Federal 185 grain .45 ACP +P Hydra-Shok Ammunition Review

By Tony “TRB” Phillips

Federal Cartridge Company makes some fine ammo, and the Premium .45 ACP +P topped with the well-known Hydra-Shok (TM) jacketed hollow point is no exception. The ammo comes packed in 50 round trays, inside Federal’s distinctive gold and blue box. Ballistics are not mentioned on the box, and I don’t have a chrono, so I regretfully cannot give first-hand numbers for velocity or energy. My apologies. However, I have found data from other sources which place the muzzle velocity of this load at 1150 feet per second (fps) from a 5-inch barrel, which translates to 532 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) of muzzle energy. Cartridge cases are nickel plated, for maximum resistance to corrosion and to enhance extraction. The cases are head- stamped Federal 45 Auto +P. The Hydra-Shok bullet itself is copper jacketed, and very intimidating from the front, with the gaping mouth of the hollow point, and the ‘Shok’s most distinctive feature, the small rod inside of it that is designed to help the bullet expand by forcing any soft tissue encountered out against the edges of the bullet.

I have fired these through my Customized Colt M1991A1, and found them to be highly accurate and feed/eject reliable. (On a related note, I have also fired its less powerful, but externally identical, standard pressure 165 grain cousin through a mil-spec Argentinian Sistema M1927 with no malfunctions.) Recoil is pronounced, but it pushes straight back in the hand. Muzzle rise is actually less (in my hands at least) than mil-spec 230 grain ball. Double taps are quite easy with this ammo. At 25 yards, off-hand, groups ran in the 1.3-2.1 inch range in my Bar-Sto barreled M1991A1. Your results may vary, but I found the ammo to be quite accurate. High slide velocity is responsible for the minimized muzzle rise, so if you intend to use this ammo for personal defense, make sure your magazine springs are up to the task. Also, this is +P ammo, so be certain your weapon is rated for the increased chamber pressures.

The Hydra-Shok bullet is known to be a good stopper, with positive expansion properties, and, more importantly, to be a highly feed reliable bullet profile. Without access to ballistic gelatin, I can’t comment on the expansion, but I have found the Hydra-Shok to be very feed reliable, even in my old mil-spec 1911. I highly recommend this ammo, despite its high price (circa $28 a box in my region).

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