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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hornady superperformance

Handloading Federal's Syntech Coated Bullets

Author: Brad Miller / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: Mar 06 2018

Federal Syntech ammunition is loaded with a polymer-coated lead bullet. Available in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 Auto, the bullets feature an eye-catching red coating. The polymer coating is said to prevent metal-on-metal contact between the lead bullet and the bore, which extends barrel life and eliminates copper and lead fouling. These bullets are now available as components for handloading.

Federal Syntech bullets were tested in three calibers, from left: 9mm, .40 and .45.

The bullets have the same shape as traditional FMJ bullets, and unlike many cast bullets, Syntech bullets do not have a lube groove. The lube groove on cast bullets, as the name suggests, is filled with lubricant to prevent lead from sticking to the bore. A lube groove is not required with polymer-coated bullets, because the polymer coating acts as the lubricant.

Coated bullets are not new to handloaders, but they have become much more popular in the last couple of years. Coated bullets are said to offer advantages over traditional lead bullets. The coating prevents leading, reduces or eliminates smoke produced by the waxy lube required on lead bullets, and some designs may require less gunpowder to push them to the same velocity as jacketed bullets.

The bright red polymer coating serves as the lubricant for Syntech bullets,
so they are designed without the traditional lube groove of cast bullets.

Handloading coated bullets requires special attention to prevent the coating from being scraped off. The case mouth should have enough belling so the coating is not damaged or scraped while the bullet is seated into the case. If the coating is scraped off, it can build up at the case mouth, and this could prevent the round from fully chambering and causing a malfunction. Scraping the coating excessively also exposes the bullet’s bare lead to the bore.

Caution must be exercised when handloading Syntech bullets,
because the coating can be scraped off during the seating
process if the case mouth does not have sufficient flare.

Too much crimp can also pinch the coating and scrape it off, so a minimal crimp is recommended. It should be sufficient enough to hold the bullet in place.

Coating thickness is difficult to assess, because it varies, as shown in the accompanying photo of a .40-caliber bullet that has been cut in half. The coating fully encapsulates the bullet to help protect the lead from hot, burning gunpowder. Federal Syntech factory ammunition uses Catalyst lead-free primers. Handloaders can use lead-free primers, such as those made by Fiocchi.

The red polymer coating can be seen around the
edge of this sectioned, .40-caliber Syntech bullet.

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