During the ammo drought of 2008, I got a really good deal on several boxes of this ammo. I didn't know much about it at the time so I did some research and found pretty much universal disdain for this ammo across the various internet forums. It seems that the Federal EFMJ is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Federal LE ammo line and like Rodney, it gets no respect. I shot a few boxes of it from a Kahr CW45 and found it mild for a +P and it fed and functioned perfectly so it was my ammo of choice in that pistol for the brief time it was with me. I've always wondered how the expansion would look so I finally got around to testing it last month.
Even though I'm branching out a bit from the true pocket pistol calibers, I am going to stick to testing ammo from short barrels. For this test, I used a Glock 36 with a 3.78" barrel. There are shorter length 45's out there, but this is the pistol I had on hand at the range on test day.
My testing process is pretty simple. I take one shot at the end of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim. I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 inches away from the SIM-TEST block. My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density. I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets. The video below documents the test from range to bullet recovery.
The recovered round was weighed and measured. I've also included the stats from the test velocity string and calculated the ft/lbs. of energy of the test shot. All the data is displayed in the sheet below.
Several weeks ago I posted a high speed video of this round going through a clay target and into a 1 gallon water jug. I recovered that round from the berm and it was nicely expanded. It's the bullet on the lower left in the picture below the video I just mentioned, which is also below. The berms are especially hard right now due to lack of rain so I was able to recover 3 addition rounds from my velocity testing. You can see how the polymer expanding tip was shoved to the side and the soft lead core mushroomed out nicely as the bullets plowed into the hardpacked berm at 634 miles per hour. The good news is that the bullets held together and jacket, core, and polymer tip were all recovered together.
Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
Personally, I can see the virtues of this load. For a soft shooting 45 +P, I'm very pleased with the expansion of the SIM-TEST recovered round and also those that were recovered from the berm. From the short barrel, the penetration was near the minimum acceptable but expansion was quite good. While I am not limited to FMJ only, as citizens of some states are (NJ), I wouldn't have any issue at all using this in place of a FMJ load or even Hornady's Critical Defense load if I had concerns about hollow point cavities getting plugged by heavy clothing in the cold weather months.
Actually, I like the results I've seen from this load so much that I added a box of 9mm +P 124 Grain EFMJ to a recent ammo order. I'd like to see if the 45 performance carries over to the 9mm +P. If it does, it may be my cold weather carry ammo this Winter in place of the nearly impossible to find 135 Grain +P Hornady Critical Duty.
As always, some anomaly pops up during testing that is concerning and needs to be discussed. I did notice the one round in the velocity test string that registered more than 140 fps less than every other shot that crossed the chronograph during testing. I have no idea why that happened or if it will happen again with this specific lot of ammo. It could have been a problem with the chronograph. I'm not overly concerned because the velocity is close to the 230 grain GI hardball velocity even though the weight is less. Regardless, I wouldn't want to stand in front of any .45 projectile going over 800 fps if it expanded or not.
I think I'm going to do some digging around and see if there are any other terminal tests on this ammo available. I'd like to see how my results compare with others.
Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose. Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so.