ATF Wants To Go After All 5.56 mm Ammunition, Not Just Green Tip

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 2 months ago

Recall when we speculated about why the ATF had decided to hold its “green tip” ban in abatement?  Well, the questions are answered.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Thursday raised new concerns about surplus military ammo used in popular AR-15 rifles and pistols just days after pulling back on a proposal to ban the ammo because it could threaten police safety.

In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, ATF Director B. Todd Jones said all types of the 5.56 military-style ammo used by shooters pose a threat to police as more people buy the AR-15-style pistols.

“Any 5.56 round” is “a challenge for officer safety,” he said. Jones asked lawmakers to help in a review of a 1986 bill written to protect police from so-called “cop killer” rounds that largely exempted rifle ammo like the 5.56 because it has been used by target shooters, not criminals.

His agency’s move to ban the 5.56 M855 version was condemned by the National Rifle Association and majorities in the House and Senate and as a result was pulled back though not abandoned. At the hearing Jones said that nearly 90,000 comments on the proposal were received, many negative.

As a result, he said that the ATF will suspend rewriting the “framework” used to exempt armor piercing ammo from sale or use. “It probably isn’t going to happen any time soon,” he said. Jones also said, “We are not going to move forward.”

The 5.56 M855 round, he said, is military surplus, typically has a green tip and was used in the M-16. There are several versions of the 5.56. The M855carries a bullet that can penetrate police body armor, though shooters often debate that.

The ATF singled it out for a ban because more AR-15 style pistols that can shoot the ammo are being produced and presumably could be used by criminals in police shootouts. The AR-15 can also shoot the less lethal .223 round, which was not targeted by ATF in the ban proposal.

My God, this is one messy article.  There are too many confused issues to sort through in a short amount of time, but I’ll mention just a few.  The 5.56 mm cartridge and the .223 cartridge are very similar but not identical, with chamber leade being the main difference.  There isn’t enough of a difference to distinguish between 5.56 mm and .223 for purposes of this article.  This would be of interest in the gun community for things like slight differences in muzzle velocity, chambering, shooting a cartridge in a gun specified for another, etc.  Presumably, the author of the article inserted this confusion and not Mr. Jones.

But Mr. Jones did indeed insert obfuscation and confusion, and then asked the Congress to use that confusion to add to the regulatory and legal burden placed on citizens.  There is no reason to debate the issue of green tip, despite the URLs the author inserted into the article.  As I’ve explained:

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?

Banning green tip does nothing to prevent anyone from using a rifle round (shot from any weapon) to penetrate soft body armor, and wearing ceramic ESAPI plates protects against both frangible 5.56 mm ammunition and green tip ammunition.  Furthermore, a so-called 5.56 mm “pistol” is nothing more than a SBR (short barrel rifle) with a barrel length of less than 16″ and no stock.  It isn’t concealable.

So speculation of course ran wild as to the exact intent of the ATF.  Are they stupid?  Do they not really understand the technical issues they are dealing with?  But today B. Todd Jones answered those questions.  They are concerned about all 5.56 mm cartridges.  Of course they are.  But that .270 pointed soft point, shot from a necked down 30-06 cartridge from my bolt action deer hunting rifle?  Yes, that’s the one.  It will penetrate soft body armor too – lead ball, soft point, all of it.  So will lead ball 30-06.  So will lead ball .308.  So will lead ball 7 mm.  Virtually all rifle rounds (except .22LR and .22 WMR) will penetrate soft body armor because kevlar is specified to 9 mm rounds (as regards mass and velocity).

Jones knows that.  The ATF at large knows that.  What Jones is telling the Congress is that he wants their help in banning rifle ammunition.  Rifle ammunitionAll of it.  They will start with 5.56 mm ammunition, green tip, lead ball, pointed soft point – all of it.  Then they will make it clear that all other rifle ammunition is as lethal as 5.56 mm ammunition, so they need a ban on that too.

Here’s a warning flag to all the Elmer Fudds out there who only care about your bolt action hunting rifles, and think this stuff about AR-15s is all just a bunch of made up theater to bother pampered folk like you.  They want your rifles and ammunition too.  You do understand that, don’t you?

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  1. On March 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm, MattBracken said:

    If the ATF (under DOJ/Obama orders) is going to simply ban 5.56mm ammo by executive fiat, shouldn’t we be good citizens and send it all in to them as fast as we can?

  2. On March 12, 2015 at 3:12 pm, MattBracken said:

    American Shooters! Send all of your illegal ammunition to the ATF!

  3. On March 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    Matt my brother, tell the man about me, k? :)

  4. On March 13, 2015 at 6:34 am, Dr. Strangelove said:

    At, what is it, 2300 fps?

  5. On March 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm, DNA Explains It All said:

    More aptly 3,200ish

  6. On March 14, 2015 at 6:05 am, Dr. Strangelove said:

    My bad. 3200.

  7. On March 12, 2015 at 3:50 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    I think this is Fear Porn.

    Many have noted that the ATF got just as much shit from Democrats as from Republicans. Neither side wants this, YET.

    Once the country is fully flooded with illegals, then all bets are off. But not quite yet.

  8. On March 12, 2015 at 4:03 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    New gun control isn’t likely to pass the House or Senate (or at least, not both of them) right now. But here is the key.

    “Jones asked lawmakers to help in a review of a 1986 bill … ”

    That’s slick. A lawyer in DoJ helped him to queue that one up. Tie it all to the GCA or the NFA, not new legislation. And get the Congress to go along with it in a “report,” “study,” “commission,” or “task force.”

  9. On March 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    Kinda stretchy. But hey, this admin is notorious for stretching past their grasp.

    Still, they haven’t even set out a proposed rule yet. So before you cause a run on .223 and 5.56, let’s be cautious on panicking everyone.

    Still, and if they do: Comes a time when we simply stop listening to their pronouncements, marking them as insane. Simply continue manufacturing the ammo, and if they arrive in MRAPS, fight them with deadly force as you would any other invader.

  10. On March 12, 2015 at 4:14 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    “Kinda stretchy.” And where have you been the last six years, Rip Van (Bunny) Winkle? Gibson guitar, Solyndra, QE, bailout, F&F, EPA, Benghazi, arming those “moderate” Syrians, Obamacare, etc. I doubt I need to go on.

    I couldn’t possibly cause a run on anything. You exaggerate to the point of absurdity.

  11. On March 12, 2015 at 4:29 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    Dude. I’m on your side. Matt Bracken will vouch for me. Would you be so kind as to remove the reference to where I work? Kthxbai

  12. On March 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I’ve been under the attack of the trolls and astroturfers lately.

  13. On March 12, 2015 at 4:33 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    “Readers: Peace Love Bunny is a troll. With Jennifer Masica and others lately, it seems that this blog has been a troll magnet. How very interesting.”

    Can we contact one another offline? I can prove to you that I am not a troll and that I am, in fact, on your side. Please give me a contact point. Email, whatever. I will contact right now.

  14. On March 12, 2015 at 4:39 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    We’ll talk offline, contact me at the address given. I can’t get to it until tonight. In the mean time, I deleted that reference, but see:

  15. On March 12, 2015 at 4:49 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    Yeah, I see the subterfuge. Don’t blame you for taking care. Tell you what, I don’t suspect anyone who is an admin hack will have written powerful and heartfelt editorials. Would cause them to vomit too hard. Maybe I can show you my props by showing you a few editorials I wrote.

    Matt B. is a tough guy to get ahold of but he’s known me 15 years now. He’ll vouch if we ever all three can connect.

  16. On March 13, 2015 at 10:58 am, Ned Weatherby said:

    I’ve seen Peace Love Bunny bash trolls on Examiner. I’m pretty sure Bunny isn’t a troll, FWIW. But after the Masica affair, one can’t be to careful about getting baited.

  17. On March 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm, Peace Love Bunny said:

    Excellent. You did remove that reference to my workplace. You do understand how problematic it would be for a right-of-center pro-gun guy to be uncovered there, do you not? :)

    Actually, you’d be surprised how many ‘moles’ work here. This IS Atlanta, GA, after all. Not exactly Manhattan or California.

    Still, thank you. If you would like to connect offsite please give me a contact point. I feel we should. I am good friends with Mr. Bracken and he will def. vouch for me. Also, written quite a few powerful editorials in my day. You’ll understand that I am friend, not foe, and if I challenge your point, it is not done out of trollishness, but out of concern — frankly — that we don’t create another ammo run.

    I don’t have enough yet. LOL

  18. On March 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I have to say, I would announce my presence strong and loud and use my workplace as a bully pulpit to challenge all of their cherished assumptions, perhaps even a formal debate with formal debate rules.

    But that’s just me. Others may be in different positions. I’ll write you off line.

    As to being able to cause a run on ammo, I can only wish that I had that kind of readership.

  19. On March 12, 2015 at 8:12 pm, Chris Crowley said:

    On April 18th 1775 General Gage, sent his men to Concord to sieze the powder and ball of the colonists. Things didn’t work out well for them. It wasn’t the tea tax that started our revolutionary war, it was going after our guns and ammunition. Our revolution never ended. And as long as their are tyrants who seek to take our Liberty it never will.

  20. On March 13, 2015 at 6:32 am, Dr. Strangelove said:

    That’s right. We took up arms against George III for less than what’s being foisted upon us right now.

  21. On March 13, 2015 at 6:48 am, EchoDeltaSierra said:

    Yesterday the SCOTUS just voted to drastically expand their ‘interpretive’ powers:

    “The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that federal agencies do not have to follow procedures for notifying the public and collecting comment when changing the interpretations of rules, effectively removing steps from the process that can take months and sometimes years to complete.” –

    Realize that the proposed M855 (aka. green tip) ban, the one people are celebrating victory over, needed to follow the previous process requiring a period of time for public comment. This (or any) federal regulation can now be reinterpreted without any of burdensome chatter from the serfs.

    As Matt would recommend; just sing some Lee Greenwood.

  22. On March 13, 2015 at 11:06 am, Ned Weatherby said:

    Right – the APA is dead! (or at least now smells funny) Long live the King! Stroke of a pen, kinda cool… Oops, I just threw up a little…

  23. On March 13, 2015 at 9:09 am, NHPatriot1776 said:

    Anyone who hasn’t already stocked up on 5.56, of all types, is way behind the game at this point.

  24. On March 13, 2015 at 9:36 am, DAN III said:

    1776….first off one never has enough ammo. Secondly, contrary to the regime’s lie of how well this economy is doing, folks just don’t have the money to “stock” up. Not everyone is as well off as you. Have some concerns for the reality of folks’ finances.

  25. On March 13, 2015 at 9:43 am, NHPatriot1776 said:

    Agreed, I am not well off, but I have been buying a box here, a box there, sometimes a 420 round case since 2009. It adds up.

  26. On March 13, 2015 at 9:51 am, Switzerland said:

    Thats how to do it!
    did the same thing.

  27. On March 13, 2015 at 9:53 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I agree. That’s the only way I can collect it – little by little, a box here, a box there, always looking for the best deals, always making sure that I maintain calibers and types like it’s a warehouse min-max, and so forth.

  28. On March 13, 2015 at 10:15 am, Grandpa said:

    Walm—, 20 round box of winchester 5.56, about 10 bucks…. I stop in every Friday on the way home and drop as much as I can (IN CASH…) in order to feed the AR (that I lost in the unfortunate boating accident on Lake Mead…) . And then, of course, some beer and beef jerky. I don’t make much, and it has to go a looooong way… but I owe it to my family and compatriots (you guys) to do what I can before it gets sporty.

  29. On March 13, 2015 at 6:09 pm, UNCLEELMO said:

    The Payroll Savings Plan. I like it!

  30. On March 13, 2015 at 9:35 am, HB said:

    Friends—-have I mentioned to you that there are many, many fine establishments with excellent firearms and ammunition ON SALE around the country and on line…for the time being….and you have an excellent opportunity to stock up, train and organize with your other friends….for the time being.

    So What are you going to do?

    What Would Henry Bowman Do?

    If you don’t know—find out.

  31. On March 13, 2015 at 9:50 am, Greg said:

    Has this asshole SEEN an AR15 pistol? Those things are about as concealable as the rifle is. Which is to say it isn’t.

  32. On March 13, 2015 at 11:05 am, DinaRehn said:

    Make no mistake, the national socialists on the Left want to deprive you of the right of self-defense.

    If they can’t do it by taking your gun, they will do it by taking your ammo.

  33. On March 13, 2015 at 1:57 pm, aceofwands said:

    Found in comments…MolonLabe being especially prophetic from Jan 2013..

    Even though MolonLabe did not directly address his comments to Mr. Schaeffer, I am sure Mr. Schaeffer understood he was the target of the first comment. In his second reply to MCruise, he paints a colorful picture of what life may be like if the lib’s don’t back off.


    “How many patriots are you willing to kill to get the guns?
    How many people on your side are you willing to see die to get the guns?
    Perhaps you need to consider those two points before you try to usurp our natural rights.

    You can’t have the guns, you can’t have a registration of the guns, and if
    you think the law enforcement officers are willing to die to go after the guns, you need to do some google-fu, and look into the reality of that situation.

    High time you totalitarians had some skin in the game. If you want our modern sporting rifles with standard capacity magazines, and if you want our long-arms registered, you’ll have to come do it yourselves.

    After all… the Cops and the Sheriff’s deputies all live amongst us. As has been so aptly illustrated in Mexico… 2:30 am no-knock raids cut both ways. The law enforcement
    officers won’t lift a finger to enforce this nonsense outside of hellpits like NYC and SF. They love their kids and their wives, and like to not come home to burning cinders where their home used to be.

    So man up. You want the weapons, come and get them – this time there won’t be any soliders and cops dying for you.You’ll have to do it yourselves.

    Good luck.

    MolonLabe MCruise

    Don’t mistake “tactical restraint” and “battle-space preparation” for “cowardice” or an unwillingness to act, “friend.”

    We the people just finished buying 4.8 million firearms in less than 60 days, a six year stockpile of standard capacity magazines, and over 3 billion cartridges.

    Do you think we bought them to register them and/or turn them in?

    This is not panic buying.

    This is a people preparing for war.

    You need to understand a thing or two about logistics son. Sherman didn’t march through the south on a moment’s notice. A campaign takes a good amount of time and resources – but thanks to the overreaches of statist’s and wannabe-tyrants, the
    time-table just got put into overdrive.

    Takes 3% of the gun owners in this nation to topple it. The federal government does not stand a chance.

    How do I know this?

    Go dig five holes 4 foot deep in your backyard. I’ll be startled if you don’t damage some kinda utility line in the process. You pick a fight with the freedom lovers in America, and you had better get used to not having electricity, internet, natural gas, running water, and working toilets.

    The infrastructure is utterly indefensible.

    The patriots in America don’t need to beat the army. They don’t need to beat the Federal goon-squads. They don’t even need to the local law enforcement.

    All they need to do it shut off the lights on a dilapidated, over-extended, and so
    vulnerable as to be indefensible power/water/gas grid, and the “free-sh*t-army” will take care of the rest.The guns are for what comes afterwards. The coming revolution will be
    fought with shovels, pick-axes, bolt cutters, and bags of cement. The “arms” dealer will be Home Depot. You’ll learn one way or another this society continues and exists peaceably only with our consent. The second we withdraw that, it will, with a considerable amount of assistance, fall into ruin.”

  34. On March 13, 2015 at 1:39 pm, Casey Faysbuksux Kawner said:

    Never EVER propose or admit that an AR pistol is an SBR. ATF would love that as a means to selectively destroy any gun owner they come across with an AR pistol. There’s a lot of dangerous cross-currents to navigate here, and I see ATF going after some sort, any sort, of victory they can weasel into.

    “Our side” saying our AR pistols are sneaky SBR’s isn’t going to help us at all.

  35. On March 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I didn’t say that it an AR-pistol was a sneaky SBR. I said that it is an SBR without the stock. That makes it not an SBR by the rules. The ATF isn’t going to use a blog post to reinterpret rules for SBRs. They have their lawyers too busy trying to figure out how to confiscate ammunition – at least, right now.

  36. On March 13, 2015 at 2:32 pm, Archer said:

    Indeed, the lack of a stock is precisely what classifies it as a “pistol”. Saying an AR-pistol is a “sneaky SBR” is like saying adding a vertical foregrip to a pistol (which classifies it as an Any Other Weapon [AOW]) is a “sneaky short-barreled carbine”.

    Now, using AOW rules to get around “approved handgun” lists…. THAT’s sneaky!

  37. On March 13, 2015 at 2:40 pm, Casey Faysbuksux Kawner said:

    I get you, but they’re looking for any win they can squeeze. Their plays can be:

    1. Ban all .223/5.56 because AR pistols exist
    2. Propose legislation to ban AR pistols (in .223 caliber at least)
    3. Propose legislation to reclassify AR pistols as SBR’s

    They’re happy to do anything they can do, to hurt us.

    Putting the word “pistol” in quotes and saying it’s “nothing more than a SBR (short barrel rifle) with a barrel length of less than 16″ and no stock” just gives them ideas, as well as ammunition/evidence to point to the firearms community and say “even these guys know that AR pistols are just a way around the SBR paperwork… see that sig brace right there?”

    I know your blog readership is small, but your idea here isn’t unique.

  38. On March 13, 2015 at 6:56 pm, Brian said:

    It has nothing to do with the ATF even. The ATF is a direct pawn usable by the executive administration. Heed these words, they are playing with the hornets nest at this point. If they try and ban all rifle ammo…..a coup d’etat could result. I really am not sure if they realize that this could be the next incarnation of the Tea Party.

  39. On March 14, 2015 at 2:07 am, DaveP326 said:

    With that twisted logic, why stop with military ammo? Why don’t they ban ALL 5.56/.223 ammo? Won’t commercial hunting ammo penetrate soft body armor too? Then there’s the milsurp Czech 9mm submachine gun ammo. That also will penetrate soft body armor. The 5.7X28mm LE Restricted ammo will also penetrate soft body armor, KTW ammo in most any caliber available will penetrate soft bandy armor. I’m sure some savvy shooter will come up with a .22 rimfire round the will also penetrate soft body ammo. It’s ALL pistol ammoI. They’re facing a shooter revolt for just the 5.56/.223 ammo, what will happen if they go for ALL this ammo-a civil war?

  40. On March 24, 2015 at 6:42 am, Mother Nature's Son said:

    i am a pro, i have 33 years service, I retired a 54 with a giant pension. if i had t carry an inferior round by circumstance, or have a reduced amount of ammo in the firearm, I will make sure to get in close and put it in your eye. the extra rounds are a cushion to give you an out, a way to hold down enemy heads while you egress the AO
    you put this kind of rediculous demand on a savvy public, they will turn to gasoline, and you will have your civil war and another iraq, but you wont have anymore blacks.

    so what would carlos do?

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You are currently reading "ATF Wants To Go After All 5.56 mm Ammunition, Not Just Green Tip", entry #13570 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Firearms,Gun Control,Guns and was published March 12th, 2015 by Herschel Smith.

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