U.S. Ammo Shortage? Don't Blame Mexican Cartels (Updated)

Pajamas Media recently published an article by Todd Bensman ("Mexican Cartels Binge on American Bullets") that bears discussing. While it makes an attempt to link high civilian ammunition demand here in the United States to violent crime performed south of the border by Mexican drug cartels, the article -- and similar echoes adopted by the Obama administration and sympathetic journalists -- is flawed.

5.7x28 ammunition is not "cop killer" ammunition, and its reputation as such among drug smugglers and gullible members of the media -- the same media that dutifully reported Glock pistols were plastic "terrorist guns" that could evade metal detectors -- is entirely unearned.

The armor-piercing steel core version (SS190) will only penetrate lesser soft body armor of Level IIA or lower, and will not penetrate Level III soft armor worn by most police agencies. It also certainly will not penetrate Level IV armor worn by military units, or armor equipped with soft or hard ballistic inserts or plates, or even Level IIA armor struck obliquely.

Further, SS 190 is not for sale to civilians in the United States, at any price, and the military and police agencies eligible to buy it largely ignore the round entirely due to poor terminal performance. Despite all the marketing, all the rumors, and all the hype, the 5.7x28 (muzzle velocity 2,050 fps, muzzle energy 255 ft-lbs) performs roughly the same as the .22 magnum (muzzle velocity 2,200 fps, muzzle energy 322 ft-lbs). I would prefer to never be shot, but if I ever were, I'd rather be shot with a 5.7x28 armor-piercing "cop killer" bullet than any standard centerfire handgun caliber commonly used in this country.

If any SS190 rounds are in the hands of cartels, odds are they are purchasing them from members of the Mexican law enforcement and military communities who see a chance to make a profit, and perhaps would rather be shot by this anemic cartridge in any of its loadings, instead of facing far more effective and proven rounds, such as all centerfire rifle ammunition and the overwhelming majority of common pistol calibers, such as 9mm, 40S&W, 357 SIG, 45ACP, and 38 Super.

Authors that choose to write about this subject should make a serious effort to separate the ammunition being purchased because of cartel use in Mexico from the vast majority of ammunition being purchased by and for Americans.