One of Federal Premium's newer self-defense offerings is the Punch series of loads designed to perform well and expand, even at lower velocities. 

The theory behind the Punch line was to produce a good overall personal protection round geared to deliver in most common self-defense applications with a hollow-point bullet that is designed to walk the line between effective penetration and expansion. 

Offered in an 80-grain .380 ACP, 120-grain .38 Special, 124-grain 9mm, 165-grain .40 S&W, 200-grain 10mm Auto, and a 230-grain .45 ACP, all feature nickel-plated brass, high-quality powders and reliable primers with primer seal. What is different with each is the design of the bullet, with Federal saying they have tweaked each individual load to produce the most effective for the caliber at hand. This varied from the thickness of the jacket, skive depth, hollow point geometry, and even differences in lead cores. 

(All photos: Chris Eger/

Further, they are priced more affordably than the company's more Gucci-level JHP offerings. For instance, the MSRP on a 20-round box of Punch in .45 ACP is $23.99, whereas HST and Hydra-Shok Deep run $34.99 for the same count and caliber. 

But how did it test? 



With 60 rounds allocated for testing, we ran a mag through a Glock 21 with zero issues for starters then switched to a pair of slightly more JHP-finicky platforms, an Auto-Ordnance M1911A1 and a circa 1980s S&W Model 645 ala Miami Vice. The results? We went 60 for 60, with no problems, showing the geometry of the hollow point is not too extreme for your average .45 to handle. 




When it came to seeing what the bullet did in test media, we fired four rounds from the M1911A1 into a bare 16-inch block of 10-percent FBI gel provided by the good folks at Clear Ballistics. A fifth round was fired through the block with an entrance barrier of a single layer of denim. All five penetrated the block from end to end and three were captured in a cardboard baffle for examination. 

The expansion started almost immediately. 

Expansion on recovered rounds resulted in a near dime-sized slug that went 17.3mm (0.68 inches) from petal to petal with excellent, near 100 percent, weight retention. The soft lead hollow point opened in a uniform manner across six precut segments in the skived jacket. In the rounds we recovered, none had lost their jacket or bullet petals and very little bullet material was left behind in the cavity path through the gel. 

After 16 inches of 10-percent FBI gel. 

As we did not have a Ransom Rest, we didn't test fine accuracy but rather practical, and the load proved more than capable of holding a 3-inch ragged center mass group at 10 yards in offhand shooting.




Testing a five-shot string through a Caldwell ballistic chronograph from the M1911A1, which has a 5-inch barrel, we clocked an average subsonic velocity of 879 fps at the muzzle with little deviation. This checks with Federal's published specs on the ammo, which shows 890 fps at the muzzle with a similar barrel length, dropping to 824 fps at 100 yards. Such velocity translates to 400 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, declining to 347 at 100 yards. Keep in mind that most of the Punch loads are standard pressure with the exception of Federal's .38 Special installment. 

Overall, while beggars can't be choosers these days when it comes to ammo availability, should one come across a box of Federal Premium Punch in their search for a good self-defense load, the choice would seem to be an easy one.

(Photo: Chris Eger/
revolver barrel loading graphic