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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.

.338 Lapua vs .30-06 Black Tip
.338 Lapua vs .30-06 Black Tip

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 you can pretty much only find it on Gun Broker for around $4+ each.

Want to see what it does against body armor? We test out some Level 3+ and Level 4 in our Best Body Armor article.

Level 4, M2AP
Level 4, M2AP

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12 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Szu-yung Hung

    Check this if never seen before! Those 4,000 fps .50BMG SLAP .30cal tungsten carbide sabot rounds are known to pierce thru 1" AR500 steel and 2" Grade 5 Titanium like butter. Those rounds had also outperformed Typhon 20mm cannon.
    (2" AR500 can it stopped .50cal baddest rounds??)

    April 26, 2021 5:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Does the AP penetrate AR500 plate?

    December 29, 2019 11:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Depends on the thickness and range. 1/4" more than likely, 3/8" possibly at close range, 1/2" probably not.

      April 9, 2021 9:22 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Szu-yung Hung

      Be more specific. When you say AR500 please always include the thickness. AR500 steel varies from mill to mill. Different quality etc etc and used for different application as well.

      April 26, 2021 5:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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

    March 15, 2017 12:11 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      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.

      August 26, 2017 8:32 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        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.

        November 23, 2018 8:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    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.

    February 3, 2016 2:20 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      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.

      February 3, 2016 3:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      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 ?

      October 3, 2017 10:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    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!

    June 25, 2015 12:57 am
    • Commenter Avatar

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

      June 24, 2018 11:12 pm