Handgun How-To

Josh Froelich Shooting a handgun

Handguns are one of the most exciting and versatile classes of firearms, and they're used for everything from self-defense and target shooting to competition and hunting. With a little research, it’s easy to get the most from them.


Although a wide array of calibers can be used for self-defense, 40 S&W, 45 Auto and 9mm Luger are among the most popular. With advancements in bullet design, the specific cartridge is less important than it once was, so shooters are best served by choosing the cartridge they shoot best.

Handgun on a table with a box of Federal Premium Punch

Ammunition itself should be specially designed to expand reliably and hit critical penetration depths without over-penetrating through surrounding walls and endangering bystanders. Federal offers the industry’s most effective options in the category with products like HST, Hydra-Shok Deep and Punch.

Recreation & Competition

Target shooting is a great way to have fun with family and friends, and the many competition circuits offer shooters a chance to test and expand their skills. Required ammunition usually features a full metal jacket or Syntech polymer-jacketed bullet and is more affordably priced than hunting or self-defense ammunition.

Syntech Training Match Loaded in a handgun


Handguns generally lack the long-range capability of rifles, making them appealing choices for hunters who want the challenge of getting close to game before taking a shot. Hunting handguns are typically chambered for cartridges ranging from the 357 Magnum to the 500 S&W. Loads feature heavy bullets designed to expand on impact.

Federal’s Trophy Bonded Bear Claw and Swift A-Frame are great options for these application, thanks to heavy jackets bonded to their lead core and fast, controlled expansion.