Federal Syntech Ammo Review

photo of 9mm smith & wesson M&P pistol with federal syntech ammo on a sheet of plywood

Guest Writer: Kenzie Fitzpatrick

I had a chance to try out Federal Ammunition Syntech Action Pistol 9mm Luger 150 grain ammo at a recent Glock Sport Shooting Foundation match. It was the right tool for the job at hand. It performed with high marks, as it should, given that Federal engineered it for competition style shooting.

Reloaders have known for years that creating your own performance specific ammo can give you an advantage in competition. Reduced recoil, quicker follow up shots, and improved accuracy can all come from having the right ammo at the range. 

Polymer coated ammo like Syntech isn’t exactly a new idea. But Federal took a new approach in developing this product line. Syntech Total Synthetic Jacket (TSJ) bullets are a unique Federal design. They feature a frangible lead core under the polymer coating. The coating reduces friction when exiting the firearm, which in turn, also reduces heat and wear to the barrel. As a bonus, Syntech is designed to be clean shooting ammo. It features a lead-free primer with clean burning propellants. That’s great news for indoor match shooters.

So what are the performance features that make Federal Syntech special? 

federal syntech ammo product chart

Federal Syntech Ammo: A Good Choice For Competitive Shooting?

photo of 9mm federal syntech ammo outdoors
Federal Syntech Action Pistol ammo has features designed for the competition shooting market.

My favorite feature of the Syntech Action Pistol ammunition is their total synthetic jacket technology, it prevents the metal of the bullet from coming into contact with the metal of the barrel. Traditionally, when you clean your firearm, not only do you need to remove powder residue, but also copper. If you are shooting copper-jacketed bullets, you may also need a copper cleaner. The Syntech Action Pistol eliminates the copper and lead fouling, reducing cleaning time and it’s great for the life of your barrels.

The Syntech Action Pistol is the Official Ammunition of USPSA, which is a high endorsement alone. If you look at the major vs. minor power factors, the .40 and .45 caliber rounds qualify for the major power factory category. The major power factor category is important when it comes to scoring targets. Higher points are awarded to people shooting major power factor for the same hit zones that a minor power factor is hitting.

The 150 grain 9mm Syntech rounds qualify for minimum minor power factor scoring and offer minimum recoil. Recoil management is really important in competition shooting. The Syntech Action Pistol ammunition line features reduced felt recoil. During the GSSF match, while shooting the 150 gr. 9mm, I noticed a smoother transition back to aiming on a target with this ammunition. I felt like my grip was maintained more consistently because I didn’t have as much recoil vibrating the gun out of my grip.

Lastly, the flat nose of this ammunition gives it an excellent energy transfer to steel targets. GSSF matches require you to shoot 6 steel plates four times in a row for one stage and requires you to hit a steel target three times in a row for another stage. The Syntech Action Pistol ammunition advertises a reduction in splash-back on steel targets. I noticed a more controlled hit on the steel from 11 yards during the match. Because it’s frangible ammunition, there was little to no splash back or ricocheting debris from the ammunition.  

Syntech Showdown At The Range

photo of a female competition shooter firing at a steel target outdoors
How much does barrel length factor into the velocity performance of the 150gr 9mm Syntech?

Out at the range, I set up a chronograph to take a look at the velocity performance of the ammo.

Using a Glock 17 with a 4.49″ barrel and a Glock 43X with a 3.41″ barrel, I fired 10 rounds through each and recorded the data. As you see in the chart below, the 150 grain round fired with an average muzzle velocity of 893 fps with the G17. We recorded an average muzzle velocity of 846 fps with the G43X. Average performance with the G17 came in 23 feet per second higher than the manufacturer’s rating of 870, while the average G43X performance came in at 24 feet per second below.

Barrel length plays a big factor in the performance of the Federal Syntech Action Pistol ammo. The good news is the ammo meets performance requirements with both standard sized and sub-compact sized pistol models. The average performance of the 150gr 9mm Syntech ammo in short-barreled G43X gave us a power factor of 126.9. That puts it above the requirement of 125 to qualify for minor power factor. The benefit here for competition shooters is being able to use the same ammo in multiple match divisions with different handguns.

Keep in mind, you’ll need a muzzle velocity of at least 834 with the 150gr Syntech Action Pistol ammo to qualify for minor power factor. If your competition barrel for compact or sub-compact matches is shorter than 3.5″ in length, I’d recommend measuring your muzzle velocity with a chronograph before using the 150 grain Syntech ammo in competition.

Muzzle velocity testing of Federal Syntech Ammo

Is Federal Syntech Right For You?

a macro photo of 9mm federal syntech ammo
Want to extend the barrel life of your pistol or PCC? Try using a polymer coated ammo like Federal Syntech.

Most pistol manufacturers rate the life span of a factory barrel at around 100,000 rounds. For the average shooter, that’s a number of rounds their barrel is very unlikely to see in its lifetime. For a competition shooter, that number could realistically be reached within 24-months. Tests have shown that jacketed ammo causes increased wear on your barrel, a polymer coated, low friction round, could be a gamechanger in increasing your barrel life.

If you’re a competition shooter, or a frequent indoor range visitor, consider giving Federal Syntech a try. It has features uniquely created for the competitive market and makes cleaning up after a match a breeze. Those actively involved in close-quarters training know it is much more enjoyable with frangible ammo, versus traditional lead. Federal Syntech ammo is currently available in 9mm Luger, 40 S&W and .45 ACP. in multiple bullet weight varieties.

If you’d like to try your hand at a GSSF competition, be sure to take a look at our guide at getting started in Glock Sport Shooting Foundation matches. 

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