First Look: Federal Premium .22 LR Punch Defense Ammo

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April 16, 2021, 02:55 PM
First Look: Federal Premium .22 LR Punch Defense Ammo
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First Look: Federal Premium .22 LR Punch Defense Ammo

by SI Staff - Thursday, April 15, 2021

While the merits of the .22 LR for personal defense are often debated, there's a new load from Federal Premium that's specifically designed to make the .22 LR a viable defensive round choice.

“Self-defense isn’t one size fits all. So, whether shooters want to carry a .22 LR handgun as a backup gun, do not feel comfortable with centerfire pistols, or simply want to get more versatility from a rimfire handgun,” said Federal’s Rimfire Product Manager, Dan Compton, “Punch makes the .22 LR cartridge a viable defensive choice for the first time ever.”

The Punch .22 LR load features a 29-grain nickel-plated lead-core bullet that travels at maximum velocities (1,070 fps from a 2-inch barrel) for deep penetration from short-barreled handguns. Somewhat of a departure from standard .22 projectile designs, the Punch bullet features a flat nose and heavy jacket around a lead core, thus increasing velocity and minimizing expansion so as to increase penetration depth.

“We’ve talked about making a .22 LR defensive load for some time. We finally decided that people are already carrying .22 LRs, so we might as well build a .22 bullet optimized for protection,” said Compton. “After much research, we decided that for a .22 LR defense bullet, penetration was more important than expansion.”
April 16, 2021, 06:58 PM
I'd be interested to see how much penetration they're able to achieve in standard defensive ballistics testing (into ballistic gel, through intermediate barriers like denim, etc.).

Edit: Found this with a little digging...

Looks like in Federal's testing, .22 Punch manages a bit over the minimum recommended 12 inches of penetration, in bare ballistic gelatin. They didn't test it through any intermediate barriers or clothing.

Not quite as good as .32 ACP (with FMJs), which I consider to be quite a marginal defensive caliber anyway. But better than .25 ACP.

So not my first choice, but better than harsh words and a sharp stick. Which seems to be what they're going for. Something like: "If some people out there are going to be trying to defend themselves with a .22 anyway, we might as well give them the best chance with it that we can."
April 16, 2021, 07:21 PM
Is there any for sale anywhere?

Any cocktail can be a shrimp cocktail if you put your mind to it, and if you carry lots of loose shrimp in your pocket.

הרחפת שלי מלאה בצלופחים
April 16, 2021, 07:41 PM
Originally posted by V-Tail:
Is there any for sale anywhere?

Federal shows it at $10/box of 50 but "currently unavailable."
April 16, 2021, 10:24 PM
I'd guess there is some available, somewhere, if the price is high enough. Against my better judgement, I recently sold off some Federal 550s. Well, that and 3 boxes of .45-70s. It was to a friend, and I didn't get enough to embarrass me. That said, I'd sell more to even a non-friend if the sales price was enough. The stated price is already beyond any reason, at retail. What normally happens is an insider picks off the first shipment or two. You know the guys, the ones standing outside Wally world at opening.

In today's world, if you introduce any new product you've got to ship enough to overwhelm he profiteers and hoarders. A better question will be if the retailers want to sell their allotment to a "friend" or not. It really does make a quick and easy profit to just dump them to your brother or whatever and be done with it.

Ammo used to be like TP, where you could order up as much as you wanted and it would all be there the next delivery. Part of the anti gun thing might be to just make ammo the bad thing. I'd think the black youfs in the hood will be suffering more than us gun nuts. Especially those of us with reps as hoarders.

On a side note, it'd be interesting to hear from some beat cops about what their seeing in guns they've shaken down from street criminals. Those kids all have full magazines and cylinders of the same brand ammo? How about it, Chongo?

Unhappy ammo seeker
April 17, 2021, 04:22 AM
What caliber is a #2 pencil?

April 17, 2021, 09:26 AM
Originally posted by RichardC:
What caliber is a #2 pencil?

Roughly .28 caliber.

Caliber is the diameter of a projectile expressed in hundredths of an inch. A standard hexagonal #2 pencil is approximately 7mm in diameter. 7mm is 0.27559 inch.
April 17, 2021, 09:52 AM
I have a few boxes in 380 acp heading my way fro Federal.
April 18, 2021, 07:00 AM
I picked up a couple boxes in 9mm last week. I have never used it before but I'm guessing it won't give me any problems as it's quality ammo.

Maybe I'll throw an old hoodie on a pork shoulder and see what kind of penetration I get. I need to make some pulled pork anyhow. Cool

"Fixed fortifications are monuments to mans stupidity" - George S. Patton
April 18, 2021, 01:24 PM
Federal site has 9mm Punch and .380 punch available, limit two boxes each. Just ordered with shipping & tax $102.00, figured I’d give it a shot. They also had 9mm target FMJ in boxes of 50 available for those looking.

“Forigive your enemy, but remember the bastard’s name.”

-Scottish proverb
April 24, 2021, 08:14 PM
A much bigger problem than power or bullet design with .22LR is reliability of ignition. Even with good brands you get more duds than with centerfire. Neither will do any good if the cartridge doesn't fire to start with.
April 25, 2021, 08:25 AM
Originally posted by egregore:
A much bigger problem than power or bullet design with .22LR is reliability of ignition. Even with good brands you get more duds than with centerfire. Neither will do any good if the cartridge doesn't fire to start with.

That's a very valid point.

My personal experience says that it's not as big a problem with .22WMR though, so perhaps that's a more viable alternative. .22WMR certainly has the penetration.
April 28, 2021, 04:23 AM
My carry gun is a Ruger SR-22 loaded with CCI Stingers. I hope I will soon find some Federal
May 12, 2021, 09:25 AM
Was available on the federal site this morning, now not available. Bought 500 rounds to try out. You just need to check the site periodically as comes up for short windows, just randomly checked this AM and was available. Sold out within 10 minutes of my order.

“Forigive your enemy, but remember the bastard’s name.”

-Scottish proverb
May 12, 2021, 11:47 AM
Bought 500 rounds this morning at about 8:00 AM
May 15, 2021, 07:49 AM
Just ordered six boxes.
December 10, 2021, 02:33 PM
All youse guys who bought bricks and bricks of Federal .22 Punch ammo last Spring, how about a range report?

Functionality, accuracy terminal ballistics on a boot full of meat, the standard stuff. Smile

December 10, 2021, 03:39 PM
Originally posted by RichardC: about a range report?

Functionality, accuracy terminal ballistics on a boot full of meat, the standard stuff. Smile

Will you settle for penetration into water jugs? Smile

Send a note to the address in my profile, I'll fwd a very UNscientific range report with a few photos.
December 11, 2021, 04:30 AM
I have not gone to the gun range in over a year because of the covid. I still have not shot punch .22LR
December 12, 2021, 02:04 PM
Here's a recent review, the link has one chart I cannot paste.


Federal’s 22 Punch
Think all .22 LR ammunition is poorly suited for defense? Federal’s new 22 Punch may change your mind.

by RICHARD MANN posted on December 6, 2021

The ever-continuing quest for the magic bullet has not subsided. In fact, as we journey through this new century, bullet and ammunition manufacturers are continuing to develop better projectiles for all shooting disciplines. Federal’s latest attempt at wielding some magic has come with the introduction of 22 Punch. In 2020, Federal launched the Punch line of centerfire, defensive-handgun ammunition, which was designed to deliver adequate terminal performance for concealed carry at a more affordable price. For 2021, the company’s latest addition to the Punch line is a self-defense load for the .22 LR.

Before going any further, let me be clear that I do not think or believe there’s any factual support for the notion that the .22 LR cartridge is ideal for self-defense. We’ve recently been hearing the expression “follow the science” as it relates to the current pandemic. Though I’m confident few agree on what the science is as it relates to COVID-19, the science with regard to defensive-handgun ammunition—though not by any means settled—is pretty clear. The best results are generally obtained with penetration of between 12 and 18 inches with bullet deformation of about 1.5 times its unfired diameter.

This standard of performance is a high hurdle for .22 LR ammunition, particularly when fired from compact handguns with barrels shorter than 3 inches. The problem is generating enough velocity to push a bullet that’s capable of deforming/expanding to those depths. For example, the CCI Stinger will typically expand at impact velocities as low as 1,000 fps, but it will struggle to penetrate much past 8 inches unless velocities approach 1,300 fps. Velocities much faster than that began to reduce penetration due to excessive bullet deformation.

Now, I do not think Federal believes the .22 LR is the ideal defensive-handgun cartridge, but it does recognize that some (perhaps even many) people carry handguns chambered in .22 LR for personal protection. Also, depending on the individual, in some cases a .22 LR handgun might be a best option. (The old adage that “any gun is better than no gun” might not be settled science, but it’s good advice.) With 22 Punch, Federal wanted to maximize penetration while giving a .22-caliber rimfire bullet fired from a compact handgun the best opportunity to damage as much tissue as possible.

To do this, Federal took a lead core and applied thick nickel plating. But, most importantly, it shaped the bullet so that it had a flat meplat, or nose. Essentially, what Federal has done is create a 29-grain, .22-caliber rimfire bullet that delivers terminal performance similar to a flat-nose, hardcast, non-deforming bullet. Non-expanding, flat-nose, hardcast bullets have been used for hunting with handguns for many years because they can deliver the necessary, straight-line penetration, and because the flat nose destroys tissue better than a round nose. Federal also loads this new bullet in nickel-plated cases, which improve cycling and resist corrosion better than brass cases.

Does it work? Well, I cannot report that I or anyone I know has stopped any bad guys with Federal’s new 22 Punch load. What I can tell you is that I’ve tested this ammunition for velocity, reliability, precision and terminal performance. This testing has included several different firearms with barrel lengths ranging from 2.4 to 18 inches.

Federal advertises a muzzle velocity of 1,070 fps from a 2-inch barrel and a velocity of 1,650 fps from a 24-inch barrel. My testing produced reasonably close results, averaging within about 5 percent of Federal’s numbers. Though it’s important to note that Federal’s listed velocity of 1,650 fps from a 24-inch barrel seems a bit high. Typically, once .22 LR barrels exceed about 18 inches, velocity falls off. Federal’s numbers would suggest a velocity out of an 18-inch barrel might exceed 1,700 fps. That’s unlikely.

For accuracy/precision testing I used a Beretta Bobcat with a 2.4-inch barrel and with sights that are next to invisible. At 7 yards from a rest, the average for five, five-shot groups was 2.09 inches. Out of a Ruger Single-Six with a 4.62-inch barrel from a bench rest at 15 yards, the Federal Punch performed much better due to the longer sight radius and the better sights. The average for five, five-shot groups was 1.53 inches. Out of an 18-inch barreled Savage A22 Precision at 50 yards, the five-shot group average was 2.28 inches. There were no failures to feed, fire, extract or eject, during the shooting of 200 rounds of Punch ammunition.

Admittedly, rifle precision was a bit underwhelming, so I pulled the best shooting .22 LR rifle I own out of the safe. It’s a New Ultra Light Arms Model 20 Rimfire. Out of this rifle the 22 Punch did much better, cutting 50-yard group size almost in half with an average of 1.38 inches for five, five-shot groups.

From a personal-protection standpoint, terminal performance is what really matters. Blocks of Clear Ballistics gelatin covered with a single layer of denim were used for all terminal-performance testing, and the distance from the muzzle to the blocks was 7 feet. Out of the little Beretta, the 22 Punch load “punched” out to 11 inches. Because of higher velocity and no expansion, out of the 4.62-inch-barreled Ruger the Punch bullet pushed much deeper. But, with the much higher velocity out of the 18-inch-barrelled Savage, the bullet mushroomed, and this drastically limited penetration.

It would appear you’re not going to win any shooting matches with Federal 22 Punch, but it was not designed for that. What it was designed to do was deliver deep, straight-line penetration from compact .22 LR handguns. It has plenty of precision for self-defense work with little pistols and penetrates very well. If, out of your handgun it approaches or surpasses the 1,100-fps mark, you should see a foot or more of penetration. It’s not magic, but I’d clearly rate 22 Punch as one of the best self-defenses loads for .22 LR handguns. Out of a .22 LR carbine, terminal performance was very similar to CCI stingers, and should be ideal for dealing with “trash pandas” or numerous varieties of vermin, rabid or otherwise, that might invade your backyard.

Velocity/Terminal Performance Chart: