Packin’ Heat!… Federal Micro HST for your .38 Special

Micro HST

If you want self-defense ammo, the options are nearly endless. Countless companies are producing the world’s best or most impactful or deepest penetrating projectile on the market. So why should we care about Federal Premium’s line of Micro HST?… They specifically engineer this ammo to perform well out of short-barreled firearms. Simple idea, but what are most concealed carry pistols?… Short-barreled pistols whether its a semi-auto or a revolver.

One thing that is immediately noticeable about the Micro HST in .38 Special is the depth of the bullet in the casing. You can see a close up in the picture below.

Micro HST

Federal Premium Micro HST .38 Special+P 130 Grain

Weird, right? Well, it has a specific purpose. That is not a “bad round” or a “mistake.” With a seating depth that extreme, it eliminates any excessive air gap between the bullet and powder. This also translates into more consistent velocities and better terminal performance upon impact. All good things.

Federal Premium Handgun Product Lane Director Jason Nash elaborated on this topic:

By combining the HST bullet design with the unique seating depth, we’ve created the most consistent .38 Special personal defense load on the market. We’re proud to give those who carry a .38 Special the most effective possible option for the platform.

This new Micro HST round in .38 Special will likely turn heads, but everything is by design. An overview of key characteristics for the Micro HST can be seen below.

  • 38 Special +P load developed specifically for Micro-sized Concealed Carry Revolvers
  • Deep Bullet Seating eliminates Inconsistent Powder Burn Rates
  • Law Enforcement Proven HST Bullet Design
  • Expanded Diameter & Weight Retention produce the Desired Penetration for Personal Defense Situations w/o Over-Penetrating
  • Clean-Burning, Low-Flash Propellants

This ammo comes in 20-Count boxes and has an MSRP of $30.95.

The outdoors, fitness and anything related to firearms are my passions. I am a S&W Armorer, Glock Armorer, reloader and am coping with an addiction to classic S&W and Colt revolvers (by buying more revolvers). I’ve been a guest writer for Sierra Bullets and love long walks to the gun range.


  • No one

    Why do people still use .38 Special aside from cheap .357 Magnum chambered gun practice ammo again?

    • Adam W

      Because .38 revolvers are a blast to shoot.

      I enjoy shooting my model 64 more than any other handgun I own. Has little to no recoil, an AMAZING trigger and is way more accurate than I am.

      • No one

        Ok, let me rephrase that to not count recreational target shooting which I guess is a good reason, Why do people still use .38 Special as a defensive loading?

        Federal HST is pretty much always a defensive oriented load no matter how you slice it, the $31 price tag for a box of 20 here surely comes with the territory of “premium priced defensive ammunition”. not really suitable for .357 practice or just recreational shooting.

        • A.WChuck

          Unless humans have developed extra thick skin in the last few decades, I’d say 38 Spl functions at least as well as it ever did and likely better with improved bullet designs. There a many people who cannot handle a magnum round or some other high pressure round, so a 38 is still better than harsh language.

        • valorius

          Because with good ammo it more or less works as well as anything else on the market in a very compact package.

        • int19h

          Because people carry .38 Special revolvers?

          If you wonder why is that, well, perhaps it’s because they’re lighter? Compare LCR in .38 and in .357.

        • HSR47

          There are rational and irrational reasons for the continued popularity of revolvers.

          On the one hand, there are a lot of shooters who grew up shooting revolvers, are set in their ways, and have an irrational emotional attachment to the guns they’ve always known. The vast majority of these people would be better served by being willing to embrace the extreme utility of semi-auto firearms.

          On the other hand, revolvers are stupid simple. They’re hard to shoot well, but that doesn’t matter to two classes of defensive users: Those who never practice enough to be proficient with anything, and those who practice enough to be proficient with everything. To an extent, they also have somewhat extended utility for those who have physical handicaps that prevent them from using semi-autos.

          TLDR: Most people who regularly practice would be better served with “bottom-feeding self-loaders” while those who don’t or can’t practice regularly are probably better off sticking to wheelguns.

    • Independent George

      Because .357 from a snubbie is a pretty awful experience?

      • USMC03Vet

        There are newish revolver designs to combat that. Seems like the revolver industry just dropped their pack and refuses to innovate though.

        • int19h

          At some point, it’s basic physics, that can’t really be designed around. Once you start talking about .357 Mag out of a 14 oz revolver (Airweight etc)…

          • HSR47

            Hell, .357 mag defense loads are still nasty out of a 22.4 oz all-stainless revolver.

    • gunsandrockets

      Because a .38 revolver is lighter and cheaper?

    • Jeff Smith

      It fits in a small package (a snubnose .38 spl is small and thin), it’s light recoiling, and very effective with the right ammo. Much like we’ve seen over the past 10-15 years with 9x19mm, ballistic technology has greatly improved the terminal performance of rounds we once thought were too weak for self defense. It’s now possible to meet the FBI standards of 12″-18″ of ballistic gel with .380 acp and .38 spl.

      It’s not the best choice out there, but it definitely works.

      Pictured: my mother’s S&W j frame air weight “Lady Smith” edition. Yes, she primarily got it because her last name is also Smith.

      • Jeff Smith

        Also, I have no idea why it rotates my picture.

      • valorius

        There are some rounds in .380 now, that when coupled with a super light and flat gun like a Ruger LCP, do make me wonder why anyone would choose to carry a snubby instead.

        My cousin just bought some high dollar special edition taurus titanium snubbie (that is the dumbest looking revolver youll ever see), and its still heavier and thicker than my LCP.

        • int19h

          Because there are fewer points of possible operator error in a revolver? No FTF or FTE (and no need to learn to clear them), no limp wristing etc.

          • valorius

            True, but a .38 snubbie is bulkier, heavier, thicker and holds about 40% less ammo than my LCP. It’s also much harder to shoot well.

          • int19h

            Different people like different tradeoffs.

          • valorius

            aside from “It will fire no matter what” (which is almost always true) there’s really no upside to the .38 snubbie.

          • int19h

            I take it you’ve never seen someone limp-wristing their pocket .380?

            Yeah, yeah, they should train more etc. But they won’t.

          • valorius

            Yes, i have seen it. Those people are definitely better served with revolvers if they wont fix their issues., there is no disputing that.

          • mazkact

            Only thicker at the ctlinder, and that looks like a wad of keys in my pocket with a Smith 442.

        • WPZ

          Because .380 rounds will never equal the efficacy of good .38 Special rounds. It’s not physically possible.
          And the .380 is hampered further by being restricted to bullet designs that can feed, instead of have good terminal performance in creatures not made out of internet-grade ballistic gelatin.
          Light little bullets going not-very-fast can’t break things as well as heavier, properly-shaped ones going the same, small-handgun-type speed.

          • valorius

            That’s just wrong.

            A 100gr .380 hard cast flat nose is a highly effective defensive round. In an actual encounter in afghanistan i once saw listed in a gun rag, a US soldier on his back about to be pummeled to death pulled his backup .380 pistol loaded with Buffalo Bore ammo and shot a Taliban through the thigh and the 100gr hard cast lead round exited his shoulder, dropping the terrorist instantly.

            The .380 hard cast 100gr bullet as loaded by underwood and buffalo bore exceeds 30″ penetration in gel and will easily penetrate heavy bone. Especially in the “+P” flavor. Same is true for Underwood loaded solid copper flat nose lehigh defense max penetrator rounds.

            I’ll take my 9 shot Ruger LCP over a 5 shot .38 literally any day, anywhere. It’s smaller, it’s lighter, it’s flatter, it’s easier to shoot, and it has nearly double the ammunition capacity.

    • valorius


  • dhdoyle

    At first look, this might be a good snubbie load. Recent articles have shown that it’s very difficult to get .38 Special bullets to expand out of a 1-7/8″ barrel revolver. That’s why many people go ahead and carry match wadcutter ammunition. Maybe that’s where Federal got the idea to seat the bullets flush with the case mouth. Hmmm…

  • Jared Vynn

    You could make a very compact carry revolver shortening the cylinder to only use ammo like this. You could shave about .4″ (10mm) off the cylinder saving a couple oz.

  • Blake

    Put a shoulder on it & you’ve got Nagant revolver ammo:

    • Anonymoose

      No, the cylinder moving forwards on the handnugget seals the casemouth with the forcing cone and eliminates the cylinder gap. That’s why handnuggets have 20lb trigger pulls.

    • RocketScientist

      Ah… people always look at me funny when I refer to the “uncircumcised ammo” for my Nagant pistol. Then when I show them they go “ohhhhhhh”

  • gunsandrockets

    Hey, I like it. Though I would probably mix it up with my target full wadcutter loads!

    But in all seriousness, does that ammo really give you any practical benefit over Remington +P 125 grain semi-jacketed hollow points bought at Walmart for 40% of the price per round?

    • Michael Frank

      Those +P Remington’s have a vicious yellow muzzle flash.

      • valorius

        which you wont even see in a self defense situation.

        • HSR47

          Have you ever actually fired a gun in self-defense? If not, then you have no way to actually know whether or not your statement is true.

          The words of your chosen guru are not gospel, and should not be treated as such.

          • valorius

            I’m ex infantry. Does an M60 in the dead of night qualify?

    • valorius

      probably not.

  • Tim

    I’m a admitted revolved dork, so I’m just excited to see new R&D for the .38 Special.

    I’d love to see some gel tests and hard data.

    • gunsandrockets

      I presume you meant “revolver”?


      • Tim

        Yep! Darn auto correct and my lack of attention!

  • Barrister

    Interesting development, especially for those of us who hoard Speer 135gr Gold-Dots since they’re basically out of production it seems…

  • valorius

    I have .38+P hollowpoints from the 70s seated just like that. Nothing new here at all.

    • One example would be the original (pre-Federal) HydraShok Scorpion load.

  • Mrl

    I called Federal two days ago after reading this on another post. They still don’t know the muzzle velocity yet or when it will be out in the market. They say maybe months.

  • Raptor Fred
  • Edeco

    OK, good. Now, cheap, deep-seated 158 gr FMJ range ammo please. Maximum standard pressure. It would be so clean and efficient!

    Presumably with the deep seating and a propellant load chosen from modern options it would be faster than the classic 158 LRN.

  • retfed

    They might be fine for the initial load, but I wouldn’t carry them in a speedloader. I’ve used enough wadcutters in speedloaders to appreciate a nice round, tapered . . . bullet.