OK, so now you’re on the hunt: not for Wile E. Coyote, or anything like that, but for available M855 ammunition. The sudden shock has taken up most of the slack in America’s just-in-time ammo-distribution system.
Where did all the ammo go? Into other guys’ stockpiles, if not into yours, that’s where it went. How do you get some, and why aren’t many retailers accepting backorders? Read on.
Three Possible Reasons for the Proposed Rule
Reason #1 (Stated) The ATF says they must do this to stop a plague of cops being whacked with ARs. As a way to protect cops, this is pretty minor compared to investigating career-felons-in-possession (which many SACs won’t do). On the other hand, as a way to protect cops, this is definitely not as bad as giving rifles to Mexican drug cartels, which has led directly to the murder of two and the wounding of an unknown number of American law officers, not to mention the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of Mexicans, a mixture of cops, criminals and bystanders it would take God Himself to sort out.
Reason #2 (Pretty Far Out): Conversely, it’s been suggested to us by money guys that this move really has nothing to do with its ostensible purpose, but is happening because the sporting branch of the former ATK just went public as VSTO (Vista Outdoors), started trading last week, and ATF insiders shorted the stock and did this to drive the stock down. Someone in Congress ought to ask Byron Todd Jones to certify than neither he nor any SES, manager or supervisor in his agency is playing in VSTO, former ATK, or ATK/Orbital stock. (We’d bet he won’t).
VSTO benefits in several ways from 855 sales:
- M855 sales to civilians take up slack in its variable Lake City Ammunition Plant demand;
- M855 sales to civilians let them dispose of ammo that fails ultra-strict military acceptance testing (or is just extra) as profit-center civilian sales, rather than cost-center scrap;
- M855 sales to civilians permits lower bids for Government contracts, benefiting VSTO and its stockholders, the military, and the public.
Reason #3 (the Most Probable): this is a strike against the civilian firearms community, reminding them that the ATF wants to be seen as an enemy, wants to be known as the law-enforcement arm of the Democrat Party, and that the ATF’s ultimate end goal is a ban and unlimited power to enforce it. \
But you don’t really care about that, do you? You want cartridges. Read on.
Where to Find Ammo
You can try the online aggregators, but we’ll warn you that everyone else is doing the same thing, and these will soon come up dry.
- Gun-Deals.com. http://gun-deals.com/ Gun-Deals seems to be the exception that proves the rule, they have several SS109 type rounds (mostly remanufactured) as featured deals right now. Here’s their 5.56 specific page: http://gun-deals.com/list/ammo/.223%252F5.56. Enter your zip code to get prices with shipping.
- AmmoSeek.com. http://ammoseek.com/ammo/5.56x45mm-nato This online aggregator still has a few instances of 62 grain M855 equivalent. Note that the Federal XM855 is actually Lake City ammo that failed some aspect of military inspection, but meets commercial standards; this is the nearest one can get to “issue” ammo (not the same thing as saying that this is the best ammo, best for what?
- The WikiArms Ammo Engine has one link for all 5.56: http://www.wikiarms.com/search?&caliber=2&source and one specifically for XM855: http://www.wikiarms.com/search?q=m855&caliber=2&source. A little play with their search engine finds you all the 62 grain ammo including other-than-M855: http://www.wikiarms.com/search?q=62&caliber=2&source
- Reddit’s gun deals has always been worthless, IMHO, with a submeasurable signal to noise ratio (imagine ARFcom GD with autism spectrum disorder) but it’s here for completeness’s sake. http://www.reddit.com/r/gundeals
Ditto online sellers.
- http://www.luckygunner.com/rifle/5.56×45-ammo (LuckyGunner has been stripped bare of all 5.56 except 77 grain OTM at this writing).
- http://www.ammosupplywarehouse.com/product/133/Armscor-USA-223-REM-62-grn-FMJ-1000-rdcase.html <-this one deal comes up at that site. Not sure if the Armscor (Filipino?) is M885 equivalent, or lead-core. Anyone know? The price is very attractive.
- Brownell’s seems to gave one SKU. As the image above hints, the others are sold out with no backorder: http://www.brownells.com/ammunition/rifle-ammo/xm855-5-56x45mm-62gr-fmjbt-steel-core-case-600-rnds-sku100013917-44665-126654.aspx
- http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/index.php?cPath=24_83_850&sort=8a. Another one stripped bare.
Local retailers were quickly tapped out, just because their inventory is shallow.
So your best bet is large chain retailers, who may have ammo in stock in warehouses that they must push out to retail in the next month or lose.
One weird trick (we always wanted to use that line): We’d suggest you hit Dick’s, which is not only a chain retailer that has stocked M855 in the past, but also a vendor that has been shunned by many AR owners due to the management’s opposition to the 2nd Amendment. Go buy your ammo, then go back to boycotting the dicks at Dick’s.
Why no Backorders?
Backorders are a pain in the neck at the best of times, but accepting a backorder now will put a retailer in the rough position of owing you ammo it can never transfer to you, if it doesn’t get it to you by 16 March. They’d be stuck with inventory that can never be transferred to citizens, only to government agencies who might want to shoot it at citizens. If you were a retailer, you probably wouldn’t take that risk, either.
Price increases on the dwindling stock of M855 are inevitable as the market floats. This is going to be bewailed as gouging but it’s hard to incentivize manufacturers to make, and dealers to stock, product that will be unsalable contraband in a matter of weeks. Only money (demand) can produce product (supply). Every attempt in recorded history to legislate or regulate this fact away has failed, producing either a black market with rising prices, or a currency collapse.
Prices are important in most cases as signaling devices to induce suppliers to produce. In this case, where suppliers cannot produce beyond a date certain without being caught with contraband, suppliers can’t meet the demand, and prices will rise in an asymptotic version towards infinity.
The best alternative right now is probably quality M193 style, 55 grain ammunition. Its terminal effects are only marginally different from M855 (and its variants), especially at home- and self-defense ranges. contrary to some of the nonsense on the Net, this ammo works perfectly well in M16A2s, M4s and other fast-twist rifles and carbines.
Right now, people are panic-buying M193 and equivalents as well, and the ATF’s thinly supported and broadly-applicable ban justification for M855 means they may not be wrong in doing so.
77-grain open tip match is superior for accuracy at range in weapons with a fast twist. (It really needs 1:7 for best performance and may disappoint in compromise barrels like 1:9 or 1:8). Unfortunately this ammunition will be more expensive than surplus or overrun M855.
In the Long Term
In the long term, we expect vendors to produce ammunition that is a ballistic equivalent of M855 but that does not use a steel penetrator. Of course, the ATF’s leaders have once again proven themselves partisan and untrustworthy, and the framework described in the current proposed rule allows them to arbitrarily and capriciously classify any rifle ammunition as pistol ammunition. But the prices will inevitably be higher.
In the long term, the ATF probably must be destroyed as an agency, but every supervisory special agent, SAC, manager, or headquarters person will become a metastatic cancer cell spreading ATF’s partisan mindset and un-american nature to other agencies.
For those actually seeking an AP capability, we expect to see information on how to roll your own being traded shortly or provided in the irrepressible open-source format and methodology. You can’t stop the signal. We will note that one can make a better AP than M855 with tungsten rod or wire, and a penetrator is equally or more effective with a squared-off end inside the lead core, inside the copper jacket, than the pointy-nosed penetrator of 855.
Deep penetration is a common characteristic sought in hunting rounds, as most game animals have considerably tougher hides than one needs to penetrate in a defensive shooting. The ATF is unaware of this. Or pretends to be.