Armor Piercing Pistol Ammo?

This is a guest post by Andrew Betts armor piercing

You might think that armor piercing ammunition is illegal for private citizens to own, but in reality, the prohibitions on armor piercing ammunition are all on the manufacturing and sale of it. There is actually no reason that civilians cannot possess AP ammo.

What’s even more perplexing is that the government’s definition of AP ammo has absolutely nothing to do with its ability to penetrate armor. This means that if a person is interested in acquiring carry ammunition that can penetrate soft armor, there is no legal prohibition on doing so. IMG_0395

The problem is that what the law does prohibit is handgun ammunition that is composed of certain materials. Specifically, federal law defines armor-piercing ammunition as “…any projectile or projectile core that may be used in a handgun and that is constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” That leaves solid copper bullets as completely viable.

Punching through an old, abused level IIA vest is no great feat, though. Even some traditional lead core 9mm can do it, if it is moving fast enough. What would be more impressive is if this ammunition could perforate a level IIIA vest.

Okay, so the groin protector from an OTV isn’t actually NIJ rated level IIIA. It is consistent with IIIA protection, though. We have shown in previous testing that OTV/IOTV panels offer protection that conforms to NIJ standards, even though they have not been certified by a lab. An identical panel even stopped a .44 magnum.

That means this ammunition could be a useful addition to the toolbox. I do not recommend that you swap out the IMG_0396ammo in your carry gun for the Velocity Tactics Fort Defense, though. The wounding characteristics are inferior to a quality JHP like HST or Gold Dot and your most probable threat will not be wearing armor. Nevertheless, it is absolutely possible. We have seen criminals wear body armor during armed robberies and home invasions. While it is a low probability event, it is not impossible.

If you believe that body armor is a legitimate threat, it may not be a terrible idea to carry a spare magazine loaded with the Fort Defense solid copper bullet. That said, you should also continue your training and practice your failure drills. As always, software is more important than hardware.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.

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