Glossy and vibrant, the objects glistened like fresh lipstick. These striking polymer-coated bullets, packaged in a shade more at home on Marilyn Monroe than a modern projectile, are the newest development from the wizards at Federal Premium/American Eagle. Called Syntech (Synthetic Jacket Technology), this ammunition is the culmination of four years of engineering and more than a million rounds of testing.
The appearance may be unusual, but then again, so is the performance. Compared to traditional jacketed bullets, Syntech is cleaner shooting, safer to use and, because the polymer coating generates 12 percent less friction in the barrel, is easier on firearms.
So what's the catch? There isn't one.
Let's compare the new Syntech projectile with traditional range bullets that consist of a lead core encapsulated in a copper jacket. This design is simple and effective. Yet time-tested does not mean ideal. Copper-jacketed bullets cause a few problems for shooting.
Most steel targets have a minimum safe distance of 25 yards due to a phenomenon called "spall," where the bullet shatters on impact and small pieces go everywhere. The most damaging fragments come from the copper jacket. Copper doesn't fragment like lead, so the copper pieces are bigger, flatter and much sharper. Syntech has no copper jacket. Upon impact with a hard target, the bullet breaks up into much smaller fragments that travel a short distance from the target. So, for shooting steel, Syntech is the ultimate choice.
A Cleaner Product
As the world urbanizes and more shooting occurs indoors, the absence of copper jackets greatly benefits range members. Not only is the shooter safer from spall, so is everyone else on the line. I wouldn't be surprised to see a push from indoor gun ranges to transition to the Syntech line for this reason alone.
However, indoor shooting, while fun and safe, also requires close monitoring of lead exposure. For those who spend a lot of time on the line indoors, Syntech offers a breakthrough new lead-free primer.
The Syntech line fully encapsulates the bullet with a polymer jacket, so there is no contact with the barrel. And in addition to being lead-free, the Catalyst primer used in the Syntech line offers more consistent, clean ignition. It's also hot, which leads to a more complete burn of the propellant for less powder residue.
During testing, I shot regular 9mm Luger 115-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) American Eagle alongside the new 115-grain Syntech. The first thing I noticed was that the fired cases on the Syntech line appeared spotless compared to the jacketed bullet line, both inside and outside the case. I asked Larry Head, chief engineer, about the difference. "Syntech is a very clean shooting round," he said. "This is true about the fired case, the bore, the action and everywhere else."
One reason it's so clean is the complete lack of metal fouling. Not even the rifling cuts through the polymer coating. According to senior product development engineer John Swenson, Syntech makes for an easy-to-clean firearm.
"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," said Swenson. "Not only does the Syntech jacket encapsulate the lead core, but that coating maintains its integrity at ignition, down the barrel and in flight."
Shaping the Future
Ammunition developments like this are a rare occurrence. What began as a quest to find new manufacturing materials has morphed into the pinnacle of range ammo. For safer, cleaner shooting ammunition, look no further than American Eagle's Syntech. It's affordable, accurate and will prolong the life of your firearm.