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Why Is It Legal in the US to Buy Winchester 5.56 Green Tip?

If you’re someone who’s keen on firearms, you’ll will almost certainly have heard of Winchester 5.56 green tip ammunition. Characterized primarily by the large piece of steel at its core, the ammo offers that extra bit of penetration you need in certain situations when firing an AR rifle. 

The thing is, this round shares some similarities with armour-piercing black-tipped rounds that are only available for military and law enforcement purposes. This means they’re not legal to buy on the civilian market. The question is, why are green tips if they do essentially the same job? 

Keep reading, and we’ll fill you in on the details, as it’s not quite as simple as it looks at first glance, and we’ll start by covering the most relevant – the penetration aspect.

Winchester 5.56 Green Tip is Not Technically Armor-Piercing Ammo

The primary reason why green tip ammo is legal in the USA is that there’s something of a misconception circulating among the gun-buying public. While Winchester 5.56 green tip rounds’ existence on the civilian market did come under threat by the ATF, who wanted to ban them, this attempt ultimately failed. 

That’s because the difference between green tips and black tips is much larger than people think. Black tips contain a much larger section of hardened steel that’s able to make it through the steel you find in the average bullet-proof vest, a.k.a body armor. 

Conversely, green tips are what’s known as fragmenting rounds, and the steel section inside is made of much lower-grade steel than black tips. It’s ammo that will help you take down large game like bears and moose, but it has little to no chance of beating body armor. 

So, Why Would Need Green Tips, Then?

Well, for starters, they allow you to punch through barriers without the need for bigger cartridges, and due to the high level of reliability, you’re much less likely to get an excessive buildup of carbon inside your rifle after firing off a bunch of rounds. This is top-quality ammo we’re talking about here, so it’s what you should expect. 

The ideal customer for this kind of round is a hunter who’s looking for exceptional performance over long distances in the region of 300 meters and more. The bullet’s velocity and impact angle make it a force to be reckoned with. However, what it absolutely is not, is an armor-piercing option.

Winchester 5.56 Green Tip Rounds Remain Legal to This Day

The reason why the ATF was unsuccessful in outlawing green tip rounds is that their argument didn’t hold water. They claimed that they were far too much like black tips and that this put too much armor-piercing power in the hands of the public. However, this argument doesn’t take into account the facts of the matter. 

You could fire a dozen of these bad boys at someone in body armor and while it will hurt – A LOT – the rounds will only make a dent and no more. So, if you’re looking for a fully legal round that gives you extra punching power for those big beasts you’re hunting, you know that green tip is most certainly an option. 

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