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Armor Piercing Rifle Ammo?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Nightcrawler, Jan 5, 2004.

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  1. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Another thread got me thinking about this. Some people trying to sell SS109 .223 say it's armor piercing. Granted that because of bullet design, it's got better penetration than the 55 grain stuff (it has a steel penetrator on the tip).

    However, SS109 isn't AP ammo in the truest sense; if it was, it'd be steel or tungsten cored, and I don't believe it is. And a steel or tungsten bullet, hardened for optimum penetration, isn't going to give you the much lauded fragmentation.

    In any case, I've been lead to believe that "armor piercing" rifle ammunition is illegal sell new to civillians in the US. You can find surplus .30-06, for instance (much like you can find preban guns), but you don't see newly manufactured/imported AP ammo in 7.62x51 for sale, ever.

    So, IS AP rifle ammo illegal? If so, under what law? If not, why doesn't surplus 7.62mm AP ever turn up?

    I'd be interested in testing it....seeing how much stuff it can go through. (Logs, cinder blocks, etc.)
     
  2. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    My memory is a bit fuzzy there too.

    All I know is I stocked up on Norinco yellow box steel core 7.62x39 ammunition back in '92. Hate to burn it up at the range, but what the heck else am I going to use it for?

    I'm glad I bought it, but I can't figure out why I should be.
     
  3. lycanthrope

    lycanthrope Member

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    My 7mm STW drives Nosler Ballistic Tip hunting bullets through 1/2" steel targets.....does that make it AP? A Barnes X (solid copper) hunting bullet at 3500fps will drive through most anything!

    In some states the bullet core must comply with certain stipulations whether or not it is termed AP.
     
  4. Ian

    Ian Member

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    SS109 is steel-cored, and is AP. The law is that AP may not be manufactured, imported, or (only if the seeler is an FFL) sold. It may be owned and used (as long as it's not used in the commission of a violent or drug-related crime). For whatever reason, SS109 and M2 .30 AP ball have been specifically removed from the list of "AP" ammo, so they can be imported and sold by dealers. Here's the ATF page on the matter:

    http://www.atf.gov/firearms/legal/armor.htm
     
  5. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    From the following website:
    http://www.ammo-oracle.com/

     
  6. Blackcloud6

    Blackcloud6 Member

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    I'm with Rock-Jock. M855 is classifed as Ball by the US Army, see pg 10-19 of TM 43-0001-27.

    The M995 cartridge is classified as AP and has a Tungsten Carbide penetrator.
     
  7. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    That's what I thought. Because SS109 penetrates better than the 55 grain ball doesn't mean it's "armor piercing".

    The whole armor piercing ammunition ban is ridiculous anyway; nearly any centerfire rifle round will slide right through the soft armor police wear anyway.
     
  8. uglygun

    uglygun Member

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    It's a confusing thing to sort out.

    The laws that are on the books concerning AP ammo seem to revolve or focus on handgun chamberings or rounds which there are handguns readily available.

    Yes, rifle rounds by and large will punch through soft body armour, that's a product not of it's construction but rather simple physics where the higher velocities make for huge gains in pressure per square inch upon impact.

    Handgun rounds however, being much slower velocity, often have to rely on a combination of things to be even remotely as effective. Say hardened metal core construction combined with a truncated cone sharpened tip, this may overcome the shortcomings of the much lower velocity.

    Where things get screwy with AP ammunition, from what I can gather, is that there ARE readily available handguns chambered for 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm, and for 308Winchester. This brings those chamberings into the realm of regulations that govern AP ammo. It's not so much that it's a rifle round that is firing an AP round but that it is a round for which a handgun is readily available and following the most loose definitions of the regulation, it's AP handgun ammo as well.


    Most everything I have seen from the ATF site is that the law is primarily concerning handgun ammo and it's construction, whether it will or will not penetrate soft body armour.

    Rifle AP ammo is kind of a rediculous thing if the litmus test is the ability of a round to penetrate soft body armour. I'm not sure of the ATF's reasoning for discounting the 50BMG and 30-06 black tip surplus rounds, it is truely AP ammo by it's hardened metal core construction. Unlike the M855 which is not true AP ammo.

    I'm not sure what the ATF stance would be if you were to take old 30-06 AP pulls and load them into some other chambering like 300Weatherby. Provided you aren't loading them into something for which a handgun is readily chambered, it shouldn't fall directly under the AP laws concerning handgun AP ammo. And I haven't seen regs on the possession of AP rifle ammo for chamberings not on the verbotten list.


    Another thing to consider, it's entirely possible that some state laws could factor in as well. Stupid California seems to ban anything "fun", tracer ammo has long since been banned in California and I wouldn't be surprised if AP ammo of any sort could land you in hot water reguardless of the ATF stance on things like 30-06 surplus AP ammo.
     
  9. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    I believe the most robust armor vest will stop a .308 (supposedly). I wouldn't want to try it our though.
     
  10. 3 gun

    3 gun Member

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    Found this by dz on The Firing Line. Looks to have it all covered.

    ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION
    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.
     
  11. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    So does this absurd piece of legislation go away too if the AW ban sunsets, or is it part of another law?
     
  12. DougCxx

    DougCxx Member

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  13. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    SS109's steel tip isn't really intended for better penetration; it's intended to stabilize it at longer ranges for use in the SAW, or at least so I've read. It has somewhat better penetration than regular ball, but is in itself classified as ball ammunition, not AP.
     
  14. DougCxx

    DougCxx Member

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    Yea, I always had guessed when i was a young'n that "steel-tipped" meant that the steel was, you know, "pointy", all the way to the tip of the bullet. But neither the NATO or the former ComBloc ammo uses pointed steel cores.....
    ~
     
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The AP ammo ban is not part of the AWB and will not sunset.

    The AP ban applies only to ammunition that can be used in a handgun, but thanks to our "friends" at Thompson-Center, that means just about any rifle ammunition.

    Jim
     
  16. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Hey I know, let's boycott Thompson Center!

    I'll bet they were making rifle-caliber pistols before that stupid law was put into effect. They can hardly be blamed for the actions of Congress.
     
  17. Ian

    Ian Member

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    Whoops! Guess I was wrong about the SS109...:eek:
     
  18. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    IIRC, Level IV external body armor is even rated safe against one round of .30-06 armor piercing ammunition. The problem with all level IV armor is that it's so bulky and uncomfortable that it's only practical for SWAT-type applications. Most daily-wear soft body armor is Level IIIA, IIRC, which is rated safe against handgun rounds but not rifle calibers.
     
  19. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Level III and IV "rifle" armor are bulky because they require steel or ceramic plates.

    I don't think we can yet make lightweight soft armor than can stop high velocity rifle rounds, and absorb the shock well enough so that the wearer's ribs aren't all broken or something.
     
  20. artherd

    artherd member

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    Even wearing a leval IV 'vest', I would not want to be shot with a .30-06 Black Tip (AP)!

    I bet I still die from internal bleeding.
     
  21. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    So, you all think that if a manufacturer started making OEM bullets for reloaders, with a hardened steel core in 5.56, 6, 6.5, 6.8, 7, and 8.45 mm(.338) , the government would simply declare all those calibers to be "handgun rounds" (as at least one custom TC has been made in each of those calibers) and promply shut the business down?

    Remind me again why Barnes X bullets, bronze solids, lost river bullets, and others are legal again? They can be used in handguns, so ***?


    atek3
     
  22. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    Actually, it penetrates LESS at shorter ranges due to the lower velocity.

    So, is the 7.62x54 tungsten core AP you see at gun shows legal, or not?
     
  23. Sean T

    Sean T Member

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    Tracer ammo is banned for a good reason, remember the horrific fires that happened here in San Diego just a few months ago. That was started by a hunter who launched a flare because he was lost. He was hunting right next to an informal range. Now you want to legalize tracer ammo so thousands of mini-flares can be shot all over the place, I don't think so.:neener:
     
  24. Risasi

    Risasi Member

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    It's not the flare.

    It's the dummy that popped one off that's for sure.

    But likewise, what the crap are we doing not keeping the forests cleaned up. Gotta protect the little bunnies and flowers....just so we can start a fire of a more destructive in magnitude later. We are stupid.


    So even though AP ammo is banned, one schmuck managed to STILL start a fire. What's next after flares are banned. Matches? Magnifying lenses, thick eyeglasses?

    Proof no thing is evil, just out of the heart man is where the evil comes from.

    Anyway, who cares about the puny little 5.56? If you want to punch a hole in something then use a tool right for the job. That's why I own a 30-378 that can slam a slug out at 3500 fps.

    Also as for body armor. There is some semi soft/rigid armor that can stop SOME 7.62, 5.56. Hot loads and AP will penetrate. And multiple vests, or plates is a whole new ballgame people haven't really played yet.

    http://matrix.dumpshock.com/raygun/armor/nij_lev.html

    One of many links you can find. But by no means a full analysis. You can spend your entire life looking into the effects of ballistics on body armor.

    The best way to put it is: "There is no bullet made that can't be stopped, and no armor made that can't be defeated".
     
  25. uglygun

    uglygun Member

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    since this post has resurrected from the grave...


    I'll post a picture of the back side of a 1 1/4 inch steel plate that has the core of a 163grn AP penetrator poking out of it, it wasn't propelled out of a 30-06 either. It was driven to close to 3200fps muzzle velocity from a 300WinMag, the pic shows my 2nd load over starting and the steel was about 70-80 yards away from the muzzle.

    My final load is now putting holes clean through the plate from the same distance, pretty stout charge of IMR 4831 manages this.


    I can only wonder what the 300RUM would do at a whopping 3500fps muzzle velocity.


    [​IMG]



    Eventually I'll try some Barnes 125 and 150grn copper solids for comparison to see where they rate between an all lead core bullet and that of a bullet with a tungsten/steel alloy core penetrator.



    The steel plate I'm shooting isn't mild steel but it isn't hardened "armour" plate either, somewhere in between. I have little doubt that a 30-06 would fail miserably on this thing.

    I intend to get some other grades of steel, maybe some 1/2 inch thick stuff that is hardened to armour spec H500 or whatever the rating is then see what happens.


    I know that M855 is pretty pathetic and have compared it to M193 directly, at closer ranges the M193 does hold an advantage with it's increase in velocity. It's at longer ranges where the SS109 bullet's better aerodynamics tilt things into it's favor with better retained energy and velocity.


    I've seen the M855 round not even leave so much as a dent on things like heavy duty truck leaf springs that have high hardness levels and this is from a distance of like 50 yards. Was difficult to tell the impact points apart from that of a 55grn round.
     
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