Is Green Tip 5.56 Armor Piercing?

The short answer is no.

If you have the patience to read more, please do, and we will explain this.

The difference between green tip 5.56, and what shall we call, regular 5.56, has to do with the manufacture of the bullet, not the green tip.

That’s just there so soldiers can tell it apart from standard FMJ 5.56 ammo.

First let’s look at the latter.

When 5.56 was developed, as a cartridge, there were, naturally, several requirements set for it by the U.S. Continental Army Command (CONARC), the body that authorized it.

Among these is something that is central to this article: CONARC needed this new .22 caliber bullet to be able to pierce a US steel helmet pot through one side at 500 yards.

That’s not armor piercing though, right? If it were, it would sail right through both sides of the helmet and probably keep going.

Glad we can agree on that. Now let’s take a look at the requirements for green tip 5.56.

Alright, so, let’s just get something clear. This is just a variation of 5.56 ammo that’s loaded with a different bullet.

Namely, it’s loaded with a slightly heavier bullet that has a 7-grain steel tip insert. (Standard FMJ 5.56 usually weighs 55 grains, green tip 5.56 weighs 62 grains.)

This heavier bullet (and harder tip) as you might imagine, improved the penetration characteristics.

Specifically, the new 5.56 was able to penetrate what was basically the same US helmet, but this time, at 800 meters – so quite a bit further, actually, nearly twice the distance of standard 5.56.

To be fair, green tip 5.56 does exhibit substantially better penetration characteristics than standard FMJ, especially at greater ranges, but that does not characterize it as truly armor piercing.

What we might call it – at best – is LAP, or light armor piercing, since it is technically better at punching through plate than standard FMJ.

So, in a nutshell, green tip 5.56 is not armor piercing. You can reserve that judgment for black tip 5.56, which is.

Since we’re on the topic, we’ll offer a word or two. Black tip 5.56 is armor piercing, and is not legal for U.S. civilians to purchase. Just a look at its ballistic capabilities will show you the difference between this and green tips.

It has the ability to penetrate a truck’s engine compartment and the engine block at a distance of 500 yards – and we’re talking about a tiny .223 bullet, here, which generates (at best) 1350 ft-lbs, and that’s seriously pushing it.

So, you can still find and buy green tip 5.56 ammo – no, it isn’t armor piercing – at pretty low prices, since it is loaded for the military and bulk surplus deals are not that hard to come by.

But, since we’ve said this much, it’s still important to remember that green tip 5.56 offers far superior penetration to FMJ ammo, and as a result, we have some notes:

  • Green tip ammo is not suitable for hunting or defensive applications. It is designed for penetration, not energy transfer.
  • Do not shoot it indoors, or at steel targets. It will damage the backstop and probably damage steel targets too. It also poses a greater risk of ricochet.
  • Some ranges have restrictions against it, so always ask the rangemaster about these.

Other than that, have at it.

Looking for Green Tip 5.56?

As stated, there are still a lot of places where you can get green tip 5.56 on the cheap. Consider Bucking Horse Outpost. They carry plenty of bulk deals and police trade-in specials and may have what you’re looking for.

For more information about 22LR Bulk Ammo and American Eagle 223 please visit:- Bucking Horse Outpost

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