Loose Rounds, First Generation (1988) Federal Hydra-Shok .45 ACP 230gr in Clear Ballistics Gel.


Federal introduced the Hydra-Shok in 1988 and shortly thereafter I purchased my first box from a police supply store. It came in a long 20 round box with the cartridges packaged side by side much like you see with rifle ammo. It was in .45 ACP with nickel plated brass. The Hydra-Shok was one of the first bullet designs to come out to meet the FBI’s new testing standard. It was originally designed by Tom Burczynski and loaded in a .38 Spl. If I remember correctly, he took a hollow base wadcutter, turned it around and stuck a post in the base. The idea was the post would force the fluid outward, enhancing expansion. He later sold the design to federal and went on to design more self-defense ammo.


When I was going through my box of miscellaneous ammo I found one round of this first generation of .45 ACP 230gr Hydra-Shok left. You will notice the original bullet had a more truncated profile as opposed to the newer rounded style. Also, the post is huge, taking up a large part of the cavity.
Of course, the question is: how will it perform in Clear Gel? I also had one round of the newer design HS and one Remington Golden Saber. All three were shot into the same block of Clear Ballistics Gel at a distance of 10 feet.


The older 1988 round in the bare gel had a velocity of 744fps, it penetrated to 16.5 inches but had almost no expansion. Looking at the bullet before shooting it I had a feeling it wouldn’t have much expansion. I have shot enough bullets in the past year or so to know that it didn’t look promising.


The newer round had a velocity of 976fps (turns out it was 165 grains), it expanded to .72 inches but only penetrated 11 inches.


The Remington Golden Saber had a velocity of 936fps (185 grains), it expanded to .69 inches and penetrated to 14.5 inches.