Tungsten is an extremely hard and dense metal, mined from Wolframite ore and symbolized by a (W) on the periodic table of elements. It melts at an extraordinary 6,192 degrees Fahrenheit - the highest melting point of all metals. On its own, tungsten is vulnerable to scratches and damage just like any other metal, such as titanium and steel. Tungsten does not gain its extreme hardness until it is combined with a carbon alloy, transferring it into tungsten carbide (WC) with a hardness between 8.5 and 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Tungsten carbide is four times harder than titanium, twice as hard as steel, is virtually unmatchable, and has been widely used for decades in industrial applications such as cutting tools, mining machinery, and rocket engine nozzles. Its extreme hardness makes it useful in the manufacture of cutting tools, abrasives and bearings, as a cheaper and more heat-resistant alternative to diamond.
Tungsten carbide is often used in armor-piercing ammunition, especially where depleted uranium is not available or not politically acceptable. Tungsten carbide ammunition can be of the sabot type (a large arrow surrounded by a discarding push cylinder) or a sub-caliber ammunition, where copper or other relatively soft material is used to encase the hard penetrating core, the two parts being separated only on impact. The latter is more common in small-caliber arms, while sabots are usually reserved for artillery use.