Can We Stop the Ban on Russian 7N6 5.45×39?

By CTD Suzanne published on in AK, Ammunition, Gun Rights, Industry News

In 1993, Olympic Arms created what they claim was only a prototype of an AR-15 pistol chambered in 7.62x39mm, the model OA-93. When word got out they were developing the pistol, the gun community was quick to tell them to stop. While at the 1994 SHOT Show, Olympic Arms unveiled the pistol. Olympic Arms was quick to claim the company was not “in the ammunition business and unaware of a problem.” Very shortly after, the ATF banned the importation of steel core 7.62x39mm ammunition.

Another controversial company came under fire in July of 2011—Elite Ammunition. The ATF paid a visit to this ammunitions company, the only other company—at the time—producing 5.7x28mm ammo. The company’s products, machines and computers were confiscated. Elite Ammunition, making bullets very similar to Barnes’ solid copper bullets, told by the ATF its .223 Remington, 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC bullets classified as armor piercing. Because of this raid, the Barnes .223 caliber non-hollow point Banded Solid bullet is still unavailable. While Barnes is currently still awaiting approval for exemptions on many of its caliber bullets, they are not seeking an exemption for the .223—clearly marked an armor piercing round by the ATF because of its construction.

Picture shows a man shouldering an AK-74 rifle.

Shooting your AK-74 used to be cheap, but maybe not anymore. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mallard

Since 1986, the ATF has defined armor piercing ammunition as “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium” or “a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”

This is where the rules regarding armor piercing ammunition gets very convoluted. Six months after the raid on Elite Ammunition, the Bureau started accepting public comments regarding the possibility of relaxing the agency’s definition of armor piercing ammunition. If the attorney general finds bullets mainly used for sporting purposes, that round may be exempt from the ban, such as the case of certain 5.56 NATO rounds.

Further, regular folks can purchase, sell, own and shoot armor piercing ammo, but an FFL holder may not. Nor may armor-piercing ammunition be imported. PA Gun blog writer “Sebastian,” wrote in 2007, “The regulation on armor piercing ammo are among the strangest of the federal firearms regulations.”

Around March 25, 2014, an unconfirmed story broke that the BATFE had banned any further imports on steel core 5.45×39 ammo, not because of the politics and sanctions surrounding Russia, but because someone made a handgun for the round, automatically qualifying 5.45x39mm 7N6 as “armor piercing.”

If the ban actually happens, for those of you who love your Krink or AK-74 because of the availability of super cheap Russian ammo, we can now expect prices on U.S. made non-steel core 5.45x39mm to match or even exceed 5.56mm.

Apparently, there is no official word yet—that I can find—from BATFE that there is a ban. The gun blogger who broke the story, received information from an ammunition importer who’s Form 6 went unapproved. After inquiring about the delay, the importer reportedly got back a letter from the ATF stating the ammo had been banned. A photo of the letter posted on The Bang Switch, the Military Arms Channel’s blog reads, “A handgun has now been manufactured that chambers the 5.45×39 round. That now makes steel core 5.45×39 armor piercing under our definition.”

Rumor has it since there is no official ruling yet, an exemption is still possible for the 5.45×39. Allegedly, even Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon is demanding answers from the ATF.

We might be able to save 7N6!

I am joining the Bang Switch’s fight and asking you, the firearms community to do the same. Contact your representatives and tell them how 7N6 5.45 is a sporting cartridge and the ban needs reversing.

For help contacting your representatives, formatting a letter and to learn more about this story, read “A Time to Fight” in the Cheaper Than Dirt’s forums.

Further, please copy and share this blog post link on Facebook and Twitter. There is power in numbers and we need all the help we can get.

What do you think about the ban? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Cheaper Than Dirt! Inc., its employees or management. Analyses performed within this article are only examples and for informational purposes intended to promote an open exchange of information. Publication of any assertions made within this article or analyses are solely those of the author and in no way should be construed to reflect the position or policy of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Suzanne Wiley started shooting at a young age when her older brother bought a Marlin 60 and taught her to shoot. She took to shooting and developed a love for it when she realized she was a natural with a .22 LR rifle at summer camp. Suzanne has been an outdoor adventurer since she can remember-being from the Ozarks, there were bountiful caves, national parks, lakes, and camping spots to explore. From a young age, she has camped, fished, rode horses, went ATV exploring, rappelling, and even dabbled in beginner spelunking.
Suzanne joined the content team with over eight years experience at Cheaperthandirt.com. Starting out as a product description writer, Suzanne has extensive knowledge of the Cheaper Than Dirt! product base and is a good resource for suggestions on which products you need. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Though she prefers plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, Suzanne also loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

 

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (42)

  • Ralph Brooks

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    It’s no longer a maybe, the official ATF letter was posted a few days ago. Go check GD at ARFCOM.

    Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    The callousness of Olympic Arms when they deliberately produced the pistol; That and every person That I know or had dealings within their firms or affilited with that firm are and have always been pricks with a small p.
    A yuppy management of rip off that right fit in with the Olympia Washington two faced Liberals in power.
    Yes the rounds have now been banned, from import but sources say some few hundreds of thousands sit warehoused and holders wondering if they can sell existing sock.
    If the are allowed to it will be damned spendy but most likely no diffrent than when aquaintence and friends 1, 500, 000 of Chinese steel core was banned and confiscated at no cost to feds. That 7.62×39 steel will not penetrate our military body armor never could. Even at confiscation, 0police lt kevlar yes but then so did 357 125 gr silver tips.
    it is almost end of foreign imports except for those nations aiding our Empire from them we get crap ammo excep pmc.

    Reply

  • Biff Sarin

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    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but doesn’t essentially ALL 5.56 ammo, even the tiny 55gr XM-193 copper jacketed Ball, penetrate 3A soft armor…even when fired out of a 7″ barrel? Aren’t AR-15 pistols still legal? Aren’t XM-855 ‘penetrator’ steel core rounds still perfectly legal?

    So what is with this weird ‘selective enforcement’ BS? Or is this just a ‘nose of the camel’ kind of thing? You know, “let’s start by trying to ban THIS round and see how much push back we get. Then we’ll ban THAT round, etc., etc…”

    Reply

    • 946towguy

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      The law in question was passed to ban the importation of pistol ammunition designed to penetrate metal car bodies and laminated glass. It has nothing to do with body armor or rifle ammunition of any kind. 9mm KTW Teflon coated ammunition, fired from a 12″ sub-machinegun barrel does not penetrate level 3a armor.

      Reply

    • Biff Sarin

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      Right, the law was designed to ban the importation of PISTOL AP ammo. My point is, non of these rounds, the 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm, or the 5.56x45mm were DESIGNED as pistol ammunition.

      From the ATF website:

      Under Title 18, UNITED STATES CODE, CHAPTER 44 as amended by Public Law 103-322
      The Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (enacted September 13, 1994) 18 U.S.C. CHAPTER 44 § 921(a)(17)(B) the term ‘armor piercing ammunition’ means —

      (i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a HANDGUN and which is CONSTRUCTED ENTIRELY (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

      (ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber DESIGNED AND INTENDED for use in a HANDGUN and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

      The problem I have is two fold.

      First, the 7N6 round has far more than ‘trace’ amounts of lead in the projectile.

      Second, this round (along with the others mentioned) was NOT DESIGNED for use in a handgun. It is a rifle round for which someone built a handgun to accept. If the first type of weapon designed specifically for a given round is widely accepted to be a rifle, then it seems to me, that round can not be classified as “DESIGNED AND INTENDED for use in a HANDGUN”.

      Reply

    • Going Panther

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      Biff, I think you hit the nail on the head…this is just the start

      Reply

  • 946Towguy

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    Exactly my point. The ATF is intentionally violating Supreme Court Precedent in maliciously misinterpreting the wording of the law, contrary to the legislative intent.
    I believe that they are claiming that the term”Projectice core” refers to the steel core inside the bullet, as opposed to the legislative intent to refer to the “Projectile Core” as the metal portion of a Teflon coated, solid bullet, like the KTW. That is why the subsequent section specifically mentions a full jacketed projectile.

    Reply

    • 946towguy

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      Remember that these are the same weasels, who declared a shoelace to be a machinegun.

      Reply

  • Nathan

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    isn’t the 7n6 bullet exactly a 22 caliber? I thought the rules specifically stated that an armor piercing round must be over a 22cal

    Reply

    • 946towguy

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      Right Nathan,
      The BATFE is intentionally misinterpreting the law, using circular logic.
      They are claiming that if someone, somwhere in the world, makes a firearm, which they consider to be a handgun, which is capable of firing the round, that the ammunition is retroactively an magically converted from rifle ammunition to handgun ammunition. However, the bullet in question is not a solid bullet made of one of the specified alloys.

      Reply

  • Henry Smallwood

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    Given the revanchist foreign policy of Russia, I’d think that American shooters would rather buy US ammo than giving money to Putin and his puppets in Serbia and Luhansk.

    Reply

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