View Full Version : Help with determining what is AP

02-04-2009, 9:36 AM
The Federal definition of AP is:

(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.

(C) The term `armor piercing ammunition' does not include shotgun shot
required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting
purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile
which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting
purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Secretary
finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge
used in an oil and gas well perforating device."

The state of California had it's own definition:

(a) "Handgun ammunition" means ammunition principally for use in
pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed
upon the person, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 12001,
notwithstanding that the ammunition may also be used in some rifles.

(b) "Handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or
armor" means any ammunition, except a shotgun shell or ammunition
primarily designed for use in rifles, that is designed primarily to
penetrate a body vest or body shield, and has either of the following
(1) Has projectile or projectile core constructed entirely,
excluding the presence of traces of other substances, from one or a
combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, beryllium copper,
or depleted uranium, or any equivalent material of similar density
or hardness.
(2) Is primarily manufactured or designed, by virtue of its shape,
cross-sectional density, or any coating applied thereto, including,
but not limited to, ammunition commonly known as "KTW ammunition," to
breach or penetrate a body vest or body shield when fired from a
pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon
the person.
(c) "Body vest or shield" means any bullet-resistant material
intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection for the wearer or
(d) "Rifle" shall have the same meaning as defined in paragraph
(20) of subdivision (c) of Section 12020.

I have been working on designing, and machining some of my own copper bullets (It's hobby of mine). Thus far I have only done a few rifle bullets, and a Muzzleloader bullet.




Now I want to get into making some hangun bullets, and am very confused by the AP laws, and definitions. All the bullets I make are 99.9% copper (alloy C11000). I would like to machine some LBT style copper solids for my .44 Magnum. would I be in violation of makking a bullet with a jacket heavier that 25% of the weight or is this a moot point since the bullet has no jacket?

Something like this in pure copper:


I understand that Barnes makes expanding copper bullets, but I have never seen an all copper solid designed for handguns. I have seen plenty of them for rifles GS Custom, and others. I definetly do not want to get in trouble with Cal DOJ or ATF.

02-04-2009, 11:23 AM
IANAL but unless your copper is "beryllium copper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryllium_copper)" and it isn't jacketed you should be on solid federal ground. As for the state I don't think your shape is ideal for armor piercing and since the definition is not only the core material but also the design intention you should be OK. If you get caught firing one of these at someone wearing a vest that may be a different story. I'd also avoid keeping it loaded in my self-defense weapon too. Not only will a civil attorney try to make it look like you were trying to do more damage than "regular ammunition" to a jury but it might seem more like your intention is to pierce armor when a DA sees the file.

02-04-2009, 1:55 PM
Wow nice handiwork. Wish I had the equipment/know how for that...

02-04-2009, 4:00 PM
Copper solids are already legal hunting ammo.

And the sections you quoted refer to a hard alloy of copper, not 'plain' copper.

eta - on the pistol ammo you might have some DOJ wanker cluellessly whinge about the 'cross-sectional density' of your solids - they are afterall meant to penetrate heavy bone / cartilage in hunting ammo - BUT! by that strict standard plain lead has a higher 'cross-sectional density' by dint of its weight alone, wouldn't it.

You seem to be covered. But I'd say to think long and hard about the pistol aspect and decide if it is worth pursuing economically, to make it worth the potential legal hassles. I mean you could likely have a good market for this stuff for hunters working in the CA 'Lead-free' zones, if you want to pursue such an idea. But if this is just a hobby I'd get real quiet and try to re-submerge and not draw official bureaucratic notice.
If you do intend to commercialize your hobby, I'd get to work on arranging things to contact the DOJ for some sort of legal opinion letter to cover your *** with later.

02-04-2009, 7:34 PM
So from what I am getting I am OK with the federal definition since.

(i) The bullet is pure copper

(ii) The bullet has no jacket therefore solid copper is OK.

As far as California goes it seems I am good since the bullet is clearly not designed to penetrate armor (flat nosed bullets rarely are). I was a bit concerned since I have never seen a copper solid (non-expanding) for a handgun on the market.

02-04-2009, 8:26 PM
Sorry if its off-topic a bit but what kind of price per bullet can you work out for yourself bernieb90.

02-04-2009, 9:38 PM
You are looking at about $0.20 to $0.40 per bullet just for material (copper rod is not cheap). It takes me about 5 mins total machining time to make a bullet since I am not set up for mass production. This time includes machining the bullet, facing the back, and then punching the cavity. Combined with setup time on the CNC lathe and everything else I bet these bullets are costing me something like $5.00 a pop (in reality since I am doing this on my own time I am only paying for material). Yeah I know it is way cheaper to buy them, but like any hobby I enjoy the process. Like I said it is a hobby, and every one I do is a prototype for now since I am only making a few dozen at a time for testing. Mass production is a whole other animal, that requires faster equipment.

By the way the Muzzloader bullet looks like this after an 1800 fps impact with water jugs.


02-04-2009, 9:44 PM
Beautiful pedaling.

02-10-2009, 4:49 PM
I will send a letter to ATF, and DOJ just to make sure that it will be legal to make the LBT style copper solids. Thanks for the replies.

02-11-2009, 5:39 AM
nice, very nice...

If you do start production for rifle calibers, let me know.