ATF and Alphabet Soup…Lessons In Plain Meaning

Grey Ghost Gear

They’re saying as of right now the ATF has decided not to ban the M855…that’s not entirely accurate, and it doesn’t change the tomfuckery that went on.

Today the ATF said in a statement it would not seek to issue final guidelines at this time (link below). They advise they will wait until the end of the comment period and then evaluate those comments before “Proceeding with any framework.”

Well, WTF does that mean? Weren’t they supposed to do that anyway?

Here’s a few words from our favorite bearded gun-slinging attorney. You need to read it and understand what’s going on. This isn’t the last time they’re going to try some lawless shit like this – though the next time might be a little more sneaky…unless that’s what they’re doing now.  Mad Duo


ATF and Alphabet Soup…Lessons In Plain Meaning

Do you recall sitting in English class during high school to hear other students and the teacher debate the deeper meaning of a passage? I do. It would seem that some of these individuals and scholars spent abhorrent amounts of time searching for alternate meaning to a rather simple sentence. Perhaps to create the illusion they were smarter than they actually were or perhaps to change the meaning of what was quite literally “the carpet was red.”

It would seem that ATF had taken the same kind of approach in classifying SS109/M855 “green tip” as armor piercing in the mid 80’s. After a lot of searching and the help of some industry friends, I was able to locate the original determination letter which exempted green tip ammunition from being classified as armor piercing.

At the time the exemption was granted, armor piercing was defined as:

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. Such term does not include … a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes…

As half the internet has now gone to their basement with a hacksaw, torch or other implement to perform surgery on one of these projectiles to find out what it is really composed of, it should be no surprise that the round is not armor piercing by definition. But how did ATF view it?

ATF in its determination said:

Examination of the SS109 (M855 Ball) ammunition indicates that the projectile is constructed using a full metal jacket and projectile cores constructed of a steel penetrator located forward of a lead core. Based on its construction, the SS109/ M855 projectile meets the above definition of armor piercing ammunition.

How could that be? The projectile itself is not made out of one of the enumerated materials, so that only leaves the core. As ATF has developed an affinity in utilizing dictionaries to define terms, such as “redesign” in their Sig Arm Brace open letter, it is only fair that the favor is returned.

M855_BAN_3jpg defines “core” as a noun meaning “the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.”As the construct of the projectile is a copper jacket, steel penetrator and lead core, weighing roughly 20 grains, 10 grains and 32 grains respectively, it would seem unlikely that the steel penetrator could be considered the core. That is, unless you were to engage in some outlandish analysis to arrive at that conclusion, much like my high school English experiences.


It would seem as I’ve been arguing all along, ATF never had the authority to regulate SS109/M855 from the beginning. It, by definition, does not fit within the criteria that Congress set out.

If you haven’t submitted a comment there is still time. And while the M855 issue is obviously on the forefront of everyone’s minds; be sure to look at the proposed framework. It is a dangerous proposition with far reaching implications that will come back to hurt us as a community if it is not addressed. The more individuals looking at what is proposed, thinking about it and writing responses as to how it would negatively affect the firearms community, the better.

Do You Even Liberty 4

Submit your comment by March 16, 2015. You can do so in one of three ways:

ATF website: [email protected] Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

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.

Here’s that ATF advisory:

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9 thoughts on “ATF and Alphabet Soup…Lessons In Plain Meaning

  • March 11, 2015 at 7:43 am

    After your initial blog, I did a little researcher and blogged myself and sent my comments to BATF. I, like the above article, see this as a temporary victory. I have no doubt this was slight of hand attempt at gun control. Let me urge your reader to stay in the fight.

    You can see my comments at my shameless self promotion

  • March 10, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    What about the fact the law states a projectile LARGER than .22. 5.56 is a 22 last I looked.

  • March 10, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Can’t even get to the site to submit a comment. Keeps saying server reset. Hopefully they are swamped with comments and took the server down. Crossing my fingers.

  • March 10, 2015 at 3:24 pm


    I missed one point. They are using the AR with a “pistol lower” (we kind of brought that on ourselves) as the “handgun” in this definition.

    Common sense does not prevail.

    • March 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      As so many other people have noted, just to have it here as well, the AR “handguns” to which the ATF are referring are a touch over 5 lbs, over two-feet long, at least $1,000 dollars, are not used by any thugs anywhere, and to-date have never been recorded to have shot a single police officer anywhere, ever, period.

      How terrifying.

      Mind you, that could change suddenly now that they’ve had this defeat, with a masked ‘culprit’ unconscious from drugs outside on the sidewalk, or pronounced dead in another state the day before, as has been the style lately, so keep your BS meter (and video cameras) juiced up, they won’t take Hell No for an answer.

  • March 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    So as M855 is now technically not AP according to your research, shall I keep it as it is not banned? If I remember correctly, they were not going to ban it, more correctly they were going to remove it from the exclusion list?

    In that case, removing it from an exclusionary list, mixed with your reasoning, should mean “no change”

    Either way, not dropping my stash.

  • March 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    First off tried the atf url on this post and it is not active. After reading the information it is clear that the ATF and the government administration is doing its best to change the meaning of the law to conform to their agenda. The round itself is not armor piercing and does not fit inside of a “handgun” as that definition expresses.

  • March 10, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    i would like to express my opposition to the proposed M855 ban. I have been a police officer for over 6 years, and in no way shape or form do I feel that this ban would save lives.


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