When Federal, the world’s largest producer of sporting ammunition, claims its newest product is “the best hunting bullet ever built within the 98-year history of the company,” hunters everywhere take notice. Guns.com sat down with Federal company leaders and product engineers at its plant in Anoka, MN to get the inside scoop on 2020’s hottest ammunition launch–Terminal Ascent hunting ammunition and bullets.
What is Federal Premium Terminal Ascent?
Federal Premium’s Terminal Ascent is a premium factory rifle ammunition loaded for match-grade long-range accuracy with a bonded, boat-tail-profile hunting bullet. It’s important to note that unlike many other ammunition companies and reloaders, Federal builds proprietary bullets in house from raw materials, and the Terminal Ascent projectiles are the result of decades of improvement and engineering.
The company’s blue Slipstream polymer tip—along with a smaller meplat and hollowed channel below– is intended to both flatten trajectories and, more importantly, initiate lower-velocity expansion. With the advertised potential of the bullet to expand at only 1,350 fps, the round will find a welcome audience with hunters using handguns and other shorter-barreled rifles where speed and terminal performance must be carefully considered. While lower velocity expansion speaks to long-range responsiveness, the key to Terminal Ascent’s potential is its all-range performance.
Though the round is new, it’s not quite as brand-new as you’d think. Instead, Terminal Ascent has deep roots in the company’s earlier designs from Trophy Bonded Tip to Trophy Bonded Bear Claw. The closest comparison and nearest relative, however, is with Federal’s previous long-range ammunition from which the new Terminal Ascent springs—Edge TLR.
Bullet weights for the chamberings that overlap with Edge TLR remain the same, though a few additional have been added to Terminal Ascent, like the 6.5’s and the 28 Nosler. Most of the ballistic coefficients also remain static, though a few are slightly improved. The SlipStream tip, in fact, is not new but was first used on the Edge TLR. Likewise, the AccuChannel technology is not new, having been used on Edge TLR. This time around, though, Federal engineers studied and tested at length to learn that two AccuChannel grooves, along with a few other proprietary changes, provided the absolute best results.
Getting the Groove On!
While the loaded ammunition should be impressive, with nickel-plated casings, sealed primers, and clean-burning powder, the technological genius rests largely in the projectile. The major change is not one but two AccuChannel grooves intended to both improve accuracy and minimize drag.
“The industry’s average groove has 90-degree steep walls, whereas Federal’s AccuChannel has a sloped rear wall, which lets the air flow in and out of the groove, reduces the pressure on that point, and reduces drag,” Federal said in a press release.
While traditional grooving can negatively affect the ballistic coefficient, new channels have a significantly lesser effect. Further, the bullet’s sleek Slipstream tip and lengthened, svelte profile translate into high ballistic coefficients. Ballistic Coefficient (BC) is a term commonly tossed about these days, and to that end, hunters who rely upon BC when choosing a long-range bullet to be pleased with the Terminal Ascent caliber offerings.
How Terminal Ascent Could Benefit All Hunters
Accuracy is the first–and of course a crucial–part of the success of any new hunting round, but with the rising interest in hunting at extended ranges comes an even more important terminal performance consideration. If a bullet performs well only at ranges beyond 300-yards, then shots on game at closer ranges may not be clean, with bullets often failing to penetrate.
Likewise, bullets that do well on thinner skinned game at ranges of 100-yards or less may likely not maintain appropriate performance at extended distances, leading to wounded or lost game. As ethical hunters, we strive for the quick, clean harvest.
If Federal claims hold true, Terminal Ascent could be a viable hunting option for most any North American big game and range. As a caveat, however, no ammunition—no matter how great—replaces significant range time practice and an honest introspection on ethical hunting shot distances.
Federal Premium is going all-in right from the beginning launching not just a handful of chamberings, but rather, including eleven of the most popular long-range hunting calibers, each maximized with the ideal bullet weight for high BC and terminal performance at all ranges. In addition to the healthy line of factory-loaded hunting ammunition, Federal also announced a Terminal Ascent bullet component line offering in 50-count boxes.
Like any other hunting product, the proof is in the accuracy on the range and then reinforcement in performance on animals in the field, and Guns.com will be heading out to hunt with Terminal Ascent very shortly.
In the meantime, check out the entire list of Terminal Ascent offerings.
- 6.5 Creedmoor 130 grain– MSRP $52.95
- 6.5 PRC 130 grain– MSRP $50.95
- 270 Win. 136 grain– MSRP $44.95
- 270 Win. Short Mag 136 grain– MSRP $46.95
- 280 Ackley Imp. 155 grain– MSRP $52.95
- 28 Nosler 155 grain– MSRP $52.95
- 7mm Rem. Mag 155 grain– MSRP $50.95
- 308 Win. 175 grain– MSRP $42.95
- 30-06 Sprg. 175 grain– MSRP $42.95
- 300 Win Mag 200 grain– MSRP $53.95
- 300 WSM 200 grain– MSRP $53.95