It is notable that while modern defensive ammunition has received a great deal of development—and competition is fierce—we are still using the same old lead and jacketed bullets as we have for the past 120 years or more. The high degree of reliability inherent in modern manufacturing by Federal Cartridge Company has crossed over into practices lines such as the Federal American Eagle, but by and large the same, jacketed bullet is used. Federal recently finished a years long development of a new practice load, and the American Eagle Syntech is well worth your time and effort to obtain and use.
Syntech uses a total synthetic jacket, termed the TSJ by Federal. The lead-alloy core is covered with a red polymer coating. No lead, which is a heavy metal, is exposed. From the company that gave us Nyclad ammunition, this is just another step but a different and important one. Syntech isn’t really a coating, but more of a durable sheath or shield.
This loading is designed to be useful when airborne lead must be restricted, such as when shooting in an indoor range. The lead bullet isn’t exposed to burning gas or primer ignition, so there isn’t any melted lead with the Synetch loading.
Lead is also an important part of the priming compound. To overcome this, Federal developed a new primer—the Catalyst—to overcome lead emissions. The result is a very clean cartridge. Another advantage is that the Syntech projectile is less likely to splash back or break into large shards when it meets a steel plate.
All of this was good, so I wanted to see how the loads fired and performed. I collected a number of my favorite 9mm handguns and headed to the range. You do not have to ask me twice to go shooting! I took four 9mm handguns and the .45s. I had more 9mm to expend than .45.
My crew and I fired a total of 400 rounds of 9mm and 200 rounds of .45 ACP. This isn’t a military grade test but Federal has a great reputation for reliability. I wanted to gauge the Syntech loads against Federal American Eagle, so I brought along 50 rounds of American Eagle 124-grain 9mm FMJ and 50 rounds of 230-grain .45 ACP American Eagle.
|9mm Handguns and Loads||Velocity||25-yard groups|
|Beretta (With Wilson Combat additions)||1142 fps||1.8 inch|
|Wilson Combat EDC X9||1129 fps||1.65 inch|
|Glock 17 Vickers Tactical||1134 fps||2.9 inch|
|Arex Rex Zero 1||1112 fps||2.35 inch|
|.45 ACP Handguns and Loads|
|Kimber Custom II||799 fps||2.0 inch|
|SIG P220 R||760 fps||1.7 inch|
|American Eagle 124 gr. FMJ|
|Rock Island Compact||773 fps||3.95 inch|
|Beretta W/C||1140 fps||1.4 inch|
|SIG P220R||809 fps||2.0 inch|
Clearly, the loads are comparable to any on the market for accuracy, and accurate enough for IDPA use. They are similar to the original Federal American Eagle FMJ loads in performance. After firing 600 rounds in a few hours, the crew and I broke out our Shooters Choice cleaning kits. The cleaning wasn’t much of a chore. The bore was clean and powder ash was limited. This is a good product worth its price.
How concerned have you been about lead ammunition? Have you fired Syntech ammunition? What were your results? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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