Key Point: It takes an advanced weapons industry to produce good tank ammunition.
Tank ammunition is not easy to manufacture. Modern tanks require ammo that is made to withstand immense pressure while also maintaining very high accuracy. This presents challenges for all types of rounds, although modern Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) ammunition is the hardest to manufacture due to the very hard materials necessary to craft them.
Which countries have mastered making these advanced rounds? Here are five countries that could be considered the best at making tank ammunition, in no particular order.
1. United States of America
Since the US proclaimed itself to be the “arsenal of democracy” during WWII, the US has been at the forefront of the development of advanced tank guns and ammunition. Fierce competition with the Soviet Union to develop more and more powerful cannons resulted in the US developing a powerful line of 105mm APFSDS ammunition for the British L7 (adopted as M68) cannons.
The US pioneered the use of depleted uranium in advanced versions of the 105mm rounds, which began being fielded in the 1980s. After the transition to the 120mm German smoothbore cannon in the M1A1 tank, the US produced the M829 series of APFSDS rounds, which also incorporated depleted uranium into the rounds.
2. Russian Federation
Russia inherited the ammunition development legacy of the Soviet Union, which also fought a fierce battle to develop deadly tank ammunition to counter the German “big cat” tanks in World War II. During the Cold War, they produced an impressive series of APFSDS rounds for their tanks. The Soviet Union was actually the first to adopt APFSDS technology; they fielded the 115mm 2A20 smoothbore gun on the T-62 to make use of APFSDS rounds for increased penetration.