This site is not political as it manly deals with designing building and discussing firearms. However, my friend John D. has asked me to post this letter concerning the current BATFE attempt to limit our rights. This is an important issue and something everyone needs to stand up and fight. So PLEASE read and help. Chuck
Denise Brown of BATFE’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, has published a text titled “ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE “PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES” WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C)”:
This text calls for comments on how to prohibit civilian ownership and transfer of U.S. Army specification M855 5.56x45mm cartridges. This is the current U.S. Army service round for M16 rifles and M4 carbines, and a popular civilian round for a wide variety of rifles as well.
This BATFE text is a brazen attempt to to circumvent the posting and commenting requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946. The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 requires posting of most new Federal regulations in the Federal Register followed by a comment period before implementation. The regulation dictating BATFE’s M855 ban were not posted, nor was there a comment period. BATFE is referencing the ban of M855 cartridges as a foregone conclusion in Denise Brown’s text.
As you will see in the letter presented below, this proposed ban will spill over to other 5.56x45mm and .223 Remington cartridges very quickly. You can bet your last round of M193 specification 5.56mm ammunition that BATFE will come back almost immediately with a prohibition on civilian transfer of M193 specification 5.56x45mm ammunition – using the 25% bullet jacket weight criteria of 18 USC 921 (a) (17) (B) (ii) – if they prevail in this M855 fight. The bullet jacket of the M193 projectile weighs 17.5 grains nominal, well above the 13.75 grain threshold which will be established for 55 grain projectiles if BATFE’s M855 prohibition prevails.
It is highly unlikely that ammunition manufacturers will be able to produce 55 grain bulleted 5.56x45mm ammunition with 13.75 grain maximum weight bullet jackets which will function safely at 60 k chamber pressures in 7 inch twist barrels. So all AR owners are at risk here, and possibly .223 Remington varmint shooters as well if .223 Remington ammunition with 13.75 grain maximum weight bullet jackets doesn’t function safely at 60 k chamber pressures in 12 inch twist barrels.
We do have a legal case here if we can flood BATFE with comments on Denise Brown’s devious sophistry. Here is the comment letter our reader John D. sent to BATFE:
M855 Cartridge Prohibition Beyond BATFE Statutory Authority
BATFE does not have any statutory authority to prohibit civilian distribution or possession of U.S. Army M855 specification ammunition under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B), regardless of any ‘sporting purpose’ determination. Nor does BATFE have any statutory authority to prohibit civilian distribution or possession of NATO STANAG 4172 specification cartridges under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B), again regardless of any ‘sporting purpose’ determination. The statutory language supposedly authorizing a prohibition, cited by Denise Brown on Page 3 of the BATFE text titled “ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE “PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES” WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C)”, reads:
(B) 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.
I have highlighted the words ‘constructed entirely’ for a reason which will become clear.
The projectile specified in M855 specification ammunition, U.S. Army TACOM ARDEC Drawing 9342869, has a combined steel and lead metal core. 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B) (i) applies only to projectile cores:
….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….
The core of the M855 projectile is not constructed entirely of steel, nor is the steel in the core of the M855 projectile combined with “tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium”. Rather, the steel in the projectile core of TACOM ARDEC Drawing 9342869 bullet is at the front of a lead metal component. These two components together, both within the projectile jacket, constitute the M855 projectile core. You can confirm this combination by reviewing U.S. Army TACOM ARDEC Drawing 9349656, which establishes the engineering requirements for the M855 projectile core.
Please note the English language definition of the adverb ‘entirely’, as taken from Merriam-Webster:
Definition of ENTIRELY
1 : to the full or entire extent : completely <I agree entirely> <you are entirely welcome>
2 : to the exclusion of others : solely <entirely by my own efforts>
By any correct reading of the English language, the core of the M855 projectile is not constructed entirely of steel, or a combination of steel with any of the other metals specified in 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B) (i).
18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B) (ii) applies only to projectiles larger than .22 caliber, designed and intended for a handgun, so the jacket weight percentage of the .22 caliber M855 projectile is not legally relevant to a determination of its status as ‘armor piercing ammunition’. Also MIL-C-63989C (AR), the U.S. Army specification covering M855 cartridges, does not mention handguns. Further, the gas port pressure requirements established in Section 3.10.3 of MIL-C-63989C (AR) constructively exclude the ‘AR Type handguns’ cited in Denise Brown’s text as an application for M855 cartridges.
Before an 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C)’ sporting purposes’ exemption can be considered, BATFE must establish that M855 projectiles are indeed subject to armored piercing ammunition regulation under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (B). BATFE has not made this case, nor can BATFE make this case without abusing the clear statutory language.
Please withdraw Denise Brown’s “ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE “PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES” WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921 (a) (17) (C)” and terminate any further efforts to prohibit civilian possession or distribution of M855 projectiles or cartridges. Please extend all of these comments to cover any and all cartridges conforming to NATO STANAG 4172, which are functionally and constructively identical to U.S. Army M855 cartridges.
Feel free to use any portion or all of this text in a response to BATFE at APAComments@atf.gov. You have until March 16th to register your opposition with BATFE.