SS109 compared to regular ball ammo

Can anyone explain why the SS109 cartridge is being pushed so heavily nowadays? To me it seems that the government wants us to have light armor piercing rounds. You’d thing the military would need these if there is an “ammo shortage” instead of us civilians. Kinda odd.

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Can you elaborate on who or how it’s being pushed? The only thing that comes to mind for having a surplus are contract overruns and needing to sell it. Or maybe, production has finally caught up to demand and availability is coming back?

M193 ammo, or the original 55 grain .223 round was designed to yaw and tumble in soft targets. M855/SS109 aka 5.56 NATO is more likely to pass through soft targets since it was designed for hard targets. I don’t think it would discriminate if shooting into a vehicle!

From what I recall, the armor piercing capability is good for about a half inch of rolled steel at 100 yards and decreases respectively beyond that.

I personally shoot a lot of 62 grain handloads but don’t see a need to shoot green tips for any particular reason. In my opinion, those that don’t know any better may be buying whatever is available and shooting it.


No prob Stephen308,

Lately whenever I go to a gun show or I see in the stores and on-line more of a push for the green tips than normal ball ammo. I have some green tips too, but only some outdoor ranges allow them. I think it’s a disadvantage to have a priority on selling these than your typical range ammo. I remember some years ago and it was right after I bought a can of the green tips they were flagged by the Feds and you weren’t even supposed to have them and even that was lifted a few years ago. I just thought it was odd to push these on the civilian market rather than keep them in the National Inventory.

I appreciate the insight!

Paul Postelnik

I also think those who aren’t very well informed…such as the influx of new gun owners over the past of couple years, are caught up in the hype about them being “armor piercing” and think they’re buying the best ammo. Not sure how old you are Paul, but I remember when black talons and HP’s were the rage many years ago. Marketing, word of mouth and urban myths/beliefs make for selling like hot cakes. So naturally, vendors will capitalize on that. At the end of the day it’s all about making money.


That makes sense!! LoL I’ll be 40at the end of August and have been around guns my whole life.

I do remember the Black Talon craze. LoL

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Back then, Remington made ammo that duplicated almost exactly BTs expansion. I can’t remember if they were Golden Sabre or not. Today’s technology has cartridges that offer like ballistics and expansions to the BTs. Nearest I can figure, and advise to manufacturers. Don’t color your bullets black.

Yeah, I believe it was the Golden Sabers that replaced the Black Talons. A buddy of mine had just finished off his stock of Golden Sabers and now the round to have is Hornady’s Critical Defense.

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Been hearing the military is going to a 6.8mm bullet. Not sure when or how heavily, but that may have some say in the matter…steel core gets the kids hyped as well, and that potential ban a few years back probably draws customers in…
ss109,I recall it will pierce a helmet at 300yards. I also just read m193 will pierce body armor…what class or distance I’m not sure, but speed kills.

Welcome to the community @Paul394 !

As has been alluded to I think it is part marketing hype and part people wanting to use “what the army uses”. Even though the army has moved on to better rounds because of the significant shortcomings with the SS109 and despite the fact that much better Self Defense rounds are made for the LEO and civilian markets. Though they tend to cost more.

The military likely only stores their ammo for so long and is likely switching over stores to the newer designs. And as @mattm mentioned will likely soon be transitioning to 6.8.

Also think that because the 109 and 193 have been mass produced for the military for so long there are surplus rounds being sold and the components are abundant and cheap to make new stock for the civilian market.

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