There has been, since at least 1982, a lot of hype about "cop killer" bullets; that is handgun ammunition that is supposed to be able to penetrate the sort of soft body armor commonly worn by American police officers. The ammo which was pointed to most often by shameless politicians like Rep. Mario Biaggi was the teflon coated KTW round. A few states, like South Carolina, even define banned ammo in terms of it having a Teflon coating (S.C. Code sec. 16-23-250), without regard to its ability to penetrate body armor, or the materials used in constructing the bullet. In 1986, with P.L. 99-408, and subsequent revisions, Congress banned the further making of bullets with cores made out of most metals other than lead, for use in a handgun, for civilian sale. But what is already out there may continue to be owned, state law permitting.
At some point in 1981, or perhaps 1979, Congressman Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), a very highly decorated retired NYC police officer, and a Congressman from the Bronx, N.Y., got wind of this ammo, and the fact that in some calibers it could penetrate the level II vest worn by some police officers as protection against handgun shooting. He, in concert with NBC, began in 1981, a campaign to publicize the existence of the ammo, and to whip up public outrage against this threat. He claimed that the Teflon coating permitted 20% greater penetration than a bullet without it, and that the coating assisted in penetrating body armor. He was assisted by Mr. Arthur Kassel, the then owner of the Beverly Hills (CA) Gun Club, who helped whip up media interest in California in the KTW round, and the dangerousness of its civilian availability.
Congressman Biaggi also claimed that according to Dennis Grey, of the Broward County, FL, Sheriff's Department, at least two police officers had been killed with the KTW round; a Florida State Highway Patrolman, and a visiting Canadian policeman, both in 1976 in Broward County, FL. Neither was wearing body armor. Congressman Biaggi also got Du Pont to refuse to sell Teflon to KTW. In 1986 he finally got his wish and the current federal restrictions were enacted, as well as a host of state laws banning various bullets and ammunition types. In the late 1980's Congressman Biaggi was sent to jail, as part of the "Wedtech" defense procurement scandal, and became, to my understanding, a felon, unable to lawfully possess either firearms or ammunition.
The NRA opposed Rep. Biaggi's initial (1982) legislation because it used a performance standard, any handgun ammunition which would penetrate 18 layers of the Kevlar material used to make soft body armor would be covered by the law. This would have had the effect of banning nearly all rifle rounds for which handguns were made, as soft body armor cannot, in general, resist rifle ammunition. In the end, the NRA helped draft the current law, which is based on the construction of the bullet, without regard to its ability to penetrate body armor. Thus some pistol rounds which do penetrate some soft body armor are not affected, while rounds which do not penetrate body armor are regulated. And the problem of a law meant to apply to handgun ammunition also regulating rifle ammunition, including 7.62x51 and 7.62x39, was not solved by the re-write.
KTW stands for the initials of the last names of the three men who came up with the round, Dr. Paul J. Kopsch, Dan Turcus, and Don Ward. All three were from Lorain, OH, and in the late 1960's saw a need for pistol ammunition that would enable police to engage suspects inside motor vehicles; much conventional handgun ammunition, especially at that time, would not penetrate the car's steel body. In 1968, they created KTW, Inc., and began marketing the ammo, and by 1979 had sold over 232,000 rounds. In 1980 they entered into a marketing agreement with North American Ordnance Corp. (NAOC) to make and sell their ammunition. At all times KTW (and NAOC) had a policy of only selling the ammo to police officers, or departments, or overseas.
The sample of KTW ammunition I had access to was .380 ACP caliber, it also came in 9mm para, .38 special, .357 magnum, and .45 ACP. It is in an MTM plastic case, holding 12 rounds of the ammunition. It is apparently reloads; with silver colored primers, and mixed headstamps (W-W, R-P and S&W) in the same box which was factory sealed before I opened it. It has a silver foil sticker wrapped around the box, sealing it. On the front side it says:
ktw metal piercing ammunition WARNING Keep out of reach of childrenOn the sides of the box it has a second sticker with the caliber inside typewritten on it.
On the back it says:
FOR POLICE USE ONLY These cartridges are high velocity, high intensity rounds for use in arms of new or excellent condition originally designed and chambered specifically for this cartridge. We warrant the exercise of reasonable care in the manufacture of these cartridges but assume no further responsibility expressed or implied. NORTH AMERICAN ORDNANCE CORPORATION Pontiac, Mighigan 48057, U.S.A.The bullet itself is a flat head, truncated cone shape, with a solid, not hollow, point. The bullets are covered with green Teflon, which appears to be painted on, and does not seem to adhere particularly well to the bullet. The bullets are not attracted to a magnet, they are made out of brass or bronze. This ammunition is now a collector's item, and I did not attempt to fire any.
Hearings on Armor-Piercing and Exploding Bullets, Subcommitte on Crime, House Judiciary Committee, Serial No. 123, 97th Cong. 2d sess., US GPO 1983. [fiche CIS 83 H521-69]
1986 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News, Legislative History on P.L. 99- 408, Armor Piercing Ammunition, pp. 1992-2008.