11 Mar 15


Last week, when in TX, I visited a big Cabelas near Austin. 223/5.56mm was nearly cleaned-out!

Plenty of pistol ammunition in all popular calibers, and 308, 7.62×39, 6.8mm, and 300Blk were also all in good supply, but scant 223/5.56mm, in any configuration brand, nor bullet weight.

The issue was, of course, a “proposed” new ATF “regulation” that would ban from manufacture and sale the military M855 62gr “green-tip” 5.56mm round.

This version of 223/5.56mm ammunition was designed by the Pentagon to address persistent poor penetration issues associated with the conventional, and more common, 55gr FMJ 5.56mm round that it replaced.

The 62gr M855 round is readily identified by the pale green tip of the bullet. The bullet consists of a brass jacket, lead core, but imbedded within the lead core is a ten-grain carbide dart, called the “penetrator.”

In practice, the M855 did little to improve the penetration issue, and its performance on unarmored human tissue is actually poorer than that of the 55FMJ it displaced. So, it represented a net decrease in the already marginal performance of this round in military usage.

The M855 has since been replaced by even newer versions, in military employment. However, billions of copies of M855 have been produced on military contracts, and the overflow has long-since entered general commerce. Indeed (until recently), green-tip was commonly offered for general sale by many different vendors.

Not a particularly good performer, as noted above, but green-tip remains popular among civilian consumers mostly due to its (until recently) competitive price.

The laughable “argument” for its restriction was that, when fired from a rifle or a “pistol,” this particular bullet will penetrate commonly-worn police kevlar “soft” body armor. Leftist media types and others making this bogus contention obviously have no understanding of the subject, nor apparently do they care. Any bullet (not just the 62gr green-tip) fired from a 223/5.56mm rifle or “pistol” will easily penetrate soft body armor! For that matter, nearly all other center-fire rifle calibers fall into the same category.

The legitimate fear in the minds of all who have any real understanding of this issue is that this same phoney “reasoning” can subsequently be used to ban virtually all center-fire rifle ammunition.

The controversial, and now rescinded, ATF proposal addressed only this green-tip round. All other versions of 223/5.56mm ammunition, including conventional 55gr FMJ, were not even mentioned.

Nonetheless, the public’s negative reaction to even this proposed ban was instantaneous and overwhelming! I’m sure the entire BHO Administration was astonished!

The net result:

Yet another panicked run on 223/5.56mm ammunition, of all kinds!

Green-tip 5.56mm ammunition is no longer “cheap!”

ATF and the BHO Administration have lost even more admirers! Critics trust them even less now (if such a thing is possible), and friends see them as, once again, bumbling, miscalculating, buffoons.

In any event, the “crisis” is now over, and the whole fiasco is rapidly fading from the headlines, only to rear its ugly head again sometime in the future, but probably not until after the current election season.

Ammunition manufacturers must love this stuff!

“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it’s the only one you have!”

Emile Chartier