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Old October 10, 2012, 10:07 AM   #1
CCCLVII
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What is the deal with steel core ammo?

Please help cure my ignorance.

I was visiting a friend in Brazil a few month back and we spent some time shooting steel targets. We used some steel core ammo that was fun to punch holes in 3/8 in steel plates.

When I came back to the states I looked it up on line for a few min and found nothing. Yesterday I was telling a friend about my trip to Brazil and he informed me that steel core ammo is not legal in the USA. Is this true and when did it happen?

I was living out side the USA from 1983 to 1998 so apparently while I was gun they banned this ammo?

p.s. I am not looking to buy any thing or to do any thing against the law I am just wondering how it came about and if it affects all calibers and older ammo.
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Old October 10, 2012, 10:48 AM   #2
dayman
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I believe steel core ammo is illegal (or maybe just really hard to find) because it's considered "armor piercing" - as you noticed shooting holes through steel.
I'm not sure if it's just not manufactured any more, or if having old stuff is also illegal.
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Old October 10, 2012, 12:57 PM   #3
willr
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It can't be too unusual, because all indoor ranges seem check for it.

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Old October 10, 2012, 02:46 PM   #4
5.56RifleGuy
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No its not illegal. You find it a lot in surplus. I don't think any of the big US manufacturers make steel core. Just about all that surplus 7.62x54 is steel core.
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Old October 10, 2012, 03:10 PM   #5
sigcurious
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Quote:
It can't be too unusual, because all indoor ranges seem check for it.
They're looking for any steel, core or jacket. There is a fire concern with any projectile containing steel.

Steel core is illegal for handguns as it is defined as AP. IIRC this restriction does not apply to rifle cartridges.

From 18USC 921

Quote:
(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
Which does bring up the question: What about using m855 in an AR pistol?
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Old October 10, 2012, 06:43 PM   #6
drail
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It's part of the whole SovietBlocChiCom thing. They have a lot more steel than lead. I think most of the lead they have goes into batteries.
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Old October 10, 2012, 07:40 PM   #7
chris in va
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I don't know about that theory either. The steel jacketed ammo from Wolf, et al just replaces the copper jacket on normal ammo and doesn't weigh any less. I suspect it's more of a copper scarcity issue than lead.
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Old October 10, 2012, 07:51 PM   #8
James K
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BATFE has ruled that, even if the ammo can be fired in some handguns, U.S. military AP ammo (.30, 7.62, and 5.56) is not "armor piercing" as defined in the law because the steel component is not a large enough percentage of the total mass to meet the "constructed entirely" part of the definition.

But that does not apply to all-steel or steel core bullets used in some foreign ammo.

Jim
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Old October 10, 2012, 07:56 PM   #9
sigcurious
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Interesting and good to know.
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Old October 10, 2012, 10:01 PM   #10
joshobrien77
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You don't need steel core to burn through steel plate. My .270 with 90grn HP did a number on my walking targets made from ar500 out at 100 yds.

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Old October 10, 2012, 10:46 PM   #11
Budda
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We shot hundreds of rounds in an AK 47 that were steel core in the 90's I do not think they are true armor piercing though. That was when you could get an AK for $400.
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Old October 11, 2012, 09:15 AM   #12
carguychris
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Quote:
You don't need steel core to burn through steel plate. My .270 with 90grn HP did a number on my walking targets...
Most high-velocity full-power rifle rounds with military FMJ or civilian hunting bullets will punch through steel plates without much trouble. Some bullets specifically designed for target shooting lack the structural integrity to do the job, but these bullets are the exception, not the rule.

The legal issue is with low-velocity handgun bullets; refer to sigcurious' prior post.
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Old October 11, 2012, 10:22 AM   #13
drail
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Chris, I don't think that copper is really any more "scarce" than it was 10 years ago. The demand has certainly skyrocketed and driven the prices up. Countries like China have been buying up a lot of metals like lead and copper. As fast as they can find sources. The main reason a coil of copper wire costs $75 in the stores now is mainly because of China.
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Old October 11, 2012, 05:13 PM   #14
Clifford L. Hughes
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The problem with steel core bullets, especially in the Western United States , is that when they strike rocks they spark and could cause brush fires. In the jungles of South America they most likely have this problem.

I have shot a lot of AP through my Model 70, 3006 in the California desert with out damaging my rifle. Never in brush country! Be Safe

Semper Fi.

Gunnery Sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

Last edited by Clifford L. Hughes; October 11, 2012 at 05:51 PM.
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