It's one of the biggest ironies in shooting. Shooters generally put the least amount of thought and consideration into the handgun ammunition they shoot the most: target rounds. When it comes to a day at the range, most are content to shoot whatever's available and affordable. But all of that has changed with new American Eagle Syntech ammunition.
New Tech, New Shooters
Senior Product Line Manager Mike Holm said Syntech, a product that's been years in the making, was created for two important reasons.
"We're proud of the consistency and performance our target loads have always offered, but we didn't just want to follow the industry, hit a certain plateau and stop striving for something more," he said. "So we stepped up and asked ourselves what we could do to make the shooting experience better."
The changing demographic of today's shooter was an important motivator.
"We know that someone who started shooting a handgun in the past few years generally has different wants and needs than established shooters," Holm said. "In a lot of ways, they're more critical and do more research. They ask questions that push us to do more too, especially for those who might not be quite as comfortable with guns or do most of their shooting at indoor ranges."
The result of the company's research was the Syntech Total Synthetic Jacket, a complete polymer coating that takes the place of the copper jacket in conventional FMJ target ammunition.
Smooth Shooting with Syntech
Syntech is cool — literally. Unlike conventional lead or copper-jacketed rounds, the slick, red polymer coating eliminates metal-on-metal contact in the barrel. The result is not only softer, smoother shooting you can feel, but less friction, heat and barrel wear. Shooters — especially those who burn through a lot of rounds at the range — will get more longevity out of their hard-earned handgun investment.
In fact, the Syntech coating produced an average of 12 percent less friction in the barrel than a standard copper jacket, when tested by Federal Premium engineers using standard testing methods and American Eagle pistol ammunition. Another Syntech test revealed an average of 14 percent less heat. The heat test was conducted using American Eagle pistol ammunition and a common, conventional, full-size handgun.
Shoot Clean, Shoot Better
The next thing a shooter will likely notice after putting a few magazines of Syntech through their gun is actually what they're not seeing — copper or lead fouling.
"We don't like to admit it, but nobody likes to clean their gun, and Syntech eliminates a big part of what makes a firearm dirty in the first place," Senior Product Development Engineer John Swenson said. "Not only does the Syntech jacket encapsulate the lead core, but that coating maintains its integrity at ignition, down the barrel and in flight."
With no exposed lead or copper, there's no contact between these materials and the barrel, so there's no metal fouling. You'll have to service your gun less frequently and you'll shoot better in the meantime.
The need to clean is further reduced by the loads' special clean-burning propellant paired with all-new lead-free Catalyst primer technology.
"The new primer is hot, consistent and provides extremely reliable ignition," Chief Chemist Joel Sandstrom said. "This results in a more complete and efficient burn of the propellant, which significantly reduces residue with each shot."
Range shooters often take for granted the physics involved in shooting a jacketed bullet into a hard target mere paces away. The reality is that pieces of the copper jacket and larger fragments of the lead core travel far from a target on impact — sometimes more than 15 yards.
But with no hard copper jacket and a soft lead core, Syntech produces less of this splash back, and what it does produce travels shorter distances when fired into steel targets.
"We set up a test where a shooter fired 100 rounds each of common, commercial, 115-grain FMJ, TMJ and Syntech from a distance of 23 feet into a steel target," Swenson said.
For the test, Swenson and his team covered a 15-plus-yard radius in front of the target with a giant tarp, on which they'd marked 5-, 10- and 15-yard circles. After shooting each type of ammunition, they collected bullet fragments in the 10- and 15-yard marked areas, and weighed and analyzed what was there.
"What we found says it all," he said. "Not only did Syntech put out less overall weight in recoverable fragments than typical FMJs, but most of those fragments were smaller and traveled shorter distances after hitting the steel."
Syntech produced 51 percent less total recoverable fragment weight than FMJs between 5 and 15 yards of the target. It also resulted in 91 percent less weight in fragments traveling more than 15 yards from the target, and at least 77 percent less in fragments weighing more than 10 grains.
Experience The Difference
There will always be practical applications for conventional copper-jacketed target rounds. This ammunition remains an affordable choice for accurate, reliable practice and training. But with limited range time, Syntech ammunition is an option that makes that time more fun and more productive, with less hassle and cleanup afterward.
"It's all about having a better shooting experience," Holm said. "With Syntech, you have it — more of what all shooters want, and less of what you don't."