New Federal HST “Micro” 9mm Ammo Tested – Is it Worth It?

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The Glock 43 and other single-stack “micro” 9mm handguns are all the rage, and for good reason. They are small, concealable, and pack a pretty good punch all things considered. Even our own James Reeves loves his Kahr handguns and yours truly typically carries a 9mm Glock 43 on a daily basis.

However, selecting an ammunition that will perform well can be tricky. Most defensive ammunition is designed for usage in 4″ barrels or longer (for reference, a Glock 19 is 4″). Anything slower, and one runs the risk of the ammunition not having sufficient velocity to expand upon impact, which can quickly lead to over-penetration. Often, shooters will select a +P round to get that extra velocity, but with a micro 9mm, that can lead to some relatively severe recoil, muzzle blast, and muzzle flip.

Knowing the fondness for micro 9mm handguns, Federal Premium ammunition developed an HST loading specifically for the micro 9’s. The powder charge was matched to the typical barrel length of about 3″. By doing so and using a heavy-for-caliber 150 grain projectile, the load can be a capable performer without all the detriments of the +P.

TNOutdoors9, a great bullet testing channel, go its hands on a set of the new 150 grain loading and put it to the test versus its own self, albeit in standard pressure 147 grain and +P 147 grain loadings. The Micro loading performs well, with sufficient penetration and reduction in both blast and flip. But, it comes at a cost, nearly twice that of the standard ammunition.

Enjoy the video below and make sure to always test your daily carry ammunition with your chosen firearm. While your own gel block test is overkill, know your velocity is sufficient to get reliable expansion.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • LG

    Lehigh defense bullets are the real winners. Everything else is generations behind.

    • Austin

      They almost seem like mad scientists sometimes but their work holds up

      • LG

        The jacketed hollow point is mule powered compared to the nuclear propulsion of the Lehigh Defense. Underwood also loads Lehigh defense bullets. In rifles the Cutting Edge, GS Customs, Rhino, and the hydrodynamical stabilized Woodleigh bullets are in the same nuclear powered class for rifles as the Lehigh defense in pistols, 458 SOCOM, etc.

      • Anon

        Except for the fact that they’re just glorified and really expensive FMJs if it’s a pistol, because at pistol velocities, the temporary stretch cavity doesn’t do much damage in actual flesh.

        • Austin

          Got anything to back that up?

          • The IWBA believes that the temporary wound cavity provides little to no help in the ability of a round to stop the threat.

          • Gary Kirk

            Ding!

          • Big Daddy

            No sorry you are wrong. Center mass until the threat is over or a failure drill if you are proficient enough.

        • LG

          Look at the PERMANENTS wound cavity from cavitation in the Lehigh defense. It is as large or larger than expanding rounds. The cavitation chop is from the revolutions per minute, rotational energy, not just the forward velocity.

          • Anon

            Is this some kind of a joke? Do you work for Lehigh?

            That’s not how any of this works, look at the design of the bullet, it’s designed to create a larger TEMPORARY stretch cavity, not a permanent one like hollow-points.

            Even if they performed like you say they do at pistol velocities, which is too slow for the temporary stretch cavity to do any significant damage in actual flesh (ballistics gel is NOT FLESH and should be treated as such), the fact that they penetrate so damn much automatically disqualify it from self-defense from my eyes.

          • LG

            No, I do not work for Lehigh. If you are cheap and will not buy and test the ammunition, that is your fault. You can look at Shootingthebull410. Of all the internet bobbleheads, he is one of the most scientific and reproducible. Look at his results with Lehigh defense in the extreme penetrator and extreme defender series. Look at the permanent cut and chop wound cavity from the Lehighs. The nose shape produces a cavitation wave from ROTATIONAL energy into a large permanent cut and chop wound channel, even at pistol velocities. Some people believe that the horseless carriage will never replace the horse.

          • Anon

            Have you tested the round on flesh or meat? I’ll give you a hint, flesh is more elastic than gel, so it will produce wounds like FMJs.

            It’s been documented that the round doesn’t leave a bigger hole by people who’ve actually shot meat as opposed to gel, unlike hollow-points.

            And “rotational energy”? What’s next, are you going to tell me that a 9mm R.I.P round drills though cover next using the “rotational energy”? WHAT?!

            Stop embarrassing yourself, you have no idea what you’re talking about, and if you want to buy some snake oil, that’s fine by me, but don’t repeat BS.

    • Big Daddy

      I have not seen any report of them used in any actual shootings with their effect on the target. Since they do not meet the FBI standard I’ll use what does. If you want to bet your life on unproven self-defense ammo that’s your business.

      • LG

        I can not state on humans. The 458 SOCOM slugs are superlative on hogs. Only the Cutting Edge slugs have comparable terminal effects.

        • Big Daddy

          We are talking about G43 type handgun, not hunting.

          You are putting out incorrect information.

          • Austin

            It does speak to the credibility of their designs overall

          • Big Daddy

            For what?

      • Austin

        Granted it wasn’t a G43 in this test but Military Arms Channel had a head to head barrier test with the HST, Gold-Dot, Critical Defense and Extreme Defender.

        • Gary Kirk

          Barriers aren’t people, and are you trying to pull a Burt Gummer here.. We’re still talking about a PD round correct? As most likely inside 7 yards.. Hell you want barrier penetration get a S&W 500 survival..
          I mean, I’ve heard “overkill is overkill, until it isn’t”.. But let’s be real, most general purpose hps that will function in your ccw will serve the purpose.. Test, test, test, and test again.. Then train with whatever works for you.. And you must bite the “bullet” and train with whatever you are going to load..

          • Big Daddy

            Again as with a lot of people you do not know what you are talking about I suggest you do some research. Shot placement is king.

          • Gary Kirk

            Can you tell me how I wasn’t saying that? I was talking about how people want to carry a round that will pierce the heart of an m1 Abrahams tank.. I was preaching training with whatever round works in your firearm, so you could make a well placed shot.. And know that said ammo will cycle in said firearm..

          • Big Daddy

            The rant clouds the facts you presented.

        • Big Daddy

          For self-defense ammo it should meet the FBI protocol for a reason. They came up with the testing and basic requirements for a reason. Both GD and HST has time and time again proven themselves in real life shootings as well as a few lesser loads. I’ll stick with what has proven themselves consistently over time and what police agencies use.

          Until Lehigh has this track record I will not acknowledge their validity as a self-defense load. I keep reading comments by people who have no idea what they are talking about. To those who are interested in ballistics I suggest doing the research I have done. I am no expert but I know the basics and I know what works from doing exhaustive research. Three things come to mind, barrier blind, penetration and expansion. Those three things need to be taken into account when choosing SD ammo.

          Some of the testing done on Youtube is pretty good but they are secondary sources of information and cannot be used as definitive examples. They do not test for being barrier blind, the FBI does. It’s not just the ammo you use, it’s also the tactics you employ, fight as you train and train as you would fight. Gel testing is a tool and not totally definitive, you use that along with real life performance on the street of the ammo you use in your self-defense guns.

          It’s very difficult for non-LEOs to get a lot of this information so it was time consuming. I did a lot of research and talking with LEOs who are experienced with this subject. You seriously mention Lehigh handgun ammo and they just give you a funny look, shake their head and laugh. I just listen and learn, I don’t talk all that much unless I am talking facts from reliable sources.

          • Gary Kirk

            “Barrier blind, barrier blind, barrier blind”.. I keep hearing this, Do you people really think that you’re going to be involved in Hollywood esque shoot outs? Firing through walls and such.. Maybe as the terrorist charges you in his vehicle, must make the headshot through the windshield.. I understand wanting to get through a heavy coat/clothing.. But Damn.. Look, I’d rather have something that wouldn’t penetrate 2 walls and kill a kid on the other side efficiently..

          • Big Daddy

            Barrier blind is not a consideration for self-defense ammo. That’s my point and why i do not use Hornady Critical Duty in 9mm. Penetration and expansion are the 2 considerations for SD ammo not barrier blind. People like Highway Patrol who are going to use their handguns against someone in a vehicle need to consider this. Conversely an Air Marshall has to consider over penetration and they have used the less penetration .357 SIG Gold Dot for that reason.

            I really suggest you do some study on SD ammo and ballistics as well as SD tactics. If you did you would know what i am talking about, you’re extremely uninformed and misinformed.

          • Actually it should be, if you have two rounds one that achieves IWBA standards in your gun but isn’t barrier blind per FBI standards, and one that achieves both. I would select the one that achieves both.

            But the most misunderstood thing about barrier blind is the fact that barrier blind doesn’t mean that the round can just go through a barrier. But that once through the barrier the rounds still have to meet IWBA standards.

            One common thing you see some gimmick ammo’s do is to shoot through a barrier like an ammo can, glass, or a cinder block and show the rounds impacting something on the other side claiming “Our round is barrier blind” never mind the fact that more often than not their ammo didn’t meet IWBA standards even without a barrier. And it is even less likely after it is shed a portion of its energy traveling through a barrier.

          • Gary Kirk

            And.. Oh wait, never mind, don’t know $#it.. Was gonna say normal straight line contact with the typical angled windshields causes rounds to nose dive, aim just a bit high..

          • Big Daddy

            Exactly and that’s why the Hornady Critical Duty is a good choice if you need a barrier blind load.

          • Big Daddy

            Not referring to you JK. it seems you know the correct information.

          • J.K.

            I don’t expect to save the world with a once in a lifetime headshot on a terrorist through a 747 cockpit windshield with a Kahr PM9.

            What I do expect is possibly needing to shoot through my windshield from inside my car or into a car’s windshield of a threat that’s trying to run me over. I also expect the possibly that my rounds may need to penetrate through a phone, jewelry, upper arm, etc.

          • Big Daddy

            If I get to that point I hope that I got to my AR15 which does have barrier blind ammo in it. Barrier blind is not a MAJOR consideration with SD ammo, although it is a byproduct of quality bonded JHP ammo. The fact that HST & GDs expand even though they went through the 4 layer denim tests proves they expand even though plugged which makes them some what barrier blind. Every SD shooting I have read about happens within 3-7 yards away and out in the open like in the parking lot of a Wallyworld, I want the best expansion and penetration. Maybe in a more rural setting I would go with a more powerful round than 9mm for my EDC like the 10mm. I do have a G20 for that. As well as AR pistols with proven GDs and TAP rounds.

    • Anon

      If you want to get really expensive FMJ performance, then yeah, they’re the winners.

      By that I mean pistol velocities don’t cause the temporary stretch cavity to cause much actual damage in flesh.

      • Gary Kirk

        Aim for the pelvis, lots of vital blood routes, structural bone, and more.. I remember USMC snipers being told this in urban conflict, over trying for the head/ center mass shots taught in training.. Tend to immobilise (< sorry if this is spelled wrong, spellchecker isn't helping me out here) pretty damn quick, and most likely eventually kill the target due to severe internal trauma and blood loss..

        • J.K.

          No. You shoot as close to the CNS as the situation and your skill set allows to stop the thread as quickly as possible. CNS hits from mid-sternum in a straight line up to cranial cavity will render the threat immobile.

          Shooting the pelvis does not guarantee immobilization of the legs and still leaves the upper torso a mobile threat. Severe internal trauma and blood loss will still take minutes, which is an eternity if they’re still able to shoot back.

          You’re not shooting at a threat from a distance to immobilize like USMC snipers. You’re defending yourself at close distance from an imminent threat to your life, which needs to stop moving this instant.

          • Gary Kirk

            I know the “T”.. Easy to hit on paper at the range, throw real life dynamics into that..

          • J.K.

            If you truly know about the CNS target, then you’d understand the reason behind it and why its not a roman numeral “i” that includes the pelvis.

            You can be dismissive of proven methods to stop threats because “real life dynamics,” but stop spewing misinformation.

          • Gary Kirk

            Didn’t say it was an i.. Said T..

          • J.K.

            The point has flew over your head and under your feet.

          • Big Daddy

            That’s why there is a failure drill also called the Mozambique. It does not include the pelvis.

            A pelvic shot is only good if you are on the ground and have to take a shot up toward the attacker. Or it’s the only part of the person’s body you have a clean shot at. That would also go for the ankle to put the attacker down.

            Tactics arnd shot placement are most important.

        • Most of the expert articles I’ve read said that is highly unlikely that a pistol will produce an immobilizing shot in the pelvis. Rifles have a high likelihood, but not pistol. That isn’t to say that it can’t happen, and I know of one case where the bullet struck a joint, just that it isn’t likely to happen.

          I suggest people interested in defensive shooting go visit one of those bodies exhibits. It fives you a much better visualization of where everything is in the body. For example one of the reasons that an upper chest shot is suggested is because of the lungs, heart, and all the major blood vessels converge in that area in addition to the possibility of hitting the spine.

  • Austin

    Well I think we all knew what was going to happen after the velocity comparison.

  • Lance

    Just get 147gr ammo then.

    • Big Daddy

      That’s what I use in my G43.

      • Madcap_Magician

        Me too. Also curious if the “twice as expensive” issue is comparing 20-round boxes. Only an idiot or a desperate man buys 20-round boxes of HST in the traditional loads when 50-round LE-packaged boxes are the same price.

        • Gary Kirk

          But you get that neat little plastic box that requires use of a firearm to open..

          • Big Daddy

            Yeah those are a PITA. I bought 20 round boxes when there was a 9mm shortage.

    • J.K.

      I’d go w/ 147gr or 124gr HST.

      Non +P 147gr HST has proven to expand even from 3″ barrels.

      I personally use non +p 124gr for the slight bump in velocity.

      • Big Daddy

        Controlled expansion is the key to a quality bonded JHP. If the velocity is too high it expands too soon and does not get enough penetration. If the velocity is too low it won’t expand which causes too much penetration. With some +P rounds it has too much velocity and expands too soon you don’t get enough penetration. So you have to use the correct ammo for the gun.

        For instance the Underwood +P+ version of the 124 grain Gold Dot @1300 fps expands to .750″ and penetrated about 14″ or so and actually outperforms the GD .357 SIG round in gel. The 10mm Underwood Gold Dot with a 180 grain bullet which if not mistaken is actually the .40 S&W bullet deforms and looked like a meteorite. Does it perform better than the GD 40 S&W with all that extra velocity? I don’t know but it doesn’t look like it. Maybe the extra energy dump helps with effectiveness? That’s why I look to actual shootings for how well the round works. The older Winchester 9mm Ranger T 127 +P+ has a good record on the street but does not do well with gel testing.

        That’s why I use the HST and Gold Dots, they have the best record for effectiveness on the street and in gel with both 9mm and .45 ACP if I am not mistaken. Since I am only interested in self-defense loads I do not consider barrier blind that much but do not use fragmenting rounds. I don’t use the Hornady Critical Duty because I don’t need a barrier blind loading and want as much penetration and expansion, the Critical Duty is not designed for that, it’s more of a barrier blind round.

        I hope the testing on youtube continues by some of the better guys doing it. You just cannot trust or believe the ammo makers. At one time ATK had all their testing on their web site. They pulled it because there was some questionable results. Some of the numbers could not be correct.

        • FightFireJay

          And Critical Duty is specifically made for 4+” barrels, fyi.

          • Big Daddy

            Which one?

            I am somewhat dubious of some of the things these manufacturers say even the top makers like ATK & Hornady. I’ve seem their claims disproven too many times. Like the ATK GD G2 which was pulled because of the inconsistencies and failures in gel.

            So Like I have been saying here I go by actual shootings, gel testing and what experienced LEOs say. It’s difficult to get information for the non-LEO.

  • Blake

    Great to see that tnoutdoors9 is back in the game!

    • Big Daddy

      Yeah he’s probably the best of them.

  • Treyh007

    This guys does some of the best ammo reviews, ive been watching his channels for a while now. 👍🏻

  • IndyToddrick

    It’s all infinitely better than a round nose. Unless you are a cop running towards trouble, I doubt the extra $$$ can be justified. I do always use some form of Winchester Talon or Federal HST for defense though, be it 147gr/+P, or 124gr/+P.

  • Edeco

    Heavier bullet for a shorter hose o.O

  • T Rex

    After watching ShootingTheBull410 9mm testing videos and reading FBI and other LE ballistic testing data I settled on Federal HST 124gr standard velocity to carry in my Kahr CM9 and Glock 26 A box of 50 at GT Distributors is $21.99.

    ShootingTheBull tested the 9mm Federal HST in both the 124gr and 147gr in standard and +P which revealed that all four loads performed very similarly and excellently from a 3″ barrel with ideal penetration and great wound channel and expansion performance in ballistic gel using FBI protocol testing standards.

    FBI and LE testing also found that all of the 9mm HST duty loads were top performers in full size duty pistols with 4.25 to 4.5 barrel lengths.

  • jerry young

    I have a Taurus micro 380, finding ammo that worked well in the gun to begin with was tricky, I carry a Springfield XD daily but use the little one when necessary when I can’t carry a full size gun, it’s better to have a gun even if it’s what I call a pocket gun and not need it that need a gun and not have it

    • Big Daddy

      Honestly I would use something other than a Taurus for my life. Just from my experience with their products.

      • jerry young

        Everybody has their opinion and favorite, I’ve had bad smiths,colts and many others and I’ve had good ones but honestly I’ve never had a bad Taurus, I’ve sold only a few guns, once I have them good or bad I don’t like to get rid of them, the ones I regret getting rid of were Taurus, that’s just my opinion

        • Big Daddy

          If you talk with any competent gunsmith they will tell you that they are problematic and require you to send the firearm back to them to be repaired. You cannot get parts for them.

        • T Rex

          Your experience with Taurus is the exception and not the rule. Count yourself lucky. No other major firearms manufacturer even comes close to the well documented quality control issues that have plagued Taurus which is why the Brazilian gun behemoth has consistently had the highest percentage of warranty repair returns on defective firearms for years.

  • 5200

    Well done review.