New Federal Ammunition Offerings

Federal HST

Federal Premium announced a number of new ammunition offerings for 2017. These cover rimfire, centerfire handgun, centerfire rifle and shotshells. Here’s a quick preview of three of the new things coming.

Federal .38 Special HST Micro

Optimizing handgun ammunition for short barreled handguns has become more popular with several manufacturers offering at least one load tailored for small guns. Federal’s HST line already offers other short barrel loads, and now the company adds the .38 Special.

With this load, the company seats the bullet deep inside the case so that it takes on a profile similar to a wadcutter. Typically, a .38 Special has a lot of dead air in the cartridge case (hold one up and you can hear the powder moving if you shake it.) I am curious to see what else the company has done with this load to ensure reliable expansion.

Fusion MSR 6.5 Grendel

Fusion is Federal’s affordable brand of hunting ammunition. For the new year, the company added the 6.5 Grendel to the MSR line. Part of the goal of the MSR line is to ensure optimum performance from the shorter barrels typically found on AR style rifles (as compared to a traditional bolt-action hunting rifle.) The Grendel load will use a 120 grain bullet, though no additional information is available yet.

Black Cloud with Flitecontrol Flex

Waterfowl hunters looking for tighter patterns might be interested in the new loads in the Black Cloud line. These new shotshells use the company’s Flitecontrol Flex wads to provide tighter shot groups. In all, there will be 25 new loads that cover both 12 and 20 gauges.



Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is http://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/.


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  • Edeco

    Oooh, deep seated 38 Spl, neat. I suspect it gives a cleaner, more consistent burn.

    I have some 38 WC, haven’t tried it yet. Couldn’t convince the gun shop guy I wanted it to play with, not due to being recoil-sensitive and in fear of attack :S Problem tho is that’s solid lead, so even if it burns clean will smear a bit. Be interesting to see deep-planted metal-jacketed assault-bullets.

    • Dougscamo

      Having started my LE career shortly after Wyatt Earp died (kidding), I shot thousand upon thousand of .38 wadcutters….punched nice round holes in paper with little recoil….fun shooting but yeah, it smears and you will have to really go after the lead left behind….especially in the forcing cone…

  • Bigg Bunyon

    Unless the cylinder’s length is the same length as the .38 Special case, I see no advantage for this ammunition. Given self defense supposed distances, I have little (if any) concern for powder burn efficiency. I just want reliable ignition and good velocity for the round in question. I guess you could make a case for deep seating making for a more consistent powder burn, but proper powder choice can do that too. And that aspect was mastered decades ago. Meh … a [marketing] solution looking for a problem.

    • Until the creation of the propellant Trail Boss, there really hasn’t been a solution for this in lower pressure cartridges with large volume cases.

      FWIW: The US Army and and US Air Force played with a similar concept when developing a successor to M41 Ball. The M41’s ~130gr FMJ projectile was deep seated in the .38 Special case to create the PGU-12/B High Velocity load.

      • Bigg Bunyon

        Yep, I get that. What I’m saying is there is no radical improvement in anything here: the marginal gain is insignificant at self defense distances that are often measured in feet not yards or meters. I’ve been hand loading .38 Special since 1971 and powders such as Unique, Bullseye, HS6 and others have always provided consistent efficient performance as have the commercial offerings. There was a time I was all into energy, velocity, Standard Deviation, Mode, Mean and Median velocities and etc. After loading and shooting tens of thousands of .38 Spcl rounds (last total cartridge count as of 2012 was 480,000) I’ve come to the conclusion that the additional few fps in velocity or lb-ft of energy gained or 2% increase in burn efficiency by all the attention to the metrics was worthless. Fun at the time, but the effect on the target was not even measurable. How dead can the game be or how hard or efficiently made does the hole in the paper really have to be? But if you think this ammunition is better for you then buy it. Lately I’ve been using Ramshot True Blue for .38 Spcl and it performs very well when the metrics are examined. But, as is the usual case, YMMV and it’s your gun and your money. Enjoy.

    • klaus.ramelow

      deep seating making for a more consistent powder burn:
      but this would mean also prolonging the free flight before reaching the barrel
      and would create poor precision

  • This is kind of a full-circle throwback to the original (pre-Federal) HydraShok UDL, which used a reversed hollowbase wadcutter with the patented HydraShok center post. Of course, HST is reportedly short for “HydraShok Two.”

    • valorius

      I have several rounds of that ammo that my dad used to carry when he was an undercover Philly cop in the 1970s-80s.

    • Yep – the reverse base WC were pretty popular with a lot of folks. It would be interesting to see how well that stuff performed in gel for a comparison to some of the modern loads.

  • Sam

    I’d guess higher initial pressure for velocity gain with less powder. Save a few cents in powder, charge a few bucks more.

    • Spencerhut

      When your 5-shot micro revolver runs out of ammo, you better already be running. The likelihood of reloading such a gun with a speedloader under fire/stress is low at best. Using speedloaders with 5-shot revolvers is mall ninja fantasy. If you carry 5-shot, wear running shoes unless your initials are J.M.

  • iksnilol

    If there’s so much dead air in the .38 couldn’t you use ammo like this and make a Nagant seal system?

    • Kurt Akemann

      Possibly, but I don’t know if a revolver built in such a fashion could accept ammo not built in the sealing manner. A need for specialist ammo would drive up the price of shooting the gun.

      • iksnilol

        Maybe if chambered for specialist .357 the chamber would still be long enough for regular .38 special ?

    • Dougscamo

      BTW….”Did you know you can suppress that?”…. 🙂

    • int19h

      Wouldn’t you need the cylinder to move back and forward to create a seal though? It does on Nagant.

      • iksnilol

        Yeah, you’d need that. I was just thinking you could use the same concept if you could push the bullet down enough into the case.

        Would be more common components than the 7.62 Nagant.

  • Tim

    I am glad to see another company putting R&D in to revolver cartridges. I love the Speer short barrel offerings, but they are hard to find. This is possibly another option.

    • guest

      This.

      I would like to see a full-power .357 Mag HST load–or Ranger-T. Federal Tactical Bonded or Ranger Bonded would be good too.

  • valorius

    I have full wadcutter LHP ammunition from the 1970s that my dad used to carry in his .38 snubnose revolver when he was an undercover cop. What’s old is new, and what’s new is old.

    • Dougscamo

      Used to work with guys that did that….never did myself….

  • Big Daddy

    I’d like to see how them perform in the FBI protocol for ammunition.

    • Sulaco5

      Would depend mostly on the bullet construction and velosity, not seating depth, no?

  • Sledgecrowbar

    I was hoping it would be nickel-plated all-brass shotshell hulls.

    We’d probably sooner see 10mm loadings with respectable energy.

  • klaus.ramelow

    I am sorry, but this message appears:
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  • Tonto

    Me happy with Winchester White Box 38 hp.
    Me probably shoot nobody but good ins.