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What’s Going on with M855, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

Over the weekend, the news broke that the clowns at the ATF are at it again, this time proposing a ban on M855/SS109 ammunition. Their reasoning? To “protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers from the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest when fired from a handgun.”

M855

What the ATF is essentially saying is that because M855 can be fired from an AR pistol, and it will defeat the body armor most commonly worn by law enforcement (level 2A), the ammunition should be reclassified as “armor piercing” handgun ammunition.

From the NRA:

federal law imposed in 1986 prohibits the manufacture, importation, and sale by licensed manufacturers or importers, but not possession, of “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely . . . from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” Because there are handguns capable of firing M855, it “may be used in a handgun.” It does not, however, have a core made of the metals listed in the law; rather, it has a traditional lead core with a steel tip, and therefore should never have been considered “armor piercing.” Nonetheless, BATFE previously declared M855 to be “armor piercing ammunition,” but granted it an exemption as a projectile “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”

Why This Matters

Let’s say you don’t buy M855, perhaps you’re thinking “I don’t care, it doesn’t affect me.”

Wrong.

If this goes through, this WILL affect you, and here’s how. Yes, M855 will defeat level 2A body armor. But guess what? So will ANY .223 round, or any rifle round for that matter. What will stop them from banning other .223 ammunition (like XM193) next?

Remember their reasoning for the change – “protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers from the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest when fired from a handgun.” By that reasoning, all rifle ammunition capable of being fired from an AR pistol would be subject to ban.

Do you see the problem?

What You Can Do

First and foremost, you can contact the ATF. Do it today – do not sit this one out. It will only take you a couple minutes to send them an email and let them know you strongly oppose this asinine ban. Please be respectful in your comments.

Email: APAComments@atf.gov
Fax: (202) 648-9741
Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and Services, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070.

Additionally, contact your representative and urge them to reign in the ATF. Tell them that they WILL be held accountable for the ATF’s actions.

Background

Tim from the Military Arms Channel does a great job providing an overview of what’s going on as well as some background information. Check it out.

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59 Responses to What’s Going on with M855, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

  1. Mike February 16, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    Contacting them now.

  2. Shane Collins February 16, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    Sent my email.

  3. William February 16, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Contacted. There’s already a scalper on armslist in Portland charging $700/case. Makes me sick.

    • TK February 16, 2015 at 11:50 am #

      Is it those scum from Cheaper Than Dirt?

      • Tom Laswell February 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

        Cheaper than dirt is charging $840.00 for 1000.

        • David Whaley February 19, 2015 at 7:12 am #

          Already? Really? Man, CTD are douches. I remember immediately after Sandy Hook, they tried to claim that they “did not sell firearms.” Sleaze…

      • William February 16, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

        No, this was private party. Guy didn’t wait for the story to cool down. M855 is still on the shelves for about 40-45 cents a shot, and at the gun show for as little at $318/1000. That’ll change next weekend for sure. SMH

    • rusty February 16, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      Cheaper than dirt is almost $900.

      • Paltik February 18, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

        I have not bought anything from them since Sandy Hook. I also contacted them to stop sending me their magazine flyers but they still kept sending it. It just goes straight in the trash without even flipping a page.

  4. Jim February 16, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    Sent mine.

  5. Josh C. February 16, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Getting on this right now. Already called my congressmen and senators but I will also contact the ATF. Great article.

  6. K. A. February 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Dear fellow Law Enforcement agents,

    As a veteran Police Officer, military Veteran and defender of the U.S. Constitution, I strongly urge you NOT to take regulatory action in the form of an executive order banning future sale of any .223/5.56 mm ammunition, such as the M855/SS109 ball round. As a patrol Officer in an area rife with gang activity and with a recent uptick in crime, I am acutely aware of the threat posed to mine and fellow Officers’ safety, that is posed by unlawful use of firearms. This is an occupational hazard that we accept and we expect a focus on the prosecution and severe punishment for those who commit violent acts against us and member of our community. However, singling out the ammunition type that I have NEVER in 15 years of urban policing found a dangerous criminal in possession of, yet is the most commonly used by law abiding owners of Armalite (AR) style weapons for lawful use, is unnecessarily restrictive, is an unconstitutional, single branch effort to restrict self defense rights and an act that will foster greater resentment towards all levels of government.

    • Blackjack February 24, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

      Well said. And true.It’s just not seen on the streets.

  7. William McDaniel February 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Email sent… Wasn’t a nice one either.

  8. Timothy February 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Done

  9. Z6147 February 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-batfe-banning-xm855-ammunition/XrvVh1cj

    This might be a little more effective

    • Brandon February 16, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

      These petitions do nothing in my opinion.

      • Stitch1870 February 17, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

        Nothing really does when the ATF just makes up regulations willy-nilly and makes things illegal overnight without so much as a congressional notification. The judicial branch isn’t supposed to just legislate things whenever they want.

      • Rly? February 24, 2015 at 11:23 am #

        so roll-over and do nothing? It’s hard to ignore a petition with MILLIONS of signatures (that is if the community would get off its collective ass to sign it). Sheep say “it won’t matter.” We are not the sheep.

        • Brandon February 24, 2015 at 11:36 am #

          Normally I don’t approve comments from fake email addresses

          Who said anything about rolling over? White House petitions do NOTHING and mean NOTHING – name one instance where that has not been the case. White House petitions are a joke. Instead I have encouraged my readers to write their representatives and contact the ATF.

          Remember that we’re on the same side here, so stop being an ass.

        • Stitch1870 February 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

          “Sheep/sheeple/wolfdog” = auto eyeroll.

        • TK February 24, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

          “Rly?” you aren’t too bright, are you?

    • David Whaley February 19, 2015 at 7:14 am #

      If the authors of these petitions could use proper grammar and syntax, it’d put us in a more positive light…

  10. M.D. Madison February 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Count me in! Ordered some M855 ammo this morning, emailed the ATF just now, and I plan on emailing my Reps and Congressman today! Also sharing links on FB to hopefully spread the word.

  11. Denny February 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Message sent.

  12. senseiblake February 16, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    I sent my e-mail in. Figures, this is my life. NY had strict gun laws. I spent several months purchasing parts separately to build an AR-15 style rifle. I had to invest in extra money to make it compliant with the old law- bayonet lug shaved off, replace the flash hider with a muzzle brake, have it permanently pinned and welded on, fixed stock. Then I spent an exorbitant amount of money trying to find and purchase pre-ban mags, which are old, beat up, and cost anywhere from 25-50 dollars, instead of the 9 or 10 they go for brand new. Within a year of completing it, following the letter of the law 100%, they change the law with the SAFE act. My previously legal weapon, and previously legal magazines are now illegal, despite the extra time and money invested to be compliant. Then, SAFE act says no more online ammo sales, so I hurry up and stock up before that goes in effect. What do I have a closet full of? M855. Now they want to make that illegal too? I’ve had enough of their shit.

    • Frank Sharpe February 16, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

      That reads like a chapter from Unintended Consequences.

      *shakes head*

  13. Cole February 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    Done! Thanks for the article and video.

  14. Tony February 16, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    Maybe I need more education. Not all of my 5.56 is armor piercing green tipped. I read the regulation they are discussing and I don’t find a definition of M855. Are there alternative designations for 5.56 or will it impact ALL 5.56?

    • William Elliott February 17, 2015 at 1:05 am #

      as the M855 does not conform to the BATFE’s own definition of “armor piercing pistol ammunition” if they decide to reclassify it, then they can do the same with ANY 5.56. Case in point, one of the criteria is either a jacket that is 25% of the total weight of the bullet, or a soild core of various matierals [not lead]. It won’t be long before those asshats decide Barnes solid copper hunting bullets are now “Armor Piercing pistol/handgun bullets” and ban them too. Slippery slope.

    • William Elliott February 17, 2015 at 1:06 am #

      also, M855 is NOT armor piercing, even by the military’s definition.

  15. Casey February 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    Just Emailed, and filled out the other petition
    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-batfe-banning-xm855-ammunition/XrvVh1cj

    Please help us and defeat this

  16. Willy Perkins February 16, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Done,hopefully there’s no audit coming

  17. Robert C. Mustain February 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Great! Contacted the ATF to voice my support.

    • Brandon February 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

      I hope by support you meant “opposition”.

  18. Hillbilly Bob February 16, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

    I have about 4,000 rounds of M855 but I will send my email in the morning because I am so pissed off right now that if i sent my thoughts right now it may not be a good thing for me

  19. Gunter Buergerhoff, NRA Member February 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    This is not right and will accomplish nothing but put out law inforcement in greater danger from the criminal elements which will get it anyway.

  20. Doc Gunn February 16, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Sent opposition email to the proposed ban.

  21. mckr327 February 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    Email sent

  22. Vinny Ambrose February 16, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    Looks like ATF wants to be called down on the carpet by congress.

  23. Matthew Howe February 16, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    While you’re at it, write pro-gun senators. I’ve made it easy for you with this page which has direct links to the email of every pro-2A senator. We need to make a stink, people, a big one. If Obama and the ATF get away with this, they will only be encouraged to go further.

    http://www.shotmonster.com/senators.html

  24. Jason M. February 16, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    One of the very disheartening things I’ve discovered in all of this is the reactions I’ve received in trying to convince private sellers on forums I am a member of to either A) not scalp prices on M855, and B) suspend the sale privileges of those using propaganda to make a quick sale. 99% of reactions are “stop b@$!#ing”, “that’s the free market, stop whining”.

    It’s clear those who would rather make a quick buck on this tyranny than voice the rights of the people.

    Those truly on our side dwindle by the day it seems.

  25. Ticked February 17, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Emailed them this morning. Told them, this is an inappropriate way to justify their existence.

  26. Zach February 17, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    Does anyone think that sending an email to a random address is going to matter? Those messages most likely go to a spam box and are never seen. This would need to be discussed and debated openly by citizens and the government together at the very least. As long as you keep using the FEDERAL RESERVE currency, you will have to bow down to the will of the elite. Good luck guys. They are probably just targeting you figuring out where to go first. Your email is tracked so good luck. Best thing to do is buck up and fight when they come to your door.

  27. Bob February 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Done, email off to Ms. Brown. Hope she reads it. It was written with respect.

  28. Donald Rutledge February 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    We the people need to abolish these unconstitutional agencies made up by both Democrats and republicans alike, these criminals are trying to control you with unconstitutional acts, bills, etc.

  29. Thomas Potter February 17, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    APAComments@atf.gov

    Proposed ban of common ammunition, called m855/SS109 Ball Round, .223/5.56, calling them “armor piercing level 2A” by the ATF.

    As a US citizen, and card-carrying member under my Constitutions Bill Of Rights, article the second, I oppose any rules conjured up by the ATF that bans the above mentioned ammunition. It is a common understanding, by many of us, that most .223 projectiles fired at similar protective devices will penetrate them. The speed of the projectile represents the reason for penetration, not any construction variables inherent within the M855, .223 ammunition.

    The current administration, and it’s headlong attempt to disarm lawful and Constitutionally owned weapons able to use the above ammunition are the real target of this foray into the arena of “We cannot get the guns, so we can try to get the ammunition instead”. I oppose any attempts to do so, and any attempts by the ATF to aid in this activity.

    I submit the ATF forgo any so-called rule changes aimed at the elimination of this common ammunition.

    Thomas Potter

  30. Scaramouche February 17, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    There are no pistols capable of handleing AR ammo.

    • Brandon February 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

      Yes there are.

  31. thehappytoad February 17, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    I agree that this is the first step to get rid of all rifle ammo. that being said, I don’t think this will do much good, because the white house does whatever it wants. damn the consequenses.

  32. Mark February 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    Email BFTA and sign the petition here:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-batfe-banning-xm855-ammunition/XrvVh1cj

    Thanks for posting the link Casey :)

  33. stick up for our rights February 18, 2015 at 12:46 am #

    So if the feds can nilly willy do whatever they want in this shady illegal commie type regime then maybe high time we should do the same. that butt stock is looking like a good fit on that 7.5″ ar pistol right about now.

  34. RH February 18, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Message sent.
    Furthermore these AR pistols have no place here…. Sold on cool factor to morons, all their existence is worth is to be a scapegoat for new gun legislation that hurts us all. Some idiot decided to use a loophole to get a short barreled AR on the market and now we have all this BS to contend with! Really pisses me off.

    • Brandon February 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

      Just because you don’t have a need for an AR pistol doesn’t mean no one else does. Our overreaching government and the unconstitutional NFA are to blame, not the AR pistol.

    • billy396 March 1, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

      I agree with Brandon. I have never had any desire to own an AR-15 pistol. That does not have anything to do with any other American citizen being allowed to own any firearm that they might happen to like. The Second Amendment is very clear – the phrase “shall not be infringed” makes it very clear. Under the law, the word “shall” has a very well-defined meaning. The mere presence of the word “shall” makes it very clear what the original intent was, and what our Constitution means. I have also never desired to own a target rifle chambered in .50 BMG, but many other people like that caliber and our Constitutional rights guarantee that our God given rights do exist, no matter what the current commie-light, Socialist Chicago thug administration might want.

  35. MissAnthropy February 18, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    I emailed my Rep. in Congress to express my opposition and to urge Congress to rein this agency in.

    I did not, however, send a comment to the ATF. For one, they have already decided they’re doing this and as a federal bureaucracy they view the citizenry as serfs to be lorded over; for two, there is no way I could send anything like a professional and courteous letter. The whole “approaching with hat in hand” routine is wearing so thin I can no longer bite back the bile that rises up my throat.

    So for those of you who bothered trying to sway the unelected bureaucrats with your comments, thank you for your effort. They’re doing this though, and it doesn’t matter how many comments they receive in opposition.

    • Brandon February 18, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

      I agree, we’re forced to beg our masters to stop eroding away our rights. Unfortunately we’re running out of political options, because there are very few people in Congress that truly believe in liberty.

    • Rly? February 24, 2015 at 11:30 am #

      Here’s a non hat-in-hand letter you can send to ATF. All you need to do is COPY / PASTE, doesn’t get any easier.

      COPY / PASTE the language below and send it to ATF and your Representatives both federal and local. NRA also has a form that will send the message to everyone at once (except the ATF). Doesn’t get easier than this:

      ATF will carefully consider all comments, as appropriate, received on or before March 15, 2015, and will give comments received after that date the same consideration if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be given except as to comments received on or before March 16, 2015. ATF will not acknowledge receipt of comments. Submit comments in any of three ways (but do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method):

      ATF email: APAComments@atf.gov

      Fax: (202) 648-9741.

      Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.

      FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and Services, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070.

      SAMPLE LANGUAGE FOR SUBMISSION BELOW PLEASE SEND THE SAME (OR SOME VARIATION) TO THE BATFE AND YOUR CONGRESSMEN.

      COPY / PASTE BELOW (modify as necessary)

      Dear [Ms. Brown and/or other Agency Staff] [Congressman / Senator]

      I am writing to express my profound opposition to the BATFE’s recently announced plans to ban commonly available and commonly utilized ammunition for popular sporting rifles.

      BATFE does not have any statutory authority to prohibit civilian distribution or possession of U.S. M855 specification cartridges under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B), regardless of any ‘sporting purpose’ determination. Nor does BATFE have any statutory authority to prohibit civilian distribution or possession of NATO STANAG 4172 specification cartridges under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B), again regardless of any ‘sporting purpose’ determination.

      The statutory language supposedly authorizing such a prohibition, cited by Denise Brown on Page 3 of the BATFE text titled “ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE “PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES” WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C)”, reads:

      (B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means –

      1. 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; or

      2. 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.

      The words ‘constructed entirely’ are emphasized for reasons that will become clear upon any clear reading of the law, application of the English language (and any non-agenda driven / genuine use of logic and common sense).

      The projectile specified in M855 specification ammunition, U.S. Army TACOM ARDEC Drawing 9342869, has a combined steel and lead metal core. 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B) (i) applies only to projectile cores:

      ….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….

      The core of the M855 projectile is not constructed entirely of steel, nor is the steel in the core of the M855 projectile combined with “tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium”. Rather, the steel in the projectile core of TACOM ARDEC Drawing 9342869 bullet is at the front of a lead metal component. These two components together, both within the projectile jacket, constitute the M855 projectile core. You can confirm this combination by reviewing U.S. Army TACOM ARDEC Drawing 9349656, which establishes the engineering requirements for the M855 projectile core.

      Please note the English language definition of the adverb ‘entirely’, as taken from Merriam-Webster:

      Definition of ENTIRELY
      1 : to the full or entire extent : completely
      2 : to the exclusion of others : solely

      The Oxford English Dictionary provides an identical definition.

      By any correct reading of the English language, the core of the M855 projectile is not composed entirely of steel, or a combination of steel with any of the other metals specified in 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B) (i).

      18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B) (ii) applies only to projectiles larger than .22 caliber, designed and intended for a handgun, so the jacket weight percentage of the .22 caliber M855 projectile is not legally relevant to a determination of the M855 cartridge’s status as ‘armor piercing ammunition’. Also MIL-C-63989C (AR), the U.S. Army specification covering M855 cartridges, does not mention handguns. Further, the gas port pressure requirements established in Section 3.10.3 of MIL-C-63989C (AR) constructively exclude the ‘AR Type handguns’ cited in Denise Brown’s text as an application for M855 cartridges.

      Before an 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C) ‘sporting purposes’ exemption (the legitimacy of which is already suspect and largely antithetical to the second amendment) can be considered, BATFE must establish that the projectiles in M855 cartridges are indeed subject to ‘armored piercing ammunition’ regulation under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B). BATFE has not made this case, nor can BATFE make this case without abusing the clear statutory language.

      The argument that the BATFE uses to justify the proposed ban is to safeguard law enforcement officers (“LEO”). The BATF argues that the ammunition, when fired from a pistol, can penetrate the body armor commonly worn by LEOs in the performance of their duty.

      The fallacy with the BATFE’s argument is that M855/SS109 ammunition is not designed to be fired from a pistol. It is a rifle caliber round designed to be fired from a rifle. Even standard .223/5.56 caliber rifle rounds, when fired from a pistol, will defeat Type II and Type IIIa soft body armor commonly worn by Law Enforcement.

      Senator Moynihan recognized this and specifically addressed this fact in 1984 when the controlling legislation was debated:

      “Let me make clear what this bill does not do. Our legislation would not limit the availability of standard rifle ammunition with armor-piercing capability. We recognize that soft body armor is not intended to stop high-powered rifle cartridges. Time and again Congressman Biaggi and I have stressed that only bullets capable of penetrating body armor and designed to be fired from a handgun would be banned; rifle ammunition would not be covered.”

      The proposed ban of M855/SS109 ammunition and the supporting argument made by the BATFE can be easily applied to ALL rifle caliber rounds that can be fired from a pistol. It is a very short next step for the BATFE to ban ALL rifle caliber rounds if they succeed in banning M855/SS109 ammunition.

      The current Administration’s attempt to circumvent Congress, the Constitution and the will of the American people is unacceptable. This “backdoor” gun control action and violation of the Second Amendment must stop. The BATFE is flagrantly overstepping its authority and violating the rights of the American people.

      The BATFE must immediately withdraw the recent “ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE “PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES” WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C)” and terminate any further efforts to prohibit civilian possession or distribution of M855 / SS109 projectiles and/or cartridges. Please extend all of these comments to cover any and all cartridges conforming to NATO STANAG 4172, which are functionally and constructively identical to U.S. Army M855 cartridges.

      Very Truly Yours,

      [INSERT NAME]

  36. Sloop Sloop February 19, 2015 at 6:08 am #

    Email sent.

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