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Federal Cartridge Gen II HST Pistol Ammo

After the FBI shootout in Miami in 1986, the world of law enforcement ammunition—development and testing—underwent a radical change. This singular law enforcement incident had such a profound effect on weapons development, firearms training and ammunition selection, that many “past practices” would disappear forever. The FBI convened their now famous Wound Ballistics Workshop—one of several that would be held over the coming years—to examine the performance of handgun ammunition and to establish realistic tests to determine ammunition effectiveness. These workshops consisted of law enforcement officers, forensic experts from the fields of ammunition and medicine, who were tasked with establishing test protocols that would provide guidance in the selection of handgun ammunition for law enforcement use. These “test” protocols involved the use of 10% calibrated ballistic gelatin to replicate human tissue and various barriers—auto glass, auto steel, plywood, wallboard, light and heavy clothing. Varying distances were used, and the eventual result was the publication of several test reports that established the “wounding efficiency” of popular law enforcement caliber’s loaded with different weight and design projectiles, and at varying velocities. These reports were used to make selections of new weapons, caliber’s and ammunition. Every major ammunition manufacturer was invited to submit ammunition for the testing program and many manufacturers were embarrassed when their ammunition, which had been touted as an effective law enforcement bullet design, was found to in fact not be. Major engineering redesign efforts took place immediately by the manufacturers to produce ammunition that would perform well in the FBI tests. These improvements resulted in better on target performance and increased officer survival. These efforts continue to this day. One of the loads developed with the FBI standards in mind was Federal Cartridge’s hollowpoint pistol ammunition bullet, the Premium HST (Hi Shok Two). This new ammo was introduced about two years ago. The HST design had been the result of over four years of development and was a joint effort between Federal and noted ballistician and projectile designer, Tom Burczynski. The bullet weas designed to provide optimum performance in the FBI ballistic protocols. The Federal/ Burczynski mission was to provide a triad of law enforcement performance— performance on target, reliability in weapons functioning and accuracy. This initial design performed well—but not well enough to satisfy Federal or Burczynski. A significant redesign effort took place to ensure that in every test protocol maximum performance was achieved. Those performance goals consisted of: 1) consistent expansions regardless of barriers—clothing, wood, plaster and metal; 2) prevention of over-penetration due to lack of bullet expansion; 3) prevention of under-penetration due to bullet fragmentation; 4) large wound channels caused by larger expanded diameter and ‘mushroom’ profile, and; 5) maximum terminal ballistics performance coupled with a bullet design to enhance weapon functioning. Second Generation HST To ensure maximum performance in all test protocols, the Federal/Burczynski design team restructured the bullet design. A tapered jacket wall—thicker at the base than at the nose- coupled with a co-aligned internal core and external jacket scoring ensured 100% weight retention through test barriers and large expansion diameters, while retaining sufficient penetration. All of the original loadings underwent the bullet design improvements. The “new” HST design is readily distinguishable from the old design. The serrations in the jacket run longitudinally from the hollowpoint opening down to the point where the bullet base is covered by the case. On the 40 S&W 180-grain and 45-ACP 230 grain bullets, for example, this jacket serration is nearly 0.33-inch. These external jacket serrations match up perfectly with serrations cut into the lead core in the bullet jacket, hence when expansion takes place the jacket remains attached to the core and the “mushroom” petals marry perfectly to the expanding jacket. The large hollowpoint, coupled with this jacket/core design, ensures that the hollowpoint even when plugged with barrier material will expand. It also ensures that when barriers such as steel and automobile glass are encountered, the two most “bullet punishing” test protocols, that maximum weight and bullet integrity is maintained. Our testing was limited to samples of the 180-grain 40 S&W HST and the 230 grain 45 ACP +P HST. Functioning through a variety of pistols was flawless—in the Glock 40 and Glock 45, velocities averaged 45 fps higher than published, due to the unique rifling profile of the Glock barrel and superior bore seal. While accuracy is important, at most law enforcement combat distances any ammunition/gun combination that will stay within four inches at 25 yards is more than adequate. Representative five shot groups at 25 yards were well within this standard. The “new” HST loading from Federal was designed to maximize on target performance and improve officer survivability in deadly force encounters. These tests would indicate that Federal has achieved this goal and now offers another superb ammunition to the law enforcement community. Sheppard Kelly is a former Supervisory Special Agent with a federal law enforcement agency. He was in charge of its firearms training and weapons and ammunition research & development program.

Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2005

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