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Federal’s new American Eagle Syntech Target ammo runs cooler and cleaner, and completely eliminates copper and lead fouling

What would you say if someone made affordable target or range ammunition that completely eliminates copper and lead fouling in your pistol barrels? That’s just one of the benefits of Federal Ammunition’s new Syntech range and target ammo, which utilizes a unique synthetic coating to completely enclose a pistol bullet. Of course, coated bullets are nothing new. They’ve been around for quite some time, most notably in Federal’s Nyclad, or nylon-coated, law enforcement ammo. But Syntech takes an entirely new approach to coated bullets by completely encapsulating a soft lead bullet with a hard polymer coating.


This cross-sectioned bullet shows Syntech’s soft lead core totally surrounded by a hard polymer coating.

It differs from other coatings by virtue of the fact that it stays on the bullet as it is fired and travels through the bore of a pistol. It’s not scraped away like other coatings. This Total Synthetic Jacket (TSJ) bullet completely eliminates metal-to-metal contact between the bullet and the bore, effectively doing away with the age-old scourge of lead and copper fouling of barrels. This translates into a lot less time spent cleaning and scrubbing barrels, because you’ll only need to remove powder fouling.

As illustrated in this photo, Syntech’s hard polymer coating remains intact after firing. With no metal-to-metal contact, lead and copper fouling of barrels is completely eliminated.

As illustrated in this photo, Syntech’s hard polymer coating remains intact after firing. With no metal-to-metal contact, lead and copper fouling of barrels is completely eliminated.


“Thanks to Syntech’s TSJ jacket, traditional cleaning products such as a brass brush and standard powder solvent should be all that is required to clean your barrel,” says Mike Holm, senior product line manager for Federal American Eagle Ammunition.



Syntech also has other desirable attributes. For starters, there is considerably less friction between the bullet and the bore, which translates into less heat. Federal claims Syntech ammo produces 12 percent less friction and 14 percent less heat when tested against comparable full metal jacket bullets, so guns firing Syntech will run cooler. “As a result, barrel life is extended, while lead and copper fouling are a thing of the past,” says Holm.

“Syntech takes an entirely new approach to coated bullets…”

You’ll also likely experience a bit less recoil when shooting Syntech because the reduced-friction loads can use slightly less powder to match velocities of comparable, traditional jacketed bullets.

Part of the impetus for the development of Syntech was Federal’s desire to address the needs and wants of new shooters, which differ somewhat from those of established shooters, according to Federal. New shooters, says Holm, are often intimidated by the prospect of cleaning their gun properly, and may be more concerned about health issues related to lead exposure at indoor ranges or safety issues associated with “splash-back” when shooting at steel targets.

Syntech addresses all of these issues. For indoor ranges that mandate the use of ammunition with lead-free primers, Syntech fits the bill. It utilizes Federal’s new lead-free Catalyst primer. Although the lead styphnate used in traditional primers only accounts for about one-fifth of the airborne lead at indoor shooting ranges, it’s in a form that’s much more easily absorbed by the lungs into the bloodstream. In addition to taking lead styphnate out of the equation, Syntech’s polymer coating also eliminates the vaporization of lead from the base of the bullet during ignition.



In testing Syntech by firing at steel targets, Federal engineers made the happy discovery that the new ammo results in significantly less splash-back. For the uninitiated, splash-back is the term used when fragments of a bullet’s copper jacket and lead core travel far from a target on impact, often more than 15 yards.

“…There is considerably less friction between the bullet and the bore, which translates into less heat.”

When testing Syntech against traditional full metal jacket bullets, the engineers found that Syntech produced 51 percent less total recoverable fragment weight between five and 15 yards of the target. Surprisingly, there was 91 percent less weight in fragments traveling more than 15 yards from the target. In short, because Syntech is made of soft lead and has no metal jacket, it put out less overall weight in recovered fragments, which were smaller and traveled shorter distances than fragments from FMJ bullets.

Federal won’t say exactly how the polymer coating is applied to the bullets – it’s a trade secret – but the company has been working on the ammo for the past four years. It took two years just to develop the sophisticated machinery used to produce the ammo.

Federal also won’t say if the Syntech treatment will be applied to other products, but the company isn’t ruling anything out when it comes to the use of this revolutionary technology. “We will look to create, evaluate and test other products in years to come,” says Holm.


Packaged in boxes of 50, Syntech is initially available in a 115 gr. 9 mm, 165 gr. 40 S&W and 230 gr. 45 ACP Total Synthetic Jacket (TSJ) loads.

Syntech will be sold as part of Federal’s competitively priced American Eagle line. Initial offerings include a 9mm 115 gr. load, a 165 gr. 40 S&W load and a 230 gr. 45 ACP load, packaged in a box with 50 rounds. MSRPs for these loads are $19.95, $26.95 and $33.95, respectively.