7.62x51 AP, Where Is It?

Does anyone here have the straight story of why 7.62X51 AP cannot be found in the U.S.? I’m talking about the M993, with the tungsten penetrator as made in Europe. I’ve heard that it can’t be imported, that it can’t be sold, etc., all kinds of different reasons. Ignoring, for the moment, any State or local laws, why can’t a collector find it? I don’t collect the modern stuff so am not really looking for any, but was just wondering.


US Federal law prohibits the sale of “pistol” caliber ammunition that is AP by a FFL DEALER without extensive paperwork. Note this applies to licensed dealers.

By the definition listed in the law, pistol caliber includes 7.62 / .308 caliber. (don’t get me started)

M993 is a limited acquisition item, not purchased in the quantities, by the US DoD, it’s a war reserve item, so won’t be encountered with the frequency of M80 Ball, M62 Tracer, etc.

As it’s a DoD item, and a limited acquisition item, and FFL’s being restricted in sales, there’s not much avenue for the civilian market, like the M80 Ball and M62 Tracer currently being sold under the American Eagle Brands.

Thanks Keith.

My understanding is that the 7.62mm/Pistol Caliber definition only applies to importation and/or sale by an FFL. Once a cartridge is in this country it is legal for an individual to own/trade/sell. Am I correct on that??

There are collectors who have M993 cartridges. I know, I’ve seen them. So they aquired them somehow, somewhere, legally I assume.

All very confusing for me. Add in the State and Local restrictions and it’s no wonder they aren’t often encountered.


DK Configuration probably knows more about the legal aspects of AP ammo than most of the cops and BATFE folks. I expect he will explain it to us when he gets a chance.

The M993 and various other modern pistol-caliber AP rounds which are post-1986, or in the case of 7.62x51, post-1994 came into the country in non-commercial quantities by one means or another and are supposedly not subject to the importation rule if they find their way here through certain means. This is because “importation” has a definition in the federal law which defines it as being a commercial activity with the goal being for profit. So when and odd cartridge or two trickles in and ends up in the hands of collectors, this is not importation in the strict sense. There are also some FFL-11 license holders who actually import some quantities of this newer stuff for testing, and there are supposed to be tight controls on what happens to it once it gets here with records being kept as to what was fired, etc… but things can be stolen, lost, or miscategorized after death, natural disaster, or accident so that things end up in pawn shops and on Gunbroker for inexplicable reasons. The BATFE doesn’t really pay much mind to the random two or three cartridges that pop up in collector hands from time to time.

Tho whole notion of 7.62x51 being pistol caliber is silly of course, it was re-categorized in 1994 along with 7.62x39 to stem the tide of steel core stuff coming from China and Eastern Europe, not that it needed to be or ever did any good to pass the law.


Many thanks for your explanation. And thanks to John and Keith also. I think I’ve got it, finally. Now, when someone asks me about the new AP I can give them an informed answer. Although, it’s still impossible to explain “why do they have such a silly restriction?”