ARP 115 - The ATF and the M855 Ban


Welcome to Episode #115 of the AR15 Podcast. I’m your host Reed Snyder and with me tonight is Anthony Hardy with special guest Carmen Lout.  This is the podcast about your favorite black rifle!  This show is for you; whether you're building your first AR or you’ve been building ARs for years. There is something we can all do to take our black rifle to the next level. Brownells helps make this show possible.

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Main Topic:

  1. What is the ATF Doing?

18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(c):

(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.

18 U.S.C. 922(a)(7) & (8):

(7) for any person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammunition, unless—

(A) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State;

(B) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the purpose of exportation; or

(C) the manufacture or importation of such ammunition is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General;

(8) for any manufacturer or importer to sell or deliver armor piercing ammunition, unless such sale or delivery—

(A) is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State;

(B) is for the purpose of exportation; or

(C) is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General;

  1. Can they really do it?
  1. What can we do about it?
  1. Likely outcomes.

Statement from Erik Lund (LEO):

“The notion that ATF is only trying to protect our Nation’s Law

Enforcement officers from armor piercing bullets is a complete

fabrication and utter nonsense.  M855 ammunition has been available for

well over 20 years and in that time there is not a single recorded instance

of a LEO being killed by this specific ammunition.  M855 ammunition

does not even meet ATF’s own guidelines for what constitutes an actual

armor piercing bullet.  Virtually any rifle caliber cartridge will penetrate

Level IIIA body armor which itself was never designed to protect the

officer from rifle caliber projectiles, only handgun projectiles.  Banning

M855 ammunition will not save or protect a single LEO anywhere in the

Country.  It’s a fabrication designed to elicit sympathy from the

uninformed masses.

The sinister danger in this ban is not the loss of a specific type of

ammunition to the public in general, but in the precedent setting

administrative action that if successful, will allow the ATF to arbitrarily

and capriciously ban any type of projectile that they deem unfit for

public use.”

Reference Materials:

NRA-ILA: Explanatory article

ATF: 18 U.S.C. 921(c)18(a) basis for ammo in shooting sports

Contact the ATF!!!

The AR-15 Giveaway Winner:

Congrats to Hunter, our second giveaway winner!

Hunter now has his rifle and will be getting back to us when he gets a chance to beat the weather and hit the range.

NRA Show - April 9-12, Nashville, TN:

Interested in a listener meetup?  Post or message us on Facebook or send email to


@lyfestylesyndicateboyer: PSA/ALG/MagPul build

@dhcave: Decisions, decisions

Tom J:  Thanks for doing the show with the 80% arms, listening to it now it's now one of my new addiction just completed my 5th lower on the ar15. Now I'm saving up for the ar10 jig. Keep up the good work. Once again thanks for doing a show with 80% arms.

Thomas G:  Reed, JW, Great show, I have been thinking about tackling an 80% to widen my experience with the platform with the added benefit of pride in saying I finished the lower myself.  I hadn't heard of doing it with a router only a drill press.  I have since watched the videos and think that is much easier.

On another note the show inspired my  interest to in finishing up the curing oven I was building to do some Cerakote finishing for another added personalization with my builds.  The rabbit hole never stops!

I also want to thank you both for the insight on the red dot size choice. I was leaning towards the 2 MOA but was great to hear some validation of that choice.  Most of my friends are bolt action and handgun guys, so they don't have experience in the black rifle madness.   I didn't want to buy something at that price point, then have buyers remorse.  You can sell it and get something else but you typically lose a bit of money.

Tim C:  Guys, I ran into a situation that you may like to discuss on your show sometime. I'm sure it will help others after I was the one pulling my hair out for a few months.

After I built my hot new .300 AAC last year in the spring (16" DI rifle,) I was having intermittent issues with it not cycling right (currently supersonic only). I decided to try the easy step first, and bought a buffer spring with slightly lower "k" factor (i.e. weaker). It worked better but still not well. This last trip to the range before deer season was the straw that broke the camel's back. The other two obvious defects causing this are a barrel gas port that's too small or the gas block and barrel ports aren't in alignment. So I tore it down and started going over it with a micrometer and eyeballing other alignments not easily measured with a micrometer.

The barrel gas port size was 0.109". That looked perfectly acceptable for supersonic rounds from what I had read online. Then I lined up the dimple on the barrel with the rear hole in the gas block. I found a potential problem there. I had a hand guard end cap between the gas block and the gas block grind shoulder. I didn't realize it when I built the rifle, but the gas block was not lined up with the dimple when the end cap is installed. It lines up perfectly without it.

So I combed the web and found....nothing about gas block dimensions and whether there are different blocks for use with and without handguard end caps. I asked everyone on my "Gun Guys" Facebook group (Anthony might have seen it). And I posted it on the Project Appleseed forum. It took two days, but I finally received a relevant response of which I believe most black rifle users are unaware. I quote it as follows:

"Just so you know that you are getting good information, I work for a barrel maker as the quality manager.

That being said, the gas ports are in 2 general locations on the barrel.  the G.I. location is .295" on center from the gas block grind shoulder on the barrel.  (we put ours at .298")  The alternate location is .265" which allows for elimination of the front handguard plate and is specifically done for the DCM Service Rifle Free Float tube.

I have not been able to get a straight answer from any of the gas block manufacturers regarding the gas port location specification in the gas blocks.  Some of the gas port diameters in the gas blocks are up to .130" in diameter which allows for use on either barrel gas port location.

The way I see it is you have a few choices.

1. If you like the gas port you are using, grind about .030" off of the back of the gas block and lock tite it in place.

2. Try another gas block with a larger gas port hole. (you may have to really dig to get a diameter from the mfr.)

3. Open up the gas port on your gas block. This would have to be done with a tapered reamer so your transition would be smooth."

So that's the answer I received and it caused me to ditch my end cap and get a carbine length free float handguard (less work). Hopefully this response will help some of your listeners, who want to build a rifle, make sure they don't ignore the coordination between the gas block and the handguard end cap.

Adam B:  Hello guys , I've have a question . I get PSA Deals in my email almost everyday and they have some great prices on AR 15 upper and lower and parts also AR10's! I guess the question is what kind of quality I'm i looking to get with that brand ? I've read some good things about them but wanted your opinion on the rifle please? Will they be comparable to say a DPMS , S&W , SIG?  I have a sig 400 hunter edition with 1/8 twist 20" barrel in 556 that I can consistently shoot 1/2" groups at 100 yds with my reloads using 50gr zmax bullets ( and no I'm not into the zombie thing at all but they are the same bullets as the vmax but green instead of red tip lol ) The rifle in looking to get will be a 16" 1/7 or 1/8 so i shoot about any grain weight bullets out of it but wanting something shorter for plinking and home defence just want to make sure I'm getting something reliable !! What's the old saying get what you pay for !! Either way thanks for taking the time to do the show and keep up the good work !!

P.S. If you ever have a problem giving away a rifle again I'll take it lol !!

Livefyre Feed back from Gepper:  You guys up to speed on the "re-classification" by ATF of the M855 Green Tips? Would love to hear your thoughts and also if there is anything we can do to fight back. My understanding is that really isn't armor piercing but since it can be used in a pistol, it is...sort of???

Craig L:  Ar15 triggers. What would be the trigger you would buy for around $100? And for around $200? And your money no object, best trigger out there? Thanks.