ATF proposes banning 5.56mm/.223 caliber ammunition used in popular AR-15 style rifle

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Shooting w Bushmaster .223 5.56mm AR-15 spread at 100 yards

WASHINGTON, DC (WPMT) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(ATF) seeks to ban certain types of 5.56mm/.223 caliber ammunition.   The bullets are commonly used with the popular AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle for sporting purposes, such as target shooting.

In a 17 page document released earlier this month the ATF proposed the reclassification of “5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges” from the category of “primarily used for sporting purposes” to that of “armor piercing ammunition.”  The agency fears that the ammunition used in AR based handguns can penetrate bullet proof vests worn by law enforcement officers.

Commonly available steel-core, “green tip” M855 and SS109 rifle ammunition that is primarily intended and regularly used for “sporting purposes,” like target shooting, has been exempt from federal law banning armor piercing ammunition for decades.  A ban would have far reaching implications for target shooter, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.
To read the entire 17 page ATF document proposing the ban click here. The ATF is taking public comment on the proposed ban of commonly available steel-core ball ammunition until March 16.


  • Fedup

    More Obama backdoor gun control. This stuff isn’t anymore “armor piercing” than “regular” .223/5.56 ammo. Next they will trying to ban everyday .22 ammo.

      • D.W.

        Moron level 4 will stop way more than that weak m855. Do your research. He didn’t specify which will stop it so you get credit there but high level body armor will stop it all day for more than a few hits in the same place.

  • Roger

    The ATF is taking public comment on the proposed ban of commonly available steel-core ball ammunition until March 16. What bull shit, you know the decision has already been made.

  • D.W.

    For those of you that don’t know the TRUTH of this ammunition please read.. AP has a specific definition and this stuff has no penetrator. The core is bi-metal in construction and has SOME steel mixed in but still mostly lead based. A TRUE AP round such as .30-06 M2 has a large steel core wrapped in lead which also, for those who don’t know, is WIDELY available still because most all gun stores and Pawn shops carry it since there were millions of rounds left after WW2 and Korea. It is one of the specific rounds level 4 body armor are tested against. This is just a play to stop the mean rednecks from using their evil looking AR15s. I guess I’m a redneck. If you throw a rock hard enough their deadly. Can we ban rocks while we’re at it?

    • OneMan'sOpinion

      I’m all for banning rocks but geologists will file lawsuits on behalf of rock collectors claiming their second amendment rights are violated.

      • Joe.

        Can the crap, OMO. What we are talking about is confiscation of private property without due process by rendering a legal firearm useless. Federal agencies do not make law.

  • Jay

    I have been in law enforcement for many years, I have no issues with the public having this type amunition, this is another BATF lie. This has nothing to do with protecting law enforcement, more cops die from car wrecks than 223 amunition.

  • Stop the madness!

    I use this ammo for hunting and target practice. There has been the exemption for all these years for the 5.56 as being used as sporting ammo. This smells of gun control by the white house. I urge them to reconsider.

    • Acid_squirrel

      Did you come from CSGV? If not you should head on over there since you will fit right in. Bunch of people going on about stuff they know nothing about.

    • Matt

      Patty spoken like a person out of touch with reality I bet you voted for the person in the position of president who is also out of touch with reality

  • Pat

    Since the ATF has already banned lead, this is the next least expensive sporting ammo to go after. Meanwhile the government is stockpiling billions of rounds of more expensive hollow point bullets of the same caliber. This ammo is good only for KILLING people and twice as expensive as FMJ ammo.

  • Acid_squirrel

    If you have a chance to go over to CSGV facebook, enjoy the sheer stupidity of the comments. Just about no one there even understands what they are talking about when it comes to this ammo. Some people babbling about cop killer bullets and that no one needs armor piercing bullets. They seem to not understand any difference between rifle ammo or handgun ammo. Honestly, if this is how clueless groups like this are, they will never get their way. This will never pass, not even because of a few AR pistols being built.

  • Matt

    Sounds like this is another way of taking away our rights as per the Constitution of the United States. If the person holding the position of president was so smart which in my opinion has destroyed the US he would realize that guns and ammo are not responsible for killing, next they will be banning automobiles how many are killed by those?

  • Robert Thompson

    There are plenty of rounds that will go through a vest and if some one want to kill an officer bad enough they don’t have any thing on there head you could almost kill some one with a head shot with a good pellet riffle

  • Winghunter

    Chief Justice Joseph Story, in his influential Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, had this to say:
    “§ 1890. The importance of this article (2nd AMD) will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, AN DOMESTIC USURPATIONS OF POWER BY RULERS. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” [FN1]

  • Winghunter

    “…The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. THEIR SWORDS, AND EVERY OTHER TERRIBLE IMPLEMENT OF THE SOLDIER, ARE THE BIRTHRIGHT OF AN AMERICAN…[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788 ( Tenche Coxe was an American political economist and a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress in 1788-1789.)

  • Gibbongirl

    If you can use other ammo in an AR15, it’s not a back door gun ban. It’s a way to protect cops. Calling it a gun ban when it does not actually ban guns is a back door way to endanger cops. So, it’s not too hard to imagine why criminals types would cry foul on this. Responsible guns owners understand that banning this ammo does not ban them from purchasing and using other ammo for their AR15s.

  • Brandon

    For those of you who don’t know and are quick to assume, any regular FMJ 223 or 5.56 can easily zip through level iiiA body armor and thats what police wear. Soo yea there’s no point in banning it. If police want safety then get some plates and plate carriers.

  • Listen to This

    DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS. 2 senators want to eliminate the BATF and with good reasons. There are enough angry progun owners to do it if we do not give up. Anything else is futile because there are no checks and balances for the batf. Calling senators should be every progun owners number 1 agenda. Ask congress to defund them for now as well. Start making shirts for sell at the gun shows instructing people to do this with links, etc. We have to get organized and make the thoughts spread like a virus. We do not need to waste this opportunity. The BATF may just start the snowflake to cause an avalanche of pro gun people to get rid of the BATF for good BUT we have to encourage other pro gun owners to do these things listed above by means of social media and by mouth. Bloggers should help to get this movement started now that the BATF is really pushing its limits. It is time to put a final check to the BATF and let the them know who is in control. SPREAD THE WORD AROUND!

  • broy

    While it’s true that the ATF proposed a ban on “green tip” ammunition in February 2015, President Obama was not involved through executive action of any description. The ATF described the proposal as the result of a long-term examination, several years in the making, of whether the ammunition fit the criteria for an exemption for sporting purposes:

    TRUE: The BATF has proposed a reclassification of “5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges” from “primarily used for sporting purposes” to “armor piercing ammunition.”
    FALSE: President Obama initiated the proposed reclassification, or codified it through executive order.

    The publicly available document noted that handguns made to employ the potentially affected ammunition were not available to civilians at the time the exemption was initially granted, and that the ammo type in question did not appear to meet the standard for a sporting purpose exemption.

    • top

      TOTAL LUNACY………..far too many — maybes — “IF” — “made to kill people”… Disgusting… Like the BATF – because someone has a bunch of crap parts and pieces – the morons say “you have the parts and pieces – you are going to make an illegal weapon”……??? Well folks…lets say it this way…The men…who have the BATF Badges…all carry a dick in their pants — does that mean they are going to RAPE their FEMALE agents ?? What a bunch of crap — and to think – we have another 2 years of this ahole…and God knows how long we have to endure the BATF — Time they are gone as well… We have NO need for them at all… We need only 2 GUN LAWS….. You use a gun in a crime – you go to jail. You kill someone (where there is NO DOUBT who did the shooting) – you are executed within 90 days… NO DAMN JAIL TIME.. Why should you and I have to feed and support the pig for life..?? and…who cares “what” the weapon is…. Anyone – should be able to have ANY weapon they damn sure please…………… NOT one friggin politician has the guts to fight for something so simple as this…..that would nearly end all gun related crimes….

  • OneMan'sOpinion

    It is so very entertaining to see how angry and hateful people react when they are afraid of something.

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