ATF Comment on M855

RealClearPolicy wrote and article about the M855 issue, and managed to get this comment from BATFE:

Green-tip rounds were classified as AP [armor piercing] in 1986 because the steel penetrator is what is considered the core. It’s the regulatory process, and everyone can argue semantics and perhaps it’s not written very well, but that is the story behind it. … Having the additional component behind the tip isn’t enough to get it out of AP classification.

Only if you unilaterally rewrite the law, which is what they did. If the law is actually followed, any rounds which contains lead, which M855 does, cannot fall under the definition of armor piercing.

(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.

So does it fall under subsection (i)? No, because it’s not made entirely from those elements. Does it fall under (ii)? No, unless you count the steel penetrator as part of the jacket, which would be twisting the definition of jacket to an extreme.

h/t to Dave Hardy.

14 Responses to “ATF Comment on M855”

  1. rd says:

    FYI The website is realclearPOLICY, not politics.

  2. wfgodbold says:

    They didn’t rewrite the law.

    By considering the steel penetrator the “core,” it brings it under (B)(i)’s language referring to “projectile or projectile core.”

    This seems to me to be an exception which swallows the rule–because if a projectile is not constructed entirely out of one of the armor piercing materials, the ATF can consider the core to be the portion of the projectile that is constructed entirely out of those armor piercing materials, and thereby ban it.

    • aerodawg says:

      Headline 2017: ATF declares that the jacket of M193 is now the core and being composed entirely of copper and not sporting purposely enough, is banned.

    • Sebastian says:

      A projectile core is the part that is not the jacket, and in the M855, that core contains lead.

      • aerodawg says:

        I think he’s right if the above comment from ATF is accurate. They’re not re-writing the law. Instead they’re destroying the common definition of the word “core”

        • lucusloc says:

          They are happy to destroy language, as long as they get what they want. As a matter of fact, to get what they want you pretty much have to destroy language. “Slavery is Freedom. War is Peace”

  3. Rob says:

    Would (ii) apply to .223 even if you consider the core part of the jacket? It does say larger than .22 caliber, not larger than .22 Long Rifle, or .22 Rimfire, or whatever.

    • Bill Twist says:

      I don’t believe (ii) applies at all because it only applies to projectiles “designed and intended for use in a handgun”, which the M855 is not. It can be *USED* in a handgun of strange and impractical design, but it was not and is not “designed and intended for use in a handgun”.

    • AnOregonian says:

      I’m inclined to take a reading of “.22” as being only two significant figures, in which case anything under .225 will round to .22. Especially so since there really aren’t any rounds that are .220, other than 5.45×39 of course :-).

  4. Matthew Carberry says:


    The LR is .222 and the WRM is .224. I think it’s only that they have light gilding, not comparatively heavy jacketing, that keeps them from falling under (ii)

    Although, in the interest of playing games…

    What percentage of the weight of a FMJ .25 or .32 AC*P-istol* bullet is the jacket?

    There ain’t a lot of lead in there, given that jacketing has a minimum thickness…

    • Rob says:

      According to SAAMI, the .22LR is actually .255″. .222″ is the heel diameter, I think. (it’s on page 13 of the document, or page 20 of the .PDF).

      I’m with AnOregonian. I think that has to be read as being only two significant digits, because it reads as if they ostensibly trying to exclude the .22LR. However, because they said “Caliber” instead of “rimfire”, that means anything .22″ or smaller – including .223/5.56, is exlcuded.

  5. AnOregonian says:

    So I wonder if the ATF thought this one through all the way. Are they really willing to risk lawsuits and or legislative action which will bring back M43, SS190, and 7N6, just for the chance to ban M855?

  6. ToddG says:

    So the subtle difference that prevents Corbon and other non-lead handgun caliber bullets from being AP is “copper” versus “Beryllium copper”? Or an all-copper bullet is all jacket, thus >25%, Q.E.D.

    Oh, sorry. I’m jumping ahead. That is step 4.

    1. Ban M855 as AP
    2. Ban all ammo that can be fired from an AR “pistol” lower as AP
    3. Ban lead ammo
    4. Ban non-lead ammo as AP
    5. Nirvana!

    (not that one, another one)


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