Sub-Gauge Hunting Delight: Federal Premium Prairie Storm
Few pleasures in the upland bird hunting world are as refined and pure as handsome double shotguns paired with exceptional ammunition. Federal Premium is in tune with the needs of discerning hunters who demand the best. Enter the new additions to their line of upland-specific Prairie Storm game loads with FliteStopper Lead tailored specifically for sub-gauges like 16-bore shotguns and 28-bore shotguns.
Federal Premium Prairie Storm FS Lead
Sure, you can knock down birds with many types of ammunition, but when traveling for a hunt or wanting to make every shot on fast-flushing and far-flung birds count, this is where it’s at. Prairie Storm is indeed what the name suggests – a premium line of upland bird hunting shotshells built and loaded completely in-house by the fine folks at Federal in Minnesota.
Prairie Storm is not new. In fact, it has become to the game bird community what Federal’s Black Cloud is to the waterfowl hunters. What is fresh, however, are Prairie Storm loads like the FS Lead in sub-gauges, with our favorite being the 28-gauge option.
Prairie Storm FS Lead is loaded with 30-percent FliteStopper Lead topped with 70-percent copper-plated lead shot. That sits inside the company’s well-proven FliteControl Flex wad, designed to produce full, consistent patterns. Unlike some specialty shells from other brands, Federal Premium’s FliteStopper wads can be used through both ported and standard chokes of any brand.
Though we acquired Prairie Storm FS Lead in both 16 and 28 gauges, it’s the 28 gauge we’ve been working with the most. Our loads for the 28 are 2 3/4 inches loaded with 13/16-ounce #6 shot. It’s zippy at 1,300 feet per second of muzzle velocity. Yet the recoil – as with any 28 gauge – remains light with tight patterns.
Though 28 has been our focus, it’s worth noting that the 16 gauge is a stunner as well. It offers 1 1/8-ounce #5 shot moving at 1,425 fps. That load has proven itself through our beloved 16 gauge and modern Savage over-under. This load, as well as the 28 gauge, will excel on pheasants, ruffed grouse, chukar, and quail.
If that’s not reason enough to grab a box or three for filling the pockets of your hunting vest on the next brush-beating adventure, consider that Federal donates a percentage of the profits from each box of Prairie Storm sold to Pheasants Forever. So this really is a win-win deal, unless you’re a pheasant of course.
Prairie Storm FS Lead shells come packed 25 to a box. They’re not the cheapest on the market by a long shot, but they may be the best for this type of pursuit. Hunters wanting something other than FS Lead should look at Prairie Storm in FS Steel, which sells for nearly half the price and can be had in both 20- and 12-gauge offerings.
Our ammunition testing found a ready and willing firearm ideal for the task, TriStar’s new – and first -ever – side-by-side shotgun, the Bristol. Partner that English-stocked dandy with its case-color finish along with premium 28-gauge shells, a well-mannered dog, and it sounds like a heavenly day.
The ammunition performed flawlessly on the range and the clays courses. We launched the new loads through the Bristol as well as a borrowed Remington semi-automatic and CZ over-under. Recoil is minimal, even in the lightest of the shotguns, the svelte 5.25-pound Bristol.
Though no bird seasons or game lodges were open at the time of testing, we fully expect terminal performance on live birds to be as devastating as it was on the clays course. We did the majority of our shooting with full and improved modified chokes, ready for the possibility of longer shots and wanting to test the range of Prairie Storm. The results in both cases were exceptional. With clays at both close range as well as the farthest-flung, the end results were orange dust. Patterning at the board revealed even tighter than expected results for a hot-loaded bird buster.
We’ll be in the upland fields as soon as seasons open with both the TriStar Bristol and Federal Premium Prairie Storm. Given the combo’s performance on the range and the clays course, we’ll likely opt for one more open choke like improved cylinder for close-range birds and improved modified or full for the far-flung roosters. The ammo may not come cheap, but it's hard to put a price on a memorable day afield, especially one that ends with a vest pocket full of fine birds.
Whether you’re seeking ammunition in one of the more standard calibers or on the lookout for sub-gauge hunting rounds, Federal Premium Prairie Storm is there. Even in the time of pandemic ammo shortages, we’ve regularly found sub-gauge Prairie Storm on the shelves and online. Trust me, it’s a hidden gem you won’t want to miss.