Archive for the 'Ammunition' Category



Army And Marine Corps On M855 Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
3 months, 1 week ago

Military.com:

But the Marine Corps and the Army’s decision to use two separate types of 5.56mm ammo is not a simple oversight.

The Army adopted the M855A1 in 2010 after years of struggling to find a lead-free replacement for the Cold-War era M855.

In recent years, troops also criticized the M855, saying it often delivered ineffective results on enemy behind battlefield barriers such as car windshields.

The M855A1 features a steel penetrator on top of a solid copper slug, making it is more dependable than the current M855, Army officials have maintained. It delivers consistent performance at all distances and performed better than the current-issue 7.62mm round against hardened steel targets in testing. It penetrated 3/8s-inch-thick steel at ranges approaching 400 meters, tripling the performance of the M855, Army officials said.

The Corps had planned to field the Army’s M855A1 until the program suffered a major setback in August 2009, when testing revealed that some of the bullets did not follow their trajectory or intended flight path.

The earlier design of the M855A1 featured a bismuth-tin slug which proved to be sensitive to heat, prompting Marine officials to stick with the M855 and also the Special Operations Science and Technology round developed by U.S. Special Operations Command instead.

Commonly known as SOST ammo, the bullet isn’t environmentally friendly, but it offered the Corps a more effective bullet, Marine officials have said.

I confess that until this article I didn’t know that the Army and Marine Corps were using two different types of ammunition.  If I’m not mistaken, the SOST is an open tip bullet with a lead core and copper shank.  It expands much like a hollow point should.

Saying that the better penetrating capability of the M855A1 through car windshields was the reason for transition from M855 to the M855A1 (with copper slug instead of lead) is like a recapitulation of the reasons for transitioning from the FMJ lead ball to the M855 in the first place.  It’s more likely that environmental concerns caused the Army to transition to the M855A1.  I cannot think of a worse excuse.

I will also remark that when I learned of the copper slug in place of the lead ball for M855A1 my thoughts immediately went to barrel wear and loss of rifling.  It appears that this is in fact a legitimate concern.

So in summary, the SOST is much like the .223 pointed soft point for game hunting, except that it has a copper shank.  If a reader would like to weigh in on the effects of the copper shank, please do so (in an educated fashion – and do not allow this to become yet another worthless argument over 7.62 v. 5.56).

Finally, don’t forget the main reason for the lethality of the 5.56 mm round, which is the fact that it is frangible and immediately fractures into pieces leaving multiple tracks through ballistics gelatin.  See the excellent paper Small Caliber Lethality: 5.56 mm Performance In Close Quarters Battle.  It appears that the Army has forgotten the simple things.

ATF Holds M855 Green Tip Ban In Abatement

BY Herschel Smith
3 months, 3 weeks ago

David Codrea:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced Tuesday it “will not at this time seek to issue a final framework” implementing a proposed ban on what it’s still insisting is “armor piercing ammunition.” The special advisory issued by the Public Affairs Division noted that with the comment period scheduled to close by next Monday, “ATF has already received more than 80,000 comments, which will be made publicly available as soon as practicable.”

‘Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study,” the advisory explained. “ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.”

[ … ]

While arguments are correct that M855 ball ammo does not meet ATF’s own definition of “armor piercing,” the larger point, that there is no legitimate authority to impose such criteria in the first place, is being missed. So when ATF declares they’ll be back, until such time as that usurpation is addressed and resolved, it’s prudent to believe they will be, at the first political opportunity.

We could posit three theories behind what the ATF did today.  First, not even the federal regulators like to be called names such as traitors, douche, incompetent and bloated.  But that’s assuming they care about the American people, and the evidence for such an assertion is lamentable nonexistent.  So that theory suffers from being wishful thinking.

Second, the ATF understands that M855 green tip ammunition doesn’t meet the statutory definition of AP, or its corollary, that 5.56 mm lead ball ammunition can also penetrate soft body armor and is far more lethal in most circumstances.  Therefore, there will be a protracted legal battle waged against this regulation.

Third, the ATF realizes that a ban on M855 ammunition is meaningless without a ban on 5.56 mm ammunition, and that would have no more basis in law than a ban on any other type of ammunition.  Additionally, the ATF realizes they may be firing the first shot of a civil war were they to take an action like that.

Between theories 2 and 3, I don’t know which is more likely.  I dismiss out of hand the notion that the ATF feared action taken by the anemic, pathetic, pitiful Senate and House.  Readers may also have other theories (or combinations of the three proffered here).  But David is likely right on one thing.  The ATF will be back.

Josh Sugarmann On The M855 Green Tip Ban

BY Herschel Smith
3 months, 3 weeks ago

I know, about now you’re thinking “what can Josh Sugarmann teach me about M855 green tip ammunition?  Not much, except that it pays to understand just what the enemy thinks.  It’s also important to know just how behind the times they are in understanding what we think, but more on that in a moment.

This is despite the fact that ATF is only doing what the NRA and other members of the gun lobby consistently argue should be done: enforcing the gun laws already on the books. Opponents also allege that no law-enforcement officer has been shot with one of the cartridges fired from a handgun. Testing the veracity of that assertion is challenging, but the whole point of the ban on “armor-piercing” ammunition is to prevent law enforcement and first responders who rely on body armor from ever having to face assailants wielding handguns loaded with armor-piercing rounds.

Yet left unstated is the fact that ATF’s proposal, as detailed in a new report from my organization, the Violence Policy Center, is the direct result of the gun industry’s own actions.

Facing a continuing decline in household gun ownership, the gun industry is constantly engaged in efforts to create new product lines to sell to a shrinking consumer base. In recent years the industry has aggressively marketed AR-15 assault pistols that use common rifle ammunition, such as the 5.56-by-45-millimeter round used in AR-type assault rifles.

So it’s possible that Josh doesn’t really understand anything about rifle ammunition, or perhaps he does and is playing dumb (or lying) in order to deceive his idiot readers at Huffington Post.  But just to make sure you understand, let’s cover this for a moment.

Common 5.56 mm ammunition will penetrate soft body armor, all of it, period.  Kevlar will not stop 5.56 mm ammunition (lead ball) shot at 3200 FPS.  Nor will soft body armor stop most rifle rounds.  Soft body armor is [routinely] tested for 9mm pistol ammunition, not rifle ammunition.

ESAPI (enhanced SAPI plates, or the ceramic ballistic plates worn in ballistic plate carriers) are designed to stop rifle rounds, and are specifically tested for M855.  No cop today (or anyone else for that matter) wearing Kevlar is protected from any rifle round (unless it is from something like a pistol caliber rifle), and the existence of M855 or lack thereof doesn’t change that.  Likewise, a cop (or anyone else) wearing ESAPI plates is protected from rifle rounds, including the M855, and the existence of the M855 round or lack thereof doesn’t change that.  Finally, even ESAPI plates must stop a certain percentage of rounds (so there is some probability of fracture and penetration even with tested and specified rounds regardless of type).

So you understand, don’t you, that the M855 ban has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with LEO safety, the liar in the White House notwithstanding?

As for the notion that gun owners are demanding that existing law be enforced, who is doing that?  No seriously, who is doing that?  Not me.  Are you?  If so, why?  Okay, perhaps the NRA has used that stupid argument, but we want open, constitutional carry in every state in America, and we want the Hughes amendment repealed, as well as prohibitions on things like SBRs in the NFA repealed.  That’s just a start.  We don’t want the existing laws to be enforced.  Every federal gun law is a violation of the constitution.  Every one.

Sugarmann then shows us a screen capture from the Rock River Arms web site.  Perhaps this will be good advertizing for them.  One can only hope.  Sugarmann ends with his usual propaganda that gun sales is down and ownership is increasingly focused on a smaller and smaller percentage of people.  Whatever.  If Josh wants to think this that’s alright with me.  The less they know about us and our beliefs, the better.

Read also Kurt Hofmann:

One (presumably very much unintended) argument against banning “armor piercing” handgun ammunition for private citizens came a while back from a very surprising source–the Violence Policy Center. As that group’s director, Josh Sugarmann, was cited in the U.S. News & World Report:

Gun control advocacy groups like Sugarmann’s say the body armor worn by the shooters in Newtown [which wasn’t “body armor,” anyway] and Aurora undermines the argument made by gun advocates that shootings can be stopped by someone with a handgun.

In other words, Sugarmann seems to be arguing that armed private citizens would have a reasonable chance at stopping mass shootings, if only they were not denied handgun ammunition capable of defeating body armor.

Yea, he is arguing first that guns are of no use against body armor so why would ordinary citizens have guns?; and second, there are millions of rounds in circulation that can defeat body armor, so they must be banned.  Sugarmann doesn’t care about consistency.  He’s just parroting the latest talking point.

Jerry Miculek On M855 Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
4 months ago

Jerry has give us a very informative video on M855 ammunition and it’s variants.

ATF Proposes New Rules On ‘Green Tip’ Ammunition Ban

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 2 weeks ago

David Codrea:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives posted a proposed rule change Friday removing a previous exemption and banning the manufacture, import and sale of “5.56 mm (.223) SS109 and M855 ‘green tip’ ammunition containing a steel core,” saying it now considers it to be “non-sporting” handgun ammunition capable of penetrating protective vests worn by law enforcement officers. This latest development, ceding to law enforcement lobby interests, is prompted by the development of handguns capable of firing the cited ammunition.

[ … ]

“This ‘sporting use’ strategy was used before,” author and attorney Richard Stevens documented. “The Nazi Weapons Law (18 March 1938) forbade importation of weapons under substantially the same test.” Additionally, the intent of founders in drafting the Second Amendment makes no such exception to allow “sporting purpose” infringements, particularly by the federal government.

Read all of David’s well-sourced article.  Steel tip (aka “green tip”) ammunition is designed a little heavier for slightly different flight and terminal ballistics and better penetration at long distances.  There are a host of reasons someone might want to have this ammunition, not all of which have to do with so-called sporting purposes according to the ATF.  Then again, my definition of sporting purposes and the ATF’s definition of sporting purposes differ by a wide margin.

The Sporting Purposes test should be found unconstitutional since the second amendment pertains to the amelioration of tyranny rather than hunting.  The ATF has crafted a regulatory framework that contradicts and violates the intent of the founding fathers.  Therefore, everyone who works for the ATF is undermining the constitution.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Eric Holder for reminding me that it’s important to keep track of the good bargains in my area of operations.

M855

450 rounds of M855 “green tip,” 30 cents per round – ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

As for Holder and the lawyers at ATF who have crafted such statist regulations, and the Golgothan for whom they all work, you will see your maker soon enough and then answer for your sins.

Environmentalists Undaunted By Lead Ammunition Ruling

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 3 weeks ago

The Spokesman-Review:

Environmental groups say a recent court loss won’t make them remove lead ammo from their crosshairs.

“We are absolutely going to push forward with our campaign to end lead ammunition. We think it’s the right thing to do for both wildlife and human health,” said Bill Snape, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is not about ending hunting, this is about having safe hunting, not only for wildlife but for hunters as well.”

In late December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has no jurisdiction to regulate lead used in ammunition. The case was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, which joined 100 other groups in petitioning the EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act and asking the agency to regulate spent lead ammunition.

The groups contend lead ammo is responsible for poisoning millions of birds and other animals each year and say it also poses a threat to people who consume game killed with lead shot and bullets.

I won’t hold my breath while the environmental lobby compares the number of bird deaths from wind farms with that from hunting.  But hold on.  The best is yet to come.

But Snape said the groups will be back in some manner and suggested that could include more petitions to the EPA. He said they will also work to convince hunters to use nontoxic substitutes such as copper.

That’s right.  Copper.  One of the most expensive metals today, worthy of theft if left in unattended buildings.  Do you see that one of the goals is to make ammunition prohibitively expensive?

We’ll see how durable gun rights advocates are.  The anti-gunners aren’t giving up.  They never will.  We can’t either.

Winchester Lands $50 Million Ammunition Contract With DHS

BY Herschel Smith
9 months ago

Mississippi Business Journal:

Winchester Ammunition, which has manufacturing facilities in Oxford, has won a five-year contract to produce ammunition for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Olin Corp. and its Winchester division have been awarded a contract worth up to $50 million to produce ammunition at its Winchester Centerfire Operations in Oxford for two DHS agencies.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s wide-ranging border security and law enforcement missions require a significant amount of firepower, particularly for training. I’m pleased that Mississippi will be able to fill that need,” said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who serves on the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Homeland Security Department.

The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract calls for the procurement of 40 caliber Smith & Wesson training ammunition, with a maximum dollar value of $50 million.  The ammunition is intended for use by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for field-level training.

Most of the DHS uses .40 ammunition right now.  At $50 million and around 50 cents per round (that’s high priced and I can find it for less), that’s at least a total of 100 million rounds for range days.  With 20,000 field agents in Border Patrol, this amounts to 5000 rounds per agent.  They don’t need that many rounds to stay qualified with their firearm.

I wouldn’t begrudge the expenditure except that the Border Patrol doesn’t usually discharge their weapons (Brian Terry fired bean bags), and the Border Patrol has been turned into a giant nanny for aiding and assisting illegal immigration.

And the more Winchester makes for the federal government, the more that drives prices up for me and busies Winchester employees working for the government.

The Fully Loaded Ammunition Cartridge

BY Herschel Smith
11 months, 1 week ago

Thus far, as loyal readers, you have been blessed to partake in the following.

High Magazine Clips And The Shoulder Thing That Goes Up

High Ammo Clips

Automatic Bullets In Rapid Fire Magazine Clips

And last but certainly not least, Duck Hunting With Bullets.  I am now proud to offer you the following.

A fully loaded ammunition cartridge was left unattended on a picnic bench and would have remained there if a local resident had not brought it to the attention of the gun advocates as they were departing for home.

The “fully loaded ammunition cartridge.”  You’re welcome.

UPDATE: David Codrea has thoughts on this article as well.

Followup On Closing Of Lead Smelter Plant

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 6 months ago

We discussed the closing the last lead smelter plant in the U.S. about one month ago.

I have a number of comments concerning this closure.  First of all, the company also states that the $100 million project is “too financially risky.”  And that’s the crux of the issue.  Folks, $100 million just isn’t that much for large scale production in any industry in America.  My bet is that the company believes that it could very well spend $100 million and then continue to be denied the right to manufacture ammunition due to the fact that people writing rulings in the federal register are calling the shots.  You know what I’ve said about the federal Leviathan.  Oftentimes, their standard is a moving target.

Second, I question the degree to which the company is committed to the manufacture of ammunition components.  Power companies who have to fight the EPA on a regular basis simply do what they must.  Of course, power is regulated, but the market for ammunition won’t be going away.

Third, regardless of where you turn (and I include myself in that category), there is vast under-reporting on this.  We have all discussed it, but there is a paucity of good information.  I would like to know the degree to which this will affect the production, availability and price of ammunition in the U.S.?  But in order to know that, one would have to know such things as: (1) what percentage of lead in ammunition comes from this plant as opposed to overseas (including processing of the raw ore), (2) how much lead is used in ammunition in the U.S. civilian market every year, (3) what will the cost be of shipping the raw ore overseas for manufacture, and (4) are there any plans to construct and operate another plant?

This kind of knowledge requires real reporting, and that’s something I only sometimes have the time or resources to do.  Having said that, while this plant may not have been able to meet current EPA standards, it’s a sad day.  I suspect that the EPA hasn’t targeted this plant because of its role in the manufacture of ammunition.  Rather, the EPA targets all productive, money-making industry for onerous regulations, written inside the beltway by armies of lawyers, without regard for the practical affect of said regulations.  It’s governance by federal register, and it’s one thing that makes this so sad.

I still believe that there is under-reporting on this issue.  Emily Miller addresses the issue (via Glenn), concluding that it will have minimal impact.  Becket Adams with The Blaze also recently wrote on this issue, similarly concluding that:

“More than 80 percent of all lead produced in the U.S. is used in either motive batteries to start vehicles, or in stationary batteries for backup power,” the company states on its website. “In the U.S., the recycle rate of these batteries is approximately 98 percent, making lead-based batteries the most highly recycled consumer product. These batteries are recycled at secondary lead smelters. We own such a smelter in southern Missouri.”

Adams also cites Bob Owens who isn’t concerned.  So be it.  I am not “up in arms” as Emily Miller warned.  But I still think that there is under-reporting on this issue, and the questions I asked earlier in large measure still haven’t been addressed.

The issue for me isn’t what is going to happen in the short term and the best of circumstances while there are plenty of automobile batteries that contain lead, or while the flow of lead from foreign countries is still high because shipping lanes are open and countries want to do business with us.

Unlike the ammunition rush of a year ago, I can now find 5.56 mm cartridges for 50 cents per round.  What happens if our armed forces is sent on another adventure and signs another huge contract for ammunition?  The question for me is what happens in the long term in situations of national duress or conditions in a potential future market a decade from now.  I want a scholarly paper on this.  I want to see good, in-depth reporting, and I’m still waiting.

Ammunition Availability: Last Lead Smelter Closes In U.S.

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

I had wanted to wait for further developments and data to comment on this, but such may not be forthcoming.  AmmoLand and many other venues reported on this.

In December, the final primary lead smelter in the United States will close.  The lead smelter, located in Herculaneum, Missouri, and owned and operated by the Doe Run Company, has existed in the same location since 1892.

The Herculaneum smelter is currently the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion from raw lead ore that is mined nearby in Missouri’s extensive lead deposits, giving the smelter its “primary” designation.  The lead bullion produced in Herculaneum is then sold to lead product producers, including ammunition manufactures for use in conventional ammunition components such as projectiles, projectile cores, and primers.  Several “secondary” smelters, where lead is recycled from products such as lead acid batteries or spent ammunition components, still operate in the United States.

Doe Run made significant efforts to reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but in 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard.  Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.

Whatever the EPA’s motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and cost of traditional ammunition.  Just this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will ban lead ammunition for all hunting in California.  The Center for Biological Diversity has tried multiple times to get similar regulations at the federal level by trying, and repeatedly failing, to get the EPA to regulate conventional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

At this time, it’s unclear if Doe Run or another company will open a new lead smelter in the United States that can meet the more stringent lead air quality standards by using more modern smelting methods.

What is clear is that after the Herculaneum smelter closes its doors in December, entirely domestic manufacture of conventional ammunition, from raw ore to finished cartridge, will be impossible.

Steve Johnson at The Firearm Blog cites the owners as saying “The EPA’s new clean air rules would require a $100 million dollar investment in new equipment.  As such, the Doe Run Company has decided to close the site.”  Steve also includes some informative graphs of lead production by country.

I have a number of comments concerning this closure.  First of all, the company also states that the $100 million project is “too financially risky.”  And that’s the crux of the issue.  Folks, $100 million just isn’t that much for large scale production in any industry in America.  My bet is that the company believes that it could very well spend $100 million and then continue to be denied the right to manufacture ammunition due to the fact that people writing rulings in the federal register are calling the shots.  You know what I’ve said about the federal Leviathan.  Oftentimes, their standard is a moving target.

Second, I question the degree to which the company is committed to the manufacture of ammunition components.  Power companies who have to fight the EPA on a regular basis simply do what they must.  Of course, power is regulated, but the market for ammunition won’t be going away.

Third, regardless of where you turn (and I include myself in that category), there is vast under-reporting on this.  We have all discussed it, but there is a paucity of good information.  I would like to know the degree to which this will affect the production, availability and price of ammunition in the U.S.?  But in order to know that, one would have to know such things as: (1) what percentage of lead in ammunition comes from this plant as opposed to overseas (including processing of the raw ore), (2) how much lead is used in ammunition in the U.S. civilian market every year, (3) what will the cost be of shipping the raw ore overseas for manufacture, and (4) are there any plans to construct and operate another plant?

This kind of knowledge requires real reporting, and that’s something I only sometimes have the time or resources to do.  Having said that, while this plant may not have been able to meet current EPA standards, it’s a sad day.  I suspect that the EPA hasn’t targeted this plant because of its role in the manufacture of ammunition.  Rather, the EPA targets all productive, money-making industry for onerous regulations, written inside the beltway by armies of lawyers, without regard for the practical affect of said regulations.  It’s governance by federal register, and it’s one thing that makes this so sad.

I was on an outing to assess ammunition availability this weekend, and I have noticed that the great ammunition shock of late 2012 and 2013 has been ameliorated.  In fact, I have continued to shoot and also continued to purchase, but I haven’t built my stockpile the way I had intended.  It’s too easy to become lazy, in part because I can pretty much find what I want now, and for fairly reasonable prices.

But becoming lazy is something we mustn’t do.  TTAG mirrors my own fears.

As I said, this was the final lead production facility in the United States. Its location was one of the prime reasons that the Lake City arsenal and other ammunition manufacturers have established themselves nearby, to keep shipping costs down. But with the lead no longer flowing, the next most viable source will be China and require substantially more money to truck overseas for production.

This will also be a big headache for range facilities, since some of them use the reclaimed lead from the dirt berms to pay the bills. There are companies in the United States that will actually pay the range to come in and refurbish their berms, giving them a percentage of the money they make selling the reclaimed lead back to this smelting facility. MCB Quantico operates their ranges this way, closing down once every four years for a re-fit that pays for a lot of the ranges’ services. Now that they will need to ship that lead overseas before it is processed, that will make the whole business more expensive and might drive up range fees.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the price of ammunition jumps as well. Heck, this might even kick off a second ammo shortage if things go badly.

Steel ammunition won’t do.  Folks can argue all day long about “soft steel” to replace copper and steel core to replace lead.  But the fact that Eastern Bloc ammunition was made that way is why you can pick up some Mosin Nagants and Mosin carbines and drop a round into the end of the barrel and listen as it drops to the chamber without getting caught on any rifling all the way down.  Steel wears out rifling and (steel casings instead of brass) ruins the action.

Be diligent and continue to build your armory.  I have gotten lazy – a mistake I don’t intend to repeat.


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