What Is Green Tip Ammo?

You may well have heard the term green tip ammo mentioned on the news or in passing conversation, but if you’re not familiar with all things relating to guns and ammo, you might not know what exactly it is or why it’s called that.  

Color tipped ammunition is produced by quite a few of the main ammunition manufacturers, with the color often indicating or representing a certain type or style of bullet, tracer indicator or type of jacket.

What Is Green Tip Ammo

When it comes to green tip ammo, there’s a lot of useful information you should know about if you’re getting into using firearms and want to learn more about the types of ammunition used in the gun world.

Read on and this useful guide will tell you all the specifics about green tip ammo!

What Is Green Tip Ammo?

Green tip ammo is the quite literal nickname given to M855 ammo due to the fact they have a green tip. M855 is the official military designated name, where the ‘M’ usually stands for ‘munitions’. 

But, naturally, the term green tip ammo is more well-known amongst gun enthusiasts, as it’s far easier to remember a simple nickname than a specific number!

This kind of ammunition is for 5.56 caliber cartridges and is mainly designed for the AR platform – which are lightweight semi-automatic assault rifles. 

Green tip ammo is designed to pierce and penetrate armor, even from a great distance away, making it an extremely powerful and lethal kind of ammunition. 

What Are The Origins Of Green Tip Ammo?

Green tip ammo was introduced in the 1970s and was originally called SS109. It was made by the Belgians and won NATO’s standardization trials, which were held because they didn’t have an official 5.56 round at that point in time. 

Then, in the early 1980’s, the US military took on the SS109 to replace their own M193 ammunition and re-named it M855, which is where the current name comes from.

They then decided to paint the tips green in order to help troops distinguish between them and the old M193 rounds. 

And, even though the old rounds are no longer in use and got phased out shortly after the replacement happened, they carried on painting the tips green out of a sense of tradition, which is why it eventually led to the nickname ‘green tip ammo’. 

Eventually, firearm manufacturers saw an opportunity and started selling green tip ammo commercially, so it was made available for civilians to purchase. They tend to sell it under a different name to what the military uses, though, even though it’s practically identical. 

Is It Legal For Civilians To Buy Green Tip Ammo?

In the US in the present day, it is actually legal for civilians to buy green tip ammo.

As mentioned in the previous section, firearm manufacturers started selling it quite soon after the US military adopted the ammunition as their own, so the ammo has been legal to buy for civilians for many years now.

However, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding green tip ammo in recent years, and the federal government and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) have made a few attempts to ban it. I’ll bring you more information on that in the next section, though, so please read on!

It’s also worth mentioning that in some states in the US, such as in California, they have certain gun laws of their own.

They can’t ban guns or ammunition, but they can and do limit what residents of the state can own and how much, so you’ll want to check out the gun laws in your state to make sure you can definitely buy and own green tip ammo without any limitations. 

Why Has There Been Controversy Surrounding Green Tip Ammo In The Last Few Years?

Why Has There Been Controversy Surrounding Green Tip Ammo In The Last Few Years

Due to the fact green tip ammo is seen as being able to penetrate armor, there have been a few attempts in recent years to ban the sale of it to civilians because – as the ATF argued in 2015 when it was temporarily prohibited on federal land – it is dangerous even to people who wear body armor, such a law enforcement. 

But, in the end, every attempt to ban it was overturned, as the ATF suffered enormous criticism and backlash for it from civilians and politicians alike.

When the legislation to ban it on federal land went through, 53 US Senators and over 200 members of the House of Representatives went against it, so the ATF had to drop it.

Why Has Green Tip Ammo Not Been Classified As ‘Armor Piercing’?

In the end, it was judged by the ATF that green tip ammo couldn’t be classed as armor piercing and therefore couldn’t be banned.

This is because it narrowly managed to escape the two main categories stating what makes a type of ammunition be classed as armor piercing. 

Essentially, to be classed under that category, its jacket needed to weigh more and its core needed to be either made from tungsten alloys, iron, brass, steel bronze, depleted uranium or beryllium copper. 

Instead, its core is made from lead, which is the same as other conventional bullets. It does have a steel tip, but there weren’t any regulations stating that the tip couldn’t be made from steel.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re looking to learn more about guns and ammunition and are perhaps considering purchasing green tip ammo for yourself, I hope this article has enlightened you and given you all the information you need.

Now that you understand everything significant about it, including what its intended purpose is, what kind of firearm to use it in and why it’s come under so much controversy recently, you can go ahead and buy it if you think it’s something that you want to own yourself!

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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