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SHOT Show 2020: New ammunition from Federal and Speer

These brands have introduced a dazzling array of new products for 2020


The new Speer Gold Dot G2 Carry Gun offers a redesigned hollowpoint cavity to optimize expansion and penetration in short barrel pistols.

Photo/Mike Wood

Two of the most trusted names in law enforcement ammunition are Federal and Speer, a pair of brands owned by parent company Vista Outdoor.

These brands have introduced a dazzling array of new products for 2020 – including 130 new products by Federal alone – in the defense, hunting, sport and law enforcement segments. There’s a lot of activity under the Federal and Speer tents, but Police1 readers will be particularly interested in the following new loads that are tailored for both on- and off-duty use.

Speer Gold Dot G2 Carry Gun

The Speer Gold Dot G2 bullet is an electro-chemically bonded, jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) whose nose cavity is filled with an elastomer plug. Upon impact with the target, the elastomer plug is compressed and the resulting pressure forces the bullet to open up at a pace controlled by the shape of the core, the thickness of the jacket, and the length and depth of the bullet skives. This process allows the Gold Dot G2 bullet to provide controlled expansion and penetration, even after penetrating intermediate barriers that might normally plug or deform a traditional JHP bullet, thereby affecting performance.

The Gold Dot G2 was adopted as a duty round for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after extensive testing and has been issued to a large number of law enforcement agencies, where it has been well received as a duty round for use in full-size guns. This bullet was one of the bullets used in the recent Police1 ballistic gelatin comparison test.

New for 2020, the Gold Dot G2 bullet has been tweaked to enhance its performance when fired through compact and subcompact guns with shorter barrels. These shorter barrels typically deliver less velocity than service-length barrels, and rob the bullet of energy, so Speer engineers had to tailor the G2 concept for these smaller guns.

The Gold Dot G2 Carry Gun was the result of this effort. Carry Gun bullets weigh less than their G2 duty counterparts, to enable them to reach the desired velocity in the shorter tubes. They feature redesigned hollowpoint cavities and elastomer plugs to enhance expansion and penetration from the compact and subcompact guns typically carried as backup or off duty guns.

Gold Dot G2 Carry Gun will initially be offered for 9mm (135 grain), .40 S&W (165 grain) and .45 ACP +P (200 grains) compact and subcompact handguns, and should be a good choice for officers looking for a load that has been optimized for smaller guns and intermediate barrier performance.

Speer Gold Dot Rifle Personal Protection

Speer Gold Dot ammunition has been a popular choice for law enforcement patrol rifles for many years, but as these guns have become more popular in police use, they have also begun to shrink. The military surplus, 1033-Program rifles with their 20” barrels soon gave way to carbines with shorter, 16” barrels, and those 16” guns have now been replaced in many circles by carbines with even shorter barrels that range between 10” to 14” in length.

To accommodate these shorter guns, Speer has tweaked its Gold Dot Rifle loads to maximize performance out of carbine barrels that are shorter than 16”. The performance target is the FBI Protocol, which requires bullets to perform after defeating a host of intermediate barriers.


The 75 grain Gold Dot Rifle Personal Protection load is recommended for use in barrels with a 1:9 twist or faster.

Photo/Mike Wood

Gold Dot Rifle Personal Protection will be available in .223 Remington (55, 62, and 75 grains), .300 BLK (150 grain), and .308 Win (150 grain) calibers, and should be an excellent choice for officers using “shorty” carbines with abbreviated barrels.

Federal Punch

The Federal HST is an incredibly effective and popular duty round for law enforcement, but this highly engineered bullet is also a little pricier than the average JHP round, which may dissuade many commercial users from purchasing it, particularly if they don’t feel the need for barrier penetration. In an effort to provide a less expensive, but still effective option for commercial users, Federal has developed the Punch bullet for 2020.

The Federal Punch is designed to provide good expansion and penetration in the bare gelatin and heavy clothing stages of the FBI protocol, ignoring performance after other barriers like auto glass, wood and steel.


The new Federal Punch is designed to provide dependable performance in bare and heavily-clothed targets.

Photo/Mike Wood

The attraction for law enforcement officers will be in using the Federal Punch as an off-duty round. The soft lead core and skived jacket of this bullet are designed to provide good expansion and penetration on the exposed targets that concealed carriers and off-duty officers are more likely to face, making this an effective and economical option for this role.

Perhaps the most interesting of the new Punch options will be the forthcoming 120 grain, .38 Special +P Federal Punch JHP, which is advertised to deliver 1,070 fps. This might be an excellent consideration for officers carrying the ever-popular, .38 Special snubby revolver. I’m particularly interested in evaluating this load when it becomes available, since there aren’t many good options available in this caliber. It will be interesting to see how this load compares to Speer’s excellent 135 grain, .38 Special +P Gold Dot Short Barrel load, and the 130 grain, .38 Special +P Federal HST Micro.

Federal Hydra-Shok Deep .380 Auto

There’s a lot of officers carrying .380 autos as backup or off-duty guns, and Federal has a new 2020 introduction to suit their needs as well.


The nose profile of the new .380 Hydra-Shok deep is unique.

Photo/Mike Wood

The 90 grain Hydra-Shok has been a popular choice in the .380 caliber for many decades, but like most bullets in this caliber, it doesn’t penetrate very deeply if the bullet expands as designed. The .380 ACP just doesn’t have the surplus of energy that larger rounds like the 9mm do, so JHP bullets in this caliber struggle to go deeper than about 9” in calibrated gelatin after opening, no matter which design.

Federal is aiming to fix that with the .380 Hydra-Shok Deep. This redesigned Hydra-Shok retains the center post that made the design famous, but it’s no longer thin. The new fatter, conical post is designed to be more effective at opening up the bullet, and the jacket has been uniquely folded around the post to create a very small cavity opening. This unusual-looking JHP is designed to consistently penetrate beyond 12” in ballistic gelatin (both bare, and covered with FBI heavy clothing), yet still open up to increase damage.


The Federal .380 Hydra-Shok Deep is designed to consistently penetrate at least 12” of calibrated gelatin.

Photo/Mike Wood


The Federal Punch makes use of a softer core and deep skives in the jacket to promote expansion.

Photo/Mike Wood

Given the past track record of the caliber, it’s a little hard to believe that Federal has designed a .380 ACP that both expands AND penetrates beyond 12” in gelatin, but they had a block displayed at SHOT Show that showed one of the new Hydra-Shok Deep bullets sitting about 14” into the bare gelatin, with uniform expansion.

I’m very eager to test this promising load from Federal myself when it becomes available, and all of you who are carrying .380s should pay close attention to this exciting development. If this load performs as advertised, it could change everything for the 9mm Short.

Federal Force X2


The Force X2 uses a traditional wad and very untraditional segmented pellets.

Photo/Mike Wood

Lastly, while the 12 Gauge shotgun has mistakenly been transformed into a less-lethal-only tool by many agencies in recent years, there are still a lot of these effective tools out in the field. Federal hasn’t forgotten the scattergun in their 2020 introductions, and the result is quite interesting.

The Force X2 load is a 2.75” shotshell with nine copper-plated 00 buckshot pellets as the payload. That’s not particularly interesting so far, but the twist is that each of the pellets is engineered to split up into two equal-size pieces upon impact with the target. Therefore, a 9-pellet load will break up into 18 pellets on contact, potentially increasing the number of wound channels, and reducing the risk that any given pellet will over-penetrate and go through the target.


The Force X2 shotgun pellets break into two equal pieces, increasing the number of wound channels.

Photo/Mike Wood

The Force X2 is loaded to about 1,145 fps, which places it in the same category as the Federal Low Recoil Tactical Buckshot, which has been so popular with law enforcement. It does not use the Flite Control wad that delivers such tight patterns in the Tactical Buckshot loads, however.

This is another load that will be very interesting to follow, as it comes to market. If you’re still using a shotgun on duty or for home defense, the Force X2 might be worth a look.

Much more

There’s a ton of other new products from sister brands Federal, Speer and CCI for you to check out. If you’re a hunter, target shooter, competitor, or plinker, there’s something that will interest you for sure. Make sure you check out the Federal, Speer and CCI websites for more information.

Mike Wood is the son of a 30-year California Highway Patrolman and the author of “Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis,” the highly-acclaimed study of the 1970 California Highway Patrol gunfight in Newhall, California. Mike is an Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, a graduate of the US Army Airborne School, and a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with over 26 years of service. He’s a National Rifle Association (NRA) Law Enforcement Division-certified firearms instructor, senior editor at, and has been a featured guest on the Excellence In Training Academy and American Warrior Society podcasts, as well as several radio and television programs. He’s grateful for the opportunity to serve and learn from the men and women of law enforcement.