American Eagle Syntech Ammunition

American Eagle Syntech

Federal Premium will introduce a new line of ammunition under its American Eagle brand at the SHOT Show. Called Syntech, the new ammunition uses a polymer jacket instead of a more traditional copper one.

The new ammo will be offered in three handgun calibers at launch: 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Bullet weights will be typical for the caliber: 115 grains for the 9mm, 165 grains for the .40 and 230 grains for the .45.

Using a polymer jacket has a number of potential advantages for the company and the shooter. First, Federal may be able to manufacture these bullets for less money than if the company used a traditional copper jacket. This can work out to be lower prices for the consumer.

Secondly, by using a polymer jacket, there can be less fouling of the bore. Plain lead bullets can leave quite a bit of residue behind that is tough to scrub out. Copper jackets reduce the fouling, but copper is still tough to remove from a bore. Any polymer left behind is likely to be easier to remove from the pistol’s barrel.

Another potential benefit of using a polymer jacket is a reduction in “splash back” when shooting steel. Shooting steel targets is both fun and useful as a training tool. However, one of the risks involved bullet shrapnel bouncing back at the shooter. Even when operating at supposedly safe distances, I’ve seen part of a copper jacket come back and strike a shooter just above the eye. In theory, a polymer jacket will not rebound off of steel in the same way that copper would.

American Eagle Syntech ammunition is not the first time the company has used a polymer jacket. Federal used a polymer jacket on its popular Nyclad line of ammo many moons ago, and still does on the modern Nyclad .38 Special rounds.

For these loads, Federal used a soft lead alloy that would readily expand at even low velocities. However, copper jackets would inhibit expansion, and bare lead would leave a lot of gunk behind in the gun. To solve the problem, a polymer jacket was developed.

While the Nyclad line was eclipsed by other defensive ammunition lines, I am not familiar with any problems with the ammo caused by the polymer jacket.

I do not have any word on pricing yet for these rounds. As I get additional information leading into the SHOT Show, I will update this article.


Federal Guard Dog Ammunition Video

Federal GuardDog ammunition

Federal introduced the Expanding Full Metal Jacket (EFMJ) a few years back, and those rounds have been fairly well received.  More recently, the company introduced the Guard Dog line of personal defense ammunition, which uses similar technology.

The design concept is to achieve an expanding bullet without using a traditional hollow point.  In some pistols, a hollow point bullet design doesn’t reliably feed.  Even more, people run into the problem of hollow-point ammunition not being legal in some places (like the entire state of New Jersey).  Another problem with traditional hollow points is that material can plug the hollow point and prevent expansion.


Ruger GP100 and Blackhawk now in .327 Federal Magnum

Ruger Blackhawk 327 Magnum revolver
This is the new Ruger Blackhawk 327 Magnum revolver.

Ruger is offering two new revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum: the New Model Blackhawk and the GP100.  These two revolvers shows the commitment of Ruger to the new Magnum caliber.

The Blackhawk is a single-action revolver with a 5 1/2″ barrel.  It will hold eight rounds of the powerful .327 Magnum cartridges.  The GP100 is a standard double action revolver that will hold seven of the .327 Federal Magnum rounds.  Barrel length is 4.2″.

Shooting a Federal 100 grain soft-point bullet in the American Eagle line of ammunition, Ruger states the Blackhawk achieves 1655 fps, while the GP100 manages 1525 fps.


.327 Federal Magnum A Viable Self Defense Caliber?

Ever since Ruger and Federal introduced the .327 Federal Magnum in November of 2007, I have been intrigued by the potential of this caliber.  Granted, any new firearm caliber has a serious uphill battle to be accepted by the general shooting public.  But, the .32 has been around and used for self-defense since the 1800s.  Let’s be honest…the .32 has never been known as a “man-stopper,” but is has had a small portion of the firearms market. Could the .327 Federal Magnum make the .32 a serious self-defense caliber?

After Ruger’s introduction of the SP101 chambered for the new cartridge, Charter Arms released the Patriot series of revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum. In the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of American Handgunner, John Taffin tested the Patriot and gave his opinions on the gun and caliber.  Out of the 2.2″ barrel on the Patriot, the 115 grain Speer Gold Dot was smoking along at about 1230 fps for more than 385 foot-pounds of energy.  The milder-recoiling 85 grain Federal JHP was in the 1220s with more than 280 ft-lbs of energy.

Those are respectable numbers for a self-defense firearm, especially when you consider they are coming out of a 2.2″ barrel.  In a short carbine, I imagine the .327 could be a fantastic small game gun.

To my knowledge, no one has been forced to use a .327 Federal Magnum in a self-defense shooting.  Without a stack of positive results from “the street,” I’m hesitant to recommend this caliber.  However, if you prefer a .32 caliber firearm, the .327 is a vast improvement over the .32 H&R Magnum and its predecessors.  With speeds in the 1200’s, the bullet will expand after striking, unlike the bullets out of the weaker .32’s.

Update – Speer added another Gold Dot load for this cartridge. The new load uses a 100-grain bullet that is rated at a blistering 1,500 fps. This is exceptionally fast. I would imagine that this load in a lever-action rifle would be incredible. It should be more than adequate to provide for home defense and could even be a decent combination for taking small to medium size game.

Another Update – Ruger no longer makes the SP101 with a 3″ barrel for this cartridge. They do make the gun with a 4.2″ barrel for it now. While you get the benefit of additional velocity, I wonder how much harder it is to conceal the gun. In an IWB, it should not be a problem. However, in an outside the waistband rig, the extra barrel length may be visible from under a short jacket.


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

Federal Premium Ammunition will be re-introducing the Nyclad in .38 Special at the 2009 SHOT Show according to the folks at the Pro Arms Podcast.  During a show on “snub nosed” revolvers, one of the participants made the announcement.

federal_nyclad_38The Nyclad line of ammunition was developed several decades ago and became popular as one of Federal’s self-defense lines of cartridges.  The .38 Special self-defense load was a 125 grain, standard pressure round that featured a soft-lead bullet with a very deep hollow point.  The bullet was coated in a jacket of polymer, similar to nylon, that allowed the bullet to reliably expand all even low velocities.

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.  My own informal testing seemed good out of a model 642 Smith and Wesson (1 7/8″ barrel), and Evan Marshall’s research tended to show good results in the street.

Until Federal confirms or denies this information, it is merely a juicy rumor at this point.  I have seen a lot of people snap up the remaining old-stock of Nyclad whenever it has shown up at AmmoMan and other places.  I suspect it will sell very well if re-introduced.


Update: Federal did re-introduce the Nyclad.  Scroll down for additional information from the SHOT Show.

The re-introduced Nyclad is a .38 Special load that uses a 125 grain hollow point bullet.  The load is rated at 830 fps, which is in line with the original Nyclad load.  Federal designed this load for reliable expansion at low velocity.  While it would not be my first choice for personal protection, it is a great choice for anyone who carries a .38 and needs a low recoil load due to injury or infirmity.

Check out this video showing how well this load performs in gel through the denim test.

Report from the 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 nylon 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.