Federal EFMJ Guard Dog Ammunition

Federal Guard Dog Ammunition Box and Cartridges

Through the years, I have seen many high-performance handgun loads rise, fall and fail. Some would not feed properly,
some over-expanded and others expanded only if they hit a brick wall. Others were of such low quality you could not count on them for personal defense.

Federal Guard Dog Ammunition Box and Cartridges

Federal has earned my trust and respect with service-grade loads, such as the Hydra-Shok, HST and personal defense lines. Federal has shown consistent quality control for decades. Today, Federal offers general-purpose defense and specialty loads. There are times when a home defense load should be specific to your needs. For example, the Federal HST loading is predicated on a peace officer’s need to penetrate light cover.

While it is also a good choice for general personal defense, some wish to limit recoil and penetration. A load that expands well yet offers less momentum on firing is desirable for personal defense. A bullet without a bonded core expand more quickly in a flesh-and-blood target and for in intermediate obstacles. A lighter-weight bullet stops more quickly in barriers.

Expanded Federal Guard Dog load on a white background
Federal Guard Dog is a reliable performer with excellent expansion.

The Federal Expanding Full Metal Jacket (EFMJ) bullet, offered in the Guard Dog line, is an ingenious answer to real problems. The load offers expansion with a full-metal-jacketed profile, a reliable feed profile in any handgun that feeds FMJ ammunition, which ensures reliability in less-expensive and older military handguns.

The bullet weight is dropped to 165 grains from the traditional 230 grains—not a +P load, yet dropping the bullet weight results in a velocity of 1050 fps from a 5-inch Government Model, compared to the average 850 fps for a 230-grain bullet. That is sufficient velocity to ensure expansion, and recoil is light.

The questions, then, are how does the company instigate expansion in a full-metal-jacketed bullet, and why would they want to offer it? There are many reasons.

  • First, not all handguns feed hollow-point bullets and all hollow-point bullets are not designed equally for feed reliability.
  • Next, hollow-point bullets usually work well but sometimes plug with clothing or intermediate material. A bullet that expands by other means is less likely to fail to expand.
  • Finally, in some jurisdictions, hollow-point bullets are illegal. That is ignorant and misguided legislation in my opinion and, just the same, Federal has found an alternative to the hollow-point bullet.
8 different options for personal defense loads
There are many choices in personal defense loads, and one is ideal for your situation.

Experiments with FMJ expanding bullets began in Europe, where the political climate often would not allow hollow-points. They tried jacketed soft-point (JSP) bullets, although that design is unreliable in expansion. The EFMJ features a scored and weakened nose with a two-point core, part rubber and part lead. On impact, the rubber core drives into the denser lead core and causes expansion of the bullet nose. The result is reliable and consistent expansion.

Even when fired from a short-barrel handgun, such as the XD(M) 3.8 .45, the .45-caliber Guard Dog loads I tested gave good to excellent expansion. I also tested the 9mm version with good results. Recoil is modest, and accuracy is excellent.

Federal Guard Dog Cartridges
Note the flat-nose profile of the Federal Guard Dog EFMJ bullet.

Federal designed the EFMJ bullet with a flat point. Despite the light weight for the caliber, the bullet features a long bearing surface, which gives excellent accuracy. The lighter bullet usually strikes to the point of aim in personal defense handguns.

The Guard Dog loading is a good alternative for those who are handicapped by political or legal considerations or simply do not trust hollow-point bullets. A light bullet at high velocity with good expansion is a viable defense loading.

On the whole, the Federal Guard Dog loads are good performers with much to recommend.

Accuracy Testing

  • 15 yards
  • Average of two 5-shot groups
  • .45 ACP 165-Grain Guard Dog
Firearm Group
SIG FASTBACK 1.2 inches
Colt Commander Series 80 1.9 inches
SIG P 227 1.25 inches
Springfield XDM 3.8 2.8 inches
Federal Guard Dog Ammunition Profile
Federal Guard Dog EFMJ flat-nose design and expansion capabilities make it ideal for personal defense.

So are you ready to give the Guard Dog a try? Or have you already? Share your next steps and experiences in the comments section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. I aknowledge that the hydrostatic shock effect is not consistent in it’s contribution to stopping power with JHP ammo. Many factors account for this such as plugging the cavity when striking leather jackets etc.

    A .45 ACP as you say will not produce a significant hydrostatic effect as it is just moving too slow at 850 fps. Some manufacturers reduce the weight and up the velocity but the 45 acp won’t reliably cause significant hydrostatic shock to contribute to stopping power.

    On the other hand .357 Magnum JHP at 1350 FPS does often create a significant TSC that contributes to stopping power and also can activate the RAS response.

    I also have been doing terminal ballistic research for years and am an Expert Witness in court. A lot of my research was done with emergency room surgeons who have worked on literally hundreds of gun shot victims.They tell me it is immediately obvious to them if the wound was made by FMJ or JHP due to the severity of trauma outside the wound channel (PCC)

    I appreciate your courtesy shown of your reply sir and acknowledge that the TSC is mostly a significant factor in hollow point bullets moving at a velocity of 1350 FPS.

    Actually the depth of the maxima of the TSC is critcal to stopping power as well. THis is why .41 Magnum or .44 Magnum often has less stopping power than a .357 Magnum. The really big bore pistol cartridges like this are over powered for most body types and TSC forms to late (or faster).

    But i surely agree the primary mechanism for stopping power is what the bullet actually hits (PCC). But hydrostatic shock can not be dismissed entirely either.

    By the way in the scores and scores of shootings I have studied in detail where nearly all data was known (Caliber bullet design,bbl length etc) my clear suspicion is a lot of people shot stop their attack not because they are medically unable to continue the attack..but simply because they do not want to be shot again.

    A handgun is fairly light weapon to instantly stop an animal as large as a man.

  2. my field test of this ammunition was when it was previously marketed as EFMJ’s before the guard dog labeling. I was using them to dispatch feral hogs that i trapped. I had full expansion and they completely severed the spine at the base of the skull. I fished them out when butchering the animal, and was quite impressed. These were .45acp, through a Kimber wide body. Can’t comment on the ballistic gel test, but my 260lb hog faded instantly in the most humane fashion possible.
    I am not employed by the firearms industry just a happy customer.

  3. I can’t comment on this ammo as I have not shot it into gelatin yet. But your remarks make total sense to me. I bought some ammo listed as for sd and touting it’s stopping power.\

    Right on the box it showed a wound channel in gelatin that told me right off the stuff was worthless or no better than FMJ. I really have trouble understanding that, do this manufacture know anything about terminal ballistics? Or are they assuming nobody else does either? LOL

  4. Stay away from these. Seriously the most garbage ammunition I have ever tested. Rarely expanded and when it actually did the channel is shallow and erratic with horrible separation of the jacket the plastic filling and the lead in the rear. Most of the time they just acted like a FMJ. It seems this article was written purely banking on Federals name, the rounds ability to go bang and some groupings. If this were a FMJ round that would be acceptable but this is supposed to be an expanding self defense round and the testing of its ability to act as such is painfully absent.

  5. I have used Federal’s Hydra-Shok ammo in my .45 defensive carry piece. My HK45C feeds them reliably and I have confidence in their ability to penetrate and expand reliably. Police forces have used the Hydra-Shok ammo for many years with success. The appeal this new round has for me is that it is less likely to over penetrate. Living in close proximity to neighbors homes makes that a desirable feature. I think I’ll wait and see the stats in ballistic gel before changing loads, but this does sound like a viable option.

  6. The logic of this round seems sound to me. HP bullets can become plugged and fail to expand. Even a leather jacket can do this I have observed. But the questions is even at 1050 fps do we produce an effective TSC?

    This Hydrostatic shock is the mechanism that makes HP bullets more effective than ball ammo (FMJ). I will try these out in 10% gelatin and see how they perform. But Federal as you say has always delivered a good quality control product.

    1. With all due respect, Hydrostatic shock does make the HP more effective. Very old information, just like believing Hydro-shok is a good round by today’s standards and technology. There is plenty of verified information available on the web, research it for your benefit.

    2. But Bob that is exactly what I am saying sir.

      Hydrostatic shock is the main mechanism by which hollow points derive their superior stopping power over FMJ. Velocity is one of the keys here because If the bullet is not moving fast enough then the temporary stretch cavity (TSC) is reduced.

      The depth of the maxima of the TSC is critical too, If the bullet penetrates too far before this maxima is achieved it loses stopping power.

      If it expand too early ( at too shallow a depth in the body) like some high velocity light bullets will, then we lose stopping power as well.

      The ideal is to have that maxima of the hydrostaic shock occur at the location of water laden organs like the liver ,kidneys etc. The main thing to realize is that structures of the body not touched by the actual bullet itself can be ruptured by the hydrostatic shock wave. Paladin Press distributes my DVD on this “Handgun Stopping Power” but I also have free PDF download on my website that explains the simple physics here.

      This PDF also has lot of curious case study stuff too. Such as people being shot ‘point blank’ with .45 ACP ball in the forehead and not have any real ill affects or stop their attach as the bullet spun around the skull and did not enter the brain case.

    3. It is the impact and resistance of flesh that causes the expansion, which does create a shock wave, but it is too weak to cause any permanent damage (handgun rounds such as .45). The incapacitation mechanism is permanent wound channel caused by crushing and tearing as the bullet passes through the flesh. (well documented) is . Yes, I agree that very close to the kidney or liver you will get some effect but not anything that will shutdown a bad guy. Rifle rounds (high velocity) will have much more of an effect of course. I need to find the sites addresses that speak in detail and have years of data about all of this and will send them asap. Not trying to argue, want to learn and spread knowledge like many of those on these blogs.

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