Green Ammunition Gaining Acceptance

Anyone remember all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Army putting the environment ahead of Soldier’s lives?

Is this just another case of a desire to look “green” we are willing to sacrifice our young men and women and put our battlefield success at risk?


Enemies of America rejoice as U.S. Army switches to wimpy ‘green’ bullets that do less damage.

Even Guns & Ammo got into the act:

So…to recap: The M855A1 EPR is poorly conceived and poorly executed and represents, at best, only an incremental improvement at an exponential cost. Our warriors and our taxpayers deserve better.

Well, it seems that more of our allies are continuing on the pathway of green ammunition, and seeing the benefits of increased range and terminal effects.

None of this is news to anyone who has been paying attention to the industry. Since the 1990s multiple corporations have been trying to get the lead out, and improve terminal performance while doing so.

Here is a good link (pdf warning) to the NAMMO experience developing steel cored small arms ammunition, and the benefits they found:

For anyone who is curious why going to a steel core is a good thing, here is a quick run down.

For a given bullet weight, the longer the bullet the higher the BC if all else is equal. A 140gr 6.5mm match bullet has a higher BC than a 140gr .274 (6.8mm) bullet because the skinnier bullet is longer for the same mass, meaning higher BC. Replacing lead with an equal mass of steel means that if you keep the bore size the same, the bullet gets longer which means it has a higher BC.

The longer a spitzer bullet, the easier it disrupts in soft tissue. A perfectly round projectile can’t flip end over end. A round nose FMJ takes a very long time to flip around because of how the nose remains mostly stabilized and the center of gravity of the bullet very close to center. Spitzer bullets have a much longer nose segment, which pushes the center of gravity further toward the base of the bullet, which makes the bullet very unstable in the transition from air to liquid medium, which makes the heavier base want to flip forward. This tumbling effect creates a better wound profile for bleeding out.

Now for the downsides of steel, it doesn’t deform or shatter the way copper or lead can, but as anyone whose used original M855 or SS109 bullets, they don’t always shatter or deform either. So I’m willing to accept the trade off of no bullet fracturing for more consistent terminal effects. I think consistency is a good thing, but if you disagree that is fine, after all the M855/SS109 is still a lethal bullet.

The other downside is that steel doesn’t deform as easily in the bore. The NAMMO and BAE steel cored bullets should actually cause bore wear even faster than M855A1 and Mk318 which both have solid gilding metal (copper zinc alloy) bodies. The Mk318 has been almost universally praised for being better than M855A1, but in actual post combat assessments there isn’t any measurable difference in performance, both rounds work well, and work consistently. There is just only so much engineering you can do to make 5.56 better. Barrel wear should be a concern to people for their own firearms, but barrel wear should not be a concern for Soldiers. Barrels are always going to be a wear part, and the cost of replacing barrels simply means that there will be more barrel makers making barrels for the government contracts which will help out the civilian market for barrels for the same reason that Multicam uniforms dropped in price so quickly.

Green ammunition is here to stay, and it is finding more and more converts internationally. I really hope that the laws in the United States can make these projectiles available on the surplus market.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Green Ammunition Gaining Acceptance

  1. Dick B says:

    I’m an old fart. Old farts tend to dislike change. The Pikemen disliked the Arbequesmen; so it is.
    Sometimes though, we’re wrong. Sometimes change is for the better. Or at least, it ain’t all bad.
    We had a two holer out back when I was a kid, no heat; now we have two crockery bathrooms, with A/C . . . not all changes are bad.
    I grew up with the ’03, the M1, the BAR, all in 30-06; then the M14, M60 in .308; and finally the
    5.56 Mattel Special. I once thought nothing could ever displace the -06 and so, bitched about
    the .308. Then it was the 5.56 . . . next it’ll probably be some friggin’ Death Ray.
    It’s some satisfaction to hear that they have dusted off the M14’s for use in the rocks, and so
    we got some justification for our bitching. Always felt the 5.56 was just too light for Central Europe, and not long winded enough for the deserts. Glorified M1 Carbine. But it seems it
    kind of works, more or less, and so, I have to accept that which I cannot change.
    So now we have steel core bullets, just like the oppos have had for years. OK, old farts, we have to live with it . . . our asses are no longer on the line, our grandkids are, and if they’re happy with it, I’m just tickled to death.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s