Federal Premium Ammunition

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Federal Premium Ammunition
Formerly called
Federal Cartridge Corporation
Ammunition manufacturer
Industry Ammunition
Founded 1916[1]Refounding: April 27, 1922[2]
Headquarters Anoka, Minnesota, USA
Key people
Charles L. Horn (Founder)
Products Shotshell, centerfire, rimfire ammunition
Number of employees
Parent Vista Outdoor
Slogan Every Shot Counts
Website Federal Ammunition

Federal Premium Ammunition, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vista Outdoor Inc., is located in Anoka, Minnesota. With a work force of nearly 1,500, Federal manufactures shotshell, centerfire, and rimfire ammunition and components.


On April 27, 1922, Charles L. Horn took control of a small plant in Anoka, Minnesota and refounded Federal Cartridge Corporation.[2] Horn launched a distribution plan that involved merchandising Federal products in grocery stores, barbers shops, and filling stations. In 1941, Federal earned an $87 million contract from the U.S. government (approx. $1.3 billion in 2010) to build and operate the $30 million Twin City Ordnance Plant (TCOP).[2] Federal ranked 59th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.[3]

Federal's TCOP plant was awarded Army-Navy "E" for excellence of production of war materials. Federal's production was said to have played a major role in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

After 55 years of service, Charles L. Horn retired from Federal Cartridge Corporation. William B. Horn, son of Charles, took control and expanded Federal's advertising and marketing programs, increasing the company's visibility. Federal was the first manufacturer to color code its shotshells by gauge in 1960. It converted from paper to plastic hull shotshells in 1965 and developed nontoxic shells. Federal was the first manufacturer to introduce a steel load in 1973.

In 1977, William B. Horn introduced Federal's Premium line of centerfire rifle and shotshell ammunition. Federal also owned Hoffman Engineering, a company that made electronic enclosures. In 1985, Federal was sold to a group of private investors including Kelso & Company, BancBoston Capital, and members of management. The two companies were united under the name Federal-Hoffman, Inc and taken private during the sale. However, in 1988, Pentair Inc., a diversified manufacturer based in Minnesota, agreed to acquire FC Holdings Inc., the holding company for Federal-Hoffman Inc., for $175 million USD in cash and the assumption of debt.[4] Federal-Hoffman have since split, and Federal is currently owned by Vista Outdoor. Vista Outdoor group, formerly a group of outdoor and sporting companies owned by Alliant Techsystems; was spun off from Alliant Techsystems in February 2015. Federal Cartridge does business today as Federal Premium Ammunition.

Use in competiton[edit]

Federal's UltraMatch Rimfire ammunition helped American shooters win gold and silver medals in the 1992 Olympics Games. In the 1996 Olympic Games, shooters brought home gold, silver and bronze medals shooting Federal's Gold Medal International paper shells. Later that year, Federal was named "Ammunition of the Year" by the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence and "Manufacturer of the Year" by the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers.

Early in 2003, Federal ceased production of UltraMatch rimfire ammunition. Reasons cited by Federal employees included production difficulties and "lack of sales."


Defense ammunition[edit]

The company makes defense ammunition: Hydrashok, Expanding Full Metal Jacket, and HST. Hydrashok has been popular among American law enforcement agencies for many years now while the newer HST ammunition has shown in testing to expand to more than twice the original bullet diameter. Vista Outdoor (then Alliant TechSystems), which owns Federal and Speer has conducted Wound Ballistic Workshops in police agencies around the country using Winchester SXT, Speer Gold Dot, and the HST. The Speer Gold Dot was the only "bonded" bullet used in several workshops. EFMJ is marketed as an alternative to hollow point ammunition in locales where such ammunition is illegal for civilian carry. The State of New Jersey is one such place.

HST 380 Auto Micro[edit]

The HST 380 Auto Micro was designed for self defense and use in small pistols such as the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard. It has a nickel-plated casing and special primer that improve its reliability in semi-automatic handguns. It weighs 99 grains and has a deep, tapered hollow-point in order to provide consistent expansion. This ammunition does not meet the FBI Ammunition Testing Protocol. With a 3.75-inch test barrel HST 380 Auto Micro ammunition achieves a muzzle velocity of 1,030 feet per second, a velocity of 990 feet per second at 25 years, and a velocity of 950 feet per second at 50 yards. Using the same sized test barrel, it measures 235 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.[5]


Hydra-Shok is a type of cartridge with expanding bullets made by. It was originally patented by Federal Premium bullet designer Tom Burczynski. Hydra-Shok was introduced in 1988 after the FBI requested a bullet with better terminal ballistics than traditional cup and core projectiles.[6]

Hydra-Shok ammunition features a unique, patented center-post design and notched jacket with a non-bonded lead core. Together they are meant to provide more reliable expansion and deeper penetration than the other projectiles used at that time. Federal Premium claims that the scored jacket and center post design provide a "programmed" expansion. There has been much debate regarding the bullets unreliable expansion when fired through clothing or media other than ballistic gelatin. In ballistic gelatin, the bullet typically displays very rapid expansion resulting in a larger but more shallow wound channel than would be typical from most other bullet configurations in the same caliber and of similar weight.


Federal Premium announced a .30-30 Winchester version of its Vital-Shok Trophy Copper ammunition for medium-sized game in August of 2015. These bullets are tipped with polymer inserts in order to effect rapid expansion and retain 99 percent of their mass after expanding. The one percent loss of mass is due mostly to shedding the polymer tip. The case of this cartridge is nickel-plated to make extraction easier and prevent corrosion.[7]

Black Cloud Snow Goose[edit]

Federal Black Cloud Snow Goose loads are designed for use against large waterfowl. It comes in BB and 2. Federal claims a muzzle velocity of 1,635 feet per second.[8]

American Eagle Syntech[edit]

Federal Premium introduced a polymer-encapsulated bullet in late 2015 that prevents metal-on-metal contact in the bore helping to extend barrel life. It is called Syntech and is sold under Federal's American Eagle brand. In addition to preventing metal-on-metal contact, Synth's polymer coating also prevents copper and lead fouling. Cartridges using Syntech bullets also use special primers and clean-burning propellants to further minimize fouling.[9]


  1. ^ "Federal Cartridge Company". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  2. ^ a b c "Federal Cartridge Company: Federal Premium Ammunition's 90th year of booming business". PioneerPress. June 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  3. ^ Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  4. ^ "Sale to Pentair". New York Times. November 15, 1988. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Carter, Aaron (January 2011). "Managing Editor". American Rifleman. [full citation needed]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Fenson, Brad (6 January 2016). "6 Tips For Sea Duck Hunting Success". Mossberg.com. Mossberg. 11 January 2016 
  9. ^ [3]

External links[edit]