Federal Premium Ammunition is one of the most well-known and respected ammunition manufacturers on the planet, and for good reason too. Federal produces top-quality ammunition for virtually every caliber and purpose imaginable. Whether you need ammunition for hunting big game, self-defense HST ammo, or target shooting, Federal has what you are looking for.
Among the many different types of cartridges produced by Federal, HST ammo is by far one of the most popular. HST ammo is a non-bonded hollow-point that is designed to offer maximum expansion.
Released in 2002, HST ammunition is a revamped version of Federal’s famous Hydra-Shok cartridge, more on that below. For now, let’s just focus our attention on HST ammunition.
Does Ammo Quality Matter?
Before we dive into the specifics of HST ammo, we’ll briefly address a common question we encounter from new shooters. The short answer to this question is yes. The quality of the ammunition you are using can significantly impact performance and the overall shooting experience. If the ammunition you’re carrying in your gun is unreliable, old, or not intended for self-defense use, we’d recommend an upgrade.
While there is nothing wrong with using budget ammo for practice, we strongly recommend investing in quality ammo for self-defense. Carrying the right ammo is just as important as the professional training you’ll need to learn how to use it. Quality ammo isn’t cheap, but there’s a good reason for that.
HST ammo is premium self-defense ammo from Federal. It is engineered to provide consistent expansion when passing through fabric barriers into soft targets. When you buy a product like HST, you’re getting a defensive round that has been thoroughly tested in many scenarios with a variety of popular handguns. Engineers have invested countless hours into making sure the ammo performs consistently. It may cost a little more, but you’re getting a proven product and the overall investment is worth it.
Core Features Of HST Ammo
As noted above, HST cartridges are very similar to Federal’s Hydra Shok ammunition. This is likely because the same bullet engineer, the famous Tom Burczynski, spearheaded the development of both rounds.
Like the Hydra-Shok, Federal came up with the HST cartridge to meet the unique needs of law enforcement agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Specifically, these agencies wanted a cartridge that expands significantly upon impact without reducing penetration.
If you are familiar with Hydra Shok, then you know that the cartridge contains a non-bonded hollow-point, just like HST ammo. However, there are a few key differences. Hydra Shok projectiles have a post in the center of the hollow point, whereas HST ammunition does not. Both cartridges perform very similarly in terms of velocity and penetration. However, HST rounds expand more reliably when passing through multiple layers of fabric and common barriers.
While the lack of a center post is notable, what really sets the HST apart is the series of skives that are etched into the jacket. A skive is a notch that is intended to facilitate positive expansion upon impact. The skives serve as separation points. They are intentionally structurally weaker than the rest of the surface area of the projectile.
Cumulatively, the lack of a center post and the skives allow the HST to expand more consistently than the Hydra-Shok cartridge. Typically, the HST will expand to approximately twice its normal diameter upon impact.
Available HST Ammo Calibers
Currently, Federal’s HST ammo is available in many popular handgun calibers, including:
- .380 Auto
- .30 Super Carry
- 9mm Luger
- 9mm Luger +P
- .357 Sig
- .40 S&W
- .38 Special
- .45 Auto
- .45 Auto +P
With that said, Federal offers HST ammo in a variety of different calibers and bullet weights. HST ammo is part of the Personal Defense product line. These cartridges are designed specifically for self-defense and have a jacketed hollow point projectile.
You can also purchase “Practice & Defend” cartridges. These rounds are technically Syntech products, they have a different bullet type known as Syntech TSJ (Total Synthetic Jacket). The Practice & Defend cartridges give you a training option that replicates the HST bullet, at a lower cost than shooting HST ammo.
For instance, 20-rounds of Personal Defense HST 9mm cartridges alone have an MSRP of just under $40. Conversely, the Practice & Defend ammunition multi-packs have an MSRP of $80 for 100 rounds (50 HST rounds, and 50 TSJ rounds). This option conveniently gives you ballistically paired ammo to train with and to carry for self-defense in the same box.
How Does HST Ammo Work?
While Federal initially developed HST ammo for law enforcement personnel, these cartridges are excellent for self-defense applications. HST ammo is designed to expand upon impact, creating a large wound cavity. The rapid expansion causes the projectile to quickly lose momentum when it strikes a target. This ensures that the round causes damage to the intended target while simultaneously minimizing the risk of over-penetration.
If you ever find yourself in a self-defense scenario where you need a gun, you’ll want ammo that will stop the threat as quickly as possible. You’ll also want to minimize the risk of causing harm to others. That is why jacketed hollow point ammunition like the HST is an ideal defense round. The HST bullet won’t plug up when passing through fabric barriers, allowing it to open and expand as intended.
HST ammo is not designed to penetrate body armor. The jacketed projectile will deaccelerate quickly when striking armored plating or bullet-proof material, deforming the bullet, and absorbing its energy. It’s unlikely that any handgun ammo would have armor-piercing capabilities. It doesn’t reach high enough velocities when fired from a barrel that is less than six inches in length.
Best Self Defense Round?
When searching for defense ammunition, you will encounter dozens of different options from a variety of manufacturers. Most of these cartridges are solid defense rounds. If you’re looking for consistency and performance, Federal HST ammo is the best of the bunch. The ammunition expands consistently, minimizes the risk of overpenetration, and shoots clean. Oh, and one of the most respected ammo manufacturers in the world produces it.
If you are looking for a quality cartridge that you can bet your life on, HST ammo is a great choice. With that said, we always recommend trying out different rounds to see which cartridges perform best in your handgun. Taking top options like Hornady Critical Defense, Federal Hydra Shok, and Federal HST ammo out to the range for a head-to-head comparison is the most effective way to make your final choice.