The argument that Barack Obama’s ATF is attempting to use to ban common M855 ball ammunition for the AR-15 is that the bullet is “armor-piercing.”
Factually that is a lie, according to the clear definition of what constitutes an “armor-piercing” bullet as defined in the Law Enforcement Officer’s Protection Act of 1986 (LEOPA).
LEOPA’s definition requires the bullet’s core to be made of one of a number of specified hardened metals, and the core of the M855 ball round is soft lead that makes up 80-percent of the bullet’s total weight. The specific goal of the law was to prevent the use of hardened metal bullets with penetrator cores in common handguns, for what was then called “cop killer bullets.”
Amusingly enough, the mild steel insert in the front of the M855 round actually keeps the bullet from deforming or fragmenting at lower velocities, so that the M855 actually poses less of a risk of causing serious injuries than other 5.56 NATO rifle bullets. It is because the bullet does so little damage that it can be had so cheaply on the military surplus market for civilian target practice; both the Army and the Marines have ditched the M855 for bullets that do a much better job of stopping enemy combatants.
If the ban on the intermediate-caliber, mostly-lead M855 round isn’t defeated, the ATF would presumably have free reign to ban any ammunition, as the actual law seems to matter little to a rogue agency that ignores and redefines laws on a whim.
Penetrating either soft or hard armor isn’t a matter of bullet construction or metal choice as much as it is a function of velocity, a fact that Tim Harmsen of Military Arms Channel made abundantly clear in a new video at Full30.com. You’ll need to follow the link to view the video as Full30’s videos are not yet designed to be embedded, but trust me… it’s worth it.