Letter to BATF Re: Armor Piercing Ammunition Exclusion Comments

To Whom It May Concern:

It appears that much has come up regarding the legislation and regulations applied as a result of legislation relating to Armor Piercing Ammunition.

The definition of “Armor Piercing Ammunition” per 18 U.S. Code § 921(a)(17)(B), identifies two definitions:

The first definition is: “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”

While SS109 / M855 contains steel, it does not contain any of the other materials as enumerated within the statute. Further, it is not “constructed entirely” of steel. In fact, by volume, steel is second to lead (Pb) in this round.

Unless the plain language is being interpreted some other way, this definition does not apply to SS109 / M855 ammunition.

The second definition is: “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.”

.22 vs. .223 are different by less than the width of a human hair. As such, while the round is technically “larger than .22”, the difference is so small as to be statistically irrelevant.

Further, the round was not “designed and intended for use in a handgun”; it was designed for use in rifles (specifically, the FN Squad Automatic Weapon), and the AR Pistol (the handgun adaptation of the AR15 rifle) did not come about until long after the design of the SS109/M855 round.

While it *is* a jacketed round, the jacket does not comprise more than 25% of the projectile’s overall weight.

With all three points considered, SS109 / M855 does not meet the definition of the second criteria.

This should suffice to put an end to the issue, as the round is not subject to the the U.S. Code statutes concerning armor piercing ammunition.

When reviewing TM43-0001-27 (the latest version, released in I believe April of 1994), it clearly identifies M855 as “Ball Ammunition”.

Instead, the round designated M995 is listed as “Armor Piercing” and has the qualities as described in 18 U.S. Code § 921(a)(17)(B).

Upon review of all of the documentation released by the ATF, it appears to me that the largest concern is protection of law enforcement officials which I wholeheartedly approve of.

However, standard soft body armor for Law Enforcement tends to be 3a which is only rated for “pistol” rounds and, as previously noted, the 5.56 ss109 / m855 round is not one designed for pistol use.

If this is, in fact, your desire, then a more appropriate solution is not to try to ban the round but instead to recommend that law enforcement officers use level 3 (not to be confused with 3a) armor, which is designed to stop not only pistol but also rifle rounds.

I suspect this isn’t too likely, however, as rifles are not commonly used in the commission of a crime, including AR Pistols. This does occur, I’m sure, but it, like the difference between .22 and .223, is statistically insignificant.


Darryl Hadfield