Guns Ammo

100 Iconic Loads from Federal Premium Ammunition’s First 100 Years

With Federal Premium Ammunition passing the century mark, we look back at some of their most iconic loads
Adam Moore Avatar
federal ammunition
A look back at a century's worth of ammunition. Federal

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Federal Premium Ammunition surpassed the century mark this year, making it a true icon not just in the ammunition industry but also in American manufacturing. In its 100th year, Federal introduced the .30 Super Carry showing that the company is still looking to innovate after all this time. 

But Federal’s success had an unlikely beginning. Charles L. Horn, president of BB manufacturer American Ball Company, was simply looking to buy machines in order to make paper tubes to hold BBs for air rifles. Through some serendipitous business dealings he ended up owning the entire Federal plant in Anoka, Minnesota, along with another investor. And thus the company we now know as Federal Premium Ammunition was born.  

From there, the company’s timeline includes plenty of experimentation as well as some failed projects. But more than anything, Federal has consistently turned out loads that hunters and recreational shooters will instantly recognize for their performance in the field and on the range. So with some help from the Federal archives, we compiled 100 of their most iconic loads. Here they are, listed from the newest to oldest.

Federal Ammo in the 2000s

1) 30 Super Carry HST: In April 2022, the company introduced the .30 Super Carry, which is designed to increase the capacity of micro-compact pistols while maintaining 9mm ballistic criteria—or close to it.

2) High Over All competition shotshell

3) Terminal Ascent

federal terminal ascent
Federal Terminal Ascent. Federal

A direct descendent from the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Terminal Ascent is a bonded bullet with a lead core atop a copper shank. The AccuChannel grooves on the bullet’s shank help with accuracy, and the polymer Slipstream tip is designed to promote expansion. Altogether, the bullet was designed to hold together for close shots on big game, but also expand at lower velocities and long ranges. The Federal engineers accomplished their mission and Terminal Ascent is one of the best all-around big-game hunting bullets out there. 

4) Solid Core pistol ammo

5) FireStick. Fast and easy to load in a muzzleloader, it contains pre-measured loads of Hogdon Triple Eight powder, sealed in a polymer casing.

6) Punch personal defense ammo

7) HammerDown. Federal partnered with Henry rifles to design a load specifically for lever-actions. It features bonded bullets and case rims with a special bevel for side-loading gates.

8) Hevi-Bismuth

9) Force X2 Personal Defense shotshell

10) Black Cloud 28-Gauge

11) Black Cloud TSS

12) Federal Shorty Shotshells. At just 1 3/4-inch, they allow you to increase magazine capacity in your shotgun. 

13) Power-Shok .450 Bushmaster

14) Federal Custom Shop loads. The companies online Custom Shop sells specialized handloaded ammo.

15) HEAVYWEIGHT TSS turkey loads

federal tss
TSS Heavyweight Federal

Federal became the first large ammo company to load Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) in factory ammo. In 2018, the company introduced HEAVYWEIGHT TSS to its premium shotshell line. This non-toxic shotshell excels as a long-range turkey load. During Outdoor Life’s Turkey Load Test, HEAVYWEIGHT produced the best pattern (49 pellets in a 10-inch circle) at 70 yards. Federal’s Flitecontrol Flex wad helps this load deliver dense patterns at longer distances. This load undoubtedly helped drive TSS popularity in turkey hunting as well as the sub-gauge revolution. TSS pellets are so effective because they are incredibly dense (18 g/cc) and their small surface area helps them penetrate better than larger pellets. 

16) Hydra-Shok Deep

17) Speed-Shok waterfowl load

18) Non-Typical Whitetail. An affordable load for the deer hunter who wants accuracy, reliability, and performance.

19) .224 Valkyrie

20) Hi-Bird Shotshells

21) Train + Protect

22) Varmint & Predator rifle ammo

23) Power-Shok Copper Bullet

24) Fusion MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle)

25) 3rd Degree turkey loads. Features three different shot sizes to deliver deadly patterns.

26) Trophy Copper B.O.R Lock muzzleloader bullet. Provided easy loading and exceptional accuracy, making 200-yard shots possible with muzzleloaders.

27) American Eagle .300 Blackout

28) Personal Defense HST

29) Trophy Copper

30) Trophy Copper 12-gauge slug

31) Mag-Shok HEAVYWEIGHT Turkey 20-gauge

32) Prairie Storm. Utilizes the Flitecontrol wad with No. 4, 5, and 6 lead shot for pheasant hunters.

Federal upland loads
The lineage of Federal's upland loads. Federal

33) 3-inch .410 bore shells. After the introduction and success of the Taurus Judge, Federal introduced special .410 loads optimized for the pistol. 

34) Wing-Shok 16-gauge

35) HST Law Enforcement ammo. Designed to maximize performance in the FBI Test Protocol, HST combines deep penetration and reliable expansion.

36) Varmint & Predator TNT

37) .327 Federal Mag. Launched in cooperation with Ruger in 2007, the new cartridge lengthened the .32 H&R Mag. and provided effective defensive performance in smaller-caliber revolvers.

38) Vital-Shok .460 S&W Barnes Expander

39) Black Cloud

Federal Black Cloud
Black Cloud waterfowl loads. Federal

In 2007, Federal introduced Black Cloud with their Flitecontrol wad to deliver tighter patterns for waterfowlers looking to maximize their range. Since its inception, it’s been one of the best steel loads for hunting ducks and geese. Ten years later, Federal optimized the popular shotshell with their Flitecontrol Flex wad, which has rear-deploying brake fins and side-mounted vents. The wad separates from the payload at the optimal time after leaving the muzzle to increase pattern density and maintain consistent velocities. In 2018, Federal included Black Cloud TSS options which combine tungsten pellets with steel pellets.  

40) .338 Federal. Developed in cooperation with Sako in 2006, the .338 Federal offered a step up in power and penetration from the .308 Win.

41) Premium Wing-Shok

42) Fusion centerfire ammo

federal fusion
The Fusion line. Federal

This affordable and accurate load features bonded bullets with a typical lead core and copper jacket, but the way the elements are fused (electro plating the jacket to the core) helps them retain weight on impact. Federal teamed up with Speer on the forming process which creates a skived tip, so that the jacket and core create petals under controlled expansion. The precise formation of these bullets also increases their consistency, reducing the chance of fliers often associated with economy-priced cup-and-core bullets. The Fusion line was created with deer hunters in mind and it’s one of the best whitetail loads on the market.

43) TruBall Deep Penetrator rifled slugs

44) Power-Shok. A conventional rifle load for the price-conscious hunter.

45) Federal Premium Upland High Velocity

46) Champion Handgun Target loads

47) Power-Shok ammo built for .357 Mag., .41 Rem. Mag., and .44 Mag. These pistol-caliber hunting cartridges feature jacketed hollow points designed for medium-sized game.

48) Federal Premium Turkey Grand Slam

49) EFMJ (Expanding Full Metal Jacket). This unique round featured a scored full-metal nose encapsulating a rubber tip that collapsed upon impact.

50) Classic High Velocity Steel

Federal Ammo in the 1990s

51) The Expander Sabot Slug. Federal partnered with Barnes in 1999 to offer the Expander all-copper sabot slug.

52) Premium High Energy Turkey Loads

53) Tungsten-iron shot for non-toxic waterfowl loads.

54) BallistiClean .22. A non-toxic load in .22 for indoor rimfire shooters.

55) Small Game .22 LR

56) Personal Defense Pistol ammo. Offered jacketed hollow points in nickeled cases.

57) Premium Trophy Bonded Bear Claw

trophy bonded bear claw
Trophy Bonded Bear Claw. Federal

Without the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, many of Federal’s finest bullets might not exist. This bullet bloomed from necessity during the 1980s. After a brutal encounter with a Cape buffalo that refused to go down after seven hits with a .375 H&H, Jack Carter set out to create a bullet that would both penetrate deeper and expand better on the biggest game. This inspired the “Bear Claw,” a bullet with a pure copper rear half and a lead-filled cavity in the front. The design wouldn’t fragment or pancake on impact, driving deeper and retaining more of its energy.

Soon after the Bear Claw’s inception, Federal purchased the design and expanded the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw line. The gave rise to many contemporary loads that are successful today. 

58) BallistiClean Pistol Ammo

59) Tactical Law Enforcement Ammunition

60) Federal Premium Safari .470 Nitro Express

61) Classic Hi-Brass upland loads

62) Original Hydra-Shok

Hydra-Shok Federal

Federal’s Hydra-Shok resulted from the FBI’s search to find the best personal-defense round for agents and other LEO after the Miami Shootout of 1986. To create a round that would pass the FBI protocols, Federal designed a load that featured a large hollow-point with a center post, designed to provide rapid expansion and penetration. Federal’s Hydra-Shok soared through the FBI Ammunition Test Protocol. 

In 2018, Federal evolved their Hydra-Shok design, adapting to new FBI Protocol standards, which resulted in their Hydra-Shok Deep. However, the original Hydra-Shok still remains a staple in Federal’s handgun lineup today. 

Federal Ammo in the 1980s

63) Top Gun Shotgun Target

64) No. 1 and No. 000 buckshot Premium loads. Included buffered, copper-plated shot

65) Nyclad pistol cartridges. Allowed for safer indoor shooting practice by containing lead dust in a nylon envelope. 

66) 3-inch Hi-Shok Slug

67) Extra-Lite Target Load

68) Federal Premium 3-inch Magnum Shotshell. Before turkey specific loads, this magnum load gave turkey hunters a maximum charge weight with a full 2-ounces of lead shot. 

69) .22 Magnum. Better bullets and manufacturing gave the .22 Win. Mag. a new burst of popularity in the 1980s. Federal quickly jumped on board, offering a fast-stepping rimfire round.

70) Federal Premium 10-gauge. This shotshell provided the ultimate firepower with 18 00 Buck; twice the usual 12-ga. load.

71) Federal Lightning .22

72) Spitfire .22

73) Nosler Partition and Sierra boat tail. Federal loading these two bullets blazed a new trail by providing factory ammo for hunters that had been solely available to handloaders.

74) Gold Medal Target Load. With reference to the 1980 Olympics, Federal implements the Gold Medal target load with a recoil-dampening wad and one-piece plastic hull.

Federal Ammo in the 1970s

75) Federal Premium

federal premium
Federal Premium Federal

To give hunters over-the-counter rifle cartridges with handload quality, Federal unveiled their Premium line, complete with nickel-plated brass casings. Initially, Federal launched Premium ammunition with Sierra’s boat tail GameKing bullets. A few years later, they added Nosler’s Partition bullet. Then came Sierra’s MatchKing bullets, giving rise to Gold Medal Match. Federal’s Premium line continued to expand over the years, with Nosler’s Ballistic Tip and AccuBond, Barnes’ TSX, Swift’s Scirocco, and the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw. The Premium line continues to adapt to hunting trends, like the current long-range fascination, which Federal is targeting with newer loads that feature Berger bullets. Today, the Premium brand also includes popular rimfire, pistol, and shotshell loads.  

76) League Target Load. An affordable load for practice.

77) Special Target Load. Incorporated fiber wads for wider patterns in skeet shooting

78) Game Load

79) Field Load

80) Hi-Power Steel Shot. This was Federal’s steel shot offering for waterfowlers even before the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service began requiring non-toxic shot.

81) .22 Long Rifle Standard Velocity Champion

Federal Ammo in the 1960s

82) Monark Target Loads

83) Federal Champion Target Load. With a new plastic wad, the Federal Champion Target load supplanted the Monark Target load.

84) Federal Centerfire Rifle and Handgun Ammunition

federal center fire
Federal centerfire ammunition. Federal

It’s hard to imagine Federal without centerfire hunting ammo, but the company’s first 40 years didn’t include any. After supporting America’s national defense effort in World War II and the production of countless shotshells and rimfire cartridges, Federal expanded its offerings with centerfire rifle and handgun ammunition in 1963. This original rifle lineup covered the popular cartridges of the time including .222 Rem., .243 Win., .270 Win., 7mm Maus., .30-30, .30-06 Sprg., .300 Sav., .303 Brit., 8mm Mauser, .32 Win Sp., and .35 Rem. 

Federal Ammo in the 1950s

85) 20-ga 3-inch Hi-Power Shotshell 

86) Standard Magnums Waterfowl load for 2 ¾-inch 12- and 16-gauge

87) 2 3/4-inch Magnum Hi-Power Shotshell. Packed with 4 drams powder equivalent behind a full 1 ½ ounces of lead shot, this would be a powerful hunting load even today.

Federal Ammo in the 1940s

88) Federal’s Mortar Ignition Shell. Resembling a short and stubby shotgun shell, it inserted in the base of a mortar bomb during WWII. 

89) Rifled slugs for 12-, 16-, 20-gauge, and .410. These replaced the round ball loads offered in the 1930s.

Federal Ammo in the 1930s

90) First “Wadless Crimp” shotshells 

91) Magnum Hi-Power Shotshells. For the first time, Federal began offering 3-inch magnums for their Hi-Power shotshells in 12 ga.

92) Airline rimfire cartridges

93) .22 WRF. Western Cartridge Co. began loading the .22 Winchester Rim Fire for Federal in 1933, and the load lasted until the 1950s.

94) Monark skeet shells. Federal’s first skeet loads, designed in response to the rising popularity of the competitive shotgun sports.

Federal Ammo in the 1920s

95) American Eagle ammo line. Federal bought the struggling Kansas City company in the late 1920s. Today, it’s still a Federal sub-brand.

American eagle
The American Eagle line. Federal

96) Non-corrosive Sta-Klean rimfire ammo 

97) Monark trap shotshells 

98) Hi-Power Rimfire. Available in smokeless or semi-smokeless Lesmok, .22 Long and Shorts were more popular than the .22 LR at this point.

99) Hi-Power Shotshell loads

Hi Power
Federal Hi Power. Federal

Two months after Charles Horn purchased Federal, the company’s first products were the HI-POWER shotshells from the former company. Under the HI-POWER line, Federal indicated their low, standard, and high brass loads with Dixie, Standard, and Ranger labels, respectively. The HI-POWER boxes included a black background with the company’s famous Mallard stretched across the front. In the 1930s, Federal phased out HI-POWER as an overall label, replacing it with Federal as the main branding.

100) BB Tubes

bb tubes
The BB tubes that Federal originally produced. Federal

Before the Premium line, bonded bullets, and Flitecontrol wads, Federal cut its teeth on BBs. Charles Horn originally bought Federal because he wanted to make paper tubes for air rifles. Federal offered BBs from the 1920s through the 1970s. Initially, BBs were offered in lead, steel, and even cadmium plated steel. But due to toxicity and malfunction issues, cadmium and lead BBs were dropped, leaving copper-plated BB’s as the sole option.

Early on, the company sold air rifle shot in cardboard tubes similar to the size of a 12-ga. Shotshell. Tubes contained three ounces of shot (roughly 225 BBs). By the 70s, plastic bulk packs that held 2,000 BBs replaced the smaller cardboard tubes. By about 1928, Federal discontinued their BB line and moved toward shotshells.