Federal Syntech Review: The Rise of Synthetic Ammo

Everything in the world seems to have gone synthetic, which now includes ammo.

Federal Syntech uses a polymer coating called a total synthetic jacket in place of copper-alloy jackets to reduce friction, extend barrel life, and require fewer gun cleaning sessions.

So, is this all a gimmick, or should you grab a few boxes of Federal Syntech ammunition before your next trip to the range?

We’re going to find out shortly.

When I found out I would write this Federal Syntech review, I bought ammo to feed my 9mm Luger Smith & Wesson M&P Shield and headed to the gun range.

As you continue reading, you’ll discover my findings and opinions, which will help you decide if Syntech ammo is right for you.

Federal Syntech Overview

Federal Premium Ammunition is a world-renowned manufacturer known for producing high-quality rimfire, centerfire, and shotshell ammo.

So, with the release of the Federal Syntech, I had high expectations for these rounds.

The American Eagle Syntech line offers shooters the choice between 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, and 10mm. Each caliber has various bullet weight and style options.

Federal Ammunition offers most of the calibers mentioned above in Syntech Action Pistol, Syntech Defense, Syntech Training Match, Syntech PCC, and Syntech Range.

Each has its specific purpose for shooting sports, personal defense, or training at the range, which we will discuss further in the Syntech variations section.

What makes this pistol ammunition unique is the total synthetic jacket (TSJ) projectile that has a polymer coating around the lead bullets to reduce metal contact and prevent lead fouling in your barrel. The Catalyst Primer is a lead-free primer that gives shooters reliable ignition of the gunpowder without the use of heavy metals.

These advancements by Syntech loads help make this Federal ammo much safer for indoor shooting, as they eliminate the lead vapors that can harm shooters after many rounds are fired in an enclosed area.

Our Federal Syntech Review

I ordered a box of Syntech Range 9mm Luger 124-grain from Ammo.com, and thanks to the fast shipping, it was at my door within a few days. So I loaded up and headed for the range to run several mags of Syntech loads through my pistol.

I tested the accuracy, which was as good as I expected from a less-than-spectacular shooter like myself, and reliability was on point as well.

I had zero malfunctions, even during rapid-fire, and my pistol looked no dirtier than it was before I began shooting that day.

Federal claims that the Syntech line has less recoil than other loads; however, I didn’t notice much of a difference, but I was shooting a 9mm, which isn’t known for much recoil anyway.

While purchasing these rounds, I noticed they were much more expensive than traditional full metal jacket (FMJ) lead core bullets from Federal, Remington, Winchester, and many other ammo manufacturers.

That’s to be expected with a new and unique technology. As more and more shooters adopt these Syntech Jacket rounds as their go-to range ammo, the price should become more comparable to traditional FMJ bullets.

What Is It Best For?

Federal Syntech ammo is best for those who shoot a lot, like a lot more than I do. If you’re concerned with burning through a barrel or tired of cleaning your gun, this is the ammo for you.

It’s also great for indoor range shooters because it helps prevent lead vapors and other heavy metals from building up in your body and potentially causing you harm later down the road.

The Syntech Action Pistol ammo with the Syntech jacket flat-nose bullets is the official ammunition of the USPSA. If you’re a competitive shooter, these rounds are also great for competitions.


As with all of our ammo reviews, we pride ourselves on staying as unbiased as possible because we understand no company or product is perfect.

The price is the most significant disadvantage for shooters. This ammo offers firearms enthusiasts a few advantages, but I’m not sure they’re worth the price increase, EXCEPT for those who primarily shoot indoors; your health is worth the increase.

Another disadvantage is the small caliber selection. Syntech-jacketed ammo is only available in carbine and pistol calibers, so rimfire and rifle shooters must buy other ammo.

Pros and Cons of Federal Syntech Ammo

Below are the pros and cons I found while researching and testing Federal Syntech ammo.


  • Syntech bullet prevents metal-on-metal contact, eliminating copper and lead fouling and extending barrel life
  • Lead-free primer provides reliable and consistent ignition without heavy metals
  • Clean-burning propellants minimize residue and fouling, which significantly reduces how often you NEED to clean your firearm
  • The absence of a copper jacket minimizes splash-back on steel targets
  • Less felt recoil
  • Brass casings allow for reloading


  • More expensive than traditional FMJ rounds
  • Only available in pistol or carbine calibers

Ballistics of Federal Syntech Bullets

Below, we created a ballistics table for Syntech 9mm, 10mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP for you to take a look at.

*I don’t own a ballistic chronograph to test some of these numbers for myself, so they were taken from the ammo box and FederalPremium.com. The muzzle velocity and energy are taken from the heaviest bullet weight.

Federal Syntech Variations

As I previously mentioned, there are several types of Federal Syntech ammo. Each has a specific purpose for shooters, which we’ll talk about below.

Syntech Action Pistol

Syntech Action Pistol is designed for action shooting sports. So it’s loaded to power factor requirements with heavy, flatter-nosed bullets, so you get more reliable knock-downs on steel targets in competition.

It comes in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 Auto.

Syntech Defense

Syntech Defense gives you excellent terminal performance with a hollow-point (HP) bullet that separates into three segments and a deep-penetrating core on impact. The bullet core goes 12"-18" into ballistics gel and through heavy clothing, while the petals make three secondary wound channels, only increasing its effectiveness as a self-defense round.

Unlike Federal HST, which uses nickel-plated brass casings, Syntech Defense uses regular brass casings. It comes in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 Auto.

Syntech Training Match

Syntech Training Match loads offer the same velocity, trajectory, and point of impact as Federal Premium Personal Defense HST and Tactical HST Duty ammunition, so you can train with ammo that gives you the same results as your field ammo.

It’s produced in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 Auto.

Syntech PCC

Syntech PCC is designed for carbines. It meets the demands of Pistol Caliber Carbine competitions. Velocity and accuracy are optimized for the longer barrel lengths, with a bullet profile that gives you incredible accuracy and feeds reliably in various carbine platforms.

At the time of writing this ammo is only available in 9mm.

Syntech Range

Syntech Range is intended to be used during a day of fun shooting at the range. It’s not competitive or hand-loaded quality ammo, but its ability to reduce metal-on-metal contact and clean burning powder keeps you shooting longer.

It’s available in 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 Auto, and 10mm.

Parting Shots: Federal Syntech Ammo Review

Now that you’ve finished our Federal Syntech Review, you can determine if this ammo fills your needs or if you should continue looking for something else.

While I enjoyed testing it, I’m not sure it’s worth the extra cost for me, but I see the excellent benefits for indoor range and competition shooters.

Either way, check out what’s in stock at Ammo.com to experience our incredible customer service and blazing-fast shipping.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve taken the liberty to gather and answer some of the commonly asked questions regarding Federal Syntech ammo.

Is the Federal Syntech worth buying?

Yes, Federal Syntech is worth buying if you often shoot at an indoor range. If you don’t shoot often or primarily at an outdoor range, you probably don’t need Federal Syntech.

What is the range of Federal Syntech?

The range of Federal Syntech is comparable to other rounds of the same caliber. For handgun calibers, it’s about 50 yards.

Federal Syntech Review: The Rise of Synthetic Ammo originally appeared on Ammo.com


Well,I opt against it for several reasons.

  1. Self defense it will be nearly worthles if everything has to come close and if we are speaking of anything with an armoring it definitely is worhless.
  2. Hunting applications for any game witb a decent bone structure is would again be worthless.
  3. Nearly no fouling …lol yeah I aint buying that …so no trying to con ince me on that.
  4. The use of these type bullets in the reloading world would again be worthless . For if they ise special clean burning powders ,of which they arent going to reveal then the whole process of this load is not able to be duplicated.
  5. Without a significant amount of info to allow duplication this simply means the syn tech was made for one purpose to sell more useless ammo to the shooing sports world.

I’ve been loading coated bullets, and now casting and coating my own bullets for years now. I use them for competition. First I used them in handguns and now in my PCC. They are inherently clean due to the totally encapsulating coating. Less smoke than greased bullets and they keep a suppressor clean.

I’ve cleaned the bores of my firearms, but don’t bother anymore, They just don’t get dirty. But the rest of the firearm still needs cleaning of the carbon and crud.

Supposedly coated bullets can exceed 2000 fps successfully but I haven’t tried that yet.

I liked them when I was buying coated bullets. I like them just as much now that I cast and coat my own cast bullets.

I have never bought the syntech ammo though.

When I shoot I can never notice what my gun is doing unless it malfunctions, I’m just too busy doing other things. So I asked a gent on the squad to look for smoke and anything else with my coated 135 grain 9mm bullets that I load to 1000fps. Smoke was minimal and yes, I never noticed the same amount of smoke as I did when shooting greased bullets. But he also told me that it smelled strange. I noticed that at first awhile back, and then didn’t notice it since.

I also load them in subsonic 300BLK.


Burnt plastic ? Burnt powder coat ?
@BrianK upon retreiving you bullets from anything how much powdercoat is left on the bullet ? Curious :face_with_monocle:


That’s what I was thinking too, burnt powder coat from friction or maybe the base of the bullet next to the powder flame vaporizing/smoking. But when Daryl made the statement it was also a new powder for me and my 9mm load, Red Dot, and I didn’t know if it could be that. But I didn’t think it could be. When I first started using my bullets I smelled a strange scent also, but not since. Maybe I got accustomed to it? IDK

Frankly the few retrieved bullets are beat, the very few I’ve seen after retrieval. But the bore stays clean, no leading just nothing worth cleaning. I coat them 2x but there’s no rule telling me that they can’t be coated a 3rd or 4th time. But they work as is so I don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. To test the bullets after coating they get rubbed with a rag with acetone to make sure they adhered and are no longer subject to dissolving (acetone dissolves the coating powder before baking), then they are smashed with a sledge hammer. If they survive, and mine always do, they are a coated bullet and the coating is one with the bullet. Good to go, do every batch the same way.

I know it sounds too simple, and it is. But it works. That’s why I use the technique. It’s fast and simple. I choose a day when I can’t do anything outdoors. I stay in the shop, listen to my music and coat bullets. Others use a dry coat method. But I started with wet coating where the powder is dissolved in acetone because it’s dead simple to do and fast.

I’ve fired thousands of bought coated bullets and not that many of mine, but enough to know that mine work as well as the commercial bullets that I was buying.

Would I buy the Syntech version? Not me! I’m a cheap SOB that’s why I handload and cast my own bullets. But if I didn’t and they were cost effective I would. Or if I used an indoor range due to the lead free primer. They exist for someone. I know folks who travel and compete around the nation. They order their Syntech ammo and have it waiting at their hotel so that they don’t have any issues with flying with largeish quantities of ammo. But that’s not me. Could they do the same thing with FMJ? Sure.


When I get the time this is something I plan on doing. Yes it will lower the expense of pistol and PCC shooting. Especially since we do plan on getting Chargers eventually.

Rifles continue to be my main focus and my greatest enjoyment. The wife’s is her recurve bow, I know for sure we both would shoot the pistols and Sub2Ks more if we lowered the expense more.

Do you know of anyone with any success with >2000fps?


There was talk of it over on the “Cast Boolit” forum, that’s where I got the info’ from. The same thread also stated that it worked w/o any special alloys. It’ll take me time to get to it (>2k fps), but I intend to cast some 147gr .30s and while I won’t reach >2000fps with the 300BLK I bet I can out of a .308 Win’. I like the part about no special alloys 'cause I want to use pure wheelweight lead.

But so far I’ve only gone as fast as 1100fps with a 225gr bullet.


It is pretty remarkably clean-shooting stuff, but all fair points nonetheless!


Well, and I think WW lead is good for up to about 1100 with alox or lubed grooves but, I read that with the powder coat it will allow softer alloy to be utilized and speed that normally it could not run at.


Yes. I was going to write pure lead but I couldn’t remember it clearly enough to swear to it so I didn’t. But I do remember thinking at the time that I should be good with WWs.