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Gun News: The Ammo Ban on 5.56 Explained



Gun News | The B.A.T.F Gun Banon Ammo Explained | by

Gun News | The B.A.T.F Gun Banon Ammo Explained | by

GUN NEWS REPORT – 5.56 SS109 Bullet Ban

The B.A.T.F. Ban – Explaining the current attempt by the B.A.T.F. to ban 5.56 SS109 bullets, and its long term implications.

Let me start this by saying that I am a retired law enforcement officer from a major west coast metropolitan police department. I served over 21 years before retiring. I have been shot at, and have witnessed all the horror that a modern firearm can do to the human body. Before that, I served as a U.S. Marine infantryman during Operations Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. I have seen my share of injury, pain and death. After seeing all this, I still carry a firearm today to protect myself, my family and the general public. It is not the weapon; it is the mind behind the trigger that I fear.

In early February 2015, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (B.A.T.F.) sent out intent to restrict a specific type of rifle round commonly referred to as a 5.56mm SS109 M855 steel core penetrator round, or green tip ammunition. The green tip is used by U.S. military forces and is designed to enhance ballistic penetration and stability into hard cover for combat troops. Basically, the older 55 grain M193 round was not very good at penetrating cinder block, brick and other hard cover objects encountered by ground troops. The wound ballistics of the SS109 /M855 round is actually poorer than the earlier M193 round but it does stay together better when it penetrates hard cover.

5.56 round comparison

Bullet Proof Vests 

Law enforcement officers wear ‘bullet proof’ vests. This is a misnomer. The best available ballistic vest commonly worn by non special duty law enforcement is called Level IIIA or NIJ Level 3A. NIJ is the U.S. National Institute of Justice that oversees the certification and evaluation of ballistic vests worn by police and military. The NIJ makes sure that all the armor manufactured is up to industry standards. Level IIIA armor is designed to stop hand gun sized rounds, what the average law enforcement officer is likely to encounter during the course of normal police activity. A Level 3A vest is designed to stop up to a 124 grain .357 SIG FMJ round with a muzzle velocity of 1470 FPS.

See App. 2 – NIJ Body Armor Guide (see page 22) – Click HereNIJ Body Armor Guide


The average muzzle velocity of 5.56mm round fired from a AR-15 pistol platform (10 inch barrel 55 grain round) is around 2400 FPS. That is almost DOUBLE what a Level 3A vest is rated at. To stop such a round, law enforcement and military personnel have to wear a Level III NIJ ballistic vest. These vests are worn by higher risk officers that serve search warrants, do rescue operations such as S.W.A.T. / H.R.T. teams or are privately purchased. These Level 3 vests are rarely concealable, bulky and require extra training to use comfortably.

The B.A.T.F. is trying to say that the SS109/M855 round can be fired from a pistol sized AR-15 platform, making it an ‘armor-piercing round’ fired from a handgun. The family of AR-15 pistol sized weapons fire ANY 5.56mm round. That makes the muzzle velocity from ANY AR-15 pistol about 2400 FPS. The excuse that the B.A.T.F. is trying to “protect” the average law enforcement officer is flawed at the start.

Here is a link to the actual letter issued by the B.A.T.F.:

See App 3  – BATF LETTER – Click Here

Another bone of contention with this proposed ban is the verbiage in the original 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C) to wit:

(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.

Per the United States Code (U.S.C.), an armor piercing ammunition is constructed ENTIRELY of steel, iron, etc, etc. The steel core penetrator round has a steel ‘cap’ to enhance penetration with a lead core behind the cap. This video shows what is actually inside a SS109 round.

See App 4 – Youtube Video – Click Here

So, the ban the B.A.T.F. is proposing is flawed in several ways.

Let’s hit the key points again:

  • The concern for law enforcement by the B.A.T.F. over the increasing availability of pistol sized AR15 weapons firing this 5.56 SS109/ M855 round is ridiculous because ANY 5.56 round will penetrate the Level 3A vest worn by the average law enforcement officer, and the officers know it! It’s common knowledge that your ballistic vest is not a ‘magical shield’ that will ward off any round fired by the ‘bad guys’.
  • The second flaw to the B.A.T.F.s logic is that the 5.56 SS109/M855 round is an ‘armor piercing ‘round. Per the definition in the U.S.C, the round has to be ENTIRELY constructed of listed metals, not capped as the SS109/M855 round is.


What should you take away from this article? The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco governs all firearm related legislation in the United States of America. I know a lot of wonderful B.A.T.F. agents and the work that this agency does is usually above average. This ban attempt is a mockery of the good work the agency does. There has been a huge backlash from both the general public and even the politico in Washington D.C. I have included a letter I found from the House of Representatives asking the B.A.T.F to clarify the intent of this ban.

See app 5 – protest letter from HR – Click Here

The elected officials in this government in charge of this great nation are rather poor quality in my opinion. It is time that citizenry stand up for their rights. It has to be an active effort, thinking someone else will do it has gotten us to this position. YOU have to contact your state representatives and governors and be vocal (but polite) about what you disagree with. I have included a link to the APA comment website. The B.A.T.F. is supposed to take public feedback on this matter until March 15, 2015 so the clock is ticking. Be sure to email the link to all your friends and family.

Does it work to send emails? NO, not really, that is why it’s even more important to vote and watch the political bodies in charge of your country. We maintain situational awareness as we go through our private lives, why don’t we do the same with our government? Watch, research, learn and be wary of ‘We know what’s best for you’ government.

I am always available for comments or questions through this website. Feel free to contact me. Be safe and be prepared. – Chris Catanese

What will your next steps be? Leave your thoughts and comments below, and get involved.


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