BATF to ban 5.56mm M855 Ammunition


#1

I’m surprised no-one else has posted this here yet. I saw it on gun forum I read occasionally.

https://www.nraila.org/articles/20150213/batfe-to-ban-common-ar-15-ammo


#2

It’s all over the Internet on the different Guns 'n Shootin forums. A lot of mis-information being spread. And some panic buying of ammunition as well.

Ray


#3

I saw it being posted around the past few days. It looks like the BATFE is just having an open comment period until March before making any decision. More than half the time on things like this they either table the item, or just decide to do nothing. Who knows why the issue has arisen now, but since it’s the Obama administration with an Obama-appointed Treasury secretary (liberal democrat Jack Lew from Tip O’Neil, Clinton, & Obama admins), anything is possible. It might end up being restricted in a similar manner to pistol-caliber AP ammo on the 1986 list as was the 7.62x39 & 7.62x51 steel core surplus stuff that absurdly ended up on that same list. Just means no more retail imports or domestic production for retail sale if it passes. Possession would be legal, but quantities would be finite.

I got my few thousand rds of RORG M855 around 10 years ago when they sold for around $300 per 1k, so I’m all set.


#4

Ater stewing on this and considering the history of the restrictions put in place on 7.62x39 & .308 steel core, and all the nuances of the 1986 pistol-cal AP federal law which the ATF previously used to include those calibers in an importation / manufacturing “AP Ban” (under Clinton), I have deduced that this whole thing will fizzle, and nothing will be banned at all. I think this will go down as an epic over-reaction, and a bunch of smoke from the BATFE. I do sympathize with those concerned since Obama has proven many times that he is willing to try and legislate from the executive branch illegally, in some cases seemingly succeeding. In this case it would be via his Treasury secretary Jacob Lew, who is a relatively liberal career democrat.

The one “ban” that I think will occur is perhaps a surplussing restriction on M855 ammo which was originally purchased by the U.S. government that will not be allowed to be surplussed out to retail distributors (that’s a very small portion of the available retail stock). The government could try to do other things such as writing a rider into ammo purchase contracts saying that the manufacturer could not sell off over-run M855 on the civilian retail market - but something like that is only as useful as the administration in place, and would end as soon as a Republican administration took over. The surplussing law could be a tough one to pull off as well since the munitions are property of the Department of Defense, and they can sell what they want, when they want as long as there is not specific legislation in place preventing this. There is one congressionally passed law from year 2000, preventing the surplussing out of government owned ammunition which is classed as “armor piercing”, which mostly affects .50BMG, so the government might try to class M855 as “armor piercing” not so as to be included in the 1986 federal pistol-cal AP ban (which strictly defines as having a core made entirely of hard metal or a monolithic projectile), but so as to be included in this existing surplussing law, which would still cause minimal impact on the retail sale market.

Then there is importation of stuff like the M855 X-TAC from PMC and all of the various military surplus stuff which comes in from several NATO countries, and although I think a real ban is tough, they could severely tie things up with customs and make it unviable for importers. This, again, would only work so long as an anti-gun democrat administration were in place, and could easily be stripped away as soon as a Republican came into office.

Without bona-fide legislation from the House & Senate (currently in Republican control), there is no legal way that the BATFE or Obama can presently “ban” the manufacture, importation, or possession of 5.56 M855 penetrator ammo. They can only pull a few pointless tricks as described above.


#5

The 5.45x39 Russian made ammunition (7N6) was recently added to the list of non-importable ammunition. So, that makes 3 rifle cartridges that have been banned.

But, that’s not the most dangerous part of the proposal to add the M855 to the list. BATF&E is now considering a “Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles are 'Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes’ Within the Meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)©”. I’m sure the case can be made that the M855 is AP. But if it’s found to be unsuitable for sporting purposes it would be a moot point and there is no telling where that could lead. I think the BATF&E has all of the authority they need written into GCA 1986 and there’s not much that the Congress can do to stop it.

Ray


#6

The problem with using the 1986 law as a framework (which is what people are presuming will happen) is that M855 does not have a “core made entirely of, or a bullet made entirely of a hardened metal”. The 7.62x39 and .308 that was added to that list did, and they pointed to certain “pistols” in those calibers as to their reasoning, but M855 doesn’t fit the bill, which is why I think they will just go with some silly surplussing or importation entanglements instead of full bans. I don’t think they’ll have the guts to try and pull the “sporting purposes” ban which would end up being all too broad and have unintended consequences.

The 5.45x39 ban was an importation thing, and a bunch of nonsense which could be stripped away if a Republican administration (with a Republican Treasury Secretary) gets in next term. We can hope…


#7

I remember when the Republicans got in and controlled basically the whole govt., that under the “contract with America,” they had promised to repeal GCA '68 and other onerous and unnecessary laws violating the 2nd Amendment. They did exacty NOTHING.


#8

Lately have come across some new “green” M855 from Sweden -head stamp “12 CG 10” that has replaced the lead part with mild steel (which now makes it 100% steel core). The projectile is longer due to weight differences in materials used, but still weighs the 62 grains. Haven’t posted pictures because I didn’t want to add to the hype, knew it would be a violation to the AP laws. (Hope no one from BATFE is reading this!) Kevin


#9

[quote=“DKConfiguration”]Ater stewing on this and considering the history of the restrictions put in place on 7.62x39 & .308 steel core, and all the nuances of the 1986 pistol-cal AP federal law which the ATF previously used to include those calibers in an importation / manufacturing “AP Ban” (under Clinton), I have deduced that this whole thing will fizzle, and nothing will be banned at all. I think this will go down as an epic over-reaction, and a bunch of smoke from the BATFE. I do sympathize with those concerned since Obama has proven many times that he is willing to try and legislate from the executive branch illegally, in some cases seemingly succeeding. In this case it would be via his Treasury secretary Jacob Lew, who is a relatively liberal career democrat.

The one “ban” that I think will occur is perhaps a surplussing restriction on M855 ammo which was originally purchased by the U.S. government that will not be allowed to be surplussed out to retail distributors (that’s a very small portion of the available retail stock). The government could try to do other things such as writing a rider into ammo purchase contracts saying that the manufacturer could not sell off over-run M855 on the civilian retail market - but something like that is only as useful as the administration in place, and would end as soon as a Republican administration took over. The surplussing law could be a tough one to pull off as well since the munitions are property of the Department of Defense, and they can sell what they want, when they want as long as there is not specific legislation in place preventing this. There is one congressionally passed law from year 2000, preventing the surplussing out of government owned ammunition which is classed as “armor piercing”, which mostly affects .50BMG, so the government might try to class M855 as “armor piercing” not so as to be included in the 1986 federal pistol-cal AP ban (which strictly defines as having a core made entirely of hard metal or a monolithic projectile), but so as to be included in this existing surplussing law, which would still cause minimal impact on the retail sale market.

Then there is importation of stuff like the M855 X-TAC from PMC and all of the various military surplus stuff which comes in from several NATO countries, and although I think a real ban is tough, they could severely tie things up with customs and make it unviable for importers. This, again, would only work so long as an anti-gun democrat administration were in place, and could easily be stripped away as soon as a Republican came into office.

Without bona-fide legislation from the House & Senate (currently in Republican control), there is no legal way that the BATFE or Obama can presently “ban” the manufacture, importation, or possession of 5.56 M855 penetrator ammo. They can only pull a few pointless tricks as described above.[/quote]

Let’s hope that you are right, Matt. -Ger


#10

This ban on M855 should come as no real surprise. A while back I saw that a company was offering a pistol version of the AR15 type weapon in 5.56mm and thought, there goes the M855 rounds. Then I saw a pistol version of the AK in 5.56mm. The guys producing these guns just added the 5.56mm to the list of pistol cartridges and the result was pretty obvious and should have been obvious to everyone. You can see both guns for sale on the website below:
http://www.slickguns.com/category/hand-guns?caliber=11

We saw the same thing happen to the 5.45x39mm some time back.

The same situation exists on the 7.62x39mm cartridges.
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=7.62x39mm+pistol&qpvt=7.62x39mm+pistol&qpvt=7.62x39mm+pistol

The Federal Government is simply enforcing a law that has been on the books a long time. It is the shooting community which is making these calibers “pistol cartidges”.

The only solution is to change the law on pistol ammunition, which is unlikely the way I read the tea leaves.

Lew


#11

Was that Swedish core part aluminum, and with the same steel core inner tip? Similar to the SS190 5.7 bullet? Or was the lower core material like a sintered iron or ferrous material of some sort, which although ferrous, is not AP “steel core” per-se since it is not a “hardened metal”? If so, this would be like calling the Remington jacketed FE sintered iron core frangible loads AP because they have a ferrous core? It’s just stuff like this that will wind up causing a hornet’s nest of nonsense if they try to push the whole pistol-cal AP law beyond any common sense. I keep a list (that I don’t publish) which has 30 or more pistol caliber loads which are fully AP capable in terms of the BATFE’s loose standard, but which are all not classified as AP, are easy to purchase, and in many cases available for current retail sale. Some of them far exceed the abilities of certain listed “AP” pistol projectiles too. So it’s not as if any politician or department secretary is legitimately interested in the performance of such bullets, and any “threat” they pose - which goes to reinforce the rather obvious notion that those pushing the bans are just after pushing any type of ammo / gun ban they can to push a political agenda.

In terms of enforcing the law already on the books, and how it happened to 5.45x39, I have to go back to the fact that 100% of the steel core inner tip 5.45 ammo was imported, and that stuff is easy to “ban” with some customs legerdemain and mountains of paperwork to make it nonviable for an importer, thus making a de-facto ban (the 1986 pistol-cal AP law was not what they used to ban 5.45). With all the domestic availability of M855, I just don’t know how the government would apply the 1986 law which is very strict on a projectile or “projectile core made entirely of a hardened metal”, when M855 has only a small inner steel core tip which only makes up a 1/3rd of the core, if that.


#12

I yield to Matt. He knows far more about this than I do! He is really the expert.

Thanks for the explanation Matt. Like most things, it is far more complex than I thought.

Cheers,
Lew


#13

Matt

The definition of AP also includes FMJ bullets, larger than 22 caliber, whose jacket has a weight of more than 25% of the total weight. I do know that the M855 bullet was exempted because of that language. But, BATF&E could simply find that the M855 is .224 caliber, not .22. That’s a twisted interpretation to be sure, but by the time it’s challenged and works its way thru the courts, the supply of M855 will have dried up as dealers turn to other things.

But, back to one of my comments, the “AP” part of the definitions is not where the problem lies. Nor is it the “pistol” part. It is the “Primarily Intended For Sporting Purposes” language that is wide open to interpretation. And, we know how well the current Administration is able to twist language to mean whatever they want it to mean.

Ray


#14

Provided below are comments (from a friend who is now retired from the ammunition industry) relative to the BATF’s proposed change to the definition of Armor Piercing Ammunition.

I’m sure he will not mind if you use them.

The definition should not be changed for the following reasons:

  1. Almost all modern centerfire rifle ammunition will penetrate the common body armor used by Law Enforcement personnel.

  2. Data does not exist that shows that 5.56mm M855 is more deadly, causes greater wounds or penetrates common body armor more than any other kind of similar sporting rifle ammunition. Just the opposite is true. The M855 ammunition complies with The Hague Conventions on civilized warfare whereas most sporting rifle ammunition does not comply.

  3. Can the BATF provide any sort of data about the usage of subject ammunition in criminal activities as compared to conventional sporting ammunition?

  4. There seems to be no rational purpose behind the proposed change.

  5. The 2nd Amendment to our Constitution does not differentiate between various potential uses of arms. Period!


#15

The irony about the “armour piercing” capability of M855 is:

Tests during a NATO program (done in Meppen, Germany) showed M855/SS109 could NOT penetrate a 7 mm RHA steel plate at 100 m but the old lead cored M193 COULD. Because the French were sceptical about this hard-to-believe outcome, they tested on their own, and got the same result. This was discussed on the forum which is run by Tony Williams.


#16

Ray, the M855 exemption was not due to the 25% jacket weight rule. It was exempt because its core was not made entirely of a hardened metal, and was just a clarification put in place because of the designation of the cartridge which often uses the term “penetrator” (which was rightly never meant to necessarily denote it as “AP”). I think the ATF used to get asked about it a lot, since back as early as the early 90’s there have been AR “pistols” in that caliber. The 25% jacket rule was put in as voted & passed legislative addendum for the purpose of dealing with the perceived threat of the Swedish M39/B 9mm, which was really just a bunch of grand-standing anti-gun publicity hype perpetrated at the hands of Chuck Schumer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan back in the early 90’s.

ATF also specifically exempts the steel core .30 cal M2, which has a full steel core (just as a friendly clarification?) seemingly because there is no pistol commonly available for that caliber. Of course there have been Thompson contender pistols in that caliber for a long time, but oh well.

I can’t wait to see how they word it if they do try to pull some sort of restriction.


#17

Matt

Yes, the next few weeks will be interesting. The buying frenzy seems to have subsided a little but it only takes a post or two on the Internet to re ignite it.

Ray


#18

It’s almost just as the price had settled back down to the pre-ammo craze norm for M855, this thing blew up and forced it all back up to .50 per rd. The low that I noticed only just a few weeks ago was $369 per 1000, shipping included. Back not long after Sandy Hook, I saw people paying $900 for 1000rds of the stuff.


#19

Just got this from the National Shooting Sports Foundation

ATF to Not Move Forward with 5.56 M855 Ammo Ban at This Time

Will Review Record Number of Comments Submitted on Its ‘Framework’ Proposal

ATF announced today that it will not move forward with its proposed framework to ban commonplace 5.56 M855 “green tip” ammunition at this time while it reviews the record number (more than 80,000) comments it has received so far. ATF will continue to accept comments through March 16. NSSF, as the trade association for the firearms industry, looks forward to engaging in a dialogue with ATF to address this issue that led to the now withdrawn proposal. Our industry members hope to meet consumer demand in bringing alternative ammunition products to the market and to continue to sell the popular M855 rifle target ammunition. NSSF continues to strongly urge ATF to grant 32 long-pending petitions to exempt alternative rifle ammunition designed and intended for the hunting market.