The following on Federal Premium Punch ammo part of a full review from the March/April 2021 issue of Combat Handguns Magazine. To read the entire review, grab your copy at

People hem and haw when I recommend cycling out their carry ammo every six months, usually citing the cost. Sure, defensive rounds cost more than basic FMJ ammo, but performance is so critical that there simply isn’t a valid reason not to keep what’s in your magazines fresh. While on the topic of actually using your defensive ammo, it’s important to remember that firing some is the only way to get used to the increased recoil and recovery time between shots.

Federal is always up on today’s shooting trends and training practices. Federal Premium Punch ammunition is designed specifically for civilian carry. This new line of ammo is affordable enough to practice with, or at least cycle out twice a year without crying.

Federal Premium Punch Details

The idea behind Punch stemmed from reviewing the typical gunfight between a thug and an armed citizen. Most CCW holders that find themselves in an altercation are nearly within range of physical contact and usually have nothing between themselves and the bad guy other than some bad breath.

Now, the average Joe defender is usually carrying the same ammo that police carry, and it is usually overkill because of the type of encounter they might face. When police make contact and the threat flees, they might have to engage, sometimes through barriers such as auto glass or soft cover. If we take the same scenario and put say, me, in the cops’ place, after the threat flees I’m going home. I might even wind up in jail if I pursue him/her and fire a lethal shot.

Furthermore, “duty” ammo is typically designed to work best through duty weapons, think mid-sized or full-sized guns. Putting something designed for a 4- or 5-inch barrel through a 2-inch barrel is going to drop its velocity significantly and likely hinder, or completely negate, expansion. No expansion means no energy transfer, and no energy transfer means no stopping power.

Federal designed Punch bullets to expand at the lower velocities yielded by common carry pistols. The science behind the line wasn’t too involved, which means less expense passed on to the customer. Federal’s ballisticians took what they knew about making law enforcement ammo and simplified it to create devastating expansion simply by softening the lead, adjusting jacket thickness and modifying the skives, which are the serrations that we see running down the side of the bullet.

Hardware & Testing

Well, all of this got me excited enough to want to do a little shooting … and a little shooting turned into a lot of shooting once I found out that five different calibers were going to be released in one shot. That’s not bad news, it just meant that I was going to need some more guns.

I had .380 ACP covered with my Taurus Spectrum. Also, I had 9mm covered with both my Canik TP9SF and my Walther PPS M2. I always like to incorporate my personal carry pistols into these self-defense ammo tests because guess where the leftovers go, granted that they perform well. Although I don’t carry it, I rolled out my Auto-Ordnance commemorative Trump 1911 for the .45 ACP sample because, frankly, it’s just too nice to leave in the safe!

As for the guns I don’t have, I have never been a fan of .40 S&W. I’m also about two generations too late to be carrying a .38 Special. So I reached out to my friends at Smith & Wesson for some loaners. A few days later, a .40-caliber Shield and a Model 66 Combat Magnum in .357 showed up at my local gun store; this left me everything that I needed to get the job done.

Watch my full test above. I included some of the overall performance numbers below. For even more info, please visit And remember, this article is from the March/April 2021 issue of Combat Handguns magazine. Grab your copy at

Federal Punch Ammo Performance

.380 ACP 85 JHP9782.43
.38 Special 120 JHP9932.38
9mm 124 JHP1,1231.38
.40 S&W 165 JHP1,1010.78
.45 ACP 230 JHP9121.19
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second and accuracy in inches for best five-shot group at 10 yards.

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