30-06 M2 AP Armor Piercing Penetration Tests

While the ATF tried to re-categorize the 5.56 M855 ammo as armor piercing (update: it didn’t work), the heavier hitting military surplus 30-06 M2 AP round is still currently legal at the federal level.

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, so check all your federal, state, & local laws.  Some states/cities have different criteria on AP ammo.

Black Tip 30-06 M2 AP
Black Tip 30-06 M2 AP

What is 30-06 M2 AP ammo?

M2 AP ammo is military surplus ammo from WWII chambered for the 30-06.  It’s also known as “black tip” because of the black paint on its tip.  The ammo used to be in plentiful supply but now that it’s 60-70 years after final production, it is getting much harder to find.

Below shows the size of the penetrator relative to the overall round.

M2 AP Penetrator
M2 AP Penetrator

M2 AP in Action

The 30-06 is already a proven battle rifle round, how does it do with armor piercing capabilities?  Spoiler alert, it goes through a lot of wood and steel and even some AR500.

M2 AP in 308?

If you’re a reloader, you might be realizing that you can take the bullets from the 30-06 M2 AP and reload them into 308 cartridges.

This again is another disclaimer area since some states/cities do not allow any AP ammo and it could be construed as manufacturing AP ammo which is a definite no-no.

So of course, here’s some M2 AP in 308 footage:

Although the 308 is less powerful than the 30-06, it still did well by going almost all the way through 1 inch steel.

Black Tip 308
Black Tip 308

Where Do I Buy M2 AP Ammo?

We’ve searched far and wide and here’s the places that currently have M2 AP:

  • Ammo Garand: $30-40 for a box of 20
  • Gun Broker: Around $2 each, but has pulled bullets for about $1 each

8 Leave a Reply

  • Kevin Howard -Tripp

    i think this will give you the capability to take down any animal with a 308 that wpould not be possible with another bullit i am taling about buffelow

    2 years ago
    • Tim

      No. although AP bullets do penetrate, which is important in taking dangerous game, there is no 30 caliber cartridge that is capable of meeting requirements imposed by local African authorities. The .375 being the minimum bore diameter that is generally legal. (9.3 may be an exception) A 150-170 gr AP .30 cal just is woefully short on energy. You see the light bullets (150-200 gr bullets are light bullets) just can't keep up when it comes to delivering stored energy. Thank 250 grain at least, when it comes to delivering energy onto a target. Secondly, deep straight penetration is very important. Round nose bullets give this in spades. The pointed FMJ AP bullets will inevitably not go straight because the are so easily turned by differences critter tissue densities (bone too) that they pass through. They could even tumble conceivably, which would be a very very bad thing. Imagine a very large very angry wounded Buff coming over to talk about why you shot him.

      2 years ago
      • Leonard

        True. My .416 Rigby is considered to be almost an entry level cartridge among some PHs--yet its 400gr bronze solid delivers 6,000 lb energy at the muzzle,and 5,000 at 100 yds.

        10 months ago
  • Rando

    Just out of curiosity at what range did you attempt to penetrate the 1 inch steel? The real question is what was the velocity at the impact? I could see where those 30 cal ap bullets could be loaded into an ultra mag and extend their useful range by quite a bit.

    3 years ago
    • Barry

      I'm thinking of putting on top of a Win 300 mag. Loading as I would any 162 gr. Bullets.. around 3200 fps. That would kick a 308 loaded round? Don't u all think ?

      2 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks for the question! I would have loved to attempt it, but I'm just commenting on what someone else did in the YouTube video. But you're right...other 30 cal cartridges will extend it quite a bit.

      3 years ago
  • Rick lindsey

    Thumbs up! Some of the most informative is something from a guy with a sandbag. A couple of years ago I was asked to provide some dat and to a degree speculation on whether a man and a rifle could pose a threat to a railroad car. Doesn't take much creative thinking to come up with the question what kind of railroad car and carrying what? I gave some basics on line tic energy calculations and concluded that an AP round could do some serious damage. Such an odd thing, I was told by the railroad guy ( knowledgeable on rail cars) that I didn't know what I was talking about. Your backyard proved by empirical demonstration the truth was the railroad guy was nervous, not knowledgeable. Thanks!

    4 years ago
    • bill

      thanks............very well done....lots of work too.

      1 year ago
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