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Federal Punch Ammo Review: Hitting Above Their Weight Class

Federal Punch Ammo Review

Federal Punch ammo is a defensive handgun ammunition line that was released in 2020 that is specifically tailored for civilian shooters. It comes in at a considerably lower price point than traditional jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammo but also is designed not to meet the FBI standards for barrier penetration.

Although you might think that this is a major downside, demand for Federal Punch ammo is extremely high, which leaves many shooters wondering if this ammo is worthy of their EDC?

In this Federal Punch ammo review, we will take a hard look at this new JHP and help you decide if Punch ammunition is ready for your favorite personal defense semi-auto handgun or revolver.

Federal Punch Ammo Overview

Federal Punch is a line of defensive ammo made for civilian CCW and personal defense. It is a jacketed hollow point that draws on technology from Federal HST and Hydra-Shock JHP’s and offers shooters excellent expansion from common short-barreled concealed carry pistols like the Sig Sauer P365, Taurus PT709S, Glock 26, or Springfield Armory Hellcat.

Although Federal Punch ammo has quite a storied lineage, it was specifically designed NOT to meet FBI barrier penetration standards used for law enforcement ammunition. The FBI Testing Protocol was developed after the 1986 Miami Shootout, where two field agents lost their lives due to ineffective hollow point ammo.

After this incident, the FBI developed a set of parameters that handgun ammo needed to meet when shot into ballistic gel to be considered effective. The round had to expand while punching through multiple barriers like sheet metal, glass, drywall, and fabric while still achieving 12-18 inches of penetration into the gelatin.

Once established, companies like Federal, Remington, CCI Speer, and Winchester all became extremely effective at producing projectiles to meet these requirements. Furthermore, law enforcement won’t even look at a defense ammo unless it passes the FBI testing protocol.

Although it might feel empowering to carry ammo that your local police department carries, the truth is that most civilian concealed carry permit holders will not need to engage threats hiding behind car doors or auto glass. Therefore, the added penetration of these FBI-approved projectiles really isn’t needed for most self-defense situations.

This was the main pretext behind the development of Federal Punch ammo, to provide civilians with affordable self-defense ammo that is still incredibly effective at penetrating heavy clothing (the thickest barrier most civilians will need to shoot through).

Federal utilized many of their advancements in hollow point technology from the Federal HST and Hydra-Shok projectiles when they developed the Punch line of ammo. However, since they aren’t beholden to the FBI testing requirements, Punch ammunition is available at a fraction of the cost of traditional Federal Premium self-defense ammunition.

Punch ammo is currently offered in the Federal’s Personal Defense line chambered in common the common centerfire EDC calibers 380 ACP, 9mm Luger, 38 Special +P, 40 Smith & Wesson, 10mm Auto, and 45 ACP. However, seeing increased demand for Punch ammo, Federal also produces Punch defensive loads for 44 Special, 22LR, and 22 WMR.

Our Federal Punch Ammo Review

Federal Premium Ammunition has been known for making incredibly effective defense ammo for decades. The Federal HST and Hydra-Shok jacketed hollow point line of defensive handgun ammunition are considered by many as gold standards; as such, they are utilized by concerned civilians and law enforcement agencies across the globe as their duty ammo.

Punch ammo is different than traditional JHP ammo as it is designed to NOT meet FBI penetration standards for barriers. Federal understands that the average CCW permit holder or homeowner isn’t going to need to defend their lives while shooting through car doors or sheetrock.

This means that the projectiles are considerably less expensive and that savings gets passed onto the shooter. I personally love the low price point of Federal Punch ammo, as it allows me to practice with my self-defense ammo on a more regular basis.

Furthermore, the ballisticians at Federal made the conscious decision to pick the best bullet design for each caliber instead of forcing the same design on each caliber. This allowed them to play around with the jacket thickness, skive depth, and hollow point geometry to build the perfect bullet for each cartridge.

Federal Punch ammo uses nickel-plated brass cases to ensure smooth feeding and enhanced corrosion resistance. Furthermore, they utilize sealed primers to weatherproof your carry ammo further.

And let’s be honest; most civilian shooters don’t regularly rotate their carry ammo (I know I don’t). This means the rounds stay in their magazine for a long time, and having that added level of weatherproofing really gives me peace of mind that my carry ammo will perform when I need it to.

In general, I love that I can practice with my self-defense ammo when using Federal Punch. This is something that every firearms trainer will tell you to do, but traditional jacketed hollow point ammo is a very costly trip to the range (and most shooters don’t do it, in my experience). But since the Punch line of ammo is so affordable, it allows shooters to practice with what they carry.

What’s It Best For?

Federal Punch ammo is best for civilian concealed carry permit holders and citizens looking to defend their homes from threats. The specially designed jacketed hollow point projectiles are designed for rapid expansion and can easily defeat thick clothing without over-penetrating and potentially hitting an innocent bystander or family member.


The major downside to Federal Punch ammunition is that it lacks barrier penetration capabilities. Although it is extremely rare that a civilian shooter would need to defend their life by shooting through a car door or auto safety glass, it is not outside the realm of possibility.

Pros and Cons

As much as we love ammo, we understand that no manufacturer is perfect. Here are some of the pros and cons of Federal Punch ammunition you should be aware of.


  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent terminal ballistics
  • Extremely reliable and accurate


  • Does not meet FBI handgun ammunition standards for barrier penetration

Federal 380 Punch Review

The 380 ACP is perhaps one of the most loved or hated rounds in the shooting community, depending on which side of the aisle you sit on. Although police shooting data suggests that the 380 is more than capable of stopping a threat; many internet forum posters are consumed with arguments of the 380 being underpowered and simply “not enough” for self-defense.

But I’ll just say this, if you put rounds into a bad guy where they need to go, then it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting a 45 ACP or 380 ACP.

In the past, some shooters would EDC full metal jacket (FMJ) 380 ammo to increase the penetration of the round. However, this has its own issues, as the potential for over-penetration still exists when using FMJ ammo during a self-defense situation.

Federal 380 ACP Punch ammo gives lovers of the 380 a hollow point round that will not only penetrate but also expand to minimize the potential for over-penetration. Firing an 85-grain jacketed hollow point with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 FPS from a 3.75-inch barrel, this Punch ammo will be more than enough to knock down any threat so long as you do your part.

Federal Punch 22 LR Ammo Review

Now if you thought 380 ACP was controversial for self-defense, then you should look at posts concerning the 22LR.

Although rimfire ammo is notoriously unreliable, Federal Punch 22LR rimfire ammo seeks to provide shooters with a capable self-defense round with minimal felt recoil.

Loaded with a 29-grain nickel-plated lead core bullet, this 22LR Punch load is composed to provide shooters with the deepest penetration possible through short-barreled handguns. Capable of reaching 1,070 fps through a 2-inch barrel, this ammo is no slouch in terms of muzzle velocity for rimfire ammo.

If you’re a shooter with weak wrists or hands or are simply extremely recoil sensitive, you should really consider Federal Punch 22 LR self-defense ammo for your handgun because it’s always better to have a firearm in a defensive situation, even if a rimfire is all you can handle.

Federal Punch 9mm Review

Perhaps the most popular Punch line of ammo on the market is the 9mm Luger. This round is loaded with a 124-grain jacketed hollow point bullet with a soft lead core to balance penetration with massive expansion.

A muzzle velocity of 1150 fps when fired from a 4-inch barrel (think Glock 19) is more than enough speed to get the job done for most common self-defense situations. And the sealed Boxer primers give you peace of mind and ensure proper ignition when your life is on the line.

Federal Punch 44 Special Review

Although Dirty Harry tells us that the 44 Magnum is “the most powerful handgun in the world,” did you know that Clint Eastwood fired primarily 44 Smith & Wesson Special ammo during the filming of the movie? This was due to the 44 Special having less recoil than the mighty 44 Magnum.

Although 44 Special is becoming harder and harder to find, Federal made the decision to offer Punch ammo in the caliber to help meet the needs of 44-caliber shooters across the USA.

Since any 44 Magnum revolver can shoot 44 Special, like how a 357 Magnum revolver can shoot 38 Special, the 44 Special Punch ammo offers concerned citizens a personal defense cartridge with some serious wallop for anything that goes bump in the night.

Firing a massive 180-grain jacketed hollow point bullet at 815 fps, the Federal Punch 44 Special round is more than enough to stop any threat in their tracks, just like Dirty Harry promised with your Smith & Wesson Model 29 or Ruger Redhawk.

Ballistics for Federal Punch Ammo

Below we’ve compiled a ballistics table for all the different variations of Federal Punch Ammunition for you to review.

Ballistics for Federal Punch Ammo

Parting Shots

Although I’m no fan of compromises when it comes to ammo, Federal Punch makes a compelling argument for me to change my views of self-defense ammo.

Loaded to meet the needs of most civilian personal defense situations, Federal Punch ammo is loaded to give you the stopping power to defend your life with your defensive handgun in any situation.

Produced to stringent quality control standards we’ve come accustomed to with Federal Ammunition, Defense Punch ammo is an excellent choice for any citizen looking to defend their life or property from any threat.


Is Federal Punch ammo worth buying?

Yes, Federal Punch ammo is an excellent defense ammo for most concerned citizens. It is extremely reliable, accurate, and less expensive than other defense ammunition. It is designed to meet the needs of civilian shooters who are not concerned with shooting through barriers for self-defense.

What is the range of Federal Punch ammo?

Federal Punch ammo will be extremely effective at traditional self-defense ranges, averaging around 15 yards or less. However, some Punch loads will have a longer effective range, like the 9mm Luger or 44 Special.

Is Federal Punch a good self-defense ammo?

Yes, Federal Punch ammo is an excellent choice of self-defense ammunition for concealed carry and home defense. It is designed for maximum terminal performance and can easily penetrate heavy clothing. Furthermore, it is inexpensive, so you can afford to practice with your self-defense ammo.

How is Federal Punch ammo different than other ammo?

Federal Punch ammo is different than traditional self-defense hollow points because it was specifically designed not to meet FBI penetration standards. It is great for personal protection against soft targets but lacks barrier penetration capabilities. This makes it considerably more affordable than traditional self-defense ammo.

Chris Dwulet
Written by
Chris Dwulet

Ammunition Reviews