While the ATF opened its exemption-pulling process to comment, a consensus is gathering among firearms and legal experts that the agency went too far by not adhering to the strict statutes that govern what “armor piercing” ammunition is.
Adam Kraut at the Firearms Industry Consulting Group has drafted a letter to the ATF saying M855 is not technically armor piercing ammo based on its own definition.
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
(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.
From my research, SS109 and M855 do not fit into EITHER subsection (i) or (ii)! I am working to obtain figures direct 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.
Other experts agree, saying whether or not the ATF abandoned Congress’s original intent with the legislation to leave rifle ammo alone, the popular bullet isn’t even what regulators now claim it is.
Stay tuned for further coverage of this issue. It’s clear that the ATF stirred a hornet’s nest with this ruling and now some of the most ubiquitous ammo used in the nation’s most popular firearm is under threat.