Federal Nyclad Ammunition in .38 Special Reintroduced at 2009 SHOT Show

Federal Premium Ammunition  re-introduced the Nyclad in .38 Special at the 2009 SHOT Show.  Available only in .38 Special, the Nyclad round is a standard-pressure, self-defense load with a nylon clad 125 grain soft lead hollow point.  The Federal Nyclad Ammunition for the .38 Specialnylon coating allows the bullet to reliably expand at low velocities, unlike traditional copper jacketed hollow points which normally require faster velocities in the .355-.357 bullet size range.

The .38 Special loading pushes the 125 grain hollow point at 830 fps for a muzzle energy of 191 ft-lbs.  While this may not seem like a real “manstopper,” keep in mind that the Nyclad proved to be excellent in its class.  For a firearm not designed to handle +P pressures, or for someone that is especially recoil sensitive (such as someone who is arthritic), this is a mild recoiling cartridge that will reliably expand.

The Nyclad line of ammunition was developed several decades ago and made its way into one of Federal’s self defense lines of cartridges.  The original .38 Special self defense load was a 125 grain, standard pressure round that featured a soft-lead bullet with a very deep hollow point.  It appears that the new Nyclad ammunition will be a close copy of the original.

Many experts feel the 125 grain Nyclad hollow point was the best standard pressure cartridge loaded for the .38 Special.  It offered excellent expansion with a relatively light recoil in even the lightest of revolver frames.

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About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing in Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, on The Firearm Blog and at BlueSheepdog.


  1. As with the 1990 re-introduction of the Centennial series of J-frame revolvers by S&W, Federal’s decision to bring back this excellent (and unique) anti-personnel cartridge should be hailed by thinking handgunners everywhere.

    I salute the suits at ATK/Federal!

  2. The other benefit is that the energy required to get the bullet through the barrel is less than for a copper plated bullet. That way more energy from the powder goes to the bullet instead of heat in the barrel so it’s more efficient.

  3. I hope they bring it back in the other loadings they used to make. I had some in 9MM HP and .357 SWC-HP and it was excellent stuff.

  4. I used to buy these a couple of decades ago when they loaded the 158 gr version. They shot cleanly with little muzzle flash and low recoil. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on these new loads for my wife’s SP-101!

  5. Was only able to find 1 box of the standard pressure 125 gr nyclad. Shot so well in my 85ul, that I saved 10 of them for serious business. Can’t find any more. I only have 1 issue with the Nyclad; with that big, wide open soft lead hollowpoint, would’nt it clog up passing through a thick heavy winter coat , with only 191 ft pds of pressure ? Just wondering.

    • Hi John,

      The theory is the very soft lead would open up even if plugged with other material. I think that most shootings showed it did a pretty good job of expanding. Maybe somebody else can chime in on this.


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