Federal President Jason Vanderbrink is convinced that his company employs the very best ammunition loaders in the business. “Our average tenure exceeds 10 years and many employees are at 20-plus. They view it as a career and you see it when so many wear their Federal gear to work and take pride in building the finest ammunition anywhere.”
Daily output runs beyond hundreds of thousands of rounds, a full slate of rifle, pistol and shotgun cartridges so popular with America’s shooters and hunters that Federal products hold the No. 1 spot in several categories.
And yet, that impressive track record wasn’t enough to satisfy Federal, who last fall launched a new way for shooters to benefit from the loading expertise of America’s biggest and most diverse ammunition supplier. In a first for a mainline manufacturer, the firm has added an online custom shop where customers can obtain an array of non-cataloged loadings.
“The Federal Custom Shop is an all-new way to deliver your preference of the perfect centerfire rifle or shotshell loads built by our ammunition experts,” said Vanderbrink.
In fact, every round is handloaded by an elite team of experienced employees operating hand-presses in a state-of-the-art workshop tucked away within the company’s giant production facility in Minnesota. Shipped to customers in deluxe packaging, each box will be signed by the technician who loaded it.
Custom shops aren’t a new concept in the firearm trade, and neither are custom ammo loaders. But this one is unique in spotlighting literal hands-on attention from seasoned ammo pros working with cutting-edge loading and measuring tools, as well as a menu of the finest components. From case prep right through to seating bullets or crimping shotshells, all operations are performed by technicians selected from among 1,400 Federal employees to fill the shop’s coveted jobs. Each stage is subject to multiple quality checks, and loads are subsequently hand-inspected and cleaned before being packed. Every batch is tested for pressure and accuracy.
Custom Shop offerings feature many components used in present catalog offerings—including award-winning developments from Federal, plus a curated selection of highly regarded projectiles from other brands. Included are select brass (Federal and other top suppliers), along with proprietary Gold Medal Match primers and the optimum powder for the load’s intended application. Discriminating shooters seeking a performance edge will find a promising load here.
“We now have a specific selection of rifle and TSS shotshell loads we will build on-demand, per order,” said Vanderbrink. “For example, Barnes 120-grain Tipped TSX in 6.5-284 Norma and 28-gauge TSS turkey loads aren’t products we list in our catalog, but you can certainly order them through the Custom Shop.”
Included are hard-to-find rifle calibers being offered by Federal for the first time, classics like .257 Wby., .257 Roberts +P and .284 Win., along with all-American favorites, like .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag., to name a few. They come with the buyer’s choice of leading high-performance bullets. Options vary by caliber, but may include top performers like Nosler AccuBond LR, Speer Impact, Barnes Tipped TSX, Hornady ELD-X, Berger Hybrid Hunter and Sierra MatchKing, as well as Federal Premium proprietary heads like Trophy Bonded, Trophy Copper and the new Terminal Ascent. In several cases, Custom Shop products fill in gaps not offered in the factory-production roster.
Turkey hunters and wingshooters will find several shotshell options featuring the game-changing Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) previously unavailable in over-the-counter products, including 10, 16 and 28 gauges, as well as 12 and 20 gauges and .410-bore. Available shot sizes run from No. 6 to No. 10, and some loads will contain blends of two different pellets, a technique used in a few specialized factory turkey loads.
Consumers will find the current menu of offerings, along with ordering details and other info on a dedicated Custom Shop page at federalpremium.com/custom-shop.html. The navigation is fast and easy, and there’s a place for customer comments. Everything is built in compliance with SAAMI guidelines, and though individual specs like cartridge length and bullet-seating depth are standardized, those standards have been expertly established by the company’s ballistic engineers. Already looking ahead, customers are invited to put forth ideas for future Custom Shop offerings via the website’s contact form or invited to call the shop with any questions or thoughts.
The Custom Shop is actually part of a newly structured web strategy that prioritizes getting customers exactly what they want. The site now provides full e-commerce capability that allows shooters to direct-order select factory loads, components and branded merchandise. For convenience, order information can be saved, and customers can presently expect fulfillment in about two to three weeks, plus shipping time. Federal says customers will still be able to shop at local dealers for their go-to loads, but because of the sheer number of items presently cataloged, the online store will serve as a well-stocked alternate source.
“The impetus for the Custom Shop is to be able to cater to 'small-run' customers without disrupting our day-to-day factory operations,” explained Vanderbrink. “Every order will be meticulously completed—from case prep to precise powder drop to bullet seating or crimping. We’re out to prove we’re not only the world’s largest ammunition maker. We’re out to prove we make the best.”