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Does green tip (ss109 or M855) penetrate body armor out of pistol-length barrels?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by cpileri, Mar 12, 2015.

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  1. cpileri

    cpileri Member

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    Ok, obviously this question has a political aspect, given the current environment. But it is technically a performance question:

    Does the 62-gr "green tip" .223 projectile, loaded either to ss109 or m855 spec, penetrate body armor?
    what level of body armor/ II, IIIA, III etc?
    and,
    how does this penetration ability change when fired from progressively shorter barrels? or at progressively slower velocities?

    this of course to address the contention that the availability of AR-pistols (concealable) platforms with which to employ this heretofore 'sporting' ammunition, poses an increasing danger to those wearing vests.


    C-

    p.s. please do not misconstrue this post as being some sort of guidance on penetrating armor, rather it is to provide facts to support or to refute the claim that there is a new level of danger to someone wearing body armor.
     
  2. MErl

    MErl Member

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    Any FMJ .223 projectile will penetrate any body armor that does not involve plates. It is all in the velocity. Load it down to 800FPS and they won't penetrate anything. The 55gn stuff will penetrate better at short (police) ranges because it has more speed.

    M855 was made for longer ranges. It just happens to have a bit of steel inside it so the ATF thought they could ban it.
     
  3. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Virtually any rifle round will penetrate body armor, even when fired in handguns. Most body armor worn by LE is designed to stop 22, 38, 380, 45 ACP, and milder 9mm and 40 S&W loads. Even hotter 9mm and 40 loads will penetrate most of it as will most any magnum revolver rounds.
     
  4. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    If a plate is involved the angle of impact also has a large impact on what a projectile will penetrate.
     
  5. barnbwt

    barnbwt member

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    "It is all in the velocity."
    Obviously, which is why the OP asked. Still no answers (and I can't comment since I'd like to know, too). Hasn't anyone tested this yet?

    TCB
     
  6. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Member

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    I wore soft body armor under my shirt 5 nights a week for 20 years.

    Soft concealable body armor comes in various thicknesses which are supposed to stop or slow down various projectiles at relatively low velocities.
    The effectiveness of the armor degrades over time due to sun exposure and body moisture. I wore a Type IIIA vest.

    For body armor to have a rating of Type IIIA, the National Institute of Justice requires that vests stop the following bullets:

    .22LR – A long rifle lead round nose bullet with a caliber of .22 impacting at a minimum velocity of 1050 feet per second, with a nominal mass of 40 gr.
    .380ACP – A full metal jacket round nose bullet with a caliber of .380 impacting at a minimum velocity of 1025 feet per second, with a nominal mass of 95 gr.
    9mm – Full metal jacketed round nose 9mm bullets, which impacts the vest at a minimum velocity of 1090 feet per second and a nominal mass of 124gr.
    .40 – Full metal jacket .40 S&W bullets that impact at a minimum velocity of 1025 feet per second and a nominal mass of 180 gr.
    9mm – Full metal jacketed round nose bullets that impact at a velocity of 1,175 feet per second and have a nominal mass of 124 grams.
    .357 – Magnum jacketed soft bullets with a caliber of .357 that impact at a velocity of 1,400 feet per second and have a nominal mass of 158 grams.
    9mm – Full metal jacketed round nose bullets with a caliber of 9mm, impacting at a velocity 1,400 feet per second, with a nominal mass of 124 grams.
    .44 – Magnum jacketed hollow point bullets with a caliber of .44, impacting at a velocity of 1,400 feet per second and a nominal mass of 240 grams.

    Please note that a razor headed arrow, an ice-pick, a sharp knife, or even a long thin nail will penetrate soft body armor.



    Also note that when the kevlar mesh catches the projectile, the impact is still fairly violent for whomever is wearing the vest. I taped an old vest over a bale of newspapers and shot it with a 12 gauge slug. The vest caught the slug, BUT the slug and a bunch of the vest were pushed through the newspapers to a depth of about 8 inches.



    Almost ANY RIFLE cartridge will penetrate a soft ballistic vest. Thus banning any ammo which will do so means that ALL RIFLES will be banned under the same anti-logic.
     
  7. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    That information is incorrect.
    Current NIJ 2006 Standards are as follows:

    IIa armor, the lightest armor in general use today, is tested against 124 grain 9 mm FMJ RN bullets with a velocity of 1225 fps and 180 grain .40 S&W, FMJ at 1155 fps

    IIIa, the heaviest "soft" armor, is tested against 125 grain .357 SIG FMJ FN's at 1470 fps and 240 grain .44 Magnum SJHP's at 1430 fps.

    Note that none of those velocities are likely to be realized in the shorter barreled, more concealable pistols likely to be carried by most crooks.

    In my experience, ANY full power .223 round, fmj or not, will blow through ANY concealable soft body armor generally available in the US and probably those in Europe as well. They have some heavier soft vests available there that are designed to defeat hot 7.62x25 rounds. I've never tested any of them, but I'd be amazed if they stopped any full power .223 round, even from a 6" barrel.
     
  8. MErl

    MErl Member

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    Velocity numbers
    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/223rifle.html

    You have to get barrels down to 5" to get velocities under 2000 FPS and the lighter stuff is going faster. It may not keep that velocity to 600m but it will to the range of the standard police encounter.

    Add that to Swampman's data about what the vests are tested to stop and draw your own conclusions.

    There isn't likely to be any manufacturer testing data because who likes to admit failures of your product? Maybe the Box of Truth can team up with Ballistics by the Inch to test it.

    addition: velocity vs range for 55 & 62 gr FMJ. There might be more info on the effectiveness of each round at range moreso than at velocity.
    Yd 55gr 62gr
    0 3240 3020
    100 2874 2713
    200 2536 2426
    300 2222 2156
    400 1932 1904
    500 1667 1674
    600 1432 1465
    700 1240 1289
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  9. barnbwt

    barnbwt member

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    Whoever posted the velocity data, thanks for the info; if it's >2kfps out of even a 5" barrel, these pistols are still plenty capable of punching through most Kevlar. To whoever said we should keep that 'secret' to ourselves, c'mon; a lot of folks from our side are straight-up lying about how pistol AR velocities are too low to penetrate armor with this ammo. Not cool. That's no better than anti's saying M855 is 'armor piercing' out of hand, or because it can punch a vest.

    The fact this whole "AR Pistol AP Ammo" question is moot is very important; it raises the stakes if the anti's are to continue going after the AR. Mr. Jones of the ATF has now said all AR15 ammo deserves some special consideration (not 222 Remington; fancy that :confused:). He said this to congress because it is plainly beyond his legal authority to even think about restricting an entire caliber from civilian use (even 30mm cannon rounds are perfectly legal to build and posses, so long as they are not explosive; it's the cannons that are regulated). If they want to pursue this rabbit hole, I say press on, Mr. Jones. The very first court looking at this, even that idiot DC judge who didn't know a muzzle loader bullet from his own head, would eviscerate the government.

    And that's assuming we all just rolled over and died to let them pass the new statute in the first place. Not happening. Not anymore.

    Stupid laws encouraging stupid behaviors from citizens adapting to them is not a chicken/egg problem. It's a straight line, pointing right back to the stupid laws.

    There would be no "need" for an AR pistol if the Bureau hadn't royally screwed up back in the fifties and marked the upper receiver of Stoner's design as the controlled "firearm" like they did on practically every other upper/lower constructed design out there, but here we are.

    Nor would anyone care if it was pistol or rifle in the first place were it not for a comically unimaginative 1934 law attempting to classify all firearms, past through future, into a couple neat little groups with enormous legal ramifications.

    You can't seriously find fault with Americans for identifying, exploring, and exploiting "loopholes" or other perfectly permissible behavior, just because it doesn't comport with the desires of the powers that be. That's what humans do when confronted with problems; find solutions. Particularly when the problems are stupid ones that we instinctively know should not be constraining our behavior.

    TCB
     
  10. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    So far as I'm aware, SS109 Was developed by FN with one goal in mind, the penetration of a standard US WWII style steel helmet at either 600 or 800 meters (I cant recall right now and the exact distance isn't really vital information anyway).

    This was important because it would show that the 5.56 mm was more "effective" than standard 7.62x51, M80 ball ammo for machine gun use (I don't know why they didn't use a then current Soviet helmet rather than an obsolete US model, political correctness maybe?)

    In any event, FN succeded in their project and 5.56x45 SS109 received STANAG certification and was adopted as a standard NATO round, something that hadn't happened with M193.*

    The new round achieved it's improved penetration at long range mainly by it's higher ballistic coefficient, but to outdo the 7.62x51 ball it needed a bit more help. The help was provided by a tiny steel penetrator that dug into the steel of the helmet, thus allowing the lead core to shove it through.

    That's it, the whole reason it was put there was to allow it to meet a totally artificial requirement that had no real world application unless we expected masses of commies to charge at us wearing old US helmets they'd bought at Army/Navy surplus stores.

    If you consider a round to be AP because it can (slightly) outpenetrate a gilding metal clad, lead core ball round at VERY long range then I sure as hell don't want you in charge of my weapons procurement program.

    Never mind the fact that 7.62x51, M61 AP vastly outperformed the new round, never mind that the new round wasn't as effective terminally as M193 except for the all important head shot at 600 (or 800?) meters on the guy wearing a US WWII helmet. The important thing was that we finally convinced our NATO allies to see the error of their (our) ways and adopt the 5.56 mm!

    Plus FN got to sell the US a whole BUNCH of 5.56 machine guns!

    To (finally) answer your question, YES this ban is absolutely necessary to protect all of our brave Police Officers that are relying on WWII Steel Helmets to protect themselves against the machine gunners that are constantly head shooting them at 600+ meters with SS109/M855 ammunition.

    We've got to do SOMETHING to stop the senseless slaughter!

    Do it for THE CHILDREN!


    *Probably because Europeans were PO'd at us for cramming the 7.62x51 down their throats when most of them wanted to adopt something along the lines of an assault rifle cartridge.
    After we INSISTED that a full power rifle round was required and our NATO allies had spent time and money developing and equipping their armys with rifles that conformed to OUR caliber choice, we changed our mind, dropped the M14 and 7.62 round and fielded the M16 in 5.56.
     
  11. justin22885

    justin22885 member

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    what i've learned about green tip is it really doesnt penetrate soft armor any better than other 5.56 ammo, and when hard armor is introduced it seems to fail with the rest of the 5.56 so theres really no area where the M855 will do something an M193 will not do at similar distances, the differences dont seem to become apparent until you get out to ranges that seem to be at the edge or beyond the effectiveness of the average 5.56 rifle and the external ballistics of the cartridge itself

    with all the resources the ATF has at its disposal, it would be foolish to believe they dont already know all this, which has me believing ALL 5.56 ammo will be threatened at some point so long as the ATF continues to have the powers to write its own laws, that is why we must not sit back and wait for them to do this, but we must push to eliminate the laws that grant them their power in the first place, until this happens neither 5.56 nor any other cartridge will be safe.. they could just as easily remove the stock off a PSL or AK54, call that a pistol and all your 440rd cans of 7.62x54R for $100 will be gone too.. the ultimate goal here is to make shooting as much of a PITA or as expensive as possible, and that is why we must push legislators to disband the ATF, and remove those regulations
     
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  12. Robert

    Robert Administrator Staff Member

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    I just deleted the majority of the posts in this thread because people feel the need to derail someone else's thread. Stick to the question in the op and do not wander down any more rabbit trails.
     
  13. cpileri

    cpileri Member

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    thank, All; esp for staying on topic.

    So, much as i politically hate to admit it, seems the ATF does indeed have a point: these rounds from smaller "pistols" do have the potential to defeat common body armor.

    Now, wether or not that is an actual threat to officers is a different question.

    So is the constitutionality of banning a round simply because it can penetrate armor.

    Anyway, i would still like to see more quantified data. But i think we have to be intellectually honest when disccussing this issue.

    C-
     
  14. hatt

    hatt member

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    Have you looked at the law's definition of armor piecing ammo? Penetrating body armor isn't in the law. Construction is. M855 construction doesn't fit the definition. The ATF's point doesn't mean anything. Any high powered rifle ammo will easily penetrate soft armor.
     
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  15. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    Go watch some videos by Tim's on the Military Arms channel....there are plenty of common pistol rounds that will penetrate Class IIIa body armor.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr6h44Pu4sM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_3_DBeU_HI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aaU4WwV07s
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  16. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    Intellectual honesty would be that every rifle round has the potential to penetrate body soft armor commonly used by police depending on range, etc. I would imagine that shotgun slugs fired at very close ranges would also do it.

    ATF's legal reasoning along with their conclusions about exemptions for sporting use.

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/mnp2a4w

    Arsenal Attorneys legal analysis debunking ATF's proposal

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/njmu7sl

    Essentially, the ATF was arguing that they could decide whether or not a particular round other than the traditional lead core round has a sporting purpose. Arsenal attorney's argue that the original wording of the statute does not include the round in question because of the composition language in the statute which the ATF must follow as a matter of law. The potential is such things as Barnes bullets could be totally within the power of the ATF to claim that they are armor piercing if a handgun was produced that could fire such a round.

    Money quote from Arsenal Attorneys
    "If the ATF is able to ban ammunition that does not technically meet the definition of armor piercing and is not even likely to result in an increase in the safety and protection of law enforcement, the ATF is grabbing power not granted to it by Congress. The ATF is basically seeking to ban ammunition, not based on the definition of armor piercing, but solely because the ammunition can be fired from a handgun that can hold more than 1 round and the ammunition can pierce soft body armor. This is a fairly easy test for the ATF to meet; especially given that the AR-15 and the AR-10 are merely platforms for constructing a variety of firearms chambered in a large variety of rifle calibers, including 223 Rem, 5.54 x 39mm, 243 Win, 300 AAC, 6.5mm Grendal, 6.8mm SPC, 7.62x 39mm, 308 Win, 458 SOCOM, and on and on."
     
  17. TimSr

    TimSr Member

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    Here is a bit of history on the 1986 ban that the ATF was using as authority for their proposal.

    http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvcopk.html


    This is exactly the problem, not what they proposed, but that they were given the authority to propose it.

    Its also true the the definition is based on construction, and not actual capabilities. I used to have some pre-ban 25 acp rounds that were legislated into "armour piercing" status.

    This was before all the super magnums of today, of which I'm sure many would pass through most police armour like a rifle round. .454 casull, .460, 480, 500 etc.

    The simple fact ws the law was created to solve a problem that did not exist then, and still does not exist today.
     
  18. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    NOT TRUE!

    The Attorney General makes that determination.

    I'm sure that any decision made by Eric Holder would be based entirely upon the facts at hand and his extensive knowledge of internal, external and terminal ballistics.

    I mean, it's not like there's any political agendas involved here!
     
  19. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    Exactly. 5.56mm (any loading until Nerf introduces rifle ammunition) will defeat soft body armor. M855 will not defeat hard plates (have shot expired SAPI plates with it at ~ 10 meters, no go).

    The only thing it does "better" than other 5.56mm rounds (besides the abovementioned steel helmet penetration at distance) is it was sitting on a list with a sporting purpose exemption, allowing the powers that be at ATF to try to reinterpret it away. (And note, it shouldn't have *needed* the exemption in the first place, since it is not AP ammo as defined by the ATF, an organization that famously gets its knickers in a perpetual twist about precise definitions . . .)
     
  20. denton

    denton Member

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    I'm not so sure. There is no requirement to have any actual knowledge of something before regulating it.

    Ballistics by the Inch does not include 62 grain bullets. But extrapolating their data indicates that a 62 grain bullet out of a 5" barrel would have a muzzle velocity of 1813 FPS. I don't know if that will penetrate a Level IIa or Level III vest. My bet is that it will. Level IIIa will stop a 44 Magnum (weight unspecified at my source) jacketed hollow center at 1400 FPS. But that bullet is moving 400 FPS slower than an M855 out of a 5" barrel, and presents a larger frontal area.
     
  21. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    It will certainly go through a IIa and probably a IIIa as well.

    It won't do anything to a Level III, that's hard plate rated to stop 7.62x51 steel jacketed NATO M80 ball at 2780 fps.

    The "a" in IIa and IIIa indicates a reduced level of protection vs Levels II and III, not an increase.
     
  22. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    I've taken classes at a place called Tactical Defense Institute. Several of the instructors did a decent study of 5.56X45 penetration from typical AR pistol barrel lengths.

    The result was that velocity was not high enough to fragment the round, but penetration was very high.

    Not surprising, since it is known that handgun rounds (low velocity) tend to penetrate structural materials more than high velocity rifle rounds.
     
  23. greyghost01

    greyghost01 Member

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    I don't have facts and figures like some of you do, Im not sure I understand what the BATFE or what ever name they are going by these days is trying to accomplish, Ive heard one round the green tip, Ive heard any round fired from a hand gun that will penetrate a vest, What specific vest are they talking about? They have vest that a 308 is not supposed to penetrate so if they use that one It should be fine. As far as hand gun is concerned a encore will shoot just about every caliber, If they are stating any caliber that would mean all rifle calibers, They are playing games and screwing with us, But this could depending on their wording be the end of hunting and rifles in general, Some country's only allow 380 for hand guns and bolt or single shot shotguns or double barrel.
    This wont be the end by any means, Its the wording they use that is scary! They make it up as they go, I thought there would be trouble out of these short barrel AR's
    It looks like we could of cooked our own goose. The same with suppressors, Sometimes they give us enough rope to hang ourselves. Im not in disagreement with them, in fact I think all the permits and tax stamps are just a way for them to make money, But in todays times everything we do gets put to the non shooting public in a bad way. They use our rights against us to make us look bad. Try explaining to a anti gun person why you need a AR pistol with a 5 inch barrel that can hold a 30 round mag with a suppressor on it. Sure you should have the right to own it I agree with that, But if its going to cost us our rights from owning a true use full weapon for defense or hunting, I don't need one,
     
  24. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Member

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    I do not care if it penetrates soft body armor when fired from a pistol that is the size of a violin.

    It does not matter , plenty of things will penetrate soft body armor. Including almost ALL 223 ammo.

    The only reason they tried it was to see if they can divide us via some farcical argument.
     
  25. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    EXACTLY!
    And despite what some people seem to think, all bullet wounds are not created equal.
    As I've already stated, just about any high power rifle bullet is going to penetrate a concealable vest.
    What they do to soft tissue after penetrating the vest is going to be highly variable.

    M855 has a fairly robust bullet, even in a 16" barrel it doesn't tend to fragment as reliably as M193 does.

    Obviously nobody wants to be shot with anything, but M855 out of a pistol length barrel would probably be one of the LEAST destructive of any modern high power rifle, cartridge/bullet combination. At handgun velocities it would almost certainly be less destructive than virtually ALL .223 expanding hunting bullets at similar velocities. They'll all penetrate the vest anyway, the difference is that the hunting bullets are likely to expand and cause more tissue damage than the tougher M855 which at low velocities is likely to either pencil through, or at the most, swap ends once before exiting.

    Truth told, a ban on M855 wouldn't save the life of a single Police Officer, if anything, it'll have a negative effect on officer and victim survivability, just like the stupid ban on mild steel core 7.62x39 "armor piercing" (NOT!) ammo did.

    Soviet M43 7.62x39 ammunition was designed with a steel core for only one reason, steel is far cheaper than lead and using it lowers production costs quite a bit. The steel used is soft and bears no resemblance to the higher grades of hardened steel or tungsten carbide used in true AP ammunition.

    It is probably the least terminally effective full power ball ammunition ever made for a modern assault rifle.

    In the Stockton California schoolyard shooting back in 1988, a crazy "man" shot 35 kindergarten kids with an AK loaded with steel core ball ammo. Only 5 died, all from direct hits to the CNS, heart, or major blood vessels.

    I'm not trying to downplay the tragedy of five kids being murdered, but If that guy had been using more terminally effective hollowpoint, soft point or even lead core FMJ ammunition (as REQUIRED by law these days). the death toll probably would've been three or four times as high.

    It's even more idiotic than the Canadian government banning AK's but allowing the better (in my opinion) VZ-58 to stay on the market. It shoots the exact same ammunition, at the same velocity and with about equal reliability to the AK. The only differences are that it's lighter, has better ergonomics and is more accurate than the average AK.

    It appears that both government's have officials that're equally idiotic. They assume that every person with a gun is a potential mass murderer, and then REQUIRE BY LAW that they have more effective tools for the job!

    M855 is not a particularly effective antipersonnel round anyway. That's one reason why the Army has dropped it in favor of the M855 A1. Marine riflemen no longer use M855 in combat either, they've adopted the Mark 318 for combat use.

    They replaced M855 because the new rounds (particlearly MK 318 which looks like an unbonded Speer Trophy Bonded Bear Claw) are much more effective at quickly making bad guys stop doing bad things.

    So the military (the Marines anyway) have dropped M855 in favor of a design that looks like a civilian bullet because M855 was ineffective.
    At the same time the ATF is trying to say civilians CANT have M855 because it's TOO effective.

    Does this make sense to anyone else here?
     
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