I didn’t know that

According to the ATF website if you have black tip 7.62 NATO or 7.62×39 steel core ammo it is considered illegal armor piercing ammo. But .223 green tip and 30.06 black tip are not considered illegal:

List of Armor Piercing Ammunition

bullet KTW AMMUNITION, all calibers. (Identified by a green coating on the projectile)

bullet ARCANE AMMUNITION, all calibers. (Identified by a pointed bronze or brass projectile)

bullet THV AMMUNITION, all calibers. (Identified by a brass or bronze projectile and having a headstamp containing the letters SFM and THV)

bullet CZECHOSLOVAKIAN manufactured 9mm Parabellum (Luger) ammunition having an iron or steel core. (Identified by a cupronickel jacket and headstamp containing a triangle, star and dates 49, 50, 51, or 52. The bullet is attracted to a magnet)

bullet GERMAN manufactured 9mm Parabellum (Luger) having an iron or steel bullet core. (Original packaging is marked Pisolenpatronen 08 m.E. May have black colored bullet. This bullet is attracted to a magnet)

bullet MSC AMMUNITION, Caliber .25. (Identified by a hollow point brass bullet. NOTE: MSC ammunition Caliber .25 identified by a hollow point copper bullet is not armor piercing)

bullet BLACK STEEL ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION, All Calibers, as produced by National Cartridge, Atlanta, Georgia.

bullet BLACK STEEL METAL PIERCING AMMUNITION, All Calibers, as produced by National Cartridge, Atlanta, Georgia.

bullet 7.62mm NATO AP (Identified by black coloring in the bullet tip. This ammunition is used by various NATO countries. The U.S. military designation is M61 AP)

bullet 7.62mm NATO SLAP (identified by projectile having a plastic sabot around a hard penetrator. The penetrator protrudes above the sabot and is similar in appearance to a Remington accelerator cartridge)

bullet PMC ULTRAMAG .38 Special caliber, constructed entirely of a brass type material, and plastic pusher disc located at the base of the projectile. NOTE: PMC ULTRAMAG 38J late production made of copper with lead alloy projectile is not armor piercing.

bullet OMNISHOCK, a .38 Special cartridge with a lead bullet containing a mild steel core with a flattened head resembling a wad cutter. (NOTE: OMNISHOCK cartridges having a bullet with an aluminum core are not armor piercing.)

bullet 7.62x39mm with steel core. (NOTE: these projectiles have a steel core. Projectiles having a lead core with steel jacket or steel case are not armor piercing)


bullet 5.56MM (.223) SS109 and M855 Ammunition, Identified by a green coating on the projectile tip.

bullet U.S. .30-06 M2 AP, Identified by a black coating on the projectile tip.

The distinction in the law is made on the basis of whether or not it is handgun ammo. Apparently because there are sufficient numbers of handguns that will fire the 7.62×39 (huh? I didn’t know there were any!) and .308 cartridges they declared it handgun ammo.

I love the part about the .25 ACP ammo with a brass bullet is considered AP but with a copper bullet is just fine. Considering what most experts think of the .25 ACP round I find it incredibly amusing our Congress Critters consider it AP.

Just another one of the contributors to Huffman’s rule of firearms law.

Update March 12, 2013: The original link is dead but this has the same content. I am fairly certain the definition of AP above is obsolete. The current definition is 18 USC 921(a)(17).


7 thoughts on “I didn’t know that

  1. I’m not a lawyer, but the way I read the law (on the web page of the link provided) is there isn’t a problem with possession unless you commit a crime of violence or drug trafficking while in possession of firearm capable of firing the ammo.

  2. I also think that is legal to own. When I reviewed the ATF page, I did not see the issue of individual possession, but I have read about it somewhere. My understanding is that it is ok to own, shoot, trade, and sell privately. But no retail sales, etc.

  3. I like the way the PMC Ultramag can be identified by the plastic disc at the base of the bullet. Nothing like requiring someone to disassemble their ammo to find out if it’s legal or not.

  4. Well… according to the web page those projectiles are illegal to import or sell:

    The Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (enacted September 13, 1994) 18 U.S.C. CHAPTER 44 § 921(a)(17)(B) the term ‘armor piercing ammunition’ means —

    (i) 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 […]

    But then the 30.06 black tip, which is legal, also qualifies as having “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun” because it uses the same exact core as the .308.

    I just about give up on understanding these victimless crime things. It seems to me, and there are plenty of examples, if they want to prosecute you they will find something. If they don’t want to they won’t even if they know you have done something illegal.

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