Skip to main content

Big-Time Defense: Federal HST Ammo Review

Big-Time Defense: Federal HST Ammo Review

In the quest for ammunition perfection, anyone who stands still falls behind. Since Federal has no intention of falling behind, this issue we're looking at its newest offering, the HST. And let's get one rumor out of the way right now: No, it is not an acronym for "Hydra-Shok Two." In fact, it's not an acronym for anything. That's just what Federal chose to call it.

Hydra-Shok is still in the lineup. It works quite well and shoots accurately. If your handgun likes it, why change? Well, there are government agencies, some ammo buyers not on government payrolls and others who practically worship the FBI tests and the results that come from the test. So Federal rolled up its sleeves and worked at achieving better test-result performance than it was getting with the already excellent Hydra-Shok.

The FBI tests score both penetration and expansion. Traditional hollowpoint designs required a trade-off; if you wanted more of one, you had to pay for it with less of the other. What Federal did was develop a patented, improved nose-skiving design- one that produces a measurably large expansion and yet does not cost penetration. Skiving is the technical term for the thickness of the jacket wall and how it is shaped as it approaches the opening of the hollow point.

Minor dimensional changes can bring large changes in results. In the HST, expansion is initiated and timed by the shape of the deep hollowpoint. The dimensions and proportions of the jacket thickness have to be adjusted for each caliber and expected impact velocity. So the apparent size and shape of the hollowpoint on each caliber may differ from the other calibers in the lineup.


How does this magic of gaining both expansion and penetration work? Simple. The FBI measures across the greatest point of expansion, so Federal uses the expanded petals as the measuring points, and the gaps between the expanded petals allow for low enough resistance to penetration- which results in the bullet moving past where it otherwise would have stopped.


When I described this to a fellow club member, his reaction was not exactly scientific. "That's cheating," he said. Well, no, not really. The wider cross-section of the expanded bullet is going to do the terminal ballistic work we all expect, and the gaps will keep it going into the target. That is, after all, what we want, right?

And the FBI does not do this as a special favor for Federal; the FBI rules for the test are applied to all ammunition tested, and other ammunition manufacturers work to take this approach. It's just that Federal and the HST do it so well.

The HST bullets are not bonded. Instead Federal uses a mechanical locking of the jacket to the core. I have not had any jackets come off the cores in testing, nor do I expect to because Federal has done the FBI test dance many times in thoroughly wringing out the HST.

Federal started work on the HST in 2000 and had gotten the various details worked out enough to start offering it to interested law enforcement agencies in 2005. By 2012 the company had production volume up enough and had fine-tuned the design enough that it could begin offering it to the public.


The HST bullet is available in two product lines, one for law enforcement (ammo so marked is distributed through law-enforcement channels) called Law Enforcement Tactical HST and one for the general public labeled Personal Defense HST. The only difference between the two is the packaging and a larger selection of loads on the law enforcement side. Otherwise they're the same bullets, same powders, same nickeled cases.

Personal Defense HST is available in 9mm (124-grain), .40 S&W (180) and .45 ACP (230), and the folks at Federal told us this menu will expand in the future- but right now they have their hands full meeting current demand (like everyone else in the ammo business).

The Law Enforcement Tactical HST lineup includes 9mm and 9mm +P (124, 147), .357 SIG (125), .40 S&W (155, 165, 180), .45 ACP and .45 ACP +P (230); and .45 GAP (230).


All my testing was conducted with standard, non +P loads. For the 9mm, I was curious about the HST working in a sometimes inhospitable environment: the Browning Hi Power. Designed long before 9mm hollowpoints, the P-35 can sometimes be a bit picky — especially with heavy-bullet 147-grain loads. I dragged out an unmodified pistol that was made in 1983, and I didn't have a single feeding problem with it.

Velocities and expansion were remarkable. For a non +P load, this works like a champ. It has been the expectation of shooters that a 147-grain 9mm bullet will not expand like the 115s or 124s, but the HST proved to be exemplary here.

For the .40, I used an S&W M&P just to see how the HST did in a 4.25-inch barrel. Again, the velocity was quite good for a barrel that is easy to carry, and while the speeds were not up there in rocket-launcher territory, the bullets expanded completely.

In .45 I shot a Kimber, and by now I fully expected good speed and full expansion. The HST load did not let me down in this caliber either.

All the handguns remorselessly gobbled down all the ammo and did not complain in the slightest. Oh, and the accuracy of the HST was as good as any other premium hollowpoint bullet for defense made these days. Not only do you not have to trade expansion to get penetration, but no one has to trade accuracy for either.

https://files.osgnetworks.tv/9/files/2013/08/federal_hst_ammo_11.jpg

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

The Kodiak is a long slide 1911-style semi-auto complete with 6-inch bull barrels and chambered in 10mm.

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

KelTec CMR30 22WMR Review - Compact, Versatile & Fun to Shoot

KelTec CMR30 22WMR Review - Compact, Versatile & Fun to Shoot

Designed for lightweight, low recoil accuracy, the CMR30 .22 WMR features a nice, single-action trigger, ambidextrous dual non-reciprocating operating handles, ambidextrous safety and heel catch magazine release. The KelTec CMR30 is a .22 Magnum carbine that holds 30 rounds in each of its two flush-fit magazines. That's a lot of firepower for a 3.8-pound, semi-auto, collapsible truck gun. It comes out of the box as you see it, including Magpul sights and ambidextrous, non-reciprocating dual operating handles. She's a straight blow-back tack driver that delivers a ton of fun.

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhatPro Tips For Controlling Recoil Training

Pro Tips For Controlling Recoil

Richard Nance - April 11, 2017

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades Accessories

SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades

James Tarr - December 14, 2017

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want one.Ruger 57 Pistol Review Reviews

Ruger 57 Pistol Review

James Tarr - June 05, 2020

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want...

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you.KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot Rimfire

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

Handguns Staff - August 14, 2020

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Richard Nance and James Tarr discuss what factors go into choosing Plus P ammo or not.Help Desk: Plus P or Not Ammo

Help Desk: Plus P or Not

Handguns Online Staff - August 15, 2017

Richard Nance and James Tarr discuss what factors go into choosing Plus P ammo or not.

Silverback Ammo features a high-end copper bullet.Gorilla Ammunition's Silverback Line Ammo

Gorilla Ammunition's Silverback Line

Patrick Sweeney - September 19, 2017

Silverback Ammo features a high-end copper bullet.

Modern bullets work so marvelously well that, in an earlier age, they'd be considered magic. UntilThe Legend of Super Vel Ammo Ammo

The Legend of Super Vel Ammo

Patrick Sweeney - July 28, 2016

Modern bullets work so marvelously well that, in an earlier age, they'd be considered magic....

Olin Winchester, LLC is recalling three (3) lots of 38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket centerfire ammunition.Product Warning and Recall Notice for Winchester .38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket Ammo

Product Warning and Recall Notice for Winchester .38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket

Handguns Online Editors - February 28, 2019

Olin Winchester, LLC is recalling three (3) lots of 38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket...

See More Ammo

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now