Legality of armor piercing handgun ammo?


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The Real Hawkeye
July 8, 2006, 12:55 PM
I know it's illegal for merchants to sell it to the general public, but is it illegal to own or buy/sell privately? Just curious, because I was looking through some old stock of mine and came across a little plastic sealed package of six rounds marked ".41 Magnum AP: Defeats Level III Soft Body Armor." Must have bought it many years ago and forgotten about it. I've had a handgun in this caliber since the early 1980s. Would it be a violation of law for me to load this stuff into my .41 Magnum and carry it? Is it illegal for me to merely have it in the house? Would it be illegal for me to sell it to someone who is not a police officer, not being a merchant myself?

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LAR-15
July 8, 2006, 01:13 PM
Your legal

Chipperman
July 8, 2006, 03:06 PM
From the ATF website:

Under Title 18, UNITED STATES CODE, CHAPTER 44 as amended by Public Law 103-322
The Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (enacted September 13, 1994) 18 U.S.C. CHAPTER 44 § 921(a)(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.

(C) The term 'armor piercing ammunition' does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Secretary finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.


§ 922(a) It shall be unlawful --


(7) for any person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammunition, except that this paragraph shall not apply to --


(A) the manufacture or importation of such ammunition for the use of the United States or any department or agency thereof or any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof;
(B) the manufacture of such ammunition for the purpose of exportation; and
(C) any manufacture or importation for the purpose of testing or experimentation authorized by the Secretary; and


(8) for any manufacturer or importer to sell or deliver armor piercing ammunition, except that this paragraph shall not apply to --

(A) the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer of such ammunition for the use of the United States or any department or agency thereof or any State or any department agency, or political subdivision thereof;
(B) the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer of such ammunition for the purpose of exportation;
(C) the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer of such ammunition for the purposes of testing or experimenting authorized by the Secretary.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver--


(5) any firearm or armor-piercing ammunition to any person unless the licensee notes in his records, required to be kept pursuant to section 923 of this chapter, the name, age, and place of residence of such person if the person is an individual, or the identity and principal and local places of business of such person if the person is a corporation or other business entity.
§ 923

(a) No person shall engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or importing or manufacturing ammunition until he has filed an application with and received a license to do so from the Secretary... Each applicant shall pay a fee for obtaining such a license to do so from the Secretary... Each applicant shall pay a fee for obtaining such a license, a separate fee being required for each place in which the applicant is to do business, as follows:


(1) If the applicant is a manufacturer-

(A) of destructive devices, ammunition for destructive devices or armor piercing ammunition, a fee of $1,000 per year;

(2) If the applicant is an importer-

(A) of destructive devices, ammunition for destructive devices or armor piercing ammunition, a fee of $1,000 per year.

(e) ...The Secretary may, after notice and opportunity for hearing, revoke the license of a dealer who willfully transfers armor piercing ammunition...

(k) Licensed importers and licensed manufactures shall mark all armor piecing projectiles and packages containing such projectiles for distribution in the manner prescribed by the Secretary by regulation. The Secretary shall furnish information to each dealer licensed under this chapter defining which projectiles are considered armor piercing ammunition as defined by section 921(a)(17)(B).

§ 929(a)

(1) Whoever, during and in relation to the commission of a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime which provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which he may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm and is in possession of armor piercing ammunition capable of being fired in that firearm, shall in addition to the punishment provided for the commission of such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for not less than five years.

(b) Not withstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not suspend the sentence of any person convicted of a violation of this section, nor place the person on probation, nor shall the terms of imprisonment run concurrently with any other terms of imprisonment, including that imposed for the crime in which the armor piercing ammunition was used or possessed. No person sentenced under this section shall be eligible for parole during the term of impressment imposed herein.

List of Armor Piercing Ammunition
KTW AMMUNITION, all calibers. (Identified by a green coating on the projectile)

ARCANE AMMUNITION, all calibers. (Identified by a pointed bronze or brass projectile)

THV AMMUNITION, all calibers. (Identified by a brass or bronze projectile and having a headstamp containing the letters SFM and THV)

CZECHOSLOVAKIAN manufactured 9mm Parabellum (Luger) ammunition having an iron or steel core. (Identified by a cupronickel jacket and headstamp containing a triangle, star and dates 49, 50, 51, or 52. The bullet is attracted to a magnet)

GERMAN manufactured 9mm Parabellum (Luger) having an iron or steel bullet core. (Original packaging is marked Pisolenpatronen 08 m.E. May have black colored bullet. This bullet is attracted to a magnet)

MSC AMMUNITION, Caliber .25. (Identified by a hollow point brass bullet. NOTE: MSC ammunition Caliber .25 identified by a hollow point copper bullet is not armor piercing)

BLACK STEEL ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION, All Calibers, as produced by National Cartridge, Atlanta, Georgia.

BLACK STEEL METAL PIERCING AMMUNITION, All Calibers, as produced by National Cartridge, Atlanta, Georgia.

7.62mm NATO AP (Identified by black coloring in the bullet tip. This ammunition is used by various NATO countries. The U.S. military designation is M61 AP)

7.62mm NATO SLAP (identified by projectile having a plastic sabot around a hard penetrator. The penetrator protrudes above the sabot and is similar in appearance to a Remington accelerator cartridge)

PMC ULTRAMAG .38 Special caliber, constructed entirely of a brass type material, and plastic pusher disc located at the base of the projectile. NOTE: PMC ULTRAMAG 38J late production made of copper with lead alloy projectile is not armor piercing.

OMNISHOCK, a .38 Special cartridge with a lead bullet containing a mild steel core with a flattened head resembling a wad cutter. (NOTE: OMNISHOCK cartridges having a bullet with an aluminum core are not armor piercing.)

7.62x39mm with steel core. (NOTE: these projectiles have a steel core. Projectiles having a lead core with steel jacket or steel case are not armor piercing)

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING CARTRIDGES HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE DEFINITION OF ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION:

5.56MM (.223) SS109 and M855 Ammunition, Identified by a green coating on the projectile tip.

U.S. .30-06 M2 AP, Identified by a black coating on the projectile tip.

Double Naught Spy
July 9, 2006, 10:23 AM
".41 Magnum AP: Defeats Level III Soft Body Armor."

Interesting. There is no level III soft body armor. Level IIIa is the highest rated soft body armor. Level III is hard armor.

A lot of ammo will pierce soft body armor. In fact, just about most ammo with higher velocities (say supersonic at impact, some even subsonic) that are FMJ and have spitzer tips will pass through fine and dandy without any sort of specialized compositions such as steel tips, but these will not defeat hard armor or most hard armor.

So is the ammo actually AP ammo made to defeat level III hard armor or is it simply ammo that will penetrate IIIa soft armor and the "AP" is just a marketing gimmick like "For Law Enforcement Only" stamps on packages?

Art Eatman
July 9, 2006, 10:54 AM
For an individual, it seems to me that this applies:

"§ 923

(a) No person shall engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or importing or manufacturing ammunition until he has filed an application with and received a license to do so from the Secretary..."

If you're not in the "business" of making, say, an Arcane bullet, but only making it for your own lawful use, you're okay. I read "business" as making something for sale and with the intent of profit. But IANAL.

That some cartridge/legal-bullet load will penetrate a vest does not make it "armor piercing" in the law's definition of the term. As near as I can tell by my own dictionary and a wee tad of logic, anyway. Good luck to me?

Art

The Real Hawkeye
July 9, 2006, 01:33 PM
Interesting. There is no level III soft body armor. Level IIIa is the highest rated soft body armor. Level III is hard armor.

A lot of ammo will pierce soft body armor. In fact, just about most ammo with higher velocities (say supersonic at impact, some even subsonic) that are FMJ and have spitzer tips will pass through fine and dandy without any sort of specialized compositions such as steel tips, but these will not defeat hard armor or most hard armor.

So is the ammo actually AP ammo made to defeat level III hard armor or is it simply ammo that will penetrate IIIa soft armor and the "AP" is just a marketing gimmick like "For Law Enforcement Only" stamps on packages?The package specified "soft body armor," so it will not likely penetrate hard armor. Just a guess.

ctdonath
July 9, 2006, 02:09 PM
The catch is that for this particular bit of law - not to be confused with other laws - the term "armor piercing ammo" refers to the BULLET alone, and is entirely a matter of composition, not ability.

geekWithA.45
July 9, 2006, 09:50 PM
Art, I'm not sure I agree with your reading.

sect; 922(a) It shall be unlawful --


(7) for any person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammunition, except that this paragraph shall not apply to --

This section seems to rule out manufacturing for your own lawful use.


The only thing I couldn't find is prohibition on posession.

Also, you'd need to check your state laws, some states explicitly prohibit AP handgun rounds.

--------------------------------------------

Anyone know the backstory on why M855 and AP 30-06 was exempted? Why not .308?

beerslurpy
July 9, 2006, 10:03 PM
Legal to possess, not to make or import.

A round is only considered "armor piercing" if all of the following are true:
-it can be fired from a handgun
-the bullet has a metal core
-the ATF declares such to be true regarding that specific round
-it also isnt 5.56x45mm or 30-06 AP ball

There are an enormous variety of AP rounds that arent in one or the other categories, the law is basically a joke. It bans norinco 7.62x39, but few other rounds of importance. And the norinco stuff is also banned under various norinco-focused bans (non gun control related).

Art Eatman
July 9, 2006, 11:49 PM
Yeah, I guess 922(a) controls.

Shame, really. The Arcane is a really nice defense load. It's nasty at close range, but slows down extremely rapidly. The idea behind it was to avoid seriously hurting somebody downrange in the event of an up-close miss on a bad guy.

For a .45ACP, back-drilling the bullet gives a weight of no more than 90 grains.

Art

LAR-15
July 10, 2006, 03:54 PM
Again, you can possess it under Federal law.

People who had such ammo before the law was passed were allowed to keep it.

ctdonath
July 10, 2006, 08:43 PM
Again, the AP ammo ban is about BULLETS ONLY. "Manufacture" refers to making the bullets. If you, as a private citizen, get your hands on some you can load rounds using them.

Working Man
July 10, 2006, 08:50 PM
5.56MM (.223) SS109 and M855 Ammunition, Identified by a green coating on the projectile tip.

I thought they had a steel core. Am I wrong?

The_Antibubba
July 10, 2006, 10:19 PM
MSC AMMUNITION, Caliber .25. (Identified by a hollow point brass bullet. NOTE: MSC ammunition Caliber .25 identified by a hollow point copper bullet is not armor piercing)


Does "Armor-Piercing" in a .25 mean it will penetrate a winter coat? :D


Now I'm unable to stop the images of a suppressed Baby Browning with a 40 round mag and "da switch!" :D :eek:

Double Naught Spy
July 10, 2006, 11:06 PM
Working Man, they do contain a steel core but have been allowed under the law as not counting as AP.

So The Real Hawkeye, are the bullets of your AP ammo attracted to a magnet?

Maybe a better question would be to ask the make and model of the ammo and then we could look up the specs to find out if it is actually AP ammo as defined by law or if it is simply ammo with the velocity and/or shape to slip through soft armor, such as done by 5.7x28 ammo for level II and IIa soft armor by the commerical "sporting" rounds (www.fnhusa.com/contents/tw_57x28mm.htm).

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