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Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo

The Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo was designed truly for civilian concealed carry self defense.

It was a bad day to be a bad guy. A bad guy target that is, set up at my outdoor range, with me doing my best to stop the threat. I used Federal Premium’s newest version of its Punch 9MM made for the Springfield Hellcat semi-automatic pistol. 
My shooting was actually “Hellcat Squared” as I was using that very Springfield Armory Hellcat pistol.

I had started my shooting on a relatively plain target. My first five shots, fired offhand at five yards, produced a 1.10-inch grouping. Not bad. I kept shooting and by my fourth group had a neat little cluster at .86 inches.

Time to go, bad guy target, I decided. After all, self-defense ammunition exists for worst-case scenarios.
Punch Hellcat and the Hellcat pistol did not disappoint. My five-yard groups stayed tight. Next, my first five shots at eight yards came in at 1.45 inches. My follow up was six shot string measuring an even 1.40-inches. 

In my shooting, I had zero failures to feed or eject, and the ammo loaded easily into the Hellcat magazines. Clearly, Federal Premium was on to something.

Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo Review

Law Enforcement Ammo No Longer Required

For many years, concealed carriers simply used whatever ammunition law enforcement agencies were using. If it was good enough for the police, it was good enough for a concealed carrier. Right?

Well, yes. However, law enforcement ammunition takes barrier penetration into consideration. Police can and do find themselves in shoot-out situations where windshields, doors, and the like get in the way. That’s why law enforcement uses bullets that can penetrate but are also able to expand as required.

That requires a relatively complicated bullet design, and a special mix of propellants and primer, all of which is fairly expensive.

A New Ammunition Designed For Civilans

Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo

Several years ago, Federal engineers and designers built new self-defense loads for the basic concealed carry user, loads that would eventually be called Punch.    

“We weren’t as focused on barrier performance and other technical elements that goes into ammunition for law enforcement duty guns,” explains Christopher Laack, Federal Handgun Ammunition Product Manager. “We wanted to offer an easy solution for those shooters looking for a load solely based on being a personal protection round for common defensive situations.”

Federal’s engineering team set out to create a brand-new Federal Premium bullet that excelled in evaluations relevant to typical self-defense scenarios. These scenarios were primarily based on testing rounds on both bare ballistic gelatin and gel covered with heavy clothing.

How They Made It

The Federal team experimented with jacket skives (thin cuts in a bullet’s jacket that help promote better expansion), various metals to use, and different propellent options.

Creating the Punch projectile took a fair amount of trial and error, especially as there is no single Punch bullet. Laack and Federal engineers designed a specific bullet for each Punch caliber. With one commonality: less hard lead. “We just used a softer lead, so the jacket skiving creates a nice opening,” Laack says. “The softer lead produces a more traditional kind of mushroom around the jacket.”

The Punch line was launched in 2020 in five calibers: a 380 Auto 85-grain offering with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 feet per second (fps); a 38 Special +P 120-grain load at 1,070 fps; a 9MM 147-grain load at 1,150 fps; a 40 S&W 160-grain load at 1,130 fps; and a 45 Auto 230-grain load at 890 fps.

Later, Federal replaced the initial 9MM bullet with the 124-grain jacketed hollow point used today in the Hellcat Punch 9MM.  

A Hell(cat) of a Pistol

Polymer-framed and striker-fired, the Springfield Hellcat micro-compact hit the concealed carry market in 2019. The +P-rated micro 9MM featured a class-leading ammunition capacity of 11+1 with its patented magazine, sported a three-inch, hammer-forged steel barrel, a tritium/luminescent front post and a tactical rack U-Notch rear sight.

At just one-inch wide, six-inches long, and weighing only 18.3 ounces with an unloaded flush magazine, the Hellcat Springfield was and is an immensely popular carry option.

Today, there are three separate Hellcat families of pistols in over three dozen model variations.

Springfield provided Federal with Hellcats for testing and Springfield staff consulted extensively with Federal staff on this project. “We could not be happier to partner with a company like Federal for this project,” says Steve Kramer, Vice President of Marketing for Springfield Armory. “Pairing our proven Hellcat pistols with Federal’s excellent Punch defensive ammo makes for an ideal EDC (everyday carry) set-up.” 

An Easy Choice: Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo

Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo

Federal testers using the Hellcat pistols soon realized that the Punch 9MM was already well-suited to the semi-auto, and only minor tweaking was required for the two to work together at their best. “Concealed-carry permit holders, especially new shooters, need an uncomplicated answer to the question ‘What ammo do I need for self-defense’,” says Federal Handgun Ammunition Product Manager Chris Laack.

“Things to consider such as function, reliable ignition, barrier performance, terminal performance, ballistics and other considerations are a lot to digest for most people.”

He adds, “What consumers really need to know is it will function in their gun, every time, and that it will be effective stopping a threat as quickly as possible. Punch is our easy answer for them.”

Of course, the Hellcat Punch will do the job in any 9MM pistol. That’s an easy answer, too! 

SPECS/Federal Punch Produced for Springfield Hellcat

Punch Hellcat 9mm Ammo
  • Caliber: 9MM (as tested)
  • Bullet Weight: 124 grains
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Muzzle Velocity (fps)*: 1,070
  • Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs.)*: 315
  • MSRP, 20-Round Package: $22.99  
  • federalpremium.com

*Punch fired with standard Hellcat Pistol, 3” barrel.  

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