While at the SHOT Show’s Industry Day at the Range, the fine gents from Federal Premium told me about the company’s new American Eagle Syntech ammunition, and I was immediately intrigued.
“Phil it burns cleaner, keeps the barrel cooler due to our synthetic jacket on the bullet severely reducing friction, and will actually reduce muzzle jump. It even features a lead-free primer, perfect for use in an indoor range,” said J.J. Reich, the Public Relations Manager for Federal.
Burns cleaner? That translates to less cleaning, right? I had to try this stuff, and see if it lived up to those claims. I figured a decent test would be to compare the Syntech stuff to the American Eagle FMJ ammo, a common choice for range work, and see if there was any observable difference. So, I grabbed up a few boxes of each type of ammo, in 9mm Luger—147-grain FMJ stuff, and the 115-grain Syntech load—as well as the Hoppe’s cleaning kit and my trusty Lyman cleaning rod and headed to the range.
And as far as the cooler burning claim, I must report that there was a definite, appreciable difference in barrel heat, and the Syntech stuff did in fact run cooler than the FMJ ammo. After about 30 rounds of FMJ ammunition, the barrel was absolutely too hot to touch—not really good for the pistol, but hey, this is science after all—but not so with the Syntech ammo. Using a 10-round magazine, and only allowing enough time to reload between firings, the Syntech ammo still allowed the barrel to be touched after 50 rounds. The Syntech ammunition produced less muzzle jump than did the FMJ variant, though a part of that equation may have been the difference in bullet weight—147 grains for the FMJ and 115 grains for the Syntech—but all in all I was able to get back on target faster with the lighter load. So far, I had quickly become a fan of the new design, and could easily see the benefits of the engineering efforts. I had no means of testing the chemical composition of the new Catalyst lead-free primer, other than to report the fact that it gave reliable ignition, so I’ll have to take Federal’s word for it, but I can easily see where a lead-free primer would be welcomed in any of the indoor shooting ranges that have become so popular. The less lead vapor in the air, whether from a projectile or the primer, the better.
Firstly, this Tangfolio pistol has a rather stiff set of springs and has been known to stovepipe lesser, more feeble types of ammo, so I was concerned about the light-for-caliber 115-grain stuff. I wasn’t too awfully concerned about the 147-grain flat point FMJ stuff, as this gun usually likes that weight of bullet. I also knew that in my hands, this gun usually hits high at the 10-yard mark, so as long as point of impact was consistent, I would be happy.
Running it through the Oehler 35P chronograph, the Syntech ammo ran at an average of 1,115 fps—just 15 fps below the advertised 1,130 fps—and gave rather uniform velocities, with the standard deviation on velocity being no more than 12 fps.
For the shooter who turns large amounts of ammunition into piles of spent brass over the course of a weekend, American Eagle’s Syntech is an excellent blend of affordability, reliability and results. The cooler temperature will allow your pistol to cycle smoother, and the fact that the gun will run cleaner is a huge benefit to all of us. As sweet as Hoppe’s No. 9 smells, the less I have to use it, the happier I am. Here’s to cleaning less!
Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the September 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.