Thursday, July 11, 2013

Federal Guard Dog 45 Auto 165 Grain Denim and Gel Test

First off, I'd like to recognize blog reader Sam S. for contributing the ammunition used for this test.  Thanks Sam.

The Federal Guard Dog is the latest incarnation of the Federal Expanding Full Metal Jacket line of ammunition.  The bullet consists of a pre-stressed jacket that is layered over a bullet core consisting of a lead base and blue rubber tip.  Federal markets this load as an alternative to traditional jacketed hollow point ammunition for locations were JHP ammunition use is restricted or unlawful.

The bullet is designed to allow the rubber tip to mushroom much like the traditional jacketed hollow point bullet.  Federal also touts that with no hollow point cavity, the round can not be rendered ineffective by barrier material plugging the hollow point cavity.  It's an interesting concept and I tested another version of this expanding full metal jacket bullet HERE.

The Federal consumer website mentions this load as being suitable for home defense where penetration through walls, and who or whatever is behind them, is a concern.  They even go as far as printing HOME DEFENSE on the box.  This test does not cover those specific performance criteria and I have no opinion on the claim that this load is better suited for home defense than other Federal ammunition products.       

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 8 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 8 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 8 feet.
Step 5)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
Federal lists this load as generating a velocity of 1140 feet per second when fired from a 5" test barrel.  Our test barrel was significantly shorter and as we expected, our velocity was substantially less.  What I really wanted to learn from this test was if the velocity loss was so great that it would impact terminal performance.  As it turns out, it did with one bullet performing as advertised and another that failed to expand.  I have to assume that the failure was simply due to marginal velocity and the 4 layers of denim barrier slowed the bullet enough to cause it to fail in the gel test media.

Pick or Pan:
The bullet that did expand penetrated to a marginal 10 inches.  The bullet that failed to expand penetrated to over 20 inches.  Overall terminal penetration performance from our short barrel test pistol is reason enough to evaluate other ammunition alternatives.    

Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types,


  1. Good stuff Bruce. Another reason to avoid this ammo is that the expanded petals are not sharp at all. In addition, the rubber oozes out and covers the exposed dull edges, making them even duller. One has to consider that cutting of tissue is a significant wounding mechanism with handgun bullets.

  2. Federal has traditionally had a rep for punking out on velocity on their (non-LEO) defense rounds, which is lame as hell, and this does little to redeem that reputation. Good test.

  3. Got a box of this, good to see what it actually does.
    Longer barrels will likely help, and I believe it is in 40 cal.
    4.5" barrel for my stuff should help