Federal Premium Release Their New Hydra-Shok Ammunition

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok
Federal Premium Hydra-Shok

USA -(Ammoland.com)- Federal Premium Hydra-Shok has proven itself for self-defense since 1989. Hydra-Shok Deep builds off the time-tested platform with design improvements that better meet modern performance measurements.

The bullet features a more robust center post and a core design that provides as much as 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok and competitor loads.

Features & Benefits

  • Penetrates 15 inches in bare ballistics gel—the optimal depth according to FBI standards
  • 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok
  • 70 percent improvement in FBI protocol score
  • Iconic center post design has been improved for better, more consistent expansion through standard barriers.
  • Consistent, specially formulated propellant
  • Extremely reliable Federal primer

MSRP: $27.95

Using a handgun for self-defense is never a static discipline, as you must constantly refresh, improve and adapt your skills to new situations. Likewise, even iconic tools of the trade have to evolve.

It’s no surprise that Federal Premium’s Hydra-Shok Deep is at the forefront of that movement. This new round builds off the time-tested Hydra-Shok platform to better meet modern performance measurements. And the improvements will give handgunners a big boost.

“Hydra-Shok Deep offers consumers a round that results in consistent, reliable performance through typical defensive barriers and penetrates to the depth deemed optimum by the leading law-enforcement agency in the United States,” said Larry Head, director and chief engineer of handgun ammunition.

The Proven Design

Hydra-Shok has been a self-defense staple since its debut in 1989. At that time, the FBI had requested a projectile with better terminal ballistics than traditional cup-and-core bullets, and Federal responded with Hydra-Shok, which uses an expanding bullet with a notched jacket, non-bonded lead core and unique center-post hollow-point design. That provided better penetration and more consistent threat-stopping expansion than other bullets at the time.

“Original Hydra-Shok was designed toward the end of the ’80s around the then-current FBI philosophy of how a bullet should perform and protocol testing to evaluate that performance,” Head said. “Over time, the FBI performance requirements has been evolving, and their protocol testing has similarly been evolving to match. One of the most notable changes has been the desire for deeper-penetrating rounds and more consistency in penetration depths though all the intermediate barriers.”

Enter Federal Premium’s engineers, who, in the 28 years since the introduction of original Hydra-Shok, have learned a lot about terminal ballistics and projectile performance.

Although original Hydra-Shok remains very effective, designers knew they could make it better. Hydra-Shok Deep achieves that, making remarkable improvements on the groundbreaking original concept.

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok
Federal Premium Hydra-Shok

Performance for Modern Standards

The new Hydra-Shok Deep bullet features a core design that provides up to 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok and similar loads from competitors, and the center post has been improved so it’s more robust, which provides better integrity and performance through barriers.

Testing shows that Hydra-Shok Deep penetrates 15 inches in bare ballistics gelatin, which is the optimal depth, according to FBI standards.

“The primary goal of Hydra-Shok Deep was to penetrate to the FBI’s optimum depth of 14 to 16 inches and at the same time provide more consistent performance though the intermediate barriers,” Head said. “We also wanted to develop a round that would score significantly better through the FBI protocol testing than standard Hydra-Shok. Hydra-Shok Deep does all of this with a 70-percent improvement in FBI protocol score.”

Although the bullet’s performance in ballistic gelatin is impressive, many shooters might wonder how Hydra-Shok Deep will boost their real-world performance. Head explained why the remarkable improvements in expansion, penetration and integrity through defensive barriers are especially important to self-defense.

“Ideal bullet performance is a round that stops a threat by expanding to a large diameter to cause the maximum amount of tissue damage and penetrates deep enough to reach vital organs,” he said.

Reliability Redefined

Hydra-Shok Deep also uses an extremely reliable Federal primer and consistent, specially formulated propellant. Head said those are critical to achieving optimum ballistic performance and reliability.

“In a self-defense situation, your ammunition has to be completely reliable in igniting the propellant and providing the correct and consistent energetics. This not only pushes the bullet to its optimum working velocity but also reliably functions the gun,” he said. “A failure in this area could lead to catastrophic results. The propellants also contain flash suppressants to reduce muzzle flash and minimize temporary blindness in low-light shooting situations.”

Hydra-Shok Deep will initially be offered in a 135-grain 9mm Luger, with other loads coming soon. With its improved penetration and superior reliability, it will surely become a favorite of those who rely on ammunition to protect themselves and their families.

Those shooters can take solace in knowing a longtime self-defense staple has adapted and enhanced to meet 21st-century challenges.

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I carried the old h/s 124 gr. +p+ mostly in a ruger p89 for about 16 years.
I know they worked when myself and other officer’s needed them to.
Yep there old but there in my mag. Anyway.

Carmine Damato

As a retired LE firearms instructor and department ballistic tech..Jello test are great under controlled testing but I am a firm believer in the saying “Where the rubber meets the road”.In that if you want to know how a round preforms go to the street, so to speak. The data I received from the FBI, local and state LE and from corner reports involving actual LE and civilian shootings in caliber 9mm. The most reliable and effective projectile in 9mm was the 124gr. Speer Gold Dot being pushed at +P velocity… This is why I carry the 124gr.+P Speer Gold… Read more »

J Mashburn

Thanks guys, This was very informative read for someone that knows nothing about ballistics ! i have been carrying for years and practice often as i have a shooting range set up on my property. From a self defense and home defense standpoint, over/under penetration has always been a concern to me. I have been trying to decide on a carry load for years but with all the BS misinformation going around from so many that pretend to know and all the BS marketing, one can have a hard time making the best decision ! in the last 3 weeks… Read more »

Michael Fiscus

Training folks….when bullets start flying don’t plant your feet, always move know your surroundings and what’s beyond the target and if need be take a knee to change the angle never mind the over penetration, under stress it’s highly unlikely every round will hit it’s target especially if there are multiple targets.

J Six

Regardless of content I would like to commend Vanns 40 for doing research and admitting he made a mistake and then proceeded to correct it . That is what makes a man. Great reading, gentlemen.


@What I Know: Appears my reply to you didn’t come through so I’ll try again. I was wrong regarding Hydra-Shok. Took some research for me to discover my mistake but I found it. Here is the latest testing done according to FBI standards, covering five separate categories of penetration. Federal HST and Gold Dot do very well.


What I know

You are hunting man. and most men are only 12 inches across, that means with 16 inches Penetration that u will go though the first man and have an unguided missile flying out there that when it goes across the street into a house and hits grandma and kills her, you have your Penetration kills.

The main problem with much Penetration is that you are liable for anything you hit when the bullet exits the body that gets shot.

American Patriot

Note: 16″ in balistic gel does not equal 16″ in flesh & Bone.


What you know… Not much concerning ballistic testing protocols and standards…

American Patriot

Apparently You know nothing at all about ballistics if you think 16″ of penetration in gel is equal to 16″ in a human.
I would have to question if you have ever been around guns or shooting, maybe just an internet warrior.

What I know

Retired LEO Dept. Armorer Firearms Instructor Sig Arms Armorer course Sig Arms transitional course instructor. Glock Armorer course Glock transitional course instructor. Glock Advanced Armorer CCW Instructor I work with female to help them shoot better, in the CCW class. I had to gain a heavy knowledge of Liability Laws about, guns, ammo, shooting, firearms & there modifications, Including what happens when the bullets pass through someone or thing and hits other objects or persons, not involved in the shooting. In Missouri you are civil and criminally Liable for any shots fired even in the air. Dan Wesson sponsored shooter,… Read more »


The depth of penetration standard was explained in the article. If the design of the bullet does its job, it will expand to the maximum allowed by the size of the bullet and all the kinetic energy will be expended inside the target.

Some States hold blameless the shooter in a self defense shooting if an innocent bystander is struck, either by a complete miss or by over penetration. You must know your State’s laws.

As for the 375 H&H….ah, hmm, I’d ALMOST rather have a root canal than shoot that damn thing again. 🙂

What I know

I love and shoot large bore rifles used to hunt dangerous game guns. I own or have access to shoot all of the cartridges. 375 HH 416 Rem 416 Rigby 458 Win. 45-120 Sharps Missouri has had a problem with people shooting in the air on the 4th and New Years and killing people so they stopped it. As far a criminal charges for shooting and hitting bystanders in a self defense shooting it all depends the prosecuting attorney and what mood they are in. But yes you be charged for hitting bystanders if they want. Missouri Civil Liability Laws… Read more »

Roy D.

Here is something else I noticed. You see how the jacket sticks above the core for a bit? When that round hits a target at anything other than perpendicular the jacket WILL FOLD OVER and prevent a sizeable portion of the bullet from expanding. I put this right up there with the Remington “Black belted” bullets and the Speer G2.


What about Federal HST?


Gold Dot & HST have generally been considered among the top performers.

Roy D.

Here is how it most likely went down: Sales department to the tech department, ” Guys, sales have been slipping some so we need something new, something different to juice up sales.” The tech guys say, “Don’t worry about it we have just the thing.” And voila, the newest, bestest, got to have round hits the market. “There one born every minute.”


the old patents have run out. after so many years they rework an item and get a new patent that gives them x number of new years of protection

Matt in Oklahoma

It seems the gun industry is stuck. Old is new and minor improvements make magic. This is holding true in guns, bullets, powder etc.
The only thing is that I like the original hydrashocks and had good results with them. I’m definitely willing to give these thorough testing to see if the penetrate, expand and hold together through barriers like windshields etc.
They could become my new handgun hunting load as well. I only use it as a secondary but the increase in penetration could help in head shots or the “oh boy that went wrong” body shot.


Penetration kills! Ask any dangerous game professional hunter.

What I know

You are hunting man. and most men are only 12 inches across, that means with 16 inches Penetration that u will go though the first man and have an unguided missile flying out there that when it goes across the street into a house and hits grandma and kills her, you have your Penetration kills.

The main problem with much Penetration is that you are liable for anything you hit when the bullet exits the body that gets shot.


I bear hunt in Alaska and do not worry about complete bullet penetration going through the animal. But don’t want that to happen on humans, especially in an environment where there are a lot of people.

What I know

The old Hydra-Shok ammo was junk and failed to open when it was shot through clothes the hollow point fill up with material and not open up.

KCMO PD can not stop anyone with the 40 cal Hydra-Shok bullets with out many shots to stop the person.

The other Hydra-Shok problem there is too much penetration and just pass through the people they shot, and just kept going on down the street, hitting other things not meant to be shot.

Not good


I’d be interested in seeing the facts to back up your assertions as Hydro-Shok is considered one of the top two bonded bullets for self defense along with Speer Gold Dot. The test results from exactly the scenarios you presented gave superior results. Please present cites to fact.

What I know

Its public record


I call BS unless you can produce these “public” records. The FBI tests has this ammo as one of its accepted brands.

What I know

Missouri has public record law, everything anything that is done buy a police, sheriff, fire dept, even all city, county and state offices is open to public record even the, gun and ammo they use and buy. They even have to post what a city, county or state employs makes a year. Because KCMO and ST LOUIS has too many corrupted elected officials, and has to be made to play by the rules. This open record rule helps (they hate it). 1-6-18 KCMO PD on interstate 35 and brighten just shot and wounded another suspect sat. afternoon the party was… Read more »

Wild Bill

@WIK, Well, then the data that you are relying on should not be too difficult to reproduce, here. We want to make our decisions on the literature, not just someone’s say so.


As a PS: I’ve had to admit that I was wrong before and, upon doing some really fast research this is one of those times when I’ve discovered that my previous statements were just plain wrong. In the latest testing of ammo, duplicating FBI procedures, which consists of five different components, Hydra-Shok did, indeed, fail miserably. Federal HST, however performed very well. Here is the link to all the tests. If you want to cut to the chase scroll down to the graphs and pictures for each caliber.

Sorry for my earlier mistakes on this.



Everyone who tested Hydra Shock acknowledged that it was “old technology”. The FBI (and IWBA) test standards have evolve and Federal says the new bullet was designed to be optimized for the new test protocol.

We should remember that Gel Tests do not correlate directly to wound ballistics in terms of penetration. The figures the FBI and IWBA have come up with based upon actual experience in wound ballistics.

It will be interesting to see how this new bullet performs in independent testing.

American Patriot

That’s where you are wrong, they are not bonded says so right in this article. Also the cavity is smaller with a 135 gr bullet of course it’s going to penetrate more. You get deeper penetration with Gold dots 147 gr better bullet all around and it is bonded.
1. 147 gr better for winter…slower, heaver, less expanding and deeper penetration.
2. 124 +P good summer rd ….faster, lighter, quicker & larger expansion.
3. Can’t beat Gold Dots in either weight………..!


Federal has chosen not to go the bonded route. They have used a thicker section of the jacket both to prevent jacket separation and to control expansion in the HST. Both techniques are intended to achieve the same end. You will notice two very pronounced cannelures on the outside of the new bullet which also show up on the interior of the jacket. The serrations in the ogive are more pronounced than on the old Hydra Shock.


I’m a retired LEO and worked in a firearms lab for many years. I now shoot “jello” for a living . Every conventional hollow point I’ve tested in the last 40 years has the potential to “plug” and fail to expand. This not just a Hydro Shok issue. Also, over penetration of an intended target has generally never been an issue among police administrators. They are of the opinion that bullet that strikes it’s intended target and passes completely through is far less dangerous than the 40 to 60 percent of the rounds fired that miss the target completely. Shot… Read more »


Ain’t that the truth! :). That said, if history and memory serve me correctly, Gold Dot was the first bonded bullet, back around 1980 or so. It’s been a consistent top performer ever since.