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M193 vs M855 5.56x45mm Ammunition: A Detailed Comparison

Understanding ammunition specifications can be a daunting task, especially when you’re dealing with rounds that seem similar but have crucial differences. Two such rounds in the 5.56x45mm category are the M193 and the M855. In this blog post, we’ll explore these two types of ammo, highlighting their history, best uses, and ballistics. Plus, we’ll answer the question: why are green tips painted green?


Both M193 and M855 are 5.56x45mm NATO rounds used widely in rifles like the AR-15. While they may appear similar, their specifications offer different benefits for different applications. Understanding the distinction can help you make an informed choice for your shooting needs.


M193 History

The M193 was one of the original 5.56x45mm rounds used by the U.S. military, introduced in the early 1960s. It has been the standard for military rifles for decades and is known for its simplicity and effectiveness at shorter ranges.

M855 History

The M855 was developed later, in the 1970s, as an improvement on the M193. The primary difference is the steel penetrator tip designed for better penetration of armor and barriers. It gained notoriety as the “green tip” ammo because of the green paint used to identify it.


M193 Specifications

  • Bullet Weight: 55 grains
  • Tip: Lead
  • Casing: Brass
  • Velocity: Approximately 3,250 feet per second

M855 Specifications

  • Bullet Weight: 62 grains
  • Tip: Steel penetrator
  • Casing: Brass
  • Velocity: Approximately 3,020 feet per second
  • M855 5.56: Limitations: Please note, steel core ammunition such as M855 and SS109 spec ammunition should not be shot at steel targets because of  unpredictable splatter and damaging the targers, nor should M855 be shot at indoor ranges due to possibility of sparks creating a fire hazard.


M193 Ballistics

The M193 has a faster velocity and is more prone to fragment upon impact, which can result in larger wound channels at closer ranges. It performs best within 200 yards.

M855 Ballistics

The M855 is optimized for longer ranges and is capable of penetrating harder targets thanks to its steel penetrator tip. Its performance is more consistent at distances up to 600 yards.

Best Uses


Ideal for:

  • Target practice
  • Short-range shooting
  • Varmint hunting


Ideal for:

  • Longer range shooting
  • Tactical scenarios
  • Penetrating armor or barriers

Why is green tip ammo painted green?

The green paint on the M855’s tip is a way to distinguish it from other rounds quickly. It indicates that the round has a steel penetrator tip, designed for better penetration capabilities.


While both M193 and M855 are 5.56x45mm NATO rounds, their different specifications make them suitable for different applications. Whether you’re considering home defense, hunting, or long-range shooting, understanding the nuances can help you make an educated decision.

So, when selecting your 5.56x45mm ammunition, consider what you’ll be using it for. Whether it’s the M193’s superior short-range capabilities or the M855’s long-range penetration, each has its merits. Choose wisely!

3 Responses

  1. I like the 62 grain green tips better than the 55 grand bullets because they do get better groups even at 100 yards the short range. Other than that the 55 grains are usually cheaper but not always.

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