Custom Rifle Ammo
Make precision personal with our wide selection of custom rifle loads.
30 Super Carry
Hits like a 9mm Luger. Carries like a 380 Auto. Designed exclusively for defense.
High Over All
More reloads and better patterns for the most elite trap, skeet and sporting clays shooters.
Varmint & Predator
Get the most of rimfire with loads that offer both accuracy and violent expansion on impact.
There’s never been a muzzleloading system like this. See all the benefits that set FireStick apart to provide the most convenient, safe and consistent performance ever.
Hydra-Shok® Component Bullets
The bullet that’s defined self-defense for a generation is now available as a component.
Federal X Stone Glacier
Two great brands have finally come together. Don't miss your chance to own exclusive Federal-branded Stone Glacier apparel.
Model 2020 Waypoint Special Edition
We worked with engineers from Springfield Armory to create Custom Shop loads specifically designed for the utmost performance from the new Model 2020 Waypoint rifle.
Ironically, it wasn’t ammunition that drew Charles L. Horn to the Federal factory as it sat idle in 1922. It was his interest in machinery that could make paper tubes for holding airgun BBs. In fact, he had as little intent to make BB as ammunition, but that didn’t keep BB manufacturing—or ammunition—from becoming an influential part of Federal history.
When Horn worked at the American Ball Co., he focused efforts on selling steel air rifle shot as a new product. He quickly found that Daisy, the primary maker of BB guns, advised against steel shot, even though lead BBs tended to jam the rifles. Horn successfully demonstrated that steel BBs didn’t damage airgun barrels, and soon enough Daisy itself was recommending them.
John Haller, posing next to Charles Horn, designed many of the early machines at Federal, including those used to make air rifle shot.
Federal initially offered cadmium-coated steel or lead shot. Steel was vastly preferable, but some still feared it would damage fragile BB gun barrels. The company also touted the roundness of its air rifle shot, pointing out that no amount of copper plating could compensate for a pellet made out of round.
In the 1960s, Federal made BB tubes in the same colors used in shotshells. Many different package sizes were offered for the discerning BB gun marksman.
Airgunners, just like hunters or competitive shooters, had to scrape by during World War II, as the government restricted the strategic raw materials needed for BB production.
BBs were made at American Ball until 1933, when manufacturing was moved to Federal plant.Federal XL BBs could initially be ordered in lead, steel or cadmium-plated steel. Cadmium is a byproduct of zinc manufacturing and has a variety of desirable properties like rust resistance and lubricity.
These led to something of a fad for cadmium plating in the 1930s, including for consumer products like lug nuts. Unfortunately, cadmium is also highly toxic, and today cadmium plating is mainly used in electronic or aerospace applications where human contact is rare.
By 1935, the line had expanded to cadmium-plated lead and cadmium or copper-plated steel. Cadmium was dropped in 1937, and lead disappeared about the same time. Thereafter, BBs meant copper-plated steel.
Air rifle shot was sold in cardboard tubes the diameter of a 12-gauge shotshell containing 3 ounces of shot—about 225 BBs. The early tubes were two-piece, with a tapered body and separate roll-crimped cap.
Daisy initially resisted steel shot for BB guns, fearing barrel damage. Charles Horn found an expert to demonstrate it was safe, and Daisy BB guns have used steel shot ever since.
In later years, the packaging became a simpler one-piece tube with folded crimp. These were offered in sizes ranging from 100 to 600 pellets.
1973 was the last year Federal promoted BBs in its catalog, showing new tubes and 2,000-round bulk boxes of the modern times.
Later tubes used a folded crimp and were available in regular, medium, large, and giant sizes, holding 100, 130, 225, and 600 pellets. Suggested retail prices for these were 5, 10, 15, and 25 cents. A quarter in 1961 bought goods worth $2.28 in 2021.
By the 1970s, the usual cardboard tubes had been supplemented by see-through plastic tubes and conventional cardboard bulk packs that held 2,000 BBs.
Federal made these for all the usual private-brand customers like Gambles, Sears, Wards, and Western Auto. The packaging will generally be the same, other than the brand stamp.
Sadly, BB manufacturing came to an end in 1976, closing the books on a sideline whose significance in Federal history should never be forgotten.