Dishonest Australian Correspondent Attempts To Turn M855 Into "Cop Killer" Ammunition

Meet Nick O’Malley.

Nick O’Malley (Twitter)

Nick O’Malley is the U.S. correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Nick is apparently rabidly anti-gun, to the point that he’s willing to fabricate some rather interesting fiction about M855 rifle ammunition for the folks back home:

While political attention in the United States last week was focused on Hillary’s emails and the Republican Party’s attempts to derail nuclear negotiations with Iran, the National Rifle Association enjoyed yet another victory.

This time America’s most powerful lobby group managed to block a move to ban the free sale of armour-piercing bullets for handguns.

The so-called green tip ammunition – which is designed to pierce helmets and body-armour – has long been legal in America for use in AR–15 rifles. These are the military-style semi-automatic rifles that have become the most popular hunting and self-defence weapons in the nation after their high-profile use in the massacres in a Sandy Hook primary school and a Colorado cinema.

The so-called M855 round, also known as the “cop killer”, is now the second most popular ammunition for use in America’s most popular rifle.

One popular recent YouTube videoshows a man firing a green tip round through nearly 6.35 millimetres of steel and into a wooden log in his back yard.

The NRA blocked a move to ban “the free sale of armour-piercing bullets for handguns?”

Not quite, mate.

The M855 is a rifle cartridge, designed in the 1970s to be fired out of a 5.56mm (.223″) rifle with a 20″ barrel. It is not now, nor has it ever been considered, a “handgun bullet.”

Nor was the M855 designed to pierce body armor. The lead core round (80% of the bullet’s weight is a lead core) has a mild steel insert in the nose of the bullet that was designed for two functions.

  1. Hopefully penetrate the standard Russian military helmet then being issued at 600 meters. Considering the accuracy of the round at that distance, this was more wishful thinking than anything else.
  2. Prevent the yawing and fragmentation that made NATO consider the faster, all lead FMJ M193 “inhumane” for the damage it caused under Hague Convention agreements. Yes, the United States adopted this round over the M193 it had used to great effect because the whiny little pansies at NATO wanted a less-damaging bullet.

The Russian military helmet then in use in the 1970s was a simple steel pot, and was designed to provide some small level of protection against shell fragments. It was never intended to stop bullets of any kind, either rifle or pistol. It was only much later that they designed a bullet-resistent inner liner to provide some protection against handgun bullets.

It is true that like any centerfire rifle bullet, the M855 readily pierces soft body armor, such as the Level II armor often worn by police officers on patrols. Level II is perfectly adequate for police work in the United States, where the greatest threats are from criminals carrying concealed handguns and occasionally shotguns. Rifles are rarely used in crime in the United States, and the same goes for these small rifles that are technically classified as pistols.

Easily the most hyperbolic claim made in Nick O’Malley’s fact-challenged rant is his claim that the M855 is a “cop-killer.”

The Fraternal Order of Police disagrees.

“Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Washington office of the Fraternal Order of Police, the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 325,000 members.

Far from being a “cop killer bullet,” the M855 has no documented history of ever being fired through a police vest out of a pistol by anyone, ever, in the history of the United States. O’Malley seems to have fabricated the “cop killer bullet” claim up entirely out of thin air.





O’Malley’s “cop killer” bullet is utter fiction, devoid of factual support.

Building upon his apparently inherent dishonesty, O’Malley then cites a YouTube video showing a man shooting an M855 round through a steel plate to support his claims.

But what does the man who shot the video say about the plate used?

The video creator  is quite explicit that this is soft welding steel, and not armor plate (our bold).

Effort to completely penetrate a 1/4″ thick piece of welding steel with the 62 gr NATO “green tip” round in 5.56 mm. This is NOT armor plating….far from it. Distance to target was 80 yards. Footage includes slow-motion of the hit.

Now, let’s look at how M855 performs against actual steel plate armor designed to stop rifle bullets.

When fired against an actual piece of AR500 Armor’s Level III plate, the armor plate defeated the M855 88 of 90 times, and the two penetrations only came after multiple strikes to the same places in the final magazine fired. The plate defeated two full magazines of the so-called “armor-piercing,” “cop killer” bullets.

M855 is not considered “armor-piercing” by the U.S. military, either, who use M995 “black-tips” with a solid tungsten core for that purpose. In fact, the M855 performs so poorly against unarmored targets that it has been replaced as a front-line service round by the Army (who now use M855A1, a completely different bullet design), the Marines (who adopted the MK318) and Special Operations units and designated marksmen in every branch (who now favor the MK262). The M855 remaining in armories in the military is being used for short to mid-range target practice.

No actual experts considers the M855 to be anything remotely like a “cop killer,” and in fact, many people who understand how the round performs find it to be less damaging than every other kind of AR-15 ammunition tested. The actual “wound” created in this testing medium is much closer to that of 9mm FMJ ball pistol ammunition (also tested in the video) than anything else even with a rifle, and the bullet slows and does even less damage in a pistol.

Frankly, Nick O’Malley’s “reporting” on the M855 deceived his readers. The Sidney Morning Herald should retract or substantially correct this dishonest article, which is nothing more than propaganda.