Armor-Piercing Ammunition

Armor-piercing ammunition is designed to penetrate ballistic armor and protective shields intended to stop or deflect conventional bullets. Armor-piercing handgun ammunition is federally banned for civilian use or ownership in the U.S. Per 18 United States Code, § 921(a)(17)(B). The term “armor piercing ammunition” means:

  • 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
  • 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

One type of armor piercing ammunition is steel core ammunition, which, when fired from a handgun, can regularly penetrate an NIJ Level IIIA police duty vest because the harder steel doesn’t deform on contact with the high-tensile Kevlar.


The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. We make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed.