Bear Buster? Federal Syntech Solid Core 10mm Review

By Mark Hampton
Posted in #Hunting
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Bear Buster? Federal Syntech Solid Core 10mm Review

February 25th, 2022

5 minute read

Apparently, the engineers at Federal Ammunition do not sleep much. It seems they have an insatiable thirst for manufacturing top-shelf ammo. The Federal Solid Core 10mm offering is one shining example. This Solid Core ammunition is ideal for the handgun hunter, backcountry hiker or fishermen who find themselves in bear country or in close proximity to any other cantankerous critter. The load features a flat-nose lead bullet that will smash through bones and muscle while providing deep penetration and high weight retention.

Federal Solid Core 10mm ammo
Federal’s 10mm Solid Core ammunition uses a hard cast 200-gr. bullet encapsulated in a Syntech jacket.

For years, many hunters and shooters alike have held a slight aversion to hard cast bullets due to leading. Well, the Solid Core line-up takes advantage of Federal’s Syntech polymer jacket technology which greatly reduces friction and leading compared to old-school 10mm hard cast ammo. But you might be asking, what exactly is Syntech?

A New Direction: Solid Core 10mm

Federal’s Syntech was first launched back in 2017 and changed the game of target ammunition. The polymer-encapsulated Syntech bullet prevents metal-on-metal contact between the bullet and bore, which actually can shorten barrel life and affect accuracy. Federal made a lot of shooters happy with offerings in 9mm, .40 and .45 originally, later adding .38 Special. Today, Syntech technology can be found in several defense, training and range ammunition offerings. Senior Product Line Manager Mike Holm said Syntech, a product that took years to make, was created for two important reasons.

Federal Syntech Solid Core 10mm ammo
The packaging on the Federal Solid Core ammo leaves little doubt about its intended use.

“We’re proud of the consistency and performance our target loads have always offered, but we didn’t just want to follow the industry, hit a certain plateau, and stop striving for something more. So, we stepped up and asked ourselves what we could do to make the shooting experience better.”

The changing demographic of today’s shooter was another factor. Holm said, “We know that someone who started shooting a handgun in the past few years generally has different wants and needs than established shooters. In a lot of ways, they’re more critical and do more research. They ask questions that push us to do more too, especially for those who might not be quite as comfortable with guns or do most of their shooting at indoor ranges.”

Well, Federal engineers tackled these varied challenges head-on while developing Syntech. And in the process, they created something practical – not only the ammunition itself but also the technologies that define it. Federal states the Syntech coating produces an average of 12 percent less friction in the barrel than standard copper jacket bullets. Shooters who burn a lot of ammo at the range will appreciate this feature. Personally, I like looking in the barrel and not seeing copper or lead fouling. And you’re correct if you assume I don’t like cleaning guns. With no exposed lead or copper, there’s no contact between these materials and the barrel, so there’s no fouling. What’s not to like?

Man carrying pistol using a Diamond D Custom chest holster
The author ran the Federal ammo in a Springfield 1911 he carries in a Diamond D Custom Leather Guide’s Choice holster when in the field.

I’m certainly no engineer, but I do know Syntech works. Being a dyed-in-the-wool handgun hunter, the Syntech jacket on an extremely hard lead core bullet will eliminate my concerns about leading. I’m delighted to see Federal utilize this technology in hunting ammunition where deep penetration on large or even dangerous critters may light up the radar screen.

Testing the 10mm Syntech

After enjoying a bit of deer hunting with a Springfield Armory 1911 in 10mm, I decided to give Federal’s Solid Core a test run in the semi-auto. The 10mm load features a 200-gr. Solid Core bullet, delivering plenty of punch for a big, mean hog. The ammo is nicely packed in a 20-round box. The blue-colored 200-gr. Syntech bullet is seated in a nickel-plated case – ready for action.

Group sizes at 20 yards
Five shot groups at 20 yards provided the author confidence in both gun and ammo.

I set targets up at 20 yards at the range. Realistically, if a problem animal is encountered, the shooting distance could be relatively close. After a few sight adjustments, the 1911 and the Solid Core ammunition got along just fine. The ammo cycled flawlessly and there were not any malfunctions. It wasn’t any surprise to see satisfying groups from the pistol. Both gun and ammo would provide well-needed confidence if you find yourself in an unfortunate circumstance. Hopefully, we will never encounter such an uncomfortable situation, but it’s nice to have the insurance in hand.

Hits on a steel target with 10mm Federal Solid Core ammo and Springfield 1911 pistol
This Springfield Armory 1911 rang steel with the Federal Syntech Solid Core ammo.

It wasn’t long until boredom set in with paper-punching so I went to the farm for some steel target action. I shot off-hand from twenty yards or so, whacking the steel plate. The pistol handled the recoil painlessly, and I was able to shoot reasonably fast and still get back on target quickly. This was a good practice session and much more entertaining and practical than target shooting from the bench.

Conclusion: Not Standard Hard Cast Ammo

In a few weeks, I’ll be in Alaska fishing. The 1911 riding in a Diamond D Custom Leather – Guide’s Choice chest holster and a magazine filled with Solid Core ammunition will be my companions. I don’t anticipate any problems, except getting my line broken by a big salmon. In case of an unexpected, unwanted visitor, I’m confident Federal’s Solid Core ammunition can take care of business.

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Mark Hampton

Mark Hampton

Mark Hampton has hunted on six continents, in over 30 countries, 25 states, and six Canadian provinces. He has taken over 200 species of big game with a handgun. His hunts entail 30 trips to Africa in 10 countries, 25 hunts in Asia in 11 countries, plus many other remote destinations. Mark has been promoting handgun hunting and continues to do so today in various platforms. Today, he is the Executive Director of the Grand Slam Club. Mark is actively involved in the hunting community and writes for several nationally recognized publications. Mark and Karen, his lovely wife of 40 years, reside in south Missouri and enjoy hunting on their farm.

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