Federal Premium Ammunition

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Federal Premium Ammunition
Federal Cartridge Corporation
Ammunition manufacturer
Founded1916[1]Refounding: April 27, 1922[2]
HeadquartersAnoka, Minnesota, USA
Key people
Charles L. Horn (Founder)
ProductsShotshell, centerfire, rimfire ammunition
Number of employees
ParentVista Outdoor
WebsiteFederal 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]

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 has since split, and Federal is currently owned by Vista Outdoor. Vista Outdoor, formerly the outdoor and sporting goods division of Alliant Techsystems; was spun off in February 2015. Federal Cartridge does business today as Federal Premium Ammunition.


Defense ammunition[edit]

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 yards, 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. 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 has a 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.[7]


Federal Premium announced a .30-30 Winchester version of its Vital-Shok Trophy Copper ammunition for medium-sized game in August 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.[8]

Federal Premium sells shotgun slugs with Vital-Shok branding. These slugs use the Foster, also known as American, design. Foster-type slugs have rifling to make it easier to pass them through a choke and have hollow tails that help stabilize the slug in flight.[9]

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.[10]

American Eagle brand[edit]

American Eagle is a brand of ammunition produced by Federal Premium Ammunition which is offered in rimfire and centerfire rifle and handgun cartridges.

Special limited edition[edit]

American Eagle Special Edition ammunition supports C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors). [11]

.223 Remington[edit]

American Eagle Ammunition

American Eagle .223 Remington was tested by Eve Flanagan.[12]


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. Syntech derives its name from its Total Polymer Jacket (TPJ) that takes the place of traditional copper jackets. Syntech's TPJ coating also prevents copper and lead fouling. Cartridges using Syntech bullets also use special primers and clean-burning propellants to further minimize fouling.[13][14]

Syntech is designed with indoor range shooters in mind. In addition to being cleaner than conventional ammunition, Federal Premium claims that Syntech is also safer due to decreased splash and fragmenting when hitting hard targets. The company says its studies show that what little spray there is stays close to the target.[15]

Syntech was reviewed by the American Rifleman.[16]


As of July 2017, 1,100 (down from 1,400 2016) workers are employed on four shifts at Federal Premium's factory in Anoka, Minnesota. Federal Premium had doubled its number of employees at this factory since 2003 and invested in new buildings and equipment. Until shortly after the election of 2016 which saw a huge drop in sales of ammunition causing a mass layoff and buyouts of employees totally around 300. Raw materials are brought to the factory by rail. Production runs 24 hours per day. Some of the machinery in use at Anoka dates back to the 1940s. The company's quality control allows defects to be traced back to the employees who oversaw loading of the substandard ammunition.[17]


  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". Pioneer Press. 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". The New York Times. November 15, 1988. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  5. ^ "Federal Premium's HST 380 Auto Micro Ammo – Redefines Compact Protection". AmmoLand. United States. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  6. ^ Carter, Aaron (January 2011). "Managing Editor". American Rifleman.[full citation needed]
  7. ^ "9mm Ammo Quest: Federal Premium Hydra Shok". The Truth About Guns. Robert Farago. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  8. ^ Slowik, Max (8 July 2015). "Federal Premium's new .30-30 Win. Vital-Shok Trophy Copper". Guns.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  9. ^ Case, Larry (23 July 2018). "Ammunition: Shotgun Slugs 101". Gun Digest. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  10. ^ Fenson, Brad (6 January 2016). "6 Tips For Sea Duck Hunting Success". Mossberg.com. Mossberg. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Special-Edition American Eagle Ammunition Supports C.O.P.S." vistaoutdoor.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  12. ^ Flanagan, Eve. "In praise of good ol' Federal American Eagle 223 FMJ". guncarrier.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  13. ^ "New For 2016: American Eagle's Polymer-Encapsulated Syntech Ammo". Tactical Life (Harris Publications). New York, New York. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  14. ^ "American Eagle Syntech TSJ: What Is Synthetic-Tip Ammo?". Gun Digest. United States. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  15. ^ Alberts, Kristin (8 February 2016). "First look at Federal's three new ammo offerings". Guns.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Federal American Eagle Syntech Handgun Ammunition Review". americanrifleman.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  17. ^ Miniter, Frank (25 March 2016). "Ammo Increasingly Goes Custom". American Hunter. Fairfax, Virginia. Retrieved 9 May 2016.

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