We’re back with another projectile data dump today, telling the story of the Smith & Wesson Nyclad and its latest generation, the Federal Syntech family.
The story begins when a company named ALCAN was formed in 1948 in Alton, IL. They were best known for shotshells and components, although they briefly dabbled in making plastic .45 Colt blanks, presumably for the Quick Draw competition market. S&W and Fiocchi cooperated to buy ALCAN, finalizing the deal in early 1970. According to the 1972 Gun Digest, the S&W-Fiocchi handgun cartridge line was announced in early 1971. Fiocchi ultimately sold out their interest in ALCAN in late 1972.
The nylon-coated Nyclad design was designed by Smith & Wesson back in the late 1970s. James L. Oberg, Roger J. Curran, Michael Czayka filed the patent application in October 1978, and received US Patent #4,328,750 in May 1982. Originally, it was marketed as a cheaper alternative to jacketed projectiles while reducing airborne lead exposure, particularly with indoor ranges.
The S&W Nyclad patent mentions the reduction of airborne lead and lead fouling more often than aiding expansion. So did their advertisements at the time. In fact, S&W had offered their RN, SWC, and full wadcutter loadings in the Nyclad line roughly a year before introducing the Nyclad hollowpoints.
When S&W got out of ammo manufacturing in the 1980s, Federal Cartridge bought the patent rights to the Nyclad. Federal announced their acquisition of the Nyclad patent in March 1982, also noting the benefits of reducing fouling and lead pollution before the benefits of expansion and feeding in semi-auto pistols.
Introduced in 2017, Federal’s new Syntech line is sort of Nyclad 2.0, but they have replaced the nylon with a different polymer. Federal has made the interesting decision to color-code the loads by application: red is standard range and target ammo; purple is training ammunition that matches HST duty loads; and blue is self-defense and hunting ammunition. The latter includes the Syntech Defense – a fragmenting hollowpoint.