Federal: Premium Ammunition
The Federal Premium lineup of shotshells and cartridges may be the industry’s most diverse. Whether you’re a waterfowler, big-game hunter, weekend clay buster, carry for self-defense or addicted to long-range, the company has a load tailored for you.
Federal is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of sporting ammunition today. Shooters know its products are reliable and perform—facts that have allowed the company to thrive for nearly 100 years. The longevity and reputation seemed far from certain in the beginning, though.
There’s no denying the company was founded, and remains headquartered, in Anoka, MN, although opinions differ as to the people—or person—and precise date that should be cited. Federal Cartridge and Machine Company was established on Sept. 15, 1916, Federal Cartridge Company came in 1918 and Federal Cartridge Corporation followed in 1922.
Federal Ammunition History
Brothers Louis and Harry Sherman, who both had experience working in the ammo industry, were behind the initial 1916 effort. Their intent was to produce shotshells and bicycles. The owners hoped to land a lucrative military ammo contract during World War I, but two-wheelers remained on the schedule—a distraction that may have contributed to the company’s lack of success.
The first shotshell came off the assembly line in January 1917, but it did little to aid the fledgling business. Reorganization under the Federal Cartridge Company name came the next year. The Sherman brothers abandoned most of the management duties to the staff shortly thereafter and bankruptcy followed in 1920.
Rebirth Of Greatness
A group of local investors purchased the machinery and plant in 1922 and named the company Federal Cartridge Corporation. Charles L. Horn, a law degree-holding manager who had worked at American Ball and Shot in Minneapolis, was hired to resurrect the business. The company’s official history labels it a “refounding,” although that’s gross understatement considering Horn’s vision and ability to make it a reality.
The bicycle scheme was abandoned. Shotshell manufacturing was the sole focus, although part of Horn’s success was an ability to pedal the company’s wares in unusual places. In 1923 he built a distribution system that included grocery stores, barber shops and gas stations—an approach forced partly because the larger manufacturers had exclusive contracts with traditional retailers.
Sales were strong and Horn knew shotshells weren’t the only game in town. To expand the line, Federal purchased American Cartridge Company in 1924—at the time-based in Kansas City, MO—and moved production and machinery Minnesota. Rimfire cartridges were soon being sold under the Federal name.
History of Ammunition Innovation
By 1928 Federal’s ability to innovate became apparent. That year it offered loads with non-corrosive primers. Copper-coated .22 bullets followed in 1931 and the following year Federal offered high-velocity loads. In 1937 it brought a new bullet design to market, one aerodynamically tuned to reduce drag and improve accuracy—the company called it “Airlines.”
The concept is foreign to modern shooters, but shotshell were one made in a variety of colors—depending on manufacturer and supply—regardless of size, until 1960. That’s when Federal introduced a safety-enhancing color-code that has become industry standard. In 1973 the company was the first to introduce steel shot. Along the way the company has developed many of the innovations we rely on today, and most recently introduced the high-performance .224 Valkyrie in 2018—with a projectile that maintains supersonic speed past 1,300 yards.
The cutting-edge products coming out of the company’s research and development team may get the headlines, but the forward-thinking approach is standard-operating procedure in every department. Federal Premium’s history of helping non-profit organizations, for example, began in 1934. Despite the Great Depression and the fact that most profitable corporations ignored worthwhile causes, Federal defied the trend and became the first nationwide sponsor of 4-H camps. Since then it has helped the conservation efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation, National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club International and many others.
Introductions & Changes
Federal didn’t manufacture its first centerfire rifle and handgun cartridges until 1963. The familiar Federal Premium line hit the shelves in 1977, the same year Charles Horn retired. His son, William, took over the helm and spearheaded many of the efforts that kept Federal one of the industry’s foremost leaders.
In 1985 Federal was sold to a group of investors. It later passed through the hands of Blount, Lehman Brothers and finally found a home in defense-industry legend Alliant Techsystems (ATK).
Today it’s part of Vista Outdoor, the ATK sporting group of companies that was spun off into a separate entity in 2015. Better mission focus was one of the reasons for the amicable separation, and the added concentration on the needs of civilian shooters shows in Federal’s current lineup.
Federal Premium HST
Federal is deadly serious about the performance of its self-defense ammunition, and the dedication is on display in its relatively new HST line. The hollow-point bullet is designed to reduce or eliminate clogging as it passes through intermediate barriers, yet reliably expand on impact and retain weight. Overpenetration is minimized while fight-stopping power is retained. Add the nickel case, bullet profile tuned to avoid feeding problems with Federal’s unique primer and it makes for the kind reliable load needed for carry or home defense. Owners of .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 10 mm, .38 Spl. and .380 ACP handguns will want to take a close look at these loads.
Federal Premium Hydra-Shok
Hydra-Shok first hit the market in 1989, and it’s never surrendered its position as one of the premier self-defense cartridges. The unmistakable-looking bullet is a hollow-point, with a center post that aids in reliable expansion and weight retention. It’s available for a variety of handgun chamberings.
Federal Gold Medal Match
Combine Federal’s the near century of cartridge-tuning knowledge with the bullet-making wizardry at Sierra Bullets and you have the MatchKing. If you want to put those calipers to use on targets further than 100 yards—without hours behind a reloading press—look no further.
Federal Premium Sierra GameKing
Hunters need to deliver clean and ethical, one-shot stops, and these loads improve the ability to do so. Loaded with the Sierra Bullets line of soft-point GameKings, they deliver the exterior ballistics required to hit and target and all the expansion needed to fill that tag.
Federal Premium Prairie Storm
Federal was the first company to produce a shotshell designed for a specific hunting pursuit. It was turkey at first, but its Prairie Storm continues the tradition with 2 3/4- and 3-inch loads in different gauges, all tailored for upland bird hunters.
Federal American Eagle
And high-volume shooters aren’t ignored by Federal. Its pocketbook-friendly American Eagle line is available in a variety of different chamberings and loads. Whether your practicing or competing with a handgun or rifle, the odds are good you’ll find an American Eagle product to cover your needs.
Federal American Eagle 9mm Luger 124 Grain FMJ - 50 Rounds$40.85
Manufacturer Federal Condition New Bullet Weight 124 Grain Bullet Type Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) Use Type plinking at the range Casing Type Brass Quantity 50 Ammo Caliber 9mm Luger (9x19) Manufacturer SKU AE9AP Primer Type Boxer Magnetic No UPC Barcode 029465088569 Cost Per Round 81.7¢ per round
With this box from Federal American Eagle Ammunition, you’ll have 50 rounds of 124-grain full metal jacket bullets. They deliver a muzzle velocity of 1,150 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 364 foot pounds, making them an excellent choice for target shooting. With a few of these 50-count boxes, you’ll have plenty of ammo for an afternoon at the range.
Since 1922, Federal has been serving the needs of hunters and target shooters all across the country. Based out of Minnesota, this brand has a strong reputation as one of the best companies for outdoor sports.
When you need an excellent cartridge for self defense and target shooting, the 9mm Luger is a wise choice. This round has provided top-notch accuracy and dependable ballistics for years, making it a favorite among law enforcement and private citizens. With manageable recoil and reliable performance, the 9mm is one of the top rounds in the country.
Federal Personal Defense 9mm 147 Grain HST JHP – 20 Rounds$34.50
Manufacturer Federal Condition New Bullet Weight 147 Grain Bullet Type Jacketed Hollow-Point (JHP) Use Type home defense Casing Type Nickel-Plated Brass Quantity 20 Ammo Caliber 9mm Luger (9x19) Manufacturer SKU P9HST2S Primer Type Boxer Magnetic No UPC Barcode 604544621075 Cost Per Round $1.73 per round
Your everyday carry needs to have reliable, knock-down power if it’s going to do you any good when life attacks. That’s why Federal offers this round from their Personal Defense line of ammunition with a 147 grain HST projectile. The HST’s ability to deliver catastrophic terminal performance won’t be hindered by common barriers -- its special nose cavity is designed to prevent itself from becoming clogged up. This bullet expands to extend six sharp petals as it tunnels through its target, and it penetrates to the ideal depth for neutralizing a human-sized target while retaining nearly 100 percent of its weight.
This round’s factory fresh casing is made of brass, and thus perfect for handloading. The casing’s nickel plating poses multiple benefits to its performance: It promotes smooth feeding in a semi-automatic weapon, resists corrosion when confronted with moisture, and makes an on the fly chamber check easier to perform in the dark.