Debunking the Myth: Why Some Ranges Don’t Allow Steel Core Ammunition

Steel core ammunition, often marketed as having light armor-piercing capabilities, has sparked debates and concerns among shooting range enthusiasts. Many shooting ranges impose restrictions on the use of steel core ammunition, citing potential damage to their facilities as a primary reason. In this article, we will delve into the truth about steel core ammunition, specifically focusing on the M855 or SS109 5.56 NATO rounds, and dispel the myths surrounding their supposed range-damaging properties.

Understanding Steel Core Ammunition

Steel core ammunition, such as the M855, is designed with a steel penetrator at its core. While this steel core may indeed give the ammunition some armor-piercing capabilities, it is essential to clarify that these rounds are not as powerful as some might believe. Contrary to popular belief, M855 or SS109 rounds do not have the ability to penetrate standard steel targets commonly used in shooting ranges.

The Myth of Range Damage

One of the main reasons some shooting ranges ban steel core ammunition is the fear of damage to their facilities. However, this concern is largely unfounded. The misconception arises from a misunderstanding of the materials used in shooting range backstops.

Modern indoor shooting ranges employ robust backstop systems designed to handle a wide range of ammunition types, including lead-core, copper-jacketed rounds, and yes, steel core ammunition. These backstops typically consist of layered materials like rubber, steel, and concrete. They are specifically engineered to safely absorb and contain bullets, preventing them from damaging the facility or posing a risk to shooters.

The Reality: Steel Core Ammo and Indoor Ranges

When used responsibly and in accordance with range rules, steel core ammunition like M855 poses no more risk to indoor ranges than other conventional rounds. The key to maintaining a safe shooting environment is not to ban certain types of ammunition but to educate shooters on proper range etiquette and adherence to range rules.

Benefits of Steel Core Ammo

Steel core ammunition has its advantages. It tends to be more affordable than some other types of ammunition and is readily available. Additionally, it can be an excellent choice for training purposes, as it mimics the ballistics of standard ammunition while being cost-effective.


In conclusion, the myth that M855 or steel core ammunition can damage indoor shooting ranges is simply not supported by the facts. Responsible use of steel core ammunition within a well-designed and maintained range is entirely safe. It’s crucial for both range owners and shooters to communicate effectively, enforce safety rules, and focus on responsible firearm use. By dispelling these myths, we can promote a more inclusive and informed shooting community while ensuring that everyone enjoys a safe and educational shooting experience.

Remember, the key to safe shooting is not in banning specific ammunition types but in promoting responsible firearm handling and range safety practices. Steel core ammunition can coexist safely with other rounds in the shooting range environment when used correctly.

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