Improved Penetration Ammunition

Table of Contents

  • Background
  • Disclaimer & Warning
  • Design 1 - Ball Penetrator
  • Design 2 - Rod Penetrator
  • Legality of AP ammo in the US


    There has been much media coverage of "Cop Killer" bullets in the past few years, resulting in restrictive legislation in the United States. These bullets are usually considered to be pistol rounds capable of penetrating the common bullet-resistant vests. Commonly they are constructed as normal bullets but with a hard or heavy penetrator, usually of steel.

    When citizens are unable to obtain such ammunition, it is possible for criminals to proceed with impunity when wearing bullet-resistant vests. It is a heinous violation of the natural rights of citizens to defend themselves to deny them the ability to kill people wearing protective armor.

    Armor piercing ammunition is useful not only for those targets wearing armor, but those hiding behind light cover and in vehicles. Rifle ammunition with a hard penetrator is particularly effective on a wide variety of potential "covers".

    Further, it is very easy to manufacture armor-piercing ammunition in your home, meaning that it will always be available to those willing to break the law, further widening the gap between citizens and criminals and police in armament. A citizen can expect to have his bullet-resistant armor defeated by the ammunition a criminal or police officer carries, and to be unable to penetrate a vest with his legal ammunition.

    Bullet-resistant vests are available which will stop even powerful rifle rounds such as .308 Winchester. An attacker so equipped would be very difficult to kill even with military assault rifles, unless the shooter were using armor piercing ammunition.


    Citizens must be fully informed if they are to make good decisions on any government regulations. It is in this spirit that the following information is provided. It is not recommended that you use information from any single source, including this one, in the manufacture of ammunition. Improperly designed bullets can be very dangerous, and may result in serious bodily injury to the shooter and serious damage to the firearm. Further, manufacture of the ammunition described herein may be in violation of the laws in your area. This page is provided for general informative purposes only.


    Design 1 - Steel Ball Penetrator in Hollow-point Ammunition

    Placing a steel ball penetrator in commercial hollow-point rounds is a very effective way of improving their penetration. Properly placed, the steel ball will suck the softer metals of the bullet into the created hole, yielding full expansion and effectiveness behind typical armor.

    Penetration depends on the size and weight of the steel ball or other penetrator, and the energy transferred to it. The heavier the remaining portions of the bullet, the less energy will be transferred to the penetrator.

    Yitzhak Rabin's assassin reportedly used ammunition similar to this design, although the Israeli Prime Minister was not wearing body armor when he was killed.

    The design simply involves planting a small steel ball, such as a 4.5mm (.177 caliber) steel BB or steel shotgun shot in the hollowed nose of hollow-point ammunition. The penetrator must be properly centered along the vector of travel in the bullet or the bullet will become very unstable in flight. You should spin any hand-made ammunition on a lathe or other similar device to verify that it does not wobble, even at low rotation speed.

    The material inside a hollow-point bullet is usually lead, which is very soft and can be carved with a steel knife with ease. A cavity should be created to very closely match the diameter of the steel penetrator ball so that it rests, centered on the diameter of the bullet, without movement. The penetrator should not protrude significantly (more than a millimeter or so) beyond the tip of the bullet, or it could damage your firearm during feeding. It is best to have the penetrator entirely concealed by the casing of the bullet (typically copper).

    The steel ball penetrator should be secured in the round with a very strong glue, such as a "super glue" gel. This ensures that the ball will not fall out of the bullet during feeding or firing, as well as that it will pull some amount of soft metal behind it.

    Any handmade ammunition should not only be checked for balance as described above, but manually cycled if it is to be used in a repeating firearm.

    This ammunition would have no trouble penetrating the typical body armor even if fired from relatively low-power ammunition such as the 9mm NATO round common in semi-automatic pistols.

    Design 2 - Sharp Flachette-style Penetrator in Slender Bullets

    A pointed cylinder is an effective penetrator for several reasons. It not only punctures materials with its tip, but presents a much smaller diameter for its weight than a ball or disk. This low diameter translates into less drag (resistance) as the rod penetrates.

    For this design, either hollow-point or soft-tip ammunition is appropriate. Soft-tip ammunition is preferable, as it allows you to create a cavity of the ideal diameter for your penetrator.

    To create the cavity, a good technique is to use a hand-drill or even to spin the bullet on a fixed drill bit. It is inadvisable to use a power drill for this task as it will easily melt the lead and possibly ignite the gunpower. The cavity should be slightly smaller than the diameter of your penetrator and equal to its total length.

    The penetrator should not protrude significantly beyond the tip of the ammunition, and depending on the weapon it is to be used in, not at all. Exposed steel can damage your firearm during feeding. The penetrator rod should be secured in its cavity with a strong glue, such as the "super glue" gel mentioned in Design 1 above.

    The most common source of small steel rods is from nails. The head can be removed with bolt- or even wire-cutters, but it is essential that the cut be smooth to ensure proper balance. As with Design 1, it is essential that the penetrator be centered along the line of travel and that the bullet be properly balanced. Test any hand-made ammunition for proper balance and feeding before using it.

    Slender bullets, typically found in "rifle" ammunition, are ideal for this design as they present much more room for a long cavity than what are commonly referred to as pistol rounds.

    This design is capable of massive penetration of hard materials when used in powerful rifle ammunition, such as .308 Winchester. You can expect to penetrate up to 1/2" of steel armor with this design in a .308 round. That's twice the width of the hulls of most US Navy warships. This would result in massive over-penetration if used on a person, even wearing body armor.