Nammo’s New Armor Piercing Ammunition

At the NDIA conference, Nammo gave a presentation on their new lineup of armor-piercing ammunition. Nammo produces both the tungsten cored AP rounds in use with the US Armed Forces: The 7.62mm M993 and 5.56mm M995. Aside from data on these previously enigmatic round types, the Nammo presentation also covers new round types they have introduced, such as the “Power Ball” tungsten-tipped ball ammunition for 5.56mm and 7.62mm:

2015-06-16 22_09_58-www.dtic.mil_ndia_2015smallarms_17379_Erninge.pdf

2015-06-16 22_10_30-www.dtic.mil_ndia_2015smallarms_17379_Erninge.pdf


2015-06-16 22_10_47-www.dtic.mil_ndia_2015smallarms_17379_Erninge.pdf


2015-06-16 22_11_02-www.dtic.mil_ndia_2015smallarms_17379_Erninge.pdf


Nammo’s efforts are evidently focused on reducing the cost of ammunition that incorporates tungsten in its cores. The company is developing a sintering process for tungsten that does not use cobalt as a binding agent, replacing that instead with either iron or nickel, both much cheaper than cobalt.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • I wonder what the G7 BC is on the M995.

  • Tyler Browne

    Are these even available to us plebs?

    • Matt


    • nova3930

      I’ve got several coworkers who’s combined service spanned from Panama to Iraq/Afghanistan, with combat seen in each, who’ve said the only time they ever put eyes on the stuff was in the supply depot, that they never actually saw it issued…

    • Joshua

      No. It is true armor piercing ammunition which is illegal. M995 can penetrate level IV armor.

      For the Army it only comes linked, so for use in the M4 you have to delink it first.

      • Ron

        There is a DODIC for for 10 round stripper clips of M955 , however its not a very commonly found DODIC and I don’t think most units have it in their training or combat allocations.

        • Ron


          • Joshua

            Thanks Ron, had only ever seen it linked.

      • jcitizen

        Only armor piercing pistol ammo is illegal, and even then, the law may be fuzzy on possession; probably because it is the “purchase” of said ammo that is illegal.

    • Bill

      As things are now, I’m guessing even LE won’t be able to get it, even with increasing numbers of confrontations with armored adversaries and an always present need to reliably and accurately penetrate light cover like vehicles and laminated glass with patrol rifles. We have rounds that do it, but they tend to choice their own direction afterwards.

      • jlkjlkjlkjdd

        That’s ridiculous. American police today are more likely to kill themselves in a car wreck than to die in a shootout.

        There is no reason for civilians, including police, to have AP ammo.

        • Bill

          American police ARE far more likely to die in a car wreck, or from early onset cardiovascular disease, or buy suicide, than to die in a shootout. However, body armor is becoming more easily available, we find it in use more often, by criminals, and there have been some spectacular cases where AP ammo would be of value: the 2 armored gunmen in the North Hollywood bank robbery, the lunatic in Colorado who armored a bulldozer and went on a rampage, and the guy who shot up the Denver police Department last week. I’ve found it in drug houses and on outlaw motorcycle gang members and sovereign citizens.

          And then there’s the fact that we may be shooting at someone who is in a car, or partially concealed behind cover that I’d like to be able to punch.

          So, is that really ridiculous, or would it be OK with you if I had one magazine in my kit in case of situations like these? And I wear my seat belt religiously.

          • GenEarly

            Maybe not you personally but police are likely to shoot innocent civilians or each other. Your “profession” is no longer “Peace Officer” but is now “Law Enforcement”, and some States and especially the Ferals are Encroaching and Bullying Thugs.
            So…No it is not OK with me, unless I have the same “rights” to AP, which Der Authorities will never approve. Bloods, Crips, Kopz…..go have your turf wars and leave the rest of us alone. Just one legal citizen’s opinion.

          • Bill

            I’m not even going to bother, “legal citizen.” Just secede from the Union and grant yourself diplomatic immunity, there, problem solved.

          • GenEarly

            I meant as opposed to the Illegal Alien Invasion hordes entering our country, Mr Arrogant. But thank you for displaying your Polezi Superiority for all to see. I’m not going anywhere, Comrade.
            PS: You are outnumbered, and it’s obvious why you need and want more firepower. Got your up armored Bear Cat yet?

          • Bill

            I’m outnumbered? Is that some sort of oblique threat? Illegal Alien Invasion hordes? You mean the guys who pick your lettuce? We don’t have a BearCat. The cost would consume too much of our annual budget and we don’t need one, nearly as bad as we need a F250 Crew Cab pickup truck and new tires for half the cars. Complain about that, Mr. Sovereign Citizen.

          • Kivaari

            It’s just that you don’t have all the facts. Cops are outnumbered by the people they serve. No threat there. I don’t think cops are all that special, other than my pretty good pension.
            As you know cops are people as well. They tend to have more serious issues and defects than the general population.
            Except for firemen, cops are notorious for back stabbing their fellow workers.
            I disliked the amount of perverts, drunks and thugs I worked with through the years. I reminded the rookies, that don’t get too upset about the character of others, just take care of their own character.

          • GenEarly

            No threats Comrade Arrogant just letting you know where you stand with your fellow citizens that you seem to hold in such low regard. Talk to Kivaari he stood on the thin blue line like you do.
            I wasn’t always leery of police, but it’s prudent now a days.
            Tampa PD officer recently snuck up behind a legal open carry citizen and tried to steal the gun out of the holster. Luckily before said citizen could deploy and fire his “backup” he recognized it was only Officer Friendly wrestling with him.

          • Bill

            32 cops have been murdered since 1993 by guys who sound like you and say the same stuff that you do, so you’ll excuse me if I think you’re full of fecal matter, “Comrade.”

            And I’m coming up on 30 years of service next month, so you really aren’t telling me anything I haven’t heard from similar radical bozos before.

          • GenEarly

            The point is Comrade Bill, that you took an attitude with me from the beginning that you don’t have with Kivaari and I started off my first reply to you by saying this may not apply to you personally.
            You have a Kop attitude that is not displayed in my county’s sheriff department thankfully. You think you are entitled and better than the people you serve. It is time for you to retire, unless you really want to work out your aggreSSions over at BATFE or BLM for awhile, they like a good SS attitude. Lot’s of citizens don’t get pensions at all, but as a gubmint employee you still complain.
            Take a hike ,putz. Pizza Delivery Drivers still have a more Dangerous Job with higher casualty rates……

          • Bill

            As long as you understand that I know your type, your game, and you aren’t at all original or telling me anything I haven’t heard for decades. You and your ilk are tiresome blowhards who love to hear themselves talk, with an inflated sense of self worth based on the misguided and unfounded notion that some monolithic tyrannical government is out to get you. You aren’t that important.

            No pension? What do you call that pinko commie subversive plot called Social Security? It ain’t much, but it’s a safety net. It’s not the government’s fault that you’re a poor financial planner who didn’t open an IRA or 401K. You can’t even keep your own bullshit straight.

            And if you are going to use the language of the nazis to describe me, mixing a Jewish idiom in there like “putz” really demonstrates your lack of intellectual horsepower. The fact that you even used a Jewish idiom will raise suspicions about your belief in the cause with your sovereign citizen herd, or it may mean that your an undercover trying to make your bones on the web who slipped up on their vocabulary, in which case i’d say be more freaking careful.

          • GenEarly

            Ya, comrade officer. bugger off

          • Kivaari

            Citizens should be allowed to have any weapon available to police. It should be a crime to misuse the devices that counts, not having it.
            Sgt. of Police (ret)

          • GenEarly

            Thank you !!!!! Of course you are “old school” and retired, as contrasted with Bill below who is “active duty” and a bit disdainful of his fellow citizens, (who are legal)
            Maybe you two could have a conversation. I do appreciate police who recognize firstly they are citizens like everyone else and secondly entrusted and authorized to act to preserve the peace.

          • Bill

            Right now they do. There isn’t a weapon in our department that isn’t available on the open market. Agencies may be able to get new imported FA weapons, but the paperwork is more burdensome for us than the paperwork a private citizen would do to build their own SBR.

          • Kivaari

            Bill, The paperwork and extra $200 dollars is harder for citizens using an ATF form 4, to transfer an NFA weapon. Police use the ATF form 5. The police don’t require fingerprinting, photographs and local police approval. I sold my last 2 Remington M870 (14″) shotguns to a local PD. It still took 45 days for approval. I’ve had 5 SBRs and 2 SBS. $1400 in tax stamps. The fastest approval was 45 days, and the longest 9 months for a single shot 10″ TC Contender.
            Most of us can’t afford to buy machineguns. A good M16A1 now costs ~$20,000 plus FET.
            Since May of ’86 no new machineguns can be transferred to citizens. A full-auto M16 or M4 should sell for $1200 without a need for federal approval beyond a semi-auto version.
            SO NO, it is much easier for agencies. Not only do they save the $200 FET, they get the other 10% FET discounted.
            I still believe individuals should be allowed to own what ever they want, with nothing more than a 4473 as now required for any gun purchase. If you can own a conventional gun, and your state allows, you qualify for the NFA weapons.

          • Kivaari

            AND the Dallas armored car rampage a week ago.

        • Kivaari

          Police face felonious attacks more than other professions. It is bad driving that kills too many. But who besides 7-11 clerks face people intent on killing them?

          • GenEarly

            Pizza Delivery is by far the most dangerous “profession” in America hands down. Police are not even close.
            The “majority” of policing has turned into Revenue Enhancement for their local governments and court systems via traffic trolling and trivial user drug busts on vehicle stops.

          • John Willis

            being a cab driver is not a sweet profession either ,going into bad areas driving seedy customers ,,no thanks .

          • Bill

            If you actually did any research you’d know that commercial fishing and logging lead the list.

          • Kivaari

            Loggers and fishermen don’t get feloniously killed. It’s one thing to crushed by a rolling log or falling in the ocean, and getting shot by a dirt bag. Cops don’t have the most OJT deaths, but they lead the pack on being murdered.

          • Bill

            Right there with you, my comment was directed at those who don’t think our profession is risky.

  • Adam aka eddie d.

    Nathaniel, since you’ve mentioned the manufacturing process and prices, a question if you don’t mind: isn’t the main reason why this type of ammo is so expensive, that carbide tips are so problematic to process?

    As far as I know, since they are not malleable and are very hard on tooling, any type of “carbide” material (whether it’s a cobalt alloyed tungsten carbide or a different alloy)
    can only be A.) precision molded to finished dimensions,
    or B.) molded then diamond turned/milled if precision is paramount.
    This makes the price/piece ratio very bad when it comes to stuff made in huge numbers,
    like center drills, drill bits, lathe inserts, or bullets for that matter.
    That’s one of the reasons why a quality carbide drill bit costs 3-5 times or even more than let’s say a cobalt alloyed (quality) drill bit.

    Then there’s the fact that tungsten is a very expensive material, even more expensive than cobalt. That’s why steel industry has shifted from high tungsten content alloys to cobalt+molybdenum+vanadium steels. Tungsten has great properties, but it’s pricey.
    (Sources: a very respectable master heat treating engineer in my country, with more than 30 years of experience, and Investment Mine data.)

    Considering the above mentioned, one would think manufacturing difficulties with tungsten carbide are worse of a problem, than the cost of cobalt as an alloy.
    At least I came to this conclusion as a layman.
    What’s your opinion on this topic?

    About the sintering thing: could you elaborate on this?
    English is not my mother tongue, I can’t seem to undertand, what this process is.
    I know a process called laser sintering, where metal is basically 3D printed from powder, then bonded together with laser, but I don’t know if this is the same process, maybe sintering has multiple uses in English industrial jargon.

    • Hi Adam, I certainly don’t know as much about this as Nammo’s presenter does, and I only have read his slides and don’t know what else he said that wasn’t on them.

      Tungsten is certainly expensive, but Nammo seems clearly focused on reducing the cost of penetrator ammunition incorporating tungsten, see their Power Ball line that minimizes the amount of tungsten used. Cobalt certainly doesn’t help the cost and iron would be a much cheaper binder.

      As shown in the slide, Nammo makes their penetrators by sintering.

      • Adam aka eddie d.

        Thanks for the info Nathaniel!

      • Kivaari

        It’s interesting to see they have a sintering method that produces a stronger penetrator. It seems that core production could be quite fast and much more cost effective. The duplex core feature is one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that”, moments.
        It’s too bad we can’t round up a few thousand rounds for our use. In the 60-70s, we had what were called “universal keys” in the form of plentiful .30-06 and 7.65mm Argentine. Then it wasn’t uncommon to see locks on gates to forest lands shattered by AP bullets. It wasn’t long before the timber companies added 8 inch diameter pipe covering the locks.
        Today they have video surveillance on many areas, that block both vehicle and foot traffic.

  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    Yay, Norwegian company on TFB!

    • Joshua

      They’ve been supplying us M995 and M993 forever.

    • iksnilol

      I have a love/hate relationship with Nammo. On one hand they make good stuff while on the other hand they can be major douchebags (destroying surplus 7.62×51 ammo instead of selling it).

  • JimBob

    Tungsten != Tungsten Carbide. WC is formed by sintering, not machining.
    I doubt very much this is getting a diamond polish before loading. The WC tip will be engineered to not touch the barrel. It is there only to increase density and move the center of gravity forward. WC is brittle and I expect it disintegrates on impact.

  • Esh325

    So if two powers go up against each other that both wear body armor, wouldn’t their armor become useless because they would start issuing AP bullets that will go through the armor like a knife through butter.

    • Nobody

      Not quite, this power ball ammo more than likely won’t penetrate ESAPI/NIJ IV plates which are made to stop .30-06 m2 ap that penetrates about 10 or 11 mm. The 5.56 m995 penetrates about 1 or 2 mm further than the m2 ap if I remember correctly so it should at least penetrate well at closer range. However, in the event of a war with another world power, the US and possibly other western countries keep stronger plates, such as the US XSAPI plates that will stop the m993 7.62x51mm ammunition and would require either magnum rifle ammunition with a tungsten carbide core or some sort of sabot ammunition like the 7.62x51mm m948 SLAP (which costs the US government several dollars per round and can’t be used with muzzle brakes) to penetrate, flechettes will also likely penetrate. Expect this to become even more interesting as one of the entries for the US TALOS powered exoskeleton is claiming that their design would allow for them to cover up to 60% of the soldiers body with those XSAPI plates.

      • Kivaari

        Flechettes unfortunately leave minor wounds. That is why the army abandoned the work at Picattiny on them.

    • Kivaari

      it has always been a game of adaptation. Build a tank that a .50 BMG or .55 Boys can poke holes in, then the tanks get more armor. When a heat round is developed, build a tougher armor, when a sabot is used, build a tougher armor. Or adapt and shot missiles that pop up and dive through the turret top. When our U2 got shot down over Russia, we put SR71s up. Then satellites. Every move has a counter move.

  • Dolphy

    Thanks for this post and the one about the presentations, Nat. 🙂

    I have just one quesition. Since it is reckoned that the poor reputed stopping power versus infantry of M855 is due to it being designed to fly and penetrate out to long ranges, and M855a1 is meant to do even more of the same thing, and this new Nammo thing is supposed to do that even further, then aren’t these new developments going to exacerbate instead of treat the reported issues with performance versus infantry?

  • Lee

    Would this wear out a barrel faster?

    • Tassiebush

      I think the idea is it’s the bullet core made of the hard stuff like tungston and steel as a penetrator with the majority of the external parts being pretty conventional so wear shouldn’t be increased.

      • petru sova

        Actually it does wear out the rifling over many thousands of rounds. This was proven over 75 years ago when the U.S. Military tested ammo very similar to this ammo. Strangely enough accuracy was still good but the velocity dropped off dramatically. See the NRA Fact Book.

  • jlkjlkjlkjdd

    Sooooo ~5.4mm carbide/hardened steel core swaged with a 22lr case, then load it up yourself? Sounds like it’d work similarly to this.

    Should punch through whatever armored gophers you gotta poke holes in, once you get the hardness/tensile strength/shape on your steel/carbide piece right.

  • Odinson

    I doubt they penetrate level 4 plate armor. Dragonskin armor would stop this round also.

    • andrey kireev

      Dragonskin isn’t that good of an armor. They had all kinds of issues with it.

      • Kivaari

        Wasn’t it shown to be inferior to many other styles, especially weight to protection levels?

    • Bill

      Dragonskin is great armor to give to someone you really don’t like. Is it still in existence?

  • Hugs4Hoodrats

    This ammo is for when military robots become self aware.

  • Kevin Gross

    These are already old school and major developments have been made in Tungsten AP since the days of the NAMMO/M993. Check out what Thun or MEN have been doing: like new shapes in core designs and anti-slip cores, lead free, betters binders for the tungsten.