Who Needs a Candy Heart When You Have BATFE?

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Educate yourself on the current nonsense. Mad Duo


Who Needs a Candy Heart When You Have BATFE?

Our Lawyer Friend Adam K. weighs in.

BATFE’s breakup with SS109/M855 the day before Valentine’s Day left many of us heartbroken. Our beloved 62gr cheap plinking round which was available at fine firearms retailers across the country was dealt a devastating blow. The BATFE was kind enough to claim that the new framework for the “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” no longer exempted SS109/M855 from classification as “armor piercing” as defined under federal law. As our collective hearts sank, our brains began to ponder how this could have happened.


In order to understand we first need to know how the law defines armor piercing ammunition. That can be found in 18 USC § 921(a)(17)(B) which defines “armor piercing ammunition” as:

(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

(ii) 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.

The primarily intended for sporting purposes exemption can be found in the section below. It reads:

(C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include … a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes…


So what gives? I went back to the legislative debates surrounding passage of the Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act of 1986. It seems at the time the media was causing panic about criminals being able to obtain “armor piercing” ammunition. Kevlar was relatively new and the concern was that officers would be slain in the street (never mind the fact the bullet which cause the panic had been on the market for at least 8 years and .44 mag would penetrate the new vests anyway). The language in section (i) is the result of that panic. The statute was modified by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the current language is the result of that.

Freedom Rifle 1

One of the criteria the BATFE purports to use in determining whether ammunition fits into the newly crafted framework is whether the ammunition, which contains armor defeating metals, can be fired from a relatively small, concealable firearm! So why is SS109/M855 being targeted? AR-type pistols and the fact that the “armor piercing” projectile MAY be used in a handgun.


My research indicates SS109 and M855 do not fit into EITHER subsection (i) or (ii)! I am working to obtain figures directly from a manufacturer for an exhibit, but subsection (i) has no bearing on the classification because the core is made of a steel penetrator weighing about +/- 10 grains with the rest being lead! A far cry from the “constructed entirely….from one of a combination of….steel,” requirement. Subsection (ii) would be eliminated because the jacket weight is about 17% of the projectile weight, not withstanding the fact that the projectile is .22 caliber AND was neither designed nor intended for use in a handgun.

It’s my position that the BATFE does not and NEVER did have the authority to grant an exemption to SS109/M855 under the “primarily intended for sporting purposes” exemption to armor piercing ammunition as it never fit the definition of armor piercing.

With regard to officer safety, Breach Bang Cowan! penned a love letter to the BATFE. The BATFE believes that removal of the M855 and SS109 will help prevent law enforcement deaths as both rounds can penetrate common law enforcement soft body armor. I can only point out that many other government agencies including the FBI and the National Institute for Justice (specifically the  NIJ Ballistic Resistance Standard, 0101.06) state that any 5.56mm or .223 round, even the most common 55 grain FMJ can penetrate the level II and level IIIA armor. So banning what is considered by the ATF to be an “armor piercing” round, the M855/SS109, is misinformed, disingenuous or improperly researched.


More importantly, if we look to the criteria of officer safety:

the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted annual report shows that of the 535 Officers feloniously killed 2003-2012 (the most current statistics), only 92 were killed with rifles. Of those killed with rifles, only 5 were killed by a rifle chambered in .223/5.56mm.  It’s also telling that of the 535 officers killed, 21 died as a direct result of a body armor penetration (identified as the round fired exceeding the vest’s protection rating) and only one of total body armor failure.  Looking strictly at statistics, a ban on M855/SS109 does not equal a common sense approach to officer protection or a wise use of tax payer money.


We will see if BATFE moves forward with actually implementing the SS109/M855 reclassification. But we also need to look at the proposed framework BATFE has created to classify projectiles in the future. There are numerous manufacturers who are producing projectiles made of brass in order to be more environmentally friendly and/or to make a more effective projectile for hunting purposes. This creates a dangerous environment which BATFE could abuse.

Interested in taking action? Read BATFE’s proposal here

Be sure to take some time to draft a comment. As always, try to find issues that BATFE didn’t think of, especially with their proposed framework.

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10 thoughts on “Who Needs a Candy Heart When You Have BATFE?

  • February 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

    If the subject cartridges do not meet the statutory definition of armor piercing, then won’t a simple lawsuit against the ATF for an illegal overreach be sufficient to fix the problem? Don’t play their game and argue irrelevant details — stick to the law and relevant facts.

  • Pingback: BATFE To Ban Common AR-15 Ammo - Page 3

  • February 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    The interesting thing I have not seen mentioned is the use of 5.56 rounds in a shorter barreled weapon platform could actually be better for LEO relying on Lvl III Armour. SS109/M855 both are designed to reach optimal velocity out of 18inch barrels which is what makes the light round effective. Although in the US some reason a rifle with a 15 inch barrel magically becomes readily concealable, i would guess most commercial AR pistols are sub 10 inch barrels. At that length ss109/m855 velocity falls in the low 2000 FPS and although I have not found a Body Armour penetration test wound channels are not considered lethal with FBI penetration tests. So it would be interesting to see how much penetration AR pistol can achieve in a gelatin block after going through a vest.

  • February 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    “One of the criteria the BATFE purports to use in determining whether ammunition fits into the newly crafted framework is whether the ammunition, which contains armor defeating metals, can be fired from a relatively small, concealable firearm!”

    An AR pistol is many things – relatively small and concealable are NOT two of them!

  • February 21, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Like killing an ant with a 10# sledge hammer, I wonder if we are not over-thinking our response?

    Since, some of BATFE’s effort to ban Green tips can be likely traced to the AR pistol and resulting brace interpretations of last year…

    And using BATF’s “used as designed” interpretation of non-existent language in the NFA Act and LEOSA (both as amended)…

    Why not simply have manufacturers label SS/109M855 ammunition boxes as “RIFLE ONLY AMMUNITION”? A reasonable, law-abiding citizen can easily interpret this statement.

    Granted, we should NOT even be having this discussion, but, since we are, lets throw BATFE’s language back at them!

  • February 20, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    “Disingenuous” INDEED!! As stated, ANY .223 projectile will defeat soft body armor. Do not want to consider the effects of a polymer tipped round! This is simply another politically motivated strike at those of us who “cling to our guns an bibles”. Only the sheep will consider this a victory…baah, baah baah… “stock-up now, apocalypse soon”…

  • February 20, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you David. I have several LEO friends that think like you. But they are becoming few and far between. Thanks for your service protecting your fellow man.

    • February 21, 2015 at 10:45 pm


      This is something we must all start working on. The lack of constitutionally minded people is a direct result of our education system. We are not teaching our kids American history or civics anymore. We don’t even teach cursive anymore, and what is this original Constitution written in? I fear this is by design. Certain people do not want our kids growing up with a sense of national pride, rugged individualism or self reliance. Instead our education system is geared to drive wedges between parent and child with the constant changes in the way math is taught. It makes the kids see parents as dumb because we can not help our kids. Look into the common core math. If we do not get education roped in and make changes in the way our kids are taught they are going to be turning out young adults who will gladly take our rights at the point of a gun.

      We are trying to counter this in this part of Ohio. The Sheriff I work for just received the Sheriff of the year award from the National Sheriff’s association. This was in part because he implemented an armed teacher program very early on. We have been teaching teachers to defend our students for several years now. I am one of the instructors who put the corse together. Another way I am trying to get more people interested in the true meaning of the second amendment is by giving free concealed carry classes. Between the Teacher classes, which is free to the schools through our office, and the free class that myself and another fire arms instructor have been putting on, we have probably introduced around 500 people to self defensive handgun tactics over the last 3 to 4 years. We do one to two free classes every year (we have had as many as 60 students in one class) then the office has been giving 2 to 3 teacher classes per year since Sandy Hook. We usually run 30 teachers in these.

      My suggestion is get involved with local politics, the school board, city council, county commissioners and so on. We have all got to do our part.

      David Spicer


  • February 20, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    First off the whole for “sporting purposes” thing is against the Constitution. The Second Amendment was not put in the Constitution for “sporting purposes”. The Second Amendment is there to ensure the people have a means to rise up and defend themselves from a tyrannical government. PERIOD END OF STORY. I have been a deputy sheriff for 20 years, soon to be 21 with soon to be 19 of those years spent on a SWAT team. I am not willing to give up my RIGHTS FOR SECURITY ever!

    Doesn’t this make one wonder, what is our government afraid of???? What do they have planned for our future????

    David Spicer


    • February 20, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      Amen and Indeed Good Sir!

      I couldn’t agree with you more.

      Thank You Dave.

      Be well, be safe and be blessed.


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