Using the Federal Custom Shop
A few years ago, I wrote an article about how to select your factory ammo for the hunter that doesn’t reload. Federal Premium has just given hunters that don’t reload a new option if they are hunting with a caliber that is hard to find ammo or if they want a specific bullet loaded for their rifle that isn’t available commercially. Federal assembled a group of their most experienced employees to staff the Custom Shop. Using the best components available, these expert engineers handcraft this ammunition to order.
Currently the Custom Shop builds ammo in 243 Winchester, 257 Roberts +P, 6.5 Creedmoor, 270 Winchester, 270 Winchester Short Magnum, 280 Ackley Improved, 7MM Remington Magnum, 308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 Winchester Short Magnum, 338 Federal, 9.3x62 Mauser, 375 H&H Magnum, 416 Rigby, 416 Remington Magnum, 458 Winchester Magnum, 458 Lott, 470 Nitro Express, 500 Nitro Express, 257 Weatherby Magnum, 264 Winchester, 26 Nosler, 284 Winchester, 300 PRC, 370 Sako, 6.5-284 Norma, 6.5-300 WBY Mag, 6.5 PRC, and 6.5 Creedmoor.
The custom ammo can be built using a variety of bullets for various makers like Berger, Hornady, Barnes, Nosler, Sierra, Swift, Federals own Terminal Ascent, Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, and others.
If you hunt with a 270 Winchester or a 30-06 this might not seem like too big a deal unless you wanted a specific bullet like Nosler AccuBond Long Range or Hornady’s ELD-X. If you happen to need hard to find ammo for your 257 Roberts, or your 270 Winchester Short Magnum, the Custom Shop option suddenly becomes a lot more attractive. They offer Hornady ELDX-X, Nosler AccuBond Long Range and Barnes Tipped TSX bullets ranging in weight from 130, 145 and 150 grains for the 270 WSM. The 257 Roberts Ammo is available with Barnes Tipped TSX, Nosler Partition, Nosler AccuBond, Sierra MatchKing, and Trophy Copper in bullet weights of 100, 110 and 155 Grains. The offerings for the 257 Roberts alone are a wider selection than is available commercially.
Testing the Custom Ammo
My old friend JJ Reich sent me a couple of boxes of Federal Custom in 300 Winchester Magnum loaded with Federal’ 175 Grain Terminal ASCENT bullet. This load leaves the muzzle at 3030 feet per second and is still carrying 1843 ft-lbs. of energy at 500 yards. Zeroed at 200 yds, Terminal ASCENT only drops 6 inches at 300 yds, 18 inches at 400, and 36 inches at 500 - pretty flat shooting for a 175-gr bullet.
There is nothing like a day at the firing range trying out new ammo. Normally I take a rifle and several different loads in search of the right load for the rifle. This time since we wanted to try out the ammo in different rifles. I called on a couple of friends, Richard “Casey” Sandlin and Tyler Price local competitive shooters - both contenders in nearly every local match - that like hunting with 300 Winchester Magnums. We gathered up four rifles, a Bergara B-14 Ridge, a Browning A-Bolt hunter, a Remington 700 Sendero, and Remington 700 SPS in 300 Win Mag, and met at the Owsley County Sportsman’s Club Outdoor Range. We took a box of Federal Premium 200 grain TERMINAL ASCENT, as well as a box of Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt Tipped, for comparison. The Premium TERMINAL ASCENT shot well in everything with the Sendero pulling the best group of 0.878. The Browning A-Bolt performed the best with the Core-Lokt Tipped shooting just over an inch. These results seem common when shooting factory ammo through a variety of rifles. One rifle will shoot it quite well while another won’t like it at all. The Federal Custom broke this pattern. It did quite well in all four rifles. It did show a pattern of putting 2 bullets in one hole and throwing one, but all four rifles averaged groups close to one inch. That is unusual for factory ammo. The old Sendero managed to put three shots into 0.397 inches.
The consistency of the Federal Custom, plus the ability to pick the particular bullet and bullet weight is what sets it apart from production ammo. The price of $109.99 a box seems a little high at first glance, but experienced handloaders can tell you that if you spend a lot of time trying different bullets and powder combinations, it is easy to invest a lot of money to come up with a custom load. If you don’t handload and have a desire or need for something a little different than what is normally available, Federal Custom is definitely worth looking into.