Obama to ban ‘armor piercing’ AR-15 ammo. Here’s why it’s a scam.

SAPI plate

(Image credit: Military.com)

President Obama has recently announced that he will use executive action to ban common AR-15 ammo citing it’s “armor penetrating” abilities. The rounds in question are the popular M-855, commonly known as “green jackets.” These 62 grain military surplus rounds are arguably the most popular AR-15 rounds on the market because of their wide availability. These are also the rounds currently issued to the United States military for operations overseas; but ironically, they are among the least deadly type of AR-15 rounds on the market. This is because the military must comply with the The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, which prohibits the use in international warfare bullets that easily expand or flatten in the body. They must have a full metal jacket which means that the actual projectile must be housed within a fully enclosed copper shell. Contrast this with a hollow point round which is the first choice of any knowledgeable shooter for self defense because the open tip allows for better expansion within the target and results in more consistent lethality. Why the military uses rounds that don’t expand reliably, resulting in more possibility for wounding is beyond the scope of this article. Regardless, the point here is that the BATFE is banning military style rounds which are actually less lethal than what is otherwise available, and it just so happens that they are banning the most available and affordable type of AR-15 round on the market. Coincidence?

Believe it or not, this is only a minor detail in the controversy surrounding the situation. The real scam is that the round they are banning has no more armor penetrating capability than any other rifle round, hunting or otherwise. This is because the law that the administration is citing is related to soft armor, not reinforced hard armor such as that worn by the military or SWAT teams. Basic Kevlar body armor vests are designed to stop penetration of round-nosed, slow moving handgun bullets or shotgun BB’s. They will not stop the much faster, pointed rounds fired from a rifle, and that includes everything from an AR-15 to Grandpa’s old hunting rifle. For this type of protection, there are body armor vest inserts made of steel or ceramic which are designed to stop all common rifle rounds including even armor piercing varieties in some cases (see graphic above for example). This means that a soft Kevlar vest like those worn by patrol officers will not stop any round from any rifle including the one that’s being banned and all other varieties of rifle rounds. If the BATFE is really worried about short barreled rifles that can be concealed like a pistol, while delivering the firepower of a rifle, banning this one round is not going to change anything because any other type of rifle round (and there are thousands) could be loaded into that same weapon and still penetrate the soft armor. On the other hand, no available rifle round, including the “armor piercing” type will be able to penetrate the hardened armor worn by tactical teams.

So what’s the real reason they are banning green tips? Could it have something to do with the fact that the administration wanted to ban AR-15s outright, failed, and are now looking for any backdoor loophole they can to limit their use by taking ammo off the market? You decide.

Update: Here is the legal justification being used by the BATFE


One comment

  1. ssgsprek

    This is an issue that does not go through the typical corrupt political process of our legislatures.
    In 1991 the BATFE made an exception on their ban of “armor piercing” pistol ammunition for m885/ ss109 for sporting purposes since it neither met their definition for armor piercing and the fact that it is used primarily in rifle applications, as well as pistol applications. Labeling “for rifle use only” is rediculous, costly, etc while banning it under the rules already in place by pulling its exemption for sale to the general public is easier for them.
    I think it’s all BS. M885/Ss109 is far from the best food for your lil monster, but reliable, plentiful, inexpensive, and consistent.
    The argument that M885/SS109 will pierce common body armor is a moot point in that level II and level III body armor is designed to protect against slower pistol calibers, and the fact that aside of .30 carbine (and other primarily pistol caliber carbines) will defeat level II and most level III rated vests by design. Would that then justify classifying all rifle calibers as “Armor Piercing”?

    Not fear mongering just pointing out this slippery slope. The BATFE constantly changes their minds on classifications, rules, and regulations. What was legal yesterday is not necessarily legal today (ie: stance on pistol braces, trigger devices, muzzle devices, bayonet lugs, transfer procedures, when a forward grip is/ is not legal, barrel lengths, pistol/ rifle interchangeability, .. What component is the actual firearm, classification of type of weapon (rifle, pistol, DD, AOW,etc).

    “We’re the gov and we’re here to help you” has never worked out buddy. As far as ammo whores, if you are scrambling for brass now you are behind the power curve. Ammo manufactures will hold stock to drive prices and availability to a new standard of ate up just as they did with 22lr.


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