The NATO military alliance uses a NATO specific recognized class of procedures to control the safety and quality of firearms ammunition called NATO EPVAT testing. The civilian organizations C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives) and SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute) use less comprehensive test procedures than NATO, but NATO test centers have the advantage that only a few NATO chambering are in military use. The C.I.P. and SAAMI proof houses must be capable of testing hundreds of different chambering requiring lots of different test barrels, etcetera. For all other small arms ammunition for use in "non-NATO Chamber" weapons, NATO has chosen to conform to the procedures as defined by the current C.I.P. legislation.
NATO EPVAT testing
is one of the three recognized classes of procedures used in the world to control the safety and quality of firearms ammunition. EPVAT Testing is described in unclassified documents by NATO, more precisely by the AC/225 Army Armaments Group (NAAG). EPVAT is an abbreviation for "Electronic Pressure Velocity and Action Time". This is a comprehensive procedure for testing ammunition using state-of-the-art instruments and computers. Unlike the C.I.P. procedures aiming only at the user's safety, the NATO procedures for ammunition testing also includes comprehensive functional quality testing in relation with the intended use. That is, not only the soldier's safety is looked at, but also his capacity to incapacitate the enemy. As a result, for every ammunition order by NATO, a complete acceptance approval on both safety and functionality is performed by both NATO and the relevant ammunition manufacturers in a contradictory fashion. For this, a highly accurate and indisputable protocol has been defined by NATO experts using a system of reference cartridges.
Commission internationale permanente pour l'épreuve des armes à feu portatives
(Permanent International Commission for Firearms Testing commonly abbreviated as C.I.P. or CIP)
The C.I.P. is an international organization whose members are 14 states, mainly European. ("Portatives" means "portable", reflecting the fact the Commission mainly only tests small arms rounds, but the word is ordinarily omitted from the English translation of the name.) The C.I.P. safeguards that every civil firearm and all ammunition sold in C.I.P. member states are safe for the users. To achieve this, the firearms are all professionally proofed at C.I.P. accredited Proof Houses before they can be sold to consumers. The same applies for cartridges, at regular interval, cartridges are tested at the C.I.P. accredited Proof Houses.
The C.I.P. also enforces the approval of all ammunition a manufacturer or importer intends to sell in any of the C.I.P. member states. The ammunition manufacturing plants are obliged to test their products during production against the C.I.P. pressure specifications. A compliance report must be issued for each production lot and archived for later verification if needed. The cartridge boxes must also be stamped with a C.I.P. approved number to allow quality/safety traceability according to ISO 9000 principles in case of quality problem.
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI)
The SAAMI is an association of American firearms and ammunition manufacturers. SAAMI publishes various industry standards related to the field, including fire code, ammunition and chamber specifications, and acceptable chamber pressure. In the United States, firearms and ammunition specifications are not overseen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or any other branch of government. Only manufacturers that are members of SAAMI are bound by the Institute's guidelines.
The difference in the location of the pressure measurement gives different results than the C.I.P. standard.