U.S. Army Places Huge Order for New M855A1 Ammo
ATK has received orders from the U.S. Army for nearly 300 million rounds of the new M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR). The EPR is an enhanced version of the M855 5.56mm cartridge, used by U.S. troops since the early 1980s. ATK also announced it has received additional orders worth $10 million for nonstandard ammunition (NSA) in support of its current NSA multi-year contract with the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Rock Island, Ill. The three-year contract calls for ATK to acquire and deliver a broad range of NSA, or non-NATO ammunition [such as 7.62×39], to Kabul, Afghanistan, to train and sustain allied security forces.
The military sought to replace current M855 ammo because M855 has not performed optimally in the Afghan theater. The Army’s Picatinny Arsenal claims that the new M855A1 has improved hard target capability, more consistent performance at all distances, improved accuracy, reduced muzzle flash, and higher velocity. M855A1 ammo is tailored for use in M4 carbines but should also give enhanced performance in M16s and M249s.
New Steel-Tip Bullet Design
The 62-grain bullet for the new M855A1 ammo is a completely new design. While it may appear to have a plastic “ballistic tip”, that’s deceiving. The new bullet created for M855A1 ammo has a bismuth-tin alloy core with a steel “stacked-cone” penetrating tip. The photo at right shows the version from last year; the final production version may be slightly different (e.g. the final version tip is a different color). Apparently the latest bullet design is a winner. During testing, M855A1 ammo performed better than current 7.62mm ball ammunition against certain types of targets. According to Lt. Col. Jeffrey K. Woods, the program’s product manager, the new M855A1 ammo is “the best general purpose 5.56mm round ever produced. A true general purpose round, the M855A1 exceeds the performance of the current M855 against the many different types of targets likely to be encountered in combat.”
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