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What Is Hydra Shok Ammunition?

hydra shok ammo

Practically everyone in the shooting world has heard of Hydra Shok ammo. You’ve likely encountered it at a local gun store or favorite sporting goods retailer. You might also have run across while you were searching the web for “personal defense” ammunition. So what is Hydra Shok ammunition? 

Below, we’ll discuss what Hydra Shok ammo is, what it isn’t, who manufactures it, and what it is designed for. By the end of this article, you’ll know if this popular pistol cartridge is right for your shooting needs.

Hydra Shok Ammo History

Hydra Shok ammunition traces its origins all the way back to the mid-1980s. Thomas J. Burczynski, a prolific inventor in the firearms world created the ammunition, who is a prolific inventor in the firearms world. Burczynski is still active today and has been granted dozens of patents over the last 3+ decades.

The ammo is a unique variation of the hollow point bullet design. As the name suggests, hollow points lack a distinct tip. Instead, they have a hollowed-out area in the center. The Hydra Shok takes that concept one step further, adding a post to the center of the hollow point.

Who Manufactures Hydra Shok Ammo?

Federal Ammunition is the exclusive manufacturer of Hydra Shok branded cartridges. They began manufacturing the cartridge in 1989, one year after Burczynski announced his ballistic invention. More than 30-years later, the design remains a popular option for self-defense.

The cartridge concept was created at the behest of the FBI. They sought a handgun bullet that produced better terminal ballistics and penetration than currently available ammunition. What they received was a non-bonded lead core bullet with programmed expansion and lethal penetration depths.

Federal Premium Ammunition has since introduced a modification of the original design. Hydra Shok Deep was released for the civilian market in 2018, with features such as a “more robust center post” and, a “new core design.” 

According to Federal, Hydra Shok Deep ammunition provides optimal penetration. It penetrates barriers that are commonly encountered during self-defense scenarios. While they do not specify what these barriers may be, it likely includes windows, standard residential doors, and potentially automobiles. 

Available Calibers Of Hydra Shok:

a photo of federal 38 special +p hydra shok ammo

Federal Premium ammunition is one of the most well-respected personal defense brands in the industry.

Federal Premium Ammunition sells Hydra Shok cartridges in the following calibers:

In addition, they also produce a 12ga shotgun slug variant of the Hydra Shok projectile. The relatively new Hydra Shok Deep is only available in a few of the more popular calibers, such as 9mm. However, Federal is sure to expand the lineup to include additional calibers in the future.

Caliber Bullet Type Bullet Weight Velocity (Muzzle) Energy (Muzzle)
.380 ACP Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) 90gr 1,000 FPS 200 FT LBS
9mm Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) 124gr 1,120 FPS 345 FT LBS
.40 S&W Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) 165gr 980 FPS 352 FT LBS
.45 ACP Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) 230gr 900 FPS 414 FT LBS

Purpose Of Hydra Shok Ammunition

In general, hollow-point bullets are designed to produce a controlled amount of penetration. Depending on their composition, traditional bullets that incorporate a protruding point may over-penetrate. This can result in collateral damage, as the projectile can pass through the intended target and strike something or someone else.

Hydra Shok rounds have a center-post that protrudes out from the middle of the hollow point. This post does not extend past the end of the projectile. In addition, the rounds have a notched jacket and a non-bonded lead core. This means that the lead is not molecularly bonded to the exterior copper jacket.  

Virtually every law enforcement agency in the world uses some form of hollow point projectile. Federal branded ammunition remains one of the top choices of hollow-point options for these agencies. 

Officer-involved shootings are frequently “danger close” scenarios. This means that innocent bystanders are in close proximity to the target. Hollow-point ammunition such as the Hydra Shok projectile minimizes the risks of overpenetration.

Hydra Shok VS HST

a photo comparing Hydra Shok VS HST ammo

In this photo, you can see the center post in the Hydra Shok ammo well (left) and the empty well of the HST ammo (right).

Many gun owners may also be familiar with Federal’s HST branded ammo. What’s the difference between the two? Hydra Shok has been around about a decade longer than HST. Federal HST is a hollow-point round designed to consistently expand while passing through a large variety of barriers. Hydra Shok ammo was designed with law enforcement in mind, HST was intended to only be sold to law enforcement. 

HST ammo is a non-bonded hollow-point, without the added post that Hydra Shok has in the center. The specially designed HST hollow-point won’t clog when passing through layers of fabric, allowing it to reliably expand and penetrate. Hydra Shok doesn’t have the same expansion reliability when passing through layers of fabric. However, independent tests have shown that the velocity, penetration, and overall performance are very comparable to HST ammunition.

Caliber Bullet Type Bullet Weight Velocity (Muzzle) Energy (Muzzle)
9mm Hydra Shok (JHP) 124gr 1,120 FPS 345 FT LBS
9mm HST (JHP) 124gr 1,150 FPS 364 FT LBS

 Benefits For Civilians

Although Hydra Shok ammunition was designed for the FBI, this type of projectile is also available to civilian shooters. It is an excellent personal defense round for the reasons outlined above. If you are forced to deploy your handgun in a self-defense scenario, the bullet is much less likely to over-penetrate when compared to non-hollow-point-style ammunition. This reduces the risk of striking persons or property that is behind your target.

Due to its design, the projectile will expand on impact. When it strikes a soft target, this expansion creates a broad but relatively shallow wound cavity. A larger wound cavity increases the chances that the shooter can stop the threat quickly.

Standard ball ammo, also known as full metal jacket ammunition, does not expand on impact. As a result, it produces a much smaller wound cavity. This can be a major concern in a personal defense scenario as the shooter may have to fire more rounds to stop the threat.

Choosing A Self-Defense Ammo

a man shooting a glock pistol at a gun range

When selecting ammo for self-defense, be sure to consider its price, availability, and reliability with your weapon.

If you carry a handgun for self-defense purposes, then you should most definitely purchase some form of hollow-point ammunition. However, all ammo is not created equal. While you may not think twice about skimping on practice ammo, we do not recommend buying bottom-of-the-barrel personal defense rounds. 

Federal’s Hydra Shok ammo is an industry staple that has remained relatively unchanged for years. The ammunition has excellent ballistics and is produced by an industry-leading manufacturer. If that’s not enough, it’s trusted by law enforcement agencies across the nation. If you are looking for a quality hollow-point round, it’s still a great option.

With that said, be sure that you actually test it out at the range. The projectile will perform differently than standard ball ammo. At a minimum, you should burn through a few magazines before carrying it. Make sure your weapon cycles well with it after the initial purchase. Have a plan to buy another box or two every time you replace your carry ammo. 

Lastly, if you faithfully carry your concealed handgun, you should replace the ammo in the magazine annually. Dirt, dust, and sweat can wreak havoc on ammo stored in a magazine. Modern ammo may have a long shelf life, but replacing it every year will ensure your weapon will fire when it counts.

Hydra Shok Ammo For Sale

a photo of federal hydra shok ammo

Whether you are purchasing self-defense ammo or shotgun shells, we have the right cartridges for your specific needs. All ammo listed on the website is in-stock and ready to ship. Most orders placed before noon ship the same day. Visit Wideners.com now to find excellent ammunition for hunting, self-defense, and target practice.

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