Availability of Military .50 Caliber Ammunition Gao ID: OSI-99-14R June 30, 1999

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how military .50 caliber ammunition, including armor-piercing and armor-piercing incendiary ammunition, becomes available for civilian purchase, focusing on the: (1) process by which the Department of Defense (DOD) disposed of the .50 caliber ammunition; (2) initial process used by the contractor that demilitarized the ammunition; and (3) contractor's manufacturing and marketing practices for the demilitarized ammunition.

GAO noted that: (1) Talon Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Paw Paw, West Virginia, holds an exclusive contract with DOD to demilitarize small arms ammunition, defined as .50 caliber and below; (2) ammunition leaving the DOD account is classified in three categories: unserviceable, excess, or obsolete; (3) no small arms ammunition goes directly from DOD to the civilian market; (4) the ammunition is shipped in bulk to Talon from various military storage depots; (5) DOD pays Talon $1 per ton for the ammunition that it will demilitarize; (6) in the case of .50 caliber ammunition, Talon separates the round and discards the primer; (7) the remaining components can then be: (a) sold for scrap; (b) used to manufacture reconditioned ammunition; and (c) sold on the civilian market for customers who reload their own ammunition using the brass casing, projectile, and propellant components; (8) the reconditioned ammunition sold by Talon for purchase by civilians has essentially the same ballistic characteristics as the original military round; (9) it is widely referred to as military surplus ammunition; (10) DOD provides Talon with five types of .50 caliber ammunition: ball, armor-piercing, armor-piercing incendiary, armor-piercing incendiary tracer, and ball tracer; and (11) these rounds are all sold on the civilian market.

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