From the very beginning of the year, we have been covering the news of Vista Outdoor and particularly Federal Premium Ammunition. This year the company has released probably the largest amount of new products in the ammunition industry. And I am talking about not only additions to existing ammunition lines but also introductions of entirely new product families such as the Punch, Solid Core, Force X2 and Terminal Ascent. At SHOT Show 2020, Federal added two other new ammunition products to the mentioned ones, one of which is the HammerDown lever-action ammunition line.
The HammerDown hunting ammunition line was developed in cooperation with Henry Repeating Arms. These loads have been optimized to provide maximum performance in typical lever-action rifle barrel lengths. The bonded soft point and hollow bullets have also been tuned to have a maximum expansion, weight retention and accuracy at those velocities. These cartridges are also nickel plated for utmost corrosion resistance and smooth extraction. On top of the tuned ballistics and coating, the cartridge design itself has been slightly tweaked. Particularly, in order to ensure a smoother loading via King’s patent side gates, the cartridge rims are ever so slightly tapered (see the below-embedded image). It should not affect the headspace because there is still plenty of rim surface to headspace off of. However, it makes a huge difference when loading the gun and I assume when cycling the action too. I fired .30-30 Winchester HammerDown rounds at SHOT Show 2020 range day, and when loading the side gate, you can tell right away how smooth the cartridges glide into the tubular magazine.
Federal HammerDown ammunition will be available in the following calibers, bullet weight options and MSRPs (all prices are for 20 round boxes).
- 357 Magnum, 170 grain ($19.99)
- 327 Federal, 127 grain ($19.99)
- 44 Magnum, 270 grain ($19.99)
- 45 Colt, 250 grain ($19.99)
- 30-30 Winchester, 150 grain ($19.99)
- 45-70 Government, 300 grain ($38.99)
The company plans to add the .35 Remington cartridge to this line shortly after its initial launch as well as add other cartridges in the future to further expand this ammunition line.
Note that all the handgun cartridges are loaded with heavier-for-caliber bullets. According to Federal, “increased bullet weight better handles higher velocities produced from longer rifle barrels and helps provide better depth of penetration upon impact“. The advertised muzzle velocities of .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .45 Colt cartridges are 1,610 fps, 1,715 fps, and 1,400 fps respectively. Of course, everything is within the SAAMI specs.