Federal Launches New Custom Shop

America’s largest ammunition manufacturer goes small
2

Federal Custom Shop offerings include 10 different centerfire rifle cartridges and 35 combinations of shotshells.

Have you ever wanted to shoot 6.5-284 Norma loaded with 120-grain Barnes TTSX, or a 28-gauge TSS turkey load? Up until now, those haven’t been available as Federal standard factory offerings but the landscape is changing with the launch of the new online Federal Custom Shop announced earlier this year.

“The Federal Custom Shop is an all-new way to deliver your preference of the perfect centerfire rifle or shotgun load built by our ammunition experts,” said Federal President Jason Vanderbrink.

While custom handloading is common among competitive shooters and long-distance enthusiasts, the Federal Custom Shop was created to better serve the everyday hunter and shooter who demands “ammunition tailored for their individual needs at the highest level of quality, or who can’t find the right ammunition on the retail shelf.”

As someone who received a hand-me-down Remington 722 in .257 Roberts, I can relate to the struggle of finding factory ammo in-store or online — and Federal knows there are plenty of shooters like me.

Separate from the main factory, the Federal Custom Shop is a manned by a small team of expert loading technicians.

Small Meets Large

From Minneapolis, follow the narrow Mississippi River north for 30 minutes and you’ll find yourself in Anoka, Minn. With a population of less than 20,000, it’s here where Federal has been manufacturing ammunition for nearly 100 years.

At the center of campus sits a 700,000-square-foot factory facility where 1,400 employees work 24/7 in three shifts to produce millions of rounds of centerfire, rimfire and shotshell ammo every day for civilian, law enforcement, and military consumption.

If this number seems like an unfathomable amount of ammo — it is. But the numbers make sense when you consider Federal and Speer, both owned by Vista Outdoor, supply ammunition to nearly 80 percent of the U.S. law enforcement market — roughly 7,000 agencies — including the LAPD and NYPD. It’s no surprise Federal is one of the largest producers of ammunition in the world.

Once inside, a constant drone of heavy machinery requires the use of ear protection. Many of the large machines are one-of-a-kind and have been running, nearly non-stop, since WWII or longer. Others are more modern and efficient but all are needed to keep up with production demands.

The alarms of motorized carts and forklifts echo as they dodge each other between the hedgerows of machines, moving crates filled with cases, primers and projectiles to the next stage of manufacturing. Each crate holds enough supplies to keep one happily shooting for a year and then some.

Tucked away in a separate and secured white-wall room amidst all the organized chaos is a dedicated, state-of-the-art reloading lab — the Federal Custom Shop. It’s here where a small hand-selected team of expert engineers and loading technicians hand-load, inspect, package and sign each Custom Shop order.

“Every shot is personal. It’s just you. Your target. Your firearm. The nuances of all three come together to make every press of the trigger uniquely yours."

Precision Made Personal

It’s a personal, hands-on approach Federal is taking with this new Custom Shop — and precision is of utmost importance.

Custom Shop orders start online at federalpremium.com/custom-shop, where customers can select from available rifle and shotshell ammo. Centerfire rifle customers can select a caliber and choose from a selection of bullet styles and grain weights. Similarly, shotshell customers can select from a list of gauges, hull and shot sizes. Shotshells are roll- or fold-crimped based on the customer’s intended use (i.e., turkey, waterfowl, upland). Customers also can add optional notes to their order and are encouraged to provide details about their firearm such as barrel length and twist-rate. If something doesn't add up, a dedicated Custom Shop representative will contact customers for more information.

Once an order is received, the precision begins. Loading technicians start with case and hull inspection, rejecting any with visual defects, before measuring bullet-to-case concentricity, overall length and base-to-bore dimensions. Projectiles are also subject to strict inspection for consistency. These checks, coupled with a tight powder drop tolerance, are performed to ensure Custom Shop rounds are loaded to maximum accuracy potential.

Rounds are then hand-loaded using RCBS and proprietary loading tools, with only the best components, selected appropriately for each individual load, being used. Brass cases are supplied by Federal, as well as Lapua, Norma, Nosler, Weatherby and others with the original manufacturer’s headstamp. All primers are Gold Medal Match and specified for standard and magnum cartridges while propellant is sourced from Alliant Powder and other reliable providers.

Following loading and a final inspection, rounds are cleaned and packaged in a black Federal Custom Shop logo box — equal in quality to an iPhone or expensive watch package — and signed by the technician.

Each batch of centerfire Custom Shop loads is tested for pressure, velocity and accuracy, and a ballistics chart provided. Shotshell designs are pattern tested.

Federal Custom Shop orders are packaged in premium black boxes signed by the loading technician.

Custom Offerings

Rifle shooters can initially select from 10 SAAMI-approved Custom Shop centerfire cartridges including .243 Win, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win, .270 WSM, .308 Win, .338 Federal, .257 Weatherby Magnum, .284 Win, .30-06 Sprg, .300 Win Mag, .300 WSM, 6.5-284 Norma and 7mm Rem Mag. Calibers such as the .264 Win, 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum, .300 PRC and others are expected to be offered in the future.

Bullet options, such as Federal Edge TLR and Trophy Copper, Barnes TTSX, Berger Hybrid Hunter, Hornady ELD-X, Nosler AccuBond, AccuBond Long Range and Partition, and Sierra MatchKing are available based on selected caliber.

For shotgunners, 35 Custom Shop shotshell combinations are offered, all loaded with Federal TSS and designed with hunters in mind. Gauges include 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 bore, with shell length varying from 2-3/4 inch up to 3-1/2 inches. Payload weights range from 11/16 ounce up to 2-1/2 ounce and TSS shot is offered in 7, 8, 9 and 10 sizes. Options depend on the selected gauge.

The original creators of the shotshell color code in the 1960s, hull colors are the same as standard Federal ammunition — brown for 10-gauge, purple for 16-gauge, yellow for 20-gauge and red for 12-gauge, 28-gauge and .410 bore.

As hand-loaded and built-to-order precision ammo, Custom Shop rounds are priced higher than ammo found on the shelves of your local big box store or gun dealer but this shouldn’t stop the discerning shooter. Centerfire rifle ammo comes in at $99.99, while shotshells range from $94 to $154. Free shipping is valid on orders of $99 or more with lead time estimated at 2 to 4 weeks, plus standard delivery time.

Federal Custom Shop shotshell gauges include 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 bore.

Customer First

Listening to Vanderbrink speak, it’s not about the money, it’s about getting back to the core skills of Federal to better serve the customer — customers who are looking for a 28-gauge TSS turkey load, or .257 Roberts +P for a family heirloom rifle.

“Every shot is personal. It’s just you. Your target. Your firearm. The nuances of all three come together to make every press of the trigger uniquely yours. Now there’s ammunition built to match — handcrafted just for you.”

For more information, or to place your Custom Shop order, go to federalpremium.com.