10 mm FedLite

by
posted on October 18, 2012
wiley-clapp.jpg

After the legendary Miami shootout, the FBI’s firearms people were faced with a fistful of problems. Not only were they charged with the responsibility for developing or selecting a new gun for their agents, they also had to come up with a protocol for selecting cartridges and loads. Some dedicated people went at it hard for a considerable period of time, and came up a standard procedure of shooting a series of shots of a given load into properly calibrated ordnance gelatin and through various kinds of intervening barriers. After a while, the so-called “FBI protocol” came to be accepted as the best means of evaluating defensive cartridge performance. Routinely used by the major ammunition makers, it is a reliable standard. That portion of the effort was a resounding success.

The new gun and cartridge did not fare as well. The gun was a short version of the S&W Model 1006, called the 1076. It had a host of persistent problems that eventually defeated the idea of a 10 mm service auto.

The 10 mm came along in the early 1980s, intended for the Bren Ten pistol. Loaded by Norma, the first loads drove a .40-caliber, 200-grain bullet to a muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps. Early on, it became obvious that such a loading was a bit ambitious and velocity dropped to 1,150 fps and bullet weight to 180 grains. Everybody who made ammunition quickly got their version on dealer’s shelves. About the same time, the FBI and Federal jointly developed the Bureau load—a 180-grain JHP at 950 fps. It was quickly nicknamed “FedLite” in recognition of the 200 fps drop in velocity. Since most observers of the handgun scene were enthusiastic about the power of the 10 mm cartridge, the loading down for FBI use drew some amount of scorn. As it turned out, the FBI gun people may have had a more viable cartridge than the speed-freaks. In a short period of time it became obvious that building a 10 mm pistol involved a good deal more than re-barreling a .45 and fitting a different magazine. Everybody tried it, but the forces at work in the hot-loaded 10 mm ammo made almost all models badly worn in less than a thousand rounds.

However, the guns that fired “FedLite” seemed to roll on forever. There are still a couple of original-style 10 mm loads made with velocities are in mid-1,100 fps range. Many more loads are made with slower velocities and often times lighter bullets. The trend in 10 mm ammo is pretty much toward the 180 grains and 950 fps of the “FedLite.” At the same time the FBI was working on all of this, Smith & Wesson was also developing another 10 mm cartridge, which was introduced in ’91, called the .40 S&W. In terms of terminal ballistics, the .40 S&W is pretty much the same thing as the 10 mm FedLite.

Latest

Rossi R92 Gotw Web
Rossi R92 Gotw Web

Gun Of The Week: Davidson’s Exclusive Rossi R92

Follow American Rifleman staff to the range in this week's video and learn about a Davidson's Exclusive variant of Rossi USA's R92 lever-action rifle.

New For 2024: Taylor's & Company TC73 Rifle

It has been more than 100 years since the Winchester Model 1873 was last made in America, but Taylor's & Company is bringing back an American-made Model 1873 with its TC73 rifle.

The Armed Citizen® May 17, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

James Reid’s "My Friend" Knuckle Dusters

With a pocket of cash, family in tow and a mind for machining, Irish-born James Reid's foresight led him and his Knuckle Duster revolvers into the annals of firearms history.

Hodgdon Powder Acquires RCBS Reloading

Hodgdon Powder Company purchased RCBS Reloading from Revelyst, a segment of Vista Outdoor, early this month.

Preview: Scalarworks Leap/04

Scalarworks developed its Leap line of quick-detach optic mounts to be among the lightest yet strongest such products on the market.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.