When the rumor first started that Russian-made 5.45x39 ammunition with steel cores (7n6) was about to be banned, there was a bit of discussion and it seemed that the rumor was just that. Given that it started with the somewhat infamous James Yeager that made some sense.
Well, it turns out the rumor is now reality thanks to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. They issued a special advisory yesterday (April 7th) saying that it was prohibited from importation into the United States because they found a "pistol" chambered in that round. They deemed the steel core made this ammunition "armor piercing" which is prohibited from importation under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (unless for government use).
I remember buying two more spam cans of this ammo for about $159 per can plus shipping on Election Day 2012. Checking the Internet, the cheapest to be found is going for $209 a can with most other places selling it for $260 to $270 per can of 1,080 rounds. I'm glad I laid in what for me will be a lifetime supply for my AK-74.
To paraphrase that old saying about the blind pig and acorns, even James Yeager can be right...sometimes.
The BATFE special advisory is below:
Test, Examination and Classification of 7N6 5.45x39 Ammunition
On March 5, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received a request from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) to conduct a test, examination and classification of Russian-made 7N6 5.45x39 ammunition for purposes of determining whether it is considered “armor piercing ammunition” as defined by the Gun Control Act (GCA), as amended. Since 1986, the GCA has prohibited the importation of armor piercing ammunition unless it is destined for government use or testing. The imported ammunition about which CBP was inquiring was not destined for either excepted purpose.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), as amended, defines the term “armor piercing ammunition” as:
“(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.” (emphasis added)
When ATF tested the 7N6 samples provided by CBP, they were found to contain a steel core. ATF’s analysis also concluded that the ammunition could be used in a commercially available handgun, the Fabryka Bronie Radom, Model Onyks 89S, 5.45x39 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which was approved for importation into the United States in November 2011. Accordingly, the ammunition is “armor piercing” under the section 921(a)(17)(B)(i) and is therefore not importable. ATF’s determination applies only to the Russian-made 7N6 ammunition analyzed, not to all 5.45x39 ammunition. Ammunition of that caliber using projectiles without a steel core would have to be independently examined to determine their importability.