What would the Military use instead of Ball?

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Dec 18, 2007
Time for a little intellectual exercise.....

If the US military had the option to use non-fmj ammo, what would it be (strictly in rifle calibers for our purposes)?

It seems that soft point ammo would be a poor penetrator on steel/concrete but a conventional hollow point would be worthless against an armored enemy (not that the is an issue currently). I assume they would avoid issuing different types of ammo for the same caliber for logistics but they kinda sorta due for M4's. Ball usually feeds best so would other ammo cause problems?

Any Ideas what they would use in .223 carbines? .223 rifles and LMG's?, .308's and up? Or would these calibers be outed?

I'm assming the OP refers to non-existance/observance of the Hague Convention?

MG belts are mixed tracer, AP etc. Wouldn't be surprised if the military went to alternating ball or AP and ballistic tipped in rifles.

Of course, with a few years of military funding, I wouldn't be surprised if research found something that penetrated concrete just fine but expanded in flesh.
I think it would depend on the circumstances. AP is of course available now for use when required. But in close combat with an enemy who does not usually wear body armour, and where it is important to disable quickly, one of the specialist loads developed for police work would be optimal. There are versions which will, for instance, penetrate intervening barriers including car windscreen glass without being deflected from their path, yet still expand in flesh.
they might invent a hollow point with a steel penetrator. When it hits a soft target it expands, but when it hits a hard target, the penetrator does its job.
Being the military wants to be green just like the tree huggers I imagine all steel bullets fired from Melonite plated barrel bores,,,,,,,,
they might invent a hollow point with a steel penetrator. When it hits a soft target it expands, but when it hits a hard target, the penetrator does its job.
The Russians have just such a bullet for the 5.45X39. Essentially, it's a more or less cylindrical penetrator inside an aerodynamic ballistic wrapper (the jacket.)

While the bullet is not a hollow point, it has an air space in front of the penetrator. In flight, the center of gravity is behind the aerodynamic center of pressure -- making for an accurate bullet.

On impact, the penetrator slides forward and penetrates material barriers. If it strikes flesh, this changes the balance, and the bullet yaws rapidly -- several times in penetrating the body.
Antimatter shaped charge tipped flechettes with hydraulic fuses and cesium-fused expanding rod/neurotoxin secondary munition in case first fails.

In all seriousness though, I'm not sure that there's any sort of bullet that will give good terminal performance and barrier performance. Any sort of expanding-tip bullet will expand when it hits a barrier, and any sort of bullet that relies upon a yaw cycle, fragmentation or both will suffer after hitting a barrier, as the sudden change in medium will initiate the yaw/frag cycle just as surely as flesh would. AP/nondeforming will have poor terminal ballistics.

Here's an idea; what if the bullets expanded in the barrel? Use some of the expanding gas to inflate or expand a large, aerodynamic nosecone on the front of the bullet when it's still in the barrel. That way the bullets can be shorter in the magazine, and the center of pressure and center of gravity will be much further apart thanks to the large, hollow prosthetic, and thus the yaw cycle will be more aggressive. Hopefully the cap can be made weak enough to snap off and expose the tungsten carbide core when shooting hard targets.
ExtremeShock. Duh. What kind of elite military force wouldn't use something that technologically advanced?

I mean look at these guys. These B.A.M.F.S must kill terrorists in their sleep!

Look at how authentic that black guy is! P. Diddy wishes he was that black.


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Hydrashock - commercial JHP bullet with central rod to achieve better expansion on impact


1 - metal jacket

2 - lead

3 - expansive hole

4 - steel core

SJ ESC - Semi-Jacketed Exposed Steel Core


Light Armour-piercing bullet with hardened steel core. Bullet has alluminium jacket that covers all except the head of bullet. Designed in Russia for 9mm cartridges such as 9x18mm Makarov PBM and 9x21mm SP-10. This bullet, fired from Makarov, is capable to penetrate standart army issue armor vest at 30 meters. When loaded in more powerful 9x19 or 9x21 cartridges, this bullet shows even more potential.
I think Squirrel Snipper's idea would be most effective short a very small nuclear warhead.
Any Ideas what they would use in .223 carbines? .223 rifles and LMG's?, .308's and up? Or would these calibers be outed?

Uhh, the military is already using something else in 5.56.

Mk262 Mod1 is not ball ammo, and it's currently in use.

The Hague stuff has been neutered for the most part.
Uhh, the military is already using something else in 5.56.

Mk262 Mod1 is not ball ammo, and it's currently in use.
Yup. Mk262 uses an OTM round - open tip match. The "hollow point" in OTM ammo is an artifact from the way it's manufactured.

From what I understand, Mk262 is expensive stuff so that's why it's not standard issue.
Tony Williams:
... one of the specialist loads developed for police work would be optimal.

Those police loads are typically the exact same thing that's been sold to hunters for decades. The only specialist development that went on was the addition of tacticool mall ninja terms for their marketing and a price markup.

Such as Federal "Tactical Bonded" (Trophy Bearclaw) and "Tactical Rifle Urban" (Sierra Gameking, Matchking, Nosler Ballistic Tips.)

And Hornady "Tactical Application Police Urban" (V-Max) and "Tactical Application Police Barrier" (Interbond).
I'm sure that some commercial hunting bullets perform very well in terms of combining barrier penetration with expansion, but some will not - it depends on the construction.

Edit: Hornady TSWG and ATK Tactical both offer good performance in 7.62mm, but I'm not sure if they're available in smaller calibres.

RUAG have produced some specialised police loads (including some optimised for penetrating car windscreens at an angle).
The M16's original load, a true FMJ that nonetheless fragments, pretty much nullifed any meaningful distinction set out by the Hague convention.

Anyway, even if no laws of any kind applied, I think that the combination of cost, reliability, and barrier penetration would dictate continued use of FMJ, or possibly OTM type bullets. The long-for-caliber bullets that tumble, a concept pioneered by the British in the .303 cartridge and clearly copied to good effect in the 5.45x39mm and the more recent Chinese 5.8mm cartridges, stikes me as nearly ideal given current technology and, again, cost considerations.
AP is not very effective against people. That is the downside of having an extremely effective barrier penetrator.

I would say that they would use what they currently use. Mk262, M193, and M855 are among the more effective .223 loadings out there.

That said, I do think that M193 would be better in general, particularly in the shorter M4 type rifles.

Another load that would be fairly effective and a good compromise in the penetration and terminal effectiveness category is the Trophy Bonded bullets utilized by Federal in their LE Tactical Bonded line.
Mk 262 is ball ammunition.

No, it's a hollowpoint since it has a hollow point, it's just plain English. That's been defined clearly by JAG. The difference is that the OTM bullet does not depend on the open tip for wound potential.

Some people feel the need to play word games because of Hague but that is dealt with in several JAG Memorandum of Law concerning these bullet types over the last few years.

Hollowpoints have never been illegal by that name in any of the Hague stuff anyway.
We can actually use whatever ammo they like. The military has to supply us with it, but it's basically all available. We aren't fighting MILITARY service members from any particular country. We are fighting insurgent scumbags, and we can shoot them with whatever we want. We just have to get the ammo through official channels, or we get in BIG trouble.
The 168gn boat tail hollow point Sierra bullet is found in almost every M-40A here, and the Navy still has 147gn hollow point loads for the MP-5SD6. Shoot them all the time.
"Ball ammunition" simply means the standard military anti-personnel load; i.e., not tracer, nor AP, nor incendiary, nor expanding. Ball ammunition is usually FMJ these days (although it referred to plain lead bullets in the 19th century) but there's no reason why MK 262 (or similar) shouldn't be referred to as "ball ammo".

There are much better 5.56mm loads out there than the M855; the MK 262 has comprehensively better performance in almost all respects. See: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008Intl/Roberts.pdf
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