Armor Piercing Pistol Ammo… or not.

Well the Bureau of All Things Fun and Exciting (BATFE) is at it again.  Hot on the heels of them suddenly changing direction with the Sig Sauer pistol brace, in order to distract gun owners from that issue, they introduced an entirely new one. A proposed ban on some now controversial rifle ammunition.  I am of course talking about the M855 green tip ammo.  While everyone seems to be focused on whether or not the ammo is armor-piercing, or if it meets the requirements for exemption or not under the ATF’s ruling, no one seems to be pointing out the obvious.  There is a difference between a “handgun” and a “pistol” in terms of understanding, at least from the perspective of a firearms owner.

Now when most people think of a pistol, they are likely thinking of something along the lines of a Glock or Ruger or Smith & Wesson, possibly even a revolver. It has never occurred to the average lay person that a pistol could be chambered in rifle calibers.

It has never occurred to them that a weapon like the one pictured below, is a pistol.


The pistol above, is obviously not a “handgun” since it requires two hands to use effectively. But by definition, it is a pistol.  If you add a Rifle stock to this pistol it then becomes a Short Barreled Rifle.  The pistol above was created because of the onerous, painful, and frankly idiotic legislation about what does and what does not constitute a short barreled anything (the National Firearms Act of 1936, that doesn’t apply to criminals since Haynes vs. the US.)

M855 ammo is not anymore or any less armor-piercing than any other rifle ammo. And just like there are rifles that shoot pistol ammo, such as the 9mm conversions of some rifles, there are pistols that shoot rifle ammo.  One example of which is a new pistol made my Heizer that they call a “Pocket AK,” that shoots a 7.62mm x 39 mm round.  Although the round is slightly shorter in length, it is roughly the same caliber as the .308 round that I use in my hunting rifle.


While the focus of the proposed ban on M855 ammo is on the supposed “armor-piercing” aspect, no one has bothered to mention what kind of armor that it is presumably is capable of piercing. Denim? Steel plate? Tinfoil hat? What ballistic level of protection would define what constitutes armor piercing? Our police officers often wear some type of ballistic protection, but that protection is limited.  As my wife and I were doing some home improvements, she and I commented about the drill bits that we were using.  The bits were high speed, high performance bits designed to be used on a myriad of materials from wood to steel.  If applied to a ballistic vest, the drill bit would punch a hole through it with no issues. Are those drill bits armor-piercing? Should they be put on a registry somewhere and should I have to pass a background check to have them?  The lack of detail about what actually does constitute “armor-piercing” in the proposed ban should be telling. At the time of writing this, there has not been a single incident of an officer being shot by M855 ammo.

If the M855 ammunition is banned, how difficult would it be for the ATF to then decide that all rifle ammo that can be fired in a “pistol” is armor-piercing and therefore should be banned.  Every single rifle caliber round would then be illegal in this country, since every single rifle caliber round can potentially be used in a “pistol” of some type.  (The instant someone makes a “pistol” for a rifle round of any caliber, the ammo for that rifle would then be considered “armor-piercing pistol ammo” and be banned.)

When everything is taken into consideration, it becomes clear that the proposed ban on the most popular rifle ammunition in the country has nothing to do with “armor-piercing” or “protecting officer’s lives” as some would attempt to have you believe.  Instead it has to do with an administration that is hell-bent on making it difficult to impossible for gun owners.

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