Achieving the perfect shot via Federal’s Custom Shop

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On a recent tour of the Federal Ammunition company, Tim Lesmeister visited the Custom Shop and got a hands-on experience in creating custom loads for very specific hunting and shooting circumstances. (Photos by Rob Drieslein)

Rob Drieslein, Outdoor News publisher and managing editor, invited me to a join him in touring the Federal Ammunition plant in Anoka, Minn., recently. I’ve lived in Minnesota for over 40 years and had yet to take advantage of the invitations I have received as a member of the outdoor media to visit Federal. I now feel fortunate to have finally got an up-close-and-personal journey through the inner workings of a company that has been successful for 100 years – right out my back door.

One hundred years of building a successful business might cause a company to sit back and bask in their brand loyalty and solid consumer base, but Federal isn’t doing that. They continue to create new loads and improve the quality of their existing bullets and shotshells.

Consider two examples, starting with the brand new 30 Super Carry. This is a cartridge designed just for those who want the power of the 9mm with some extra magazine capacity in their carry pistol. Check out Drieslein’s latest blog for more info on that.

Their brand new X2 shorty is a shotshell designed for self defense that measures just 1-3/4 inches and holds a payload of six 00 segmenting buckshot designed to split into two equal pieces on impact. When used in shotguns designed to cycle sub-length shotshells the loads give you much higher magazine capacity and twice the wound channels over standard loads.

One area we toured that I found extremely impressive was the Federal Custom Shop. This is where Federal offers bullets or shotshells tailored for a marksman’s individual needs. You can get ammunition built at the Custom Shop that you won’t find on any shelf in any store.


The author (r) enjoyed meeting and admiring the work of the two ballistics experts who manage and operate Federal’s Custom Shop. Paul Furrier and Trevor Alt (ctr) use the best components in the shooting world to handcraft ammunition to order for hunters across the continent and beyond.

Hunters and shooters who reload their own ammo create their own custom loads to fit the kind of conditions where they find themselves typically shooting. Or it might be something they load for a specific hunt. But what about those who don’t wish to invest in all the equipment necessary to load their own rounds when they might only need a limited quantity for a particular hunt?

I tossed a question to Trevor Alt, one of the technicians in the Custom Shop that engineers much of the centerfire rounds. Say I’m going to Africa to hunt Cape Buffalo with a .460 Weatherby Magnum. While I’m there I might borrow a .338 or a 7mm Rem Mag and shoot some smaller animals. Could he fix me up with the perfect bullets for those applications? Alt’s simple answer was that they would figure out what components would create the ultimate round, build some, test them, and deliver exactly what is needed.

There are some limitations. While a hunter or shooter might specify cartridge, projectile, and grain weight, the bullet will have to fit into the SAAMI-approved category. The product is all hand-made and tested for accuracy, so it isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for: the perfect round for the specific application.

After a long day of watching some machines that were built over 50 years ago still seamlessly integrated into today’s technology, spitting out thousands of rounds of ammunition, I realized that every time we pull the trigger, we take for granted the complexity that goes into creating a method of delivering a small piece of copper and lead. It goes without saying that Federal has spent the past 100 years spoiling us hunters and shooters who just want to fill the magazines and pull the trigger!

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Firearms, Tim Lesmeister

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