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"Cop Killer Bullets"

This page is here because this particular topic has become a pet peeve of mine!  A childhood friends father is the catalyst for my passion.  My friends Father has been a life long bird hunter both water fowl and upland game.  He is now a retired educator, and once was a member of the NRA.  Then in the early 80's the "Cop Killer Bullets" catch phrase was invented and the hype began.  Sorry to say, My friends Father, a man I have had great respect for, for decades, got sucked into and permanently caught up in the "media hype".  He resigned from the NRA in protest and to this day almost 20 years later still believes that the NRA was misguided in its fight against this incredible sensationalized media ploy to further infringe on all Americans right to keep and bear arms!  The "Cop Killer Bullet" is a False Demon!  Perpetrated on the citizens of America by the Anti-Gun lobby and major "liberal" Anti-Gun media.  

"Cop Killer Bullet" sometimes referred to as "Teflon Bullets" have now become so embedded into the subconscious  of most Americans that even both of the major party "2000" presidential candidates are making reference to "Teflon Bullets" (and their inappropriateness) in their statements about their positions on "GUNS".  My question is this.  If these supposedly bright intelligent men, who by their own admission believe they are qualified to lead the entire world as the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, with comparatively unlimited research resources can't distinguish (or can they) between the anti-gun propaganda and the truth, are they truly qualified???  

"Cop Killer Bullets" do not exist!!!



The Real Story on

"Cop Killer" Teflon-Coated Bullets


In 1966, the coroner of Lorain County, Ohio, Dr. Paul Kopsch, Sgt. Daniel Turcus, Jr., of the Lorain Police Dept.,. and Dr. Kopsch's special investigator, Donald Ward, decided that armor-piercing handgun cartridges could be sold to those police departments or officers that either lacked rifles or might be interested in testing special-purpose handgun ammunition. Major factories had produced such ammunition for the police for years, but interest was minimal, accounting for low sales and little attempt at improvement. Kopsch, Turcus and Ward easily succeeded in making a round that out-penetrated the tame old factory offerings.

Their original KTW bullet centered around a case-hardened steel core. Even at standard velocities, this core would obviously hold its shape and drill through automobiles, cinder blocks and other materials likely to defeat conventional police handgun loads. This was literally the core of the solution, but presented difficulties. The hard core would not take rifling and would ruin the bore. A gliding-metal jacket with full teflon coating took care of this. The round gave good penetration but poor accuracy at long range.

Then a ballistic engineer at the H.P. White Laboratories suggested that a new alloy called Kennertium W-10 be tried, instead of the steel then used, to add the ballistic stability needed for increased accuracy at long range. W- IO is a sintered tungsten alloy that is heavier than lead and harder than most steel alloys. The new material worked, but it was expensive. The expense didn't worry the developers much, since the specialty bullets would not be shot in quantity. In 1969, the prices for the 200-gr. W-10 cored, Teflon-coated .38 Spl. rounds were about six times those of conventional metal-pointed "armor-piercers" of standard make. Sales were low in volume, though relatively high in profit.

By the early 1970s, supply of Kennertium became erratic, and KTW reverted to much lighter steel and, later, brass cores, both of which reduced the maximum range to about a third of that of the former type. KTW made a plus of the reduced range by noting that long range was not necessary in this type of round and, in fact, would increase danger to bystanders in metropolitan areas. The high prices and low sales volume continued; so did the distinctive pea-green teflon coating which now formed the only protection for the bore.

The claim was made by the media that the teflon also lubricated the point of impact and increased penetration dramatically. That claim, in reference to soft body armor, was convincingly refuted by government test, with the Justice Dept. saying it "has little or no effect on the penetrating qualities of the projectile" and the Treasury Dept. labeling it as "little more than a cosmetic additive." But the fact that Teflon protects the bore from the ill effects of the hard bullet core is incontrovertible. By end of 1981, KTW was offering its products in most handgun calibers. Sales were still limited to police agencies or police officers ordering through federally licensed dealers, and were still limited in volume.

Then, in January 1982, a dramatic change occurred. KTW got national, prime-time television coverage in NBC's "Cop Killer Bullets." Law enforcement officials had pled with NBC to drop the sensational coverage of the virtually unknown bullets lest they come to the attention of criminals. NBC not only refused, but rebroadcast the show six months later. Then the print media joined in.

Of course, KTW's restricted sales policies forbade a rash of sales to criminals, but many police departments had to answer frantic questions from officers and the public concerning the implied threat. The departments didn't have data, and some set out to buy and test KTWs to see 'just what the threat was. Other small bullet makers saw the light and soon a number of KTW competitors appeared to share in police testing budgets. Hard cores were the rule, high velocities and pointed bullets were preferable, but Teflon was considered unnecessary.

Some anti-gun members of Congress saw the light too. Here was an opportunity to get all sorts of free personal publicity in all sorts of media. All they had to do was introduce a bill with a catchy title to outlaw the import, manufacture of sale of.. of what? The title, having been stolen from NBC, was easy: "A bill to stop the proliferation of 'cop-killer' bullets." "Cop-Killer" was the most exciting label to come along since "Saturday Night Special" and just as vague. Its "definition" was simply:

Any bullet that when fired from a 5" barreled handgun is capable of penetrating the equivalent of 18 layers of Kevlar. Technical experts of the FBI, BATF, Secret Service and police forensic labs throughout the country felt this definition to be impractical and unenforceable, but none of them could think of a good one.

A four-year campaign to outlaw so-called "armor-piercing" or "cop-killer" bullets began. During that time NRA-ILA successfully fought off several bills that would have had grave implications for American gun owners and dealers. August 1986 saw passage of H.R- 3121, which while symbolically offensive, greatly narrowed the definition of proscribed bullets (earlier bills threatened to outlaw up to 85% of big game ammunition), and contained no criminal penalties for dealer or private possession, transfer or use of such bullets. An exception was made for misuse in a violent federal crime.

The law defined offending bullets as "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun" and constructed entirely (except for trace elements) of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper or depleted uranium or a combination of those metals. Further, the Secretary of the Treasury may exempt a projectile covered in the "armor-piercing" definition, but may not expand the law to include projectiles not expressly included in the established definition. - W.F.P.

Reprinted from The American Rifleman, February 1989

  1. No police officer has ever been shot with so-called "Cop-Killer Bullets".

  2. The "Cop-Killer Bullet" legislation which the anti-gun crowd tried to pass would have outlawed all firearm ammunition which would penetrate the bullet-proof vests commonly worn by police officers.  It would have outlawed almost all rifle bullets commonly used for hunting, since almost all rifle bullets will easily penetrate such body armor.  In other words, if this legislation had passed as written by the anti-gun crowd, it would have had the practical effect of ending all "legitimate sporting" uses of rifles by outlawing the ammunition.

  3. The legislation which was finally passed had the desired effect of outlawing civilian use of bullets specifically designed for police use in piercing armor while leaving rifle bullets exempt, as well they should have been. This compromise legislation was passed with the NRA's full assistance, cooperation and support.

At least 80,000,000 law abiding American gun owners did not shoot anyone today.

The Misinformed
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Last revised: 10/24/05 12:24

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