Armor Piercing Ammo – The Legal Brief ~ VIDEO

The Gun Collective

USA -( Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world.

I’m your host Adam Kraut and today we’re talking armor piercing ammunition or as the uninformed like to call them, teflon coated bullets.

Time and time again I see posts or find people telling others that armor piercing ammunition is illegal.

As always, we’re talking about federal law, so your state and/or local law may vary. First, we need to define what armor piercing ammunition actually is.

There is a lot of bad information regarding armor piercing ammunition but fear not, we’re about to clear that up.

Federal law defines the term armor piercing ammunition as either 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; The definition continues 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. I’m not sure what the percentage is on a normal full metal jacket projectile but it is less than 25 percent of the total projectile weight.

However, the term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating devices. The regulations mirror the law itself.

So in order for something to be armor piercing, it must be a projectile or a projectile core made from one or a combination of the enumerated metals which may be used in a handgun OR a fully jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun whose jacket weight is more than 25 % of the total weight of the projectile.

M855 Ammunition
M855 Ammunition

While there is ammunition that people consider to be “armor piercing”, it by definition is not. For example you may remember that recently ATF attempted to reclassify M855 as armor piercing. This caused an uproar from the firearms community and ATF was flooded with comments as to why M855 was not armor piercing ammunition. If you’re interested, I’ve included a link to the comment I filed on behalf of the law firm in the description and if I do say so myself, it was rather robust. For the purpose of the show, the M855 projectile did not meet the definition of armor piercing.

If we look to 18 USC 922 we can see that there are several instances where armor piercing ammunition is unlawful. First, we see in subsection a(7) that it is unlawful for a person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammo unless 1) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State; 2) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the purpose of exportation; or 3) the manufacture or importation of such ammunition is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General. So basically if you’re making it for the government or have permission to test or experiment with it, it’s ok.

Subsection a(8) makes it unlawful for any manufacturer or importer to sell or deliver armor piercing ammunition unless the sale or delivery is for the same reasons I just mentioned.

Turning to the regulations, if we look to 27 CFR 478.37, it states No person shall manufacture or import, and no manufacturer or importer shall sell or deliver, armor piercing ammunition, except if 1) The manufacture or importation, or the sale or delivery by any manufacturer or importer is for the use of the United States or any department or agency thereof or any State or any department, agency or political subdivision thereof; in other words, the government 2) The manufacture, or the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer for the purpose of exportation; in other words if you’re exporting it or 3) The sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer for the purposes of testing or experimentation as authorized by the Director under the regulations, in other words if you’re authorized to experiment with it.

As with everything, the devil is in the details. In this case, it is the definition as to what is armor piercing and not just what people believe it to be. So unlike what most people believe M855 is not by definition armor piercing ammunition.

Hopefully that clears up some of the misconceptions about armor piercing ammunition. If you guys liked this episode, you know what to do, hit that like button and share it around with your friends. Have a question you want answered on this show, head over to The Legal Brief section on Be sure to check out my website for more information on my quest to serve YOU on the NRA Board of Directors. Don’t forget to like The Gun Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Full 30, Snap Chat and wherever else you can catch us on social media.

And as always thanks for watching!

Links for this episode:

  • 18 USC 921(a)(17) – Definition of Ammunition :
  • 27 CFR 478.11 – Definitions :
  • FICG’s Comments in Opposition to ATF’s Proposed Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles Are “Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes” Within the Meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C):
  • 18 USC 922 :
  • 27 CFR 478.37 – Manufacture, importation and sale of armor piercing ammunition. :
  • ATF – Guides – Importation & Verification of Firearms – Gun Control Act Definition – Ammunition :

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John Dunlap

So, all I have to do is start with an FN Five Seven, neck the cartridge down to .204, rebarrel the gun, make up some aluminum jacketed projectiles with bismuth cores and boron carbide penetrators (or just turn them from brass, since they’re under .22 caliber), work up some reliable loads, and I’ve just gotten ’round the whole, silly law. Well, at the Federal level, anyway. Law school: an institution of higher learning dedicated to teaching the application of intelligence, creativity, and imagination to both add to, and circumvent, the ever growing putrescent pile of authoritarian, bureaucratic, regulatory stupidity that… Read more »

Robert Workman

I thank you for the eye opening information you have provided here today. I thought that if it was green tip it was armour piercing I am referring to the M855. For 16 years in the US. ARMY they said it was armour piercing and we never questioned it. But I have seen the light and the information you provided is good stuff to know. Thank you for the good work and the good day Sir.
Robert Workman
Disabled Veteran “OIF”


And all want s a box of the bullets Walker texas ranger shoots at cars. 1 shot and the whole car explodes! WOW could get in trouble with somethng like that!


Now that we got 855 out the way, what’s the deal concerning 855A1? Can you touch on that more specifically in either a article or video?

Thank You


Still Greek to me. A breakdown with examples would help.


So, which law, rule, order, regulation stated above is authorized under the Constitution? Answer: None.


Clear as mud, as with all federal laws!!! Just glad M855 went off the list!