor piercing ammunition is a grave threat to our law enforcement community …blah..blah…blah. Of course he happens to be one of our states few democrats so I guess I answered my own question. Its pretty sickening to know that your voice is more or less totally ignored by those in power. The fix is in and Obama is pulling the strings on this one.

    • As you probably know I spent almost three decades in law enforcement. All officers know any rifle above a .22 LR will penetrate a vest. It’s not some big secret.I wore a 3A like Alex tested and yes it works on handgun rounds and some rifles. Bottom line this M855 hoopla is so much garbage.

      • If I recall correctly, in order to stop rifle rounds, you need Level III at least, not IIIA is that right? That means a good solid piece of metal, like an AR500 plate or one of these titanium/steel plates…

        • Bill

          The standards have been changed, but if you actually want to stop a rifle round you have to go full ceramic or mil spec. Nothing that is practically wearable concealed or on LE duty is going to stop the average rifle round

          • dan citizen

            IIIA does fine, and even some that is a tad below.

            I have tried some of the russian titanium/fabric laminates that easily handles any non-penetrator 5.56 and much of the 7.62 stuff.

          • Bill

            Thanks, good to know. I have to brush up on the standards.

        • dan citizen

          There is also UHMWPPE plates, they even float.

        • There are a few ways around the problem but I don’t feel good talking about that in public.

      • I’ll take your word for it on any day Phil. Nobody should know better than you do.

    • Anonymoose

      When you get an automated response, that’s a pretty good sign that they don’t care what their constituents have to say.

      • Tim Pearce

        It’s a rare congressbeast that cares

    • Matt

      Well, you should ask your “avid hunter” congressmen (who is probably hunting also with an armor piercing gun/ammo combo) if he considers himself a threat to law enforcement too…

      • toms

        I would if I thought I would get anything other than a repeat of the first letter.

    • Tim Pearce

      Don’t assume that Republicans are lying any less when they say they’re pro-gun. They also need to do more than talk about protecting our rights.

      • toms

        I agree but you have to admit that if the dems controlled both chambers in any significant majority we would be lucky to have semiauto’s at all. We’d all be Oohing and Aahing over cerakoted H&R break actions with rails.

    • Hank Seiter

      That most be a form letter response because a friend of mine received a letter from a REPUBLICAN congresscritter who used almost those same exact mealy-mouth words! There’s an anti-gun complicity on both sides of the aisle, but particularly on the left side.

    • Our voice is always ignored by the lib congressmen. Take my state for example, Maryland; most of the congressmen are dumocrats. Under the O’malley regime, they forced Beretta to move to Tennessee taking 400 jobs and 79 million in tax revenue.

    • Dave Jacobs

      Our supposedly ‘elected’ politicians have only one agenda; keeping their gravy job and their fellow politicians along side so their can re-insure their election with party money support. On top of all that we have a President that is a nincompoop. He is our President, whom we must follow, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a nincompoop. I wonder when people will be able to listen, and learn that there is only one way they can ever take control of their politicians and actually control what they do in office to actually represent us, the People. Out of school for over 20 years, and I went back for the study of politics. I found out how this can be done easy, but no one ever actually listens. It does take some work by a lot of people to make it easy, and no one ever really wants to work! Send me an email with Politics in the subject line if you really want to do something.

  • KestrelBike

    Too bad local news outlets don’t pick this up. Then again it goes against every kind of info they want to put out there.

  • Ted

    Just so we get our facts straight, which this blog omits: The basis for the ban is not that is defeats body armor outright, it’s that due to the proliferation of AR-based “pistols”, it can now be argued reasonably that this is “pistol ammo” for which there is an existing prohibition on the “armor-piercing” variety.

    Let’s understand this before we

    • But the video is about why the ban is pointless. I intentionally used an AR15 with a common “pistol” length barrel shooting lead core to show how foolish a ban on “armor piercing” m855 is.
      The intent was to show how pointless a ban on this ammunition would be from the standpoint of protecting law enforcement.

      • flyingburgers

        The way I understand it is there’s no good way to define AP ammunition. The current definition is based on physical composition. It is easy to define but not precise both ways. Let’s say you define AP based on tests, penetration of a class of body armor. Then people who load at home will have to send samples to a $$ ballistics lab. You got any better, reasonable solutions?

        • My solution would be eliminate any and all definitions of armor piercing. It is so arbitrary and difficult to legislate that it forces policymakers to generate rulings that hurt the public.

          • flyingburgers

            That’s simply politically unrealistic.

          • Unfortunately 🙁

          • Rusty Shackleford

            At the least, couldn’t someone argue the precedent that was set in United States v. Miller of “ordinary military equipment” easily extends to M855 and M855A1 ammo and possibly even extends to M995, M993 and Mk211 AP ammo?

          • As far as United States judicial law is concerned, you could legally cite Miller as precedent if a case went to trial regarding M855.

          • joe

            Has anyone used it to fight an ar15 ban?

          • Porty1119

            Not to my knowledge, but it would certainly be a nice precedent to use. I just wish that Miller had been transporting a Vickers gun or somesuch across state lines. Things would look a bit different now if he had.

          • No, because there is no federal AR15 ban.

          • n0truscotsman

            Factually speaking, you would be absolutely correct.

            Will it be considered? thats a whole other matter.

          • Aaron E


            For military purposes the classification for “armor piercing” came well before the argument about small arms being capable of doing so. These were predominately naval rounds, and later aircraft and anti-tank rounds. The common component is a solid core capable of penetrating the desired “armor”. The smallest caliber truly rated for that kind of “armor piercing” is the .50 caliber. This is because it is capable of penetration up to 1.0 inch of armor plating, that is commonly found on “Armored” Personnel Carriers. Destroying trucks or Humvee’s is considered anti-material work, not anti-armor (though Humvee’s can be up-armored).

            One site citing the Ballistic Chart for Military Ammunition showed the M855 is classified as “ball” ammunition. The only 5.56mm round labelled “armor piercing” is the M995 at 52 grains (as of 2008).

            In that context I can see a need to keep an “armor piercing” classification, but for small arms it really does not capture the real intent of the meaning of “armor piercing”. The small arms “armor piercing” is meant to defeat personal soft body armor, not armored vehicles or fortifications.

          • eddyjames

            The solution is just to ban the shooting of cops.

    • Tim Pearce

      Yeah, but, today, with rifles that shoot “handgun rounds” and handguns that shoot “rifle rounds,” we just need to get away from the idea that a round is a “handgun round” or a “rifle round.”

    • J.T.

      “it can now be argued reasonably that this is “pistol ammo” for which there is an existing prohibition on the “armor-piercing” variety.”

      Which M855 does not meet because the core has a substantial amount of lead, which makes up something like 80% of the bullet weight. Only the tip is mild steel They are saying “it was exempt from the ban and now it won’t be because AR pistols got popular”, even though it never needed an exemption to begin with.

    • Mike Price

      The purpose of the legal requirement by the law and their own “rules” is to ban AP ammo. Since this is not even designated AP ammo even by the military as they have their own AP ammo specifically with different designation, this is nothing more than a “witch hunt” and doesn’t even meet their own rules. It’s how long do you want to sit back and let them make up their own “rules” and run a government agency outside of the rules of our congress and laws. They can call most any ammo AP if you want to based on how thick the metal is you want to pierce. The 5.56 round really isn’t even heavy enough to be a true AP ammo compared to most any other bigger heavier caliber bullet. This is not steel core even by your cut away pictures. It’s steel tipped ammo.

    • Hank Seiter

      It will also penetrate Level IIA and Level II and in most cases Level IIIA vests but generally not a full Level III (w/ceramic plates or AR500). Actually, icepicks and knives do a dandy job of “penetrating” everything (except for Level III) except the body armor specifically designed to stop pointy-object penetration. Accelerate pointy objects (lead core or otherwise) to 2000+ fps and even those vests will be compromised.

  • Limonata

    Why are they trying to ban M855? I apologize in advance, but it is impossible to answer why without politics in this one particular case.

    1) Optics — the political kind. They can make believe its “for the children” — The Obama Administration can say they did something even if they did absolutely nothing and there are plenty of uninformed people who will eat it up. This is just as stupid as NYC not allowing spent brass to be sold to companies who may take the brass for reloading. It gets dumber because they only raise their own costs, but it looks good to the masses who have no clue. On the politics side, see the recent article in the NYT — laughable but I am sure it polls well

    2) Obama wants a legacy for his failed presidency. Maybe this is a way of keeping some promise he made on Air force 1 as he shuttled some of the Newtown families to DC? I am sure in his presidential library he will be standing on a pedestal making believe that he saved the world over this. Remember, with a pen and a phone he can do anything. Laws? Consent of the people? what are those things to this president? The ATF like the FCC is just a pawn in all this. I am willing to bet there are a few ballistics experts at the ATF who know better but they have to follow orders.

    3) Costs — M855 is cheap, the brass can be reloaded. If they can make it more expensive they feel fewer people will buy guns. It is stupid. They create so much surplus ammo because of poor contracts and now they want to stop its sale? Will they throw away the surplus and pay double?

    As everyone knows, there is zero good reasons — it is just politics as usually for the administration.

  • larry

    its real easy,its just more of obamas backdoor gun grabbing bull Sh*t !

  • Roger V. Tranfaglia

    Its a solution looking for a problem……………..and I’m afraid the “general public”is going to fall for it.

  • Core

    They are probably using our arguments against banning it to strengthen their argument to ban it. They probably have no intention on stopping the ban because its coming from higher up the chain. I can’t help but not be completely disgusted with our government when political agenda trumps all logic and scientific fact.

  • ozzallos .

    “Why The ATF’s AR15 Ammo Ban Is Pointless”

    Hrm. Pointless to who?

    • People wearing IIIA body armor?

      • ozzallos .

        Was thinking more the direction of that somebody(s) with an all too obvious agenda. Pointless this ain’t– We’re just not the target audience… Or rather we are, after a fashion. Just not in any beneficial way.

    • Hank Seiter

      … to whom. Obviously it’s not pointless to fascist bureaucrats and politicians who fear a patriot backlash when push comes to shove.
      Just sayin’.

  • nadnerbus

    What I find infuriating and undemocratic about the whole thing is that an unelected agency is moving to limit a right, essentially, and the people have to petition said agency to stop the infringement. That is totally bass ackwards to the way it supposed to work in a representative democracy.

    If the FCC came out tomorrow and said they were going to ban the use of Ham Radio frequencies for civilian use because criminals were using them to communicate, citing some obscure and rarely enforced law, and that the people had to beg them to stop the ban, how would Americans react?

    • Mike Price

      They are doing stuff that is illegal but until congress reigns them in they will do what they want.

  • Mike Price

    This is not steel core ammo. It is steel tipped ammo and doesn’t meet percent of core rules. Illegal to ban it per their own law. Hey! They are making the laws up as they go anyway. Who’s going to challenge it???

  • Mike Price

    Try a 30-06 round on 1/2″ hanging plate at 200 yards. It will blow a hole through it.

    • Mike, there are too many factors at play:
      1. What type of projectile?
      2. What is the Rockwell/Brinell hardness of the steel?
      3. Propellant type and amount?
      4. Etc.

  • idahoguy101

    ATF is a politicized law enforcement organization with a reputation for screw ups. Probably the least competent federal LEO.

    • noguncontrol

      yep, abolish it!!!

  • Mike Price

    Eric Holder is yanking the chain on this at the command of Obama. It all starts at the top. Remember….Obama says the buck stops with him.

  • Mike Price

    This is not steel core ammo. It is steel tipped ammo and doesn’t meet
    percent of core rules. Illegal to ban it per their own law. Hey! They
    are making the laws up as they go anyway. Who’s going to challenge

    • Sickshooter0

      M855 is most certainly steel core. M855 on left, M855A1 on right. (taken from a GunsAmerica article) Former ATF agent Daniel O’Kelly believes that this “opinion” came from above and was not initiated by the Firearms and Technology Division of the ATF (from an interview with Ares Armor).

      • Mickey R

        No, it isn’t “steel core.” Look closely at the M855 projectile on the far left. Notice two slightly-different-colored grey portions? The mild steel “tip” is the lighter grey portion at the top, and the lead core is the darker grey portion at the bottom. It’s steel tip, not steel core. This is a huge distinction, because “steel core” projectiles fall under the statutory definition of “armor piercing ammunition,” and “steel tipped” projectiles do not. The definition requires “a projectile or projectile CORE” made entirely from one of the materials listed in the statute.

        Here is a picture of 7.62×39 ammunition that is truly “steel core.” Compare how this projectile is constructed to how the M855 projectile is constructed.

        • Sickshooter0

          I would agree with that statement. The point is that BATF states “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.”
          M855 is of bi-metal construction with a steel penetrating tip upon a lead metal component.
          It appears we may have staved off the ban according to a news report I just heard.

  • uisconfruzed

    Nope, politics have nothing to do with current rulings.

  • Lance

    Very good post hope you can post it to other blogs too. Its shows this ban has no logic. Its just Obama wanting again to stomp on our freedoms.

  • Rex Krom

    Not to sound like a conspiracy nut or anything but, I’m just waiting for some cop to get killed by some felon with an AR pistol using M855 soon. Obviously I don’t want this to happen but I have a nasty feeling it will and it will end up on every major news outlet right before decision time for this ban. Funny how things like that happen.

  • hikerguy

    It could very well be a test bed to see how much resistance is shown. How, you ask? I think they know trying to outlaw firearms has proven to be unfruitful the past few years. However, outlawing ammunition may be a more obtainable step. Also, videos such as this may give them reason to outlaw ALL 5.56mm ammunition. Then everybody can just re-barrel and go .300 or 6.8 (or whatever).

    • In the United States of America, two recent supreme court decisions (Heller and McDonald) affirmed the right of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution as an individual right affirming the ability of one to own and utilize firearms for self-defense. As a result, of these decisions it is not legal to “outlaw firearms”.
      Also, .300 and 6.8 will punch a vest just like 5.56/.223 will. I am not sure why you believe there is a conspiracy to ban 5.56. In fact, it is one of the least capable centerfire high-velocity .22 caliber rounds out there.

      • hikerguy

        I don’t disagree with anything you said. It is mainly because the 5.56 is probably one of the most popular rounds out there in centerfire. Since the anti-gun crowd realize those wicked evil black “assault” rifles fire it, I figured it would be one of their first anti-ammo grabs. And yes, I know there are many other AR platform rounds out there that can pierce bullet resistant vests, but some of the gun control crowd aren’t the brightest bulbs in the carton. Not a conspiracy theorist. It’s just i wouldn’t put anything past them.

      • petru sova

        Just remember the Heller decision actually means little or nothing as now that the supreme court is more liberal and about to get even more so with judges dying or retiring and being replaced by Obama that future law suits will simply be refused to be heard by the supreme court just as they have done mostly for the last 75 years and then the anti-gun laws will stand.

  • nobody

    >Why The ATF’s AR15 Ammo Ban Is Pointless
    No, they know exactly what they are doing. If they can reclassify M855 as AP even though the core isn’t made entirely of steel, they would then be able to go after any ammunition that has any steel in the bullet. The goal isn’t to ban cheap M855, the goal is to just keep pushing little by little until they can ban all that nice steel cased ammo that uses bullets with bimetal jackets (which wouldn’t be much of a jump at all from banning M855).

    • noguncontrol


    • Michel_T

      Yup… How do you eat an elephant?
      – One bite at the time.
      Next thing you’ll… the government will make ‘public’ some ‘alarming’ reports that shows (for the media) how common hunting ammunition poses a threat to police forces, therefore it must be regulated.
      The ‘new’ regulations will include
      – Limits on the number of rounds you are allowed to have in your possession.
      – Limits on the number of rounds you are allowed to purchase.
      – Ammunition purchase will need to go through a ‘background’ check
      – Safe storage regulations
      All this will be done in the name of public safety…

      • MichaelZWilliamson

        But they’ll respect your Second Amendment rights to protect yourself from tasty deer and geese. As long as you pay a hefty licensing fee.

    • lifetimearearesident

      Well there is something here. First expand the definition of armor piercing to include anything that has other metals in the core in addition to lead which as we all know is very soft. The next step is to ban lead from ammunition for “environmental reasons.” Then when the lead is replaced with harder metals they can all be reclassified as “armor piercing ammunition” – a defacto ammo ban.

    • Lucius_W_Nieman

      Exactly. You nailed it!

    • eddyjames

      Next it will be the all copper lead free ammo being mandated by California.

      • rich

        Look at what the ‘G’ has already done with lead & brass. Commercial reloaders used to be able to buy once fired military brass from the government, and the ‘G’ made a profit… now that the government will no longer sell the brass they scrap it at a substantially less profit ! A few years ago they put such stringent EPA requirements on the only lead refining factory in the country that the factory was forced to shut down, cost over250 Americans ther livelyhood and turned a small town into a virtual ‘ghost town’ ! Obama is ‘taking care of all of us…. one way or another ! ! !

    • R U Kdn Me

      Yes, this is the way progressive (communists) operate..They take tiny bites of your freedoms hoping it won’t be noticed..Down the road your freedoms disappear with that final tiny bite..

  • 3XLwolfshirt

    Does the ATF ever do anything that ISN’T pointless?

    • They help regulate tobacco quality and track down moonshiners who blind people.

      • mosinman

        Couldn’t both those tasks be done by the FDA and FBI?

        • No. most likely it would be the department of the treasury.

        • Patrick R.

          I understand that there was a bill introduced to make that very change.

      • Andrew

        Based on the booze cops I have known (I’m no leo myself) the guys rolling up moonshiners are mainly employed by tha States. BATFE is redundant, therefore must contantly find new ways to justify their existence.

  • wetcorps

    Keep fighting guys. When you lose there will be nowhere else to go :/

  • noguncontrol

    All gun control is pointless, including any ban on armor piercing handgun ammo.

    Then again, the entire point of gun control is to enslave the people, to allow the govt to become all powerful and despotic, to make the state a god.

  • Bal256

    Pointless if the goal is to protect cops. Not pointless if the goal is backdoor gun control. We know enough of how the DOJ feels about the 2nd amendment to know the real reason they’re looking to ban.

  • Martin Grønsdal

    Dear You,

    We have now banned ammunition that while shot causes empty cases being ejected. This is because some anti-armour rounds also do that.


  • PatrickHenry1789

    Therein lies the problem with big government. When you give the government a big hammer. Everything looks like a nail!

  • Pat

    There is no need to speculate why this ammo ban is being pushed by the Obama admin. They have said it themselves. They can’t get anything through congress so they are doing things by executive order.
    Regardless of your websites slogan, gun owners are treated as pariahs by this administration.
    I am disappointed that you seem to feel the need to dodge this. They are LYING to attack our pastime.

    • You are disappointed that we are not constantly feeding you a political news stream regarding firearms?

      • Pat

        I don’t come here for a constant stream of political news nor am I disappointed I’m not getting one.

        I just don’t think dodging the ugly truth that our government is actively and proudly pursuing civilian disarmament is something to wear as a badge of honor.

        The fact that the justification for this doesn’t make sense is immaterial. You are not going to stop this by appealing to the gun grabbers sense of logic.

        • We are dodging nothing. We write about firearms, not politics. We are interested in marksmanship tools, not political intrigue. We focus on guns, not legislation here at The Firearm Blog and I am proud of that. You must also realize that a huge portion of our readership is not US traffic, as such we do not waste our time covering the politics of firearms in any country.

  • gunslinger

    did Alex just make the argument that ALL .223 ammo should be banned because it is armor piercing?

    /ducks from the uproar

  • lurpy

    As a few others have said, the penetrative capabilities of the round are not the issue; the stated concern is the proliferation of AR pistols turning what was rifle ammunition into pistol ammunition with the same properties as that rifle ammunition. From the ATF’s release:

    “[In] 1986, ATF held that 5.56mm projectiles in SS109 and M855
    cartridges were exempt [from the “sporting purposes” requirement]. Further, in 1992, ATF held that 30-06 M2AP cartridges were also exempt. In each case, ATF found that, “it is well documented” that the respective ammunition “has been recognized as being suitable for target shooting with rifles due to its accuracy.” Id. These cartridges were originally produced for the military and were only later adopted by civilians for sporting purposes. When assembled into a complete cartridge, the projectiles were exempt, but ATF did not exempt the projectiles before the cartridges were assembled.

    Applying the sporting purposes framework set-forth above, the 5.56mm projectile that
    ATF exempted in 1986 does not qualify for an exemption because that projectile when loaded into SS109 and M855 cartridges may be used in a handgun other than a single-shot handgun. Specifically, 5.56mm projectiles loaded into the SS109 and M855 cartridges are commonly used Framework for Deciding Sporting Purpose Ammunition pursuant to 18 USC 921(a)(17)- 15 – in both “AR-type” rifles and “AR-type” handguns. The AR platform is the semi-automatic version of the M16 machinegun originally designed for and used by the military. The AR-based handguns and rifles utilize the same magazines and share identical receivers. These AR-type handguns were not commercially available when the armor piercing ammunition exemption was granted in 1986. To ensure consistency, upon final implementation of the sporting purpose framework outlined above, ATF must withdraw the exemptions for 5.56 mm “green tip”
    ammunition, including both the SS109 and M855 cartridges.

    ATF recognizes that this ammunition is widely available to the public. Because it is legally permissible to possess armor piercing ammunition under current law, withdrawing the exemption will not place individuals in criminal possession of armor piercing ammunition. However, with few exceptions, manufacturers will be unable to produce such armor piercing ammunition, importers will be unable to import such ammunition, and manufacturers and importers will be prohibited from selling or distributing the ammunition.8 ATF is specifically soliciting comments on how it can best implement withdrawal of this exemption while minimizing disruption to the ammunition and firearm industry and maximizing officer safety.

    Under the proposed framework, the exemption for 30-06 M2AP cartridges would
    continue because ATF is not aware of any multi-shot handguns [defined elsewhere as revolvers or magazine-fed, rather than break-actions or derringers] available in the ordinary channels of commerce that currently accept such ammunition.”

    The reclassification is still BS, but let’s make sure we’re calling it out in the right way. Just saying “but all centerfire rifle ammo can pierce body armor!” is utterly meaningless within the context of the ATF’s claims. The “sporting purpose” language is also BS, but a mere administrative challenge is insufficient to get rid of it–the language was specifically written by Congress, meaning that the agency is legally obligated to give weight to Congress’s definition thereof.

    So what does this all mean? First, write a comment to the ATF opposing the ban–writing your Congressman is great and all, but unless they’re going to repeal the GCA it’s kind of useless, and a repeal of the GCA is probably not politically realistic at the moment. Second, basing your comment on the stupidity of the “sporting purposes” requirement is also useless–correct though it may be, the ATF is bound by Congress’s intent, and must act within it; therefore, it is by definition their job to classify things as sporting or not sporting, and in fact a refusal to do so would be arbitrary and capricious, and could be challenged in court. Therefore, when you write your comment, focus on the fact that M855/SS109 ammunition is in fact intended primarily for sporting purposes, and that AR and similar handguns are an expansion, not an abrogation, of that sporting purpose. I’d be happy to post my own comment to the ATF here if anyone feels like reading an example.

    tl;dr: It’s not about piercing armor, it’s about AR handguns, so write to the ATF and tell them AR handguns are for sporting, not for concealed carry or home defense.

  • Aaron Russell


    • Aaron Russell

      I meant


    • Aaron Russell

      Freedom From War

      The United States Program 
      for General and Complete 
      Disarmament in a Peaceful 

  • Alex Nicolin

    What about surplus “eastern block” ammo? 5.45×39 mm, 7.62×39 mm and 7.62×54 mm R are all mild steel core, with a thin lead shell between the core and the jacket. So they are in fact more “armor piercing” than the 5.56×45 mm M855.

    • David Sharpe

      They likely won’t try to ban those rounds, for what I understand they are trying to have the .223 reclassed as pistol ammo, therefore the mild steel tip means it’s AP.

  • Phillip Cooper

    You’re missing the point.
    This isn’t about facts.

    This is about an out of control legislature pitching a tantrum.
    King Barrack Hussein Obama is bent on depriving us of weapons. If he can’t take them, he’ll take the ammo.
    .223 is next. Bet you money.

  • Mickey R

    To be clear, M855 is NOT a “mild steel core round” and should not be referred to as such. M855 has a mild steel “tip,” NOT a “steel core.” The steel tip weighs approximately 10 grains, and is in front of the lead remainder of the projectile, which weighs about 32 grains. A true “steel core” round, such as steel core 7.62×39, has an actual steel core at the center of the projectile, surrounded by lead.

    This may seem like nit picking, but the statute that defines “armor piercing ammunition” is very clear that the definition applies to “a projectile or projectile core.” Because the “core” of the M855 projectile is not steel, but rather the TIP of the projectile, it does not fall within the definition. If M855 were actually “a mild steel core round,” then it would fall under the definition of “armor piercing ammunition.” But it’s not. So please don’t refer to M855 as “steel core” or else you’re doing the same thing ATF is trying to do… classifying M855 as something it is not.

    • Hank Seiter

      An excellent, logic-based argument which is 100% in keeping with the original intent of the statute of what constitutes an AP cartridge/bullet. But always remember, logic and being technically correct often means nothing in the universe of bureaucratic fascists and black-robed, liberty-stealing thugs acting as judges. That’s why the Constitutional architects wrote the Second Amendment in the first place.

      Just sayin’.

  • Texas-Roll-Over

    Stop poking the bear! JFC!

  • J.T.

    “a mild steel core round such as the M855.”

    Might want to fix that, Steve. It could confuse some people who don’t know that the bullet has a lead core with a mild steel tip. Simply stating it has a mild steel core could make someone who isn’t already aware of the bullet design think that the entire core of the round is made of steel.

  • rootman

    Yes ball will do it..
    Once they get the 855 banned they will say.. hey.. all these other rounds do the same thing.. “bad rifle, bad ammo.. ban them…”

  • Go ATF me

    It went through the vest because you shot it with an evil SBR! 😉

  • Vitsaus

    In the post “shouldering SIG brace” counter offensive, everyone rushing out to show the BATFE that ALL RIFLE ROUNDS PENETRATE ARMOR is, in my view, not the brightest idea. It seems like the easiest way for them to let us hang ourselves. Telling them that every variation of military ammunition used by military type guns will function as cop killer rounds seems as best counter productive.

    • Trust me, they are already fully aware of this.

      • Vitsaus

        Of course they are, but now gun owners and 2nd amendment supporters are telling the PUBLIC this. The ordinary idiots who don’t know about anything but still vote. Now those guys are saying “Wait, ALL scary looking gun ammo penetrates armor? Oh my, ban it all yes!”

        • Said ordinary people cannot vote to ban ammunition.
          Going through the comments in this post, it scares me how painfully unaware people are of how the United States legislative process works. It is as if some people think that the head of the executive branch of government is tirelessly working with the head of the BATFE to limit gun rights. I promise you, during these turbulent times the executive has much, much more pressing issues he is preoccupied with. I honestly doubt that the President of the United States of America knows what M855 is or means.
          However, as is always the case people looking to slander the president will blame any and all things possible squarely on him regardless of whether the fact he is responsible or not. Funny how nobody blamed Bush for the 2005 barrel ban and certain people forget that Reagan signed the machinegun ban.

          • concerned american

            He may not have spoken the words to the ATF directly, but he sets the agenda on a large scale and appoints to power those who will execute his agenda in varied ways. Regardless of the party in power, we should always remain diligent to protect the second amendment in its entirety rather than allowing them to continue to whittle it down to whatever they deem acceptable. As we all know, the purpose of the second amendment at its writing was to protect the people from a government such as this.

            It is the natural course for those in power to grow government and limit individual liberties. How else do would they cement their power?

          • JRJ21

            Are you in a coma? Obama is trying a trial balloon to get to all powerful ammo.

  • Truthisouthere9

    In that case all of the bullets law enforcement has in their possession pose a danger to citizens because of their unique “skin piercing properties”.

  • HKGuns

    Sent to the NYT Editorial staff. Like they’ll actually watch it.

  • MrEllis

    I think all the buzz and ammo hoarding after this is more of a story than the story. You can still buy it, nothing changed and the ATF back peddled, not because people said something on the internet after the fact. At this point remove the “politics” part from the subtitle. Get back to guns, please.

  • Wild Mike

    Great, now that you’ve demonstrated that regular rounds will do the same thing they’ll want to ban them as well. Who’s side are you on anyway??

    • Oh come on this is nothing any knowledgeable person doesn’t already know.

      • use = design?

        Including the ATF, which makes the ban pointless.

        An AR-15 “pistol” is NOT a handgun.

  • dan citizen

    Wonderfully done video. Nice pacing, well edited, good sound quality… You’ve addressed a hot button issue with great aplomb.

    I would do it with a 5.56 pistol to address ATF’s contention that it is armor piercing out of a pistol (not that I have any doubts)


    Why The ATF’s AR15 Ammo Ban Is Pointless”

    Not at all, not at all…today M855…tomorrow the next caliber our leaders
    don’t want us serfs to own. What folks here keep missing is that this has
    nothing to do with details…or facts…or laws…its about BANNING AMMO.
    You gotta start somewhere…ATF can move on to the Fudds 30-30’s later…

  • Jeb

    M855A is going to be hitting the commercial market soon and must demand a price justifying its cost above M855A (which their lacks) or ban M855A, effectively driving prices sky high for a short time (guaranteeing massive profits) from the American market before selling surplus to ISIS (humor). Economics. Their are idiots out there paying damn near a buck a round for M855 when Mk262 is 7-13 cents difference, give or take.

    This blog is getting awfully questionable lately. You say their is no intent to introduce politics yet make videos feeding into their bullcaca. If you really wanted to make some “news” worthy claims (because regurgitating bullcaca is still regurgitation) you would convey the economic points. If M855A hits the commercial market with M855 still being sold, the price of M855 would cease to exist outside of pennies on the round. Hell, you would convey every political action that could have ramifications on our 2nd. Because for the record, as it has been stated (and spoken by the man’s own mouth) the Executive has the “power” to veto and write an Executive Order. Can’t be done? They said the same about the Patriot Act.

    After the FN Forum orgy here at TFB the other week, I am beginning to wonder about the dual residency between TFB writers and FNF. Bull Caca – Sierra Hotel Igloo Tango, for the literate. Seeing as we all know what the ATF says is crap and lies, can we please quit perpetuating the bullchit trying to disprove it?

    • Jeb

      M855A is going to be hitting the commercial market soon and must demand a price justifying its cost above M855A (which their lacks) or ban M855… Correction made

    • toms

      M855a1 is not going to be sold to us dude, never was as it is legit AP (tungsten hardened core). What you think this is some conspiracy by the gun companies to jack up costs? 855 would never be as cheap as as you claim as we cant get US surplus for one since 1994 and Bill C ended that 2) Us manufacturers are cutting back on m855 production. The government scraps ammo for 2 cents around before it lets us get it. I’m sure the Iraqi army and FSA and other various ragtag armies will be the real beneficent s of surplus US ammo.

      • Miles

        I don’t know about M855A1 never being on the market.
        I think ATF can be hoist on their own petard with this one as they’ve gone after ‘cores’ as the boogeyman
        The penetrator is a real “tip”, not a “core” and as the actual core is Copper (not Beryllium Copper, just Copper and thus not one of the evil elements of AP) the bullet doesn’t meet the definition in (i) of the statute, and I think won’t make it under (ii) either as the jacket is very thin.
        We shall see.

      • Jeb

        Mk262 wasn’t to be sold to us…SOST rounds weren’t to be sold to us…your point?

        Brazilian manufacturer builds Mk262 ammo…many countries build 193 AND 855…who cares about American ammo when ammo is so scarce foreign companies are the only alternative?

        I presented a legit perspective without Reynolds Aluminum’s help yet you felt the need to concoct a scenario…here’s your sign. You must of failed A) Economics and/or B) World History. Either that or you truly believe America is above EVERY country in history. A conspiracy can be defined as a small group of people working on a weapon capable of killing thousands, followed by birth and physical defects for those effected, all done in secrecy before being utilized not once – but twice. Seeing as Tokyo, the government seat, was not targeted or affected by either bomb but islands occupied by women and children with their husbands off to war – constitutes conspiracy to commit murder. A spade is a spade and a fire is hot when you dance with theories, conspiracies and facts.

      • Hank Seiter

        The M855A1 as a bullet (not the cartridge) was sold legally to civilians several years ago. I haven’t seen much of it since. I bet a lot of legit handloaders made use of that window of opportunity. It does a dandy job on 3/8 inch steel plate out to 200 meters though hardened steel or armor plate of the same thickness will defeat it. Haven’t seen any video of the M855A1 taking on a ceramic plate.

    • Mike Price

      Good point. Obama likes to run his mouth but even by executive order it can be shot down by any judge or congress and more than likely will be like his immigration “executive order” that is basically “null and void” now.

  • Training Counselor

    On a, Canadian Indian Reservation (in Canada, that’s “Aboriginal Lands”) we saw Anishnabe tribal police come into a business. They had to move through the doorway carefully, due to their body armor being over 4″ thick, front back and neck? To my wife’s question, I answered that if a Canadian wanted to cause trouble, they wouldn’t have access to a pistol. Body armor in a rural community would need to stop a military surplus Lee Enfield round. As in powerful at 1000 yards.
    Just information, no politics.
    ~ Training Counselor

  • Jacob Gonzales

    We Know.

  • John Pate

    Because control. Another incremental step that secures their bureaucratic power. It doesn’t have to make sense in any other terms.

  • Joe

    In my opinion it is simple. What will be the most common rifle in the hands of “holdout’s” when the “ballon goes up”?

    AR15 based rifles

    Level the playing field before you start the game.

  • AlDeLarge

    18 U.S. Code § 921 – Definitions

    (17)(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.

    It looks like there’ll be no arguing with “may be used in a handgun” but it’s certainly not “designed and intended for use in a handgun” so (ii) is out. That leaves “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” as the requirement to classify .223 ammo as armor piercing.

    M855 does not fit this definition and any court that will take the “may” as a literal absolute should apply the same to “constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances).” The ATF can’t really be stupid enough to not know this, can they? What is their real goal for this?

  • Guido FL

    Nothing new with this proposed ban. Last year the ATF banned Com Bloc surplus 5.45×39 7n6 ammo using the same excuse. But you cannot buy a 5.45×39 “pistol”, amazing. The goal is simple. Since firearms are protected but usless without ammo the ATF under the radial lefts guidance will one step at a time render fire arms useless !

    It’s coming as the Obama Mafia has 22 more months in which to disarm Americans among their other agendas !

  • Joe Bob AK owner

    Ban it! I don’t see AR shooters wanting to bring back the steel core 7.62×39. I own an AK so it doesn’t affect me!
    Divide and conquer.

  • Guest

    This is why I’m losing faith in the NRA. They seem content with fighting for 60 year old shotguns and 22’s. The fight should be to turn back legislation from 1968 to the present. Bring back full auto’s, “commie” AK’s, SBR’s, etc or eventually they will all be gone.

  • Hank Seiter

    Given the “logic” of federal despots and your reference to the reality that virtually all rifle ammunition will penetrate the most commonly worn law enforcement body armor, you’ve actually made an eloquent argument for an increasingly arbitrary and tyrannical government to outlaw ALL RIFLE AMMUNITION … for the sake of the children, of course.

  • phyllis84

    While it is true that the “point” of the ban is NOT to protect officers as cited, the ban is NOT pointless. The point it political. The point is in setting a precedent for the ATF to expand it’s interpretation of which bullets are acceptable and which are not. The point is to chip away at the RKBA in any way they can – FAR from pointless.

    Every single stinking session of .gov, those on the left are proposing such things. We need to be doing the same thing. Why aren’t we making proposals to chip away at NFA or the GCA of ’68. Example – let’s propose removing silencers from NFA. Heck, let’s propose repealing NFA or maybe GCA all together.

  • Chuck Burns

    Let’s all get on the same page. The ATF is not banning ammo. The ATF is carrying out the Progressive Liberal agenda part of which is aimed at the Second Amendment. Liberals continually attack our right to keep and bear arms and this is just one of many such attempts. Liberals launch thousands such attacks and each small gain for them results in a weakened Second Amendment for We the People.

  • desert

    This is all more of obamas bullshyt! If he was truly concerned with a police officers vest, he would go after a large caliber, a 30-06, a 338 lapua, 7mm, a .308,.,,this a.h. is going after a popular round, and if he gets away with it, he will go after others and others until he blocks ALL ammo sales, wake up people, stop listening to his lying crap, look at his ulterior motives, because you can bet your ass he has them…!

  • JBM

    I wanted to bring up another point that is rarely noticed or mentioned. I am hearing, “…if I am interpreting the law correctly…” What is wrong with this picture??? I totally get the point, but since when should We The People have to figure out how to interpret the laws that WE have to follow? There is a huge disconnect between the ones who make the laws and the ones who they apply to (and who should have the say). When do we get to vote for or against proposed ammo banning laws? What is the point anyway? If voting actually changed anything it would be illegal, right? I guess that’s part of being the minority who stands up and fights against the tyrannical intrusion of the Out-of-Control corporate Federal Government. No longer bound by the Constitution, it is a corporation that answers to the share-holders and Obama is the CEO. Bring back the Constitutional Republic and we’ll see that We The People once again will have a say in what goes on in this country! We The People need to put a stop to the advancements of this unlawful progression of the tyrants!

  • eddyjames

    There is no need to speculate on why ATF wants to ban SS109/M855 ammo. Look to Obama’s hatred of all things “GUN”. His appointed boy is in charge at the ATF and takes his orders from his Dear Leader. Can’t ban the gun so he bans the ammo.

    • MR

      Well, tell your Republican buddies in congress to quit trying to shutdown the government and homeland defense, for a couple minutes, and pass a law protecting our right to purchase any currently legal and exempted ammo. Hell, see if they’ll expand our right to purchase ammo. Good luck.

  • Robert V Martin

    When something is Immoral—as this and all other attempts to ban any type of firearm and ammunition are—it is beside the point to argue the Pragmatic Aspects of the ban. Morality has nothing to do with Pragmatics.

  • MR

    You understand that they’re not banning all “AR15 ammo”, right?(at this point, anyway.) The title seems to give the impression that they are. The number of people I’ve come across in the last few days that believe that all 223/556 ammo, or even all AR15s, are going to be banned is downright depressing. “Read the entire article people.” And don’t stop at one article, before you panic read several articles from different sources, then use your noggin to separate the truth from political pandering, lies, and misinformation.

  • Not So Free

    If this stuff is so dangerous, why has the U.S. military virtually stopped using it, citing it as ineffective?


    As I observed in an earlier comment…this is NOT about “facts” or “law”…its
    about banning guns. Kinda like banning cars by banning gasoline. Full
    stop…. If the ATF thought they could get aluminum as a gun material
    banned so they could make the AR15 illigal…they’d do it.

  • Follow Me Boys

    It does not matter. There is going to be a lot of dead MFer’s before 2016. That little POS is coming for all of us

  • petru sova

    There is one push to ban all lead based bullets because of the environment excuse and another to ban all ammo that does not have a lead core because it might penetrate a vest. So in other words they have two excuses to ban all ammo which is what they have been hoping to do for years. Without ammo they do not have to ban guns because guns suddenly become useless.

    • Except this specific ammo is not the only AR-15 ammo sold to civilians. It may be the most popular but there are a dozen other AR-15 ammos sold by various companies. I wonder how many of those saying AR-15 ammo would be made illegal owned stock in the companies making green tip ammo or non green tip AR-15 ammo. Green tip AR-15 ammo is however
      is an ammo designed to pierce armor such as helmets worn by police or military at the time the ammo was designed.

      So technically it should never have been sold to civilians in a number of states or never sold period to civilians according to various US state and federal laws. Oh btw off topic but I saw your comments about the streetsweeper. Streetswepper doesn’t have a magazine. It has a non removable revolver cylinder with a loading gate to load and unload and it shouldn’t been classed as a destructive device back in 1992 nor along with a few other shotguns such as the Armsel Striker and Protecta. Basically idiotic emotional fear led it to being made NFA rather then logic. The other shotguns that are mag fed today should have also been declared destructive devices by the criteria Democrats used to get those shotguns in 1992 classed as Destructive devices.

  • jcitizen

    I wrote the BATFE during the comment period and pointed out that it is ridiculous to ban the M855 round for being a “pistol” armor piercing round. Have you ever tried to shoot this round out of a pistol length barrel folks?! There is no way to stabilize it with such a bullet out of such a short barrel. The thing keyholes almost immediately coming out of the muzzle. I’ve never been able to penetrate s**t with a round impacting sideways! It is ridiculous I tell you! It took a hell of a lot of effort for the Army to get this long heavy small cross section round to stay the course at all!

  • Phuphuphnik Q. Phuphuphnik

    Thank you TFB for keeping the article politics free, per your mandate. Must be hard with this one.

  • Brad Ferguson

    The reason the ban is pointless is………………Almost ANY center fire rifle cartridge will penetrate soft body armor. Both sides…………..

  • me me

    Wrong point. There are reasons for caring about saving penetrator rounds that the writer intentionally omits. The technical issue is NOT about average vests at modest ranges. Its about special circumstances and true nuts being able to snipe police armored transport vehicles, improved vests of the future, and higher quality SWAT team armor of today.

    That said, a better point is that the horse is already out of the barn. This ammo exists in great numbers of rounds in public hands and will not be that difficult to obtain for decades.

    The real bottom line struggle is ATF wants to be able to go after those who distribute the ammo in the future the same way (criminal charges) as those who sell full automatics to shady people. People might think twice about passing on such ammo just because the person requesting is a thwarted fellow gun enthusiast and offering a nice price. Without the law anyone can sell this ammo to anyone else with little criminal liability with the result generally that few or no questions will be asked as to the purpose.

    So a better compromise is to special license sale and use of the ammo similar to full automatic weapons. The truly responsible “gun nuts” often actually start helping LEO in that case in tracking down questionable sales. There are then places for someone to try out such ammo in controlled circumstances on a one time basis instead of sneaking off to that improvised self-served gun range that might not be very safe in reality.

    • me me

      And I agree that making police immune to publicly held firearms is counter to the Constitutional intents. Yet there is also an issue with the idea that any individual with modest skills or luck can totally disrupt public safety.

      You should even stop assuming that its police that are the most common target. Might be your surplus HumVee which you thought would protect you from stray round on the back 40 during hunting season. Not all those city slickers are smart with using appropriate ammo etc.

    • me me

      No one wears a vest over their head. So you can always trot out the argument that unless warned police can be killed by a pellet rifle slug through the eye. Therefore no weapon should be illegal including nukes. ROFLMAO

      Truth the issues and best compromises for all sides are complex and leave no one 100% happy. But the beauty of simple is the elegance of totally crushing your opposition and not needing to think about whether someone else’s opinion or law matters. Americans want simple and there in lies the rub.

  • steveday72

    That story is about M855’s lead-free replacement, the M855a1 round. Not related to this at all.

  • petru sova

    Don’t let Reagan or Busch off the hook, they knew all about the bans and they were public knowledge, not secretly woven into anything . Both Presidents could have threatened or exercised a veto. Many times just threatening a bill is enough to get the other provisions taken out but both presidents wanted their bans. I think living in a world of partisan myopic politics believing all Republicans are pro gun when in reality some of the most rabid anti-gunners have been Republicans is to believe that Hitler was not a right wing fanatic.

  • Dave Jacobs

    Let’s face it. We will soon be using spitballs to replace bullets. I am making up my reloads with glue soaked spitballs formed in my molds.

    Now, the glue I use is made from Spruce trees. Can that mean that our idiot politicians will ban those trees too?

  • RICH

    Why even show anything of this nature? Anyone that shoots knows what 5.56 ammo will do. By placing videos such as this in the publics eye you just give ATF more insight to restrict all 5.56 ammunition. Senseless…..