Black Tip Bullets – What Are They?

Hunters and shooters do not want to leave anything to chance. They want every advantage they can legally get. Accuracy and power are the most important factors when choosing the right ammunition. For this very reason, black tip ammo has become very popular in recent years. But what is black tip ammo? And, is it better than traditional rounds?

What is Black Tip Ammo?

picture of black tip armor piercing ammo

By definition, black Tip ammo is armor-piercing rounds with very high stopping power compared to other ammunition. The bullets are known to easily penetrate vehicles, walls, and armor of a target. These are stronger than common rounds like the 44-40 or 30-30 cartridges that many shooters use!

Who uses black tip ammo?

It should not be surprising to hear that black tip ammo is most commonly used by Military operatives. This ammo is very useful on the battlefield due to its destructive capabilities. The heavy-duty lead core-surrounded bullets are probably overkill for hunters or weekend target shooting.


A true armor-piercing round can be great for piercing cinderblock walls and even steel car doors!

Pros of Black Tip Ammo

Great for law enforcement and Military situations

  • Black tip ammo can be used in a variety of different combat situations to hit targets behind cover. These high-strength rounds allow soldiers to shoot through walls and barriers & prevent them from having to enter dangerous close-quarters combat situations. Popular rounds like the 350 legend or 450 bushmaster are not able to pierce barriers so easily!

Cons of Black Tip Ammo

Not a practical round

  • It is not typically necessary for the average citizen to use this type of ammunition. In fact, black tip ammunition is generally not recommended for use by civilians, as it can pose a significant risk to bystanders if it passes through the intended target.

These rounds are expensive

  • For the same reason that 35 ammo is hard to find and 380 ammo is expensive is the production scale. Black tip ammo is not produced at the mass scale of other popular rounds. This means the cost to manufacture them can be quite high. Black tip ammo is definitely more experience red or green tip ammo.

History of Black Tip Ammo

Black Tip ammo made its debut decades ago and was made specifically for Military use. It became widely known during WWII when it was used to pierce tank armor and cinderblock walls. Unlike traditional bullets like the 300 hamr, these Military rounds were best known for:

  • Consistent accuracy and precision
  • Quality construction
  • Armor piercing capability

The design of Black Tip ammo made it stand out among other types of rounds. Today, police use black tip ammunition for combat situations.

Who Needs Armor Piercing Ammo?

picture of black tip armor piercing ammunition

The truth is, there are not many people that need black tip armor piercing ammo. The only real use cases of this type of round is for Military and law enforcement purposes. Of course, there will always be people who want to shoot some rounds through a junk yard car, but Military is the most common use case. Just like we saw in our post comparing the 30-06 vs 300 win mag rounds, the average shooter only needs so much stopping power.

Other Color-Coded Bullet Tips

There are several different types of colored bullet types.

1) Green Tip Bullet

Just like black tips, green tip ammo is a type of military-grade ammunition that’s painted with a green tip. The paint helps to identify the rounds as being armor piercing. Unlike the 350 or 223 Remington, it is very rare to come by green tip ammunition.

2) Yellow Tip Bullet

Observation ammo, also known as yellow tip ammo, is a type of ammunition that is designed to create a bright flash and smoke on impact. This is used in order to provide visual observation of the target from a distance. Although rarely used, this round is deployed by law enforcement and military personnel for training purposes.

3) Red Tip Bullet

Red tip ammunition is a type of tracer round. Tracers glow after being fired, making it easy to track the trajectory of the shot. Red tipped bullets get their name from red plastic tip that is on the tip of each round.

Is Black Tip Ammo Legal?

Unlike traditional civilian ammo like the 300 Blackout or 6.5 Grendel, it is much harder to find black tipped ammo. Why is this? Is ap ammo even legal?

The short answer is yes. Black tip ammunition is legal to fabricate and purchase with the proper licenses. In most cases, you will need a very specific federal firearms license issued by the federal government.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a black tip on a bullet mean?

A black tip on a bullet usually means that it is an armor-piercing round. This type of ammunition is designed to penetrate armor or other types of body protection. These steel core bullets are most commonly used to pierce body armor and military vehicles.

Can civilians buy black tip ammo?

You can purchase black-tip ammunition as long as you have the appropriate license for purchasing and owning firearms. Certain states have restrictions on what types of ammunition can be sold within their borders, so be sure to double-check. However, these are not common rounds to come by at your local gunshop.

What are black tip bullets made of?

In most cases, black tip ammo is made with a Lubalox coating. The steel core and lead coating make it very unlikely that the bullet will fail or rupture upon impact with a target.

What does bullet tip color mean?

The different color tips indicate a specific type of ammunition. For example, black tip ammo is an armor-piercing round & orange tips are often tracer rounds.

The Bottom Line

Now you know that a black tip bullet is a type of ammunition that is known for its distinctive black tip on the jacket. These rounds are most commonly used for military or law enforcement as armor-piercing ammunition. While black tip rounds are highly effective, make sure you know your local laws and have the proper licensing.

At the end of the day, the average person likely does not have a use case for this armor-piercing round. However, if you need ap ammo, black tip ammo is a great choice!

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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