Federal Punch .22LR – A Defensive Rimfire

The Federal Punch lineup is Federal’s latest personal protection round. This specific line of ammo is designed for concealed-carry pistols. It’s primarily for shorter-than-duty-length barrels and uses projectile designs optimized for compact-length barrels. It’s available in all your standard self-defense rounds, like 9mm, 45 ACP, and .40 S&W. Federal even embraces the 10mm and .44 Special, as well as the little .22LR round. Today we have a few boxes of the Federal Punch .22LR and will be taking it for a spin.

.22LR For Self-Defense?

Admittedly .22LR isn’t optimum for a defensive pistol, but it’s not totally out of place. When it comes to handguns, we already accept that they suck for fighting compared to a rifle or pistols. They typically just poke holes into threats. Larger calibers like 9mm have the benefit of poking bigger holes, and with JHPs, the bullet expands, making an even bigger hole. That’s optimum for a handgun.

gun and ammo
The Federal Punch ammo is designed for little guns like the LCP 2.

The little .22LR might not be optimum, but with the right ammo, it can poke a hole deep enough to matter. It can get through the human body and reach the vitals. Even a small hole in the vitals will shut a bad guy down. The main benefit of .22LR is very low recoil, especially in pocket pistols. In a snub nose revolver or LCP-sized pocket pistol, it’s a kitten. Low recoil means folks with disabilities or even little firearm handling skills can succeed.

To use the .22LR efficiently for self-defense, you need ammo that can penetrate deep enough to matter. Federal punch is specifically trying to provide that ammunition.

Federal Punch .22LR Specifications and Features

The whole purpose of Federal Punch is to provide tiny .22LR pistols an option for self-defense. Most .22LR cartridges are optimized for use in longer barrels, likely rifle barrels. Rounds claiming 1,400 feet per second are using rifle barrels to measure that speed. That’s not a bad thing by any means or even deceptive. Most .22 Long RIFLE rounds are made for rifles.

federal punch lose ammo
The Punch ammo is designed for maximum penetration.

Federal Punch is designed for short barrels. They advertise a velocity of 1,080 feet per second and use a 2-inch barrel to measure that velocity. On their website, they do show a barrel velocity of 1,650 feet per second from a 24-inch rifle barrel. The projectiles are optimized for deep penetration and to retain weight as they hit the target. The projectile is not designed to expand at all.

Federal punch ammo and box
The Punch ammo throws a proper punch.

Expansion slows down penetration, and with .22LR, you need penetration. The round is a nickel-plated lead core bullet. I assume the nickel plating helps ensure smooth feeding and keeps the round from deforming. The projectile features a flat face, which acts a bit like a wadcutter from a short-barreled revolver and aids in penetration.

The round generates an anemic 75-foot pounds at the muzzle, but energy transfer isn’t a real concern with 22LR defensive ammunition. The Federal Punch .22LR is all nickel plated and would likely resist corrosion and degradation well when pocket carried. The projectile weighs 29 grains.

Performance Through an LCP 2

I grabbed the perfect .22LR pocket pistol, the LCP 2 Literack, and four fifty-round boxes of Federal Punch. I don’t trust myself enough to mix ballistic gel properly to pass life-saving information to you. Luckily there are experts out there. I scrolled through ballistic gel tests from numerous sources, and consistently the round penetrated beyond the necessary 12 inches of ballistic gel.

Penetration goals seem to have been met successfully. I would never trust just one test, but when a dozen show similar results, it’s an easy assumption that the ammo works. What about reliability? For defensive use, that’s pretty important.

ammo in ammo box
The Punch ammo comes in 50-round boxes.

Rimfire ammunition isn’t known for being as reliable as centerfire ammunition. Luckily, premium ammunition tends to be a bit more reliable here. That seemed to be the case here. I fired 200 rounds of Federal Punch without a single failure. It always went bang. Not only that, but it fed fine in the LCP 2 and a P322. There was never an issue in getting the rough from the magazine to the chamber.

Hitting Targets

What about accuracy and consistency? The LCP 2 has little sights, a crummy trigger, and isn’t a precision platform. I tossed some Punch ammo in my P322 and found it to consistently create tight groups. Accuracy isn’t an issue with the ammunition. Creating one ragged hole isn’t tough with the larger, easier-to-shoot P322. In the LCP 2, the accuracy of the round was consistent as well, but I certainly can’t shoot the LCP 2 as well as I shoot the P322.

ammo in magazine
The Punch ammunition is nickel plated for corrosion resistance2.

This is a hot 22LR load, but it’s not tossing a lot of recoil by any means. I can feel a difference between this and other rounds, but not a ton. The recoil remains minimal, and the gun is easy to control. What is noticeable is some increase in muzzle flash. Not every round, but when the conditions are right, you get a bit popping out the end of that short 2.75-inch barrel.

To ensure the recoil wasn’t significant or difficult, I had both my son and wife fire the LCP 2 with the Federal Punch ammunition. Both were seemingly nonplussed by the LCP 2 and the Federal Punch. In fact, I might have lost the little gun to my wife, who has been looking for a yard gun she can stick in her pocket easily.

federal punch flat nose 22lr

Loaded Up

The question is, will her yard gun be loaded with Federal Punch? I think so. It’s a capable little round that’s reliable and that I trust to be easy to control and shoot from the small gun. While .22LR isn’t the optimum cartridge for a carry gun, I’d probably rather have ten rounds of .22LR a shooter can control versus six rounds of 380 ACP they can barely shoot. The Federal Punch ammo is cheap enough to train with and carry. At 10.99 a box, you are getting a bargain in terms of defensive ammunition.

Federal Punch is one of the few rimfire defensive loadings on the market, but I’m betting that with its success, we’ll see plenty more. Would you carry a .22LR? If so, let us know below.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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