5.56/.223 penetrator ammo

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by homeshow, Sep 21, 2008.

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  1. homeshow
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    homeshow Monkey+

  2. ghrit
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    ghrit troglodyte Administrator Founding Member

    Bullets have a steel core
    While the 5.56x45 and the .223 are interchangeable, the 5.56 is a military round that runs at higher pressures than its .223 counterpart

    Some sources indicate law enforcement only, but I have not confirmed that.
  3. RouteClearence
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    RouteClearence Monkey++

    The M855 is the standard issue round for the M16A2-M4 rifle since the mid '80's. The official data says that this round can penatrate up to 1/4" of standard steel plate at 100 meters. I never fired my M4 in retaliation while deployed so I cannot vouch for the officail claims. What I can say about this round is that if the steel core is off center of the entire projectile, then it will "key hole" upon leaving the muzzle. Now this may not bode well for accuracy, but termimal ballistics can be quite devastating on soft targets.
    I also would say that the price is resonable due to the fact that Ammunitiontogo was able to procure such a new lot of anything out of Lake City. You could also reload the same thing for a lot cheaper, M885 milsurp projectiles are widely available.
  4. sniper-66
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    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    The M855 was developed as a light armor piercing round. the M855 round is loaded with the SS109 bullet. It weighs 62 gr. and takes a faster twist to properly stabilize, hence the 1:7 twist of the newer A2s. The older M193 is 55gr and was designed to be shot in a 1:12 twist for stabilization. Many people will compromise with a 1:9 twist to fire both rounds. the Army manual on ammunition indicates that M193 can be fire accebtably in the 1:7 with little accuaracy issues. If the M855 is fired in 1:12, it will not be stablized sufficiently and you will begin to get keyhole groups as Routeclearance mentioned.
    The SS109 bullet has a cone shaped penetrator in the nose made of tungsten with a lead core behind the penetrator. Tungsten is a relatively light weight metal and on it's own, doesn't have the kinetic energy to penetrate armor, so the lead core give the kinetic energy that the tungsten penetrator needs to cut through armor. Because the bullet is an "armor piercing" round, people expect magic qualities from it and become dismayed when the round can't perform to 7.62 or .50 cal capabilities. If you realize that the bullet is a .22 caliber round and it can only do .22 caliber damage, then the M855 is a good round.
    I shoot M855 in my A2's and M193 in my A1's. The stuff does exactly what it was designed to do.
    Brokor likes this.
  5. NVBeav
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    NVBeav Monkey++

    Sniper -- thanks for the explanation on the rifling twist. Sounds like 1:7 will be good if I can ever get my AR going.

    Also, I wanted to mention that Martin97 has (had?) some M855 in lots of 2,000 if you plan to do any reloading. Great product and it was great dealing with him.
  6. Grey Wolf
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    Grey Wolf Monkey+

    Hi all, there seems to be some misconception here.
    This is from the site Ammo Oracle and this is the information I remember receiving while I was in the Army on the various type of rounds and can be verified independently;
    “Q. Why did the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com[​IMG]<st1:country-region w:st=" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">US</st1:country-region></st1:place> Military adopt M855 for the M16?</B><?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comhttp://www.survivalmonkey.com/forum/ />[/COLOR][/COLOR]
    [FONT=<b]<font color=" />[/FONT]
    M855 and M856 are newer rounds developed in the late 1970s by Fabrique Nationale (FN) of <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Belgium</st1:place></st1:country-region>. FN was developing a new 5.56mm belt-fed machine gun they called the "Minimi" (Mini-Machinegun) for entry into the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region> military's Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) program. The SAW was to augment, and in many cases replace, the 7.62×51mm M60 made by Saco Defense (now part of the General Dynamics Armament Division). Because there was a lot of resistance to giving up larger, longer-range round of the M60, FN focused on making the SAW perform better at longer ranges than existing 5.56 platforms (i.e., the M16). They did this primarily by developing new bullets: the SS-109 "ball" round and the L-110 tracer.
    The SS-109 bullet uses a "compound" core, with a lead base topped by a steel penetrator, all covered in a gilding-metal (copper alloy) jacket. The L-110 tracer bullet has a copper-plated steel jacket and like all tracer bullets, is hollowed out at the base and filled with tracing compound. Both bullets are much longer in length than the earlier 55gr bullets, especially the L-110 tracer, which was designed to trace out to 800m, verses 450m for the older M196 tracer round. Due to their increased length, these bullets require a faster rifling twist to be properly stabilized. The military settled on a twist rate of 1:7, which is a compromise between the 1:9 twist ideal for SS-109 bullets and the 1:6 twist ideal for L-110 tracers.
    Remember, the goal of these new bullets was improving long range performance. For example, the SS-109 bullet was proven to have better penetration of the then-current-issue steel helmet at 600m than the M80 "ball" ammo fired by the M60. The M80 ammo was not able to penetrate both sides of the helmet at that distance; the SS-109 bullet could. The L-110 tracers provided a visible trace out to 800m, which was seen as the maximum effective range of the SAW. These improvements in long-range performance satisfied the military and the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region> ultimately adopted the Minimi as the M249 SAW. They also adopted the new FN bullets and the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region> specs for the loaded rounds are called M855 and M856.
    About the time the SAW was adopted, the M16 "A2 revision" program was underway and it was decided to adopt the new SAW ammo (and its rifling twist) for the M16A2. As older M16A1 1:12 twist barrels were not able to stabilize the longer bullets, the new bullets had to be marked (in countries with older 1:12 rifles) in order to make sure that the new ammo wasn't used in the older rifles. M855 received green painted tips and M856 received orange. M193 is plain and M196 is red.
    Take a look at:
    Fabrique Nationale (FN)
    The Minimi from FN--precursor to the SAW.

    Fact: The specifications for the various rounds are:
    M193: Defined by: Mil-C-9963F
    55 grain bullet (q 2 grains) at a muzzle velocity of 3,165 (q 40 fps) from a 20" barrel @ 78 feet from the muzzle. Accuracy: maximum of a two inch mean radius at 200 yards from ten 10 shot groups (~3 MOA). "Statistically average" M193 ranges from 1.2 to 1.6 inches mean radius, which is equivalent to 1.8 to 2.4 MOA. Velocity runs about 3,200 fps due to gas loss through the port. Accuracy is typically around 2 to 2+ MOA from an M16A1 rifle at ranges of 100 to 300 yards. M193 ammunition should have 1:12 twist or faster. M193 is barely stabilized with 1:14 at ambient temperatures and will not stabilize at all when the air temperature drops below freezing.
    M855: Defined in MIL-C-63989
    NATO specifications for M855 Ball require a 61.7 grain (q 1.5 grains) with a hardened steel penetrator at a velocity of 3,000 fps (q 40 fps) from a 20" barrel @ 78 feet from the muzzle. Typical velocity 15 feet from the M16A2's muzzle is 3,100 fps. Accuracy: maximum of approximately four MOA over the 100 to 600 yard range. Typical accuracy of average lots in an M16A2 is about 2+ MOA. This round must also penetrate a nominal 10 gauge SAE 1010 or 1020 steel test plate at a range of at least 570 meters (623 yards). The M193 round will penetrate this same plate reliably at 400 yards and about half the time at 500 yards. The 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO rounds will penetrate it reliably out to 700 yards or more. Because the steel penetrator increases the length and changes the weight distribution of the SS-109 bullet, it is suitable for use only in barrels with a twist of one turn in nine inches or faster. 1:10 twist will barely stabilize this round and not below zero degrees F.


    What type of ammo is current issue for US Military forces?
    All front-line forces are armed with M16A2s and M4s and are issued M855 as standard-issue ammo. A few remaining Reserve and National Guard units, as well as some Air Force units, still carry M16A1s (you've probably seen them in the airports lately) and are issued M193 Ball (if they are issued any ammo at all) because of the difference in twist of the barrel.
    Some special forces units, particularly in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Iraq</st1:place></st1:country-region>, are using Mk262 and Mk262 Mod1 ammo. These are rounds loaded with heavy (up to 77 grain) JHP match bullets, in response to some issues with M855 terminal performance. This continues a recent trend towards heavier rounds (69 grains and over) for improved terminal ballistic performance.
    Q. What about Mk262 or Mk262 Mod1?
    Due to the poor performance of M855 ammunition, particularly in short-barreled carbines of 10.5-14.5" in length, Navy SEALs, and eventually other SOCOM units, began experimenting with using loads originally designed for marksmanship units for combat. It was soon discovered that while these loads were both very accurate and had excellent terminal ballistics even from short barrels, the loads weren't quite ideal for combat. The target bullets had no cannelure, and the bullets weren't crimped in place, which could allow bullet set-back during feeding and raise chamber pressures to dangerous levels. Further, most loads were of somewhat mild velocities, as the load was chosen with accuracy, not terminal ballistics, in mind.
    Sierra was asked to produce a bullet cannelured version, but they intially refused.
    Nosler did not have any problems putting a cannelure on their 77 gr bullet. Black Hills Ammunition was approached to make a slightly modified version of these loads for combat use. A cannelure was specified, the bullets were to be crimped, and the load was to be up to military chamber pressures, with maximum safe velocity being desired. The primers were to be crimped and sealed, and of course, overall length had allow for loading in standard magazines.
    The Marines (in conjunction with a large Federal LE agency) did extensive testing of this large experimental batch of BH loaded Nosler 77 gr cannelured OTM's in the Fall of 2002. It offered outstanding terminal performance out to the maximum test distance of 300 yards. They then ordered 1.1 million rounds of cannelured 77 gr OTM's via the existing Mk262 SOCOM contract (which did not specify a manufacturer) administered through Crane. The cannelured 77 gr load was designated Mk262 Mod 1, and the orginal Mk262 was re-designated Mk262 Mod 0.
    According to one observer: "At this point bureaucracy, nepostism, and capitalism converged. Sierra realized they were about to lose a VERY LARGE contract and suddenly they agreed to make the 77 gr SMK with a cannelure. Crane pushed for Sierra to get the contract over Nosler, although the Nosler offered better terminal performance. On the other hand, in all fairness, the Sierra bullet was slightly more accurate out of government test barrels than the Nosler--both shoot nearly the same out of real rifles, such as the by then type classified Mk12 SPR."
    Therefore, while a few hundred-thousand rounds of 77 gr Nosler OTM was manufactured and used primarily for testing, the cannelured 77 gr SMK was used in the the multi-million round contract for the Mk262 Mod 1.
    Recently, Sierra agreed to add a minimal crimp to their bullet, and this has since replaced the Nosler bullet in the current versions of Mk262 Mod1. As of April 2004, Mk 262 Mod1 has seen extensive use in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Iraq</st1:place></st1:country-region>, in carbines with barrels as short as 10.5", and has proven to be very effective at ranges that M855 is woefully inadequate from the same weapons. It is also commonly used in the Army's "Special Purpose Rifles" (SPRs), which are accurized 18"-barreled rifles used by soldiers with additional combat marksmanship training in a squad sharp-shooter role.


    The M855 was designed for Soviet Union soldiers wearing there version of body armor pouring through the Fulda Gap in Germany, in this regard it works as advertised, however against small malnourished people or if they are on some kind of narcotic the performance is less than stellar and multiple rounds may be needed to take them out of the fight. In this rounds defense the only way to end this kind of fight is to separate the Brain from the Brain Stem or they must bleed out and die from blood loss and shock.

    Q. I heard that M855 has had serious stopping problems in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:country-region>, and earlier in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Somalia</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Is this true?
    <?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" /><v:shapetype id=_x0000_t75 stroked="f" filled="f" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" o:preferrelative="t" o:spt="75" coordsize="21600,21600"><v:stroke joinstyle="miter"></v:stroke><v:formulas><v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"></v:f></v:formulas><v:path o:connecttype="rect" gradientshapeok="t" o:extrusionok="f"></v:path><o:lock aspectratio="t" v:ext="edit"></o:lock></v:shapetype><v:shape id=_x0000_i1025 style="WIDTH: 4.5pt; HEIGHT: 4.5pt" alt="" type="#_x0000_t75"><v:imagedata o:href="http://ammo.ar15.com/member/images/innerBottomLeft.gif" src="file:///C:\DOCUME~1\WILDWO~1\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_image001.gif"></v:imagedata></v:shape>
    It's possible, yes.
    Though early M855 experiments showed the round fragments well in the lab, more recent testing has been showing inconsistent fragmentation. Partially because of the complex construction of the round, M855 has widely-variable yaw performance, often not yawing at all through 7-8" or even 10" of tissue. Testing has shown large batch-to-batch differences in yaw performance even from the same manufacturer, and given the number of plants manufacturing SS-109-type bullets, fragmentation performance is very difficult to predict. This is complicated by the low velocity implicit in using M855 out of the short barreled M4 platform.
    Interesting, few of these reports seem to be coming from troops 20" or SAW platforms. It would seem that the additional velocity from the longer barrel provides adequate usable fragmentation range for M855 in the majority of cases. From shorter barrels, such as the M4's 14.5" barrel, M855's fragmentation range varies from as much as 90m to as little as 10m, which frequently isn't enough range.
    From Dr. Roberts:
    "Combat operations the past few months have again highlighted terminal performance deficiencies with 5.56x45mm 62 gr. M855 FMJ. These problems have primarily been manifested as inadequate incapacitation of enemy forces despite their being hit multiple times by M855 bullets. These failures appear to be associated with the bullets exiting the body of the enemy soldier without yawing or fragmenting. This failure to yaw and fragment can be caused by reduced impact velocities as when fired from short barrel weapons or when the range increases. It can also occur when the bullets pass through only minimal tissue, such as a limb or the chest of a thin, malnourished individual, as the bullet may exit the body before it has a chance to yaw and fragment. In addition, bullets of the SS109/M855 type are manufactured by many countries in numerous production plants. Although all SS109/M855 types must be 62 gr. FMJ bullets constructed with a steel penetrator in the nose, the composition, thickness, and relative weights of the jackets, penetrators, and cores are quite variable, as are the types and position of the cannelures. Because of the significant differences in construction between bullets within the SS109/M855 category, terminal performance is quite variable—with differences noted in yaw, fragmentation, and penetration depths. Luke Haag’s papers in the AFTE Journal (33(1):11-28, Winter 2001) describe this problem."
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    Opinion: It seems that several projects are in the works to review the use of M855 by the U.S. Military, and even replace the round in light of these terminal performance issues. “
    http://www.ammo-oracle.com/
  7. sniper-66
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    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Greywolf, instead of posting a copy from the often quoted oracle novel, why don't you paraphrase for us what is being misconceived here.
    In Iraq, I saw lots and lots of dead insurgents that can show otherwise, and there were a lot of wounded insurgents being treated with horrific wound channels that the guys would argue the opposite position on the lack of bullet tumbling.
    This oracle article is several years old and it was produced about the same time that there was a big push for the 6.8 SPC by the SF community. Political sides played a big part in the M855 bashing. I know a guy working for Lake City who is in the "know", I asked him about the M855 going away and his answer, "Are you kidding? not in my lifetime"

    Whoa, hey, just noticed, new to the board, welcome. Not jumping on here, just good discussion.
  8. Grey Wolf
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    Grey Wolf Monkey+

    I knew this would be the reaction. I am posting the facts as they are known from the time the M855 was adopted by the Military. And these are the facts. I won't banter with you on what you believe but many times when someone posts they don't back it up with information. Ammo Oracle was the most convenient place to find this info, however a search will show these same truths in US military lit to include USAMU.
    I can name more and post links to studies done buy the US military if need be. :eek:

    There is no one here that can deny why this round was created, The Former Soviet Union wearing their version of armor which consisted of "Plates of metal hardened" against the M198 round. I did not say the M855 could not do the job only what the article stated.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com[​IMG]<st1:placeType w:st="on">Lake</st1:placeType> <st1:placeType w:st="on">City</st1:placeType></st1:place> may not be in the know as politics changes with the wind.
    He only knows what the last decision past to him was.

    No on can deny the demand for MK262 has risen and the troops are asking for it as well as the commanders.

    I didn't come here to start a flame war and I'm not trolling.

    The M855 isn't going to go anywhere because there will always be a requirement for it. It does what it was designed to do but when using against enemy it was not designed for marksmanship becomes very important and thankfully the US Military is some of the best in the world.

    I've carried the M16 A1 and A2, the 90mm Recoilless rifle, the M21 sniper system, M60 and M249 SAW, The M24, the .45 and 9MM. I was there when these transitions took place and the reasons the M855 came to be are what was posted.
    During the same time the M60 and Ma Duce had SLAP rounds come out for them to deal with soldiers and vehicles wearing armor.
    If you follow the sciencetists who work on this stuff, sometime in my lifetime advances in body armor will require a redesigned round or heavier armor. Search for Liquid Armor on Google and you will see just one possibility.

    These are just the facts.

  9. ghrit
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    ghrit troglodyte Administrator Founding Member

    So, OK. We have

    M193 - 55gr JSP 1:12 will stabilize, can be used in 1:9 (What happens with 1:7?)
    M855 - 62gr steel penetrator core Wants 1:9 to stabilize, may work with 1:7 or the rare 1:6 Bad ballistics with 1:12

    There are other heavier bullets and loadings out there that the military is playing with, but not currently available to us preppers. Very few of us can do the care and feeding of a SAW, so academic interest only.

    So homeshow's original question is answered? Suitable for practice but not a precision round?

    (Welcome aboard, Grey Wolf.)
  10. JohnJ_5114
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    JohnJ_5114 Monkey+

    Hello! Some pretty good info but just to clarify that the 855 is not a tungsten penetrator and as for the interchanging of .233 and 5.56, I wouldn't fire 5.56 out of a .223 chambered weapon.

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