What is an Armor-Piercing Round?

An armor-piercing (AP) round is a type of ammunition designed to penetrate various types of armor, such as body armor, vehicle armor, or fortified structures. AP rounds are primarily used by military and law enforcement personnel to engage targets with enhanced protection or to disable armored vehicles.

Armor-piercing rounds typically feature a hard, dense core made of materials such as tungsten carbide, depleted uranium, or hardened steel. This core is often encased within a softer jacket, usually made of copper or a similar material. The design of the AP round allows the hard core to maintain its shape and penetrate the armor, while the softer outer jacket helps to reduce barrel wear and provide better ballistic performance.

The effectiveness of an armor-piercing round depends on various factors, including the round’s caliber, construction, and velocity, as well as the thickness and composition of the armor it is intended to penetrate. AP rounds can be found in various calibers, ranging from small arms ammunition to large-caliber rounds used in tank guns and artillery.

There are also variations of armor-piercing ammunition, such as:

  • Armor-Piercing Incendiary (API) rounds: These rounds combine the armor-piercing capability with an incendiary component, which ignites upon penetration, causing additional damage to the target through fire. These rounds can often be identified with a “colored tip” on the end.
  • Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) rounds: These rounds feature a sub-caliber penetrator encased within a lightweight sabot that falls away after leaving the barrel. The smaller penetrator maintains a high velocity, enabling it to penetrate armor more effectively.
  • Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) rounds: Similar to APDS rounds, these rounds feature a fin-stabilized penetrator, which provides better accuracy and penetration performance at longer ranges.

It is important to note that armor-piercing ammunition may be subject to legal restrictions in some jurisdictions, particularly for civilian use.