Gun Digest

Federal Premium HammerDown: Nailing Lever-Action Ammo

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Terminal performance that hits like Thor's hammer, the Federal Premium line of lever-action ammo gases up the classic long gun.

Long-live the lever-action rifle. Even in the face of technological advancements, there’s still nothing quite like the classic iron. It’s fast, reasonably accurate and, face it, about as much fun as you can have with a shoulder-fired gun. Just one problem—ammunition selection. Tubular magazines fairly standard nowadays, modern ammo—in particular spitzer bullets—don’t play nice with the guns.

Thankfully, ammunition-makers have recognized this conundrum in recent decades. Addressing it, they have produced fantastic options to overcome some of these hurdles. The latest to throw its hat in the ring, Federal Premium with its HammerDown line of lever-action specific loads.

In particular, the company has souped-up the specialized hunting ammo for excellent velocities, especially in pistol cartridges. For example, Federal lists HammerDown’s 270-grain .44 Magnum ammo’s muzzle velocity at 1,715 fps and its 170-grain .357 Magnum at 1,240 fps. Both are moving for their respective bullet weights.

“Our goal for this new line of ammunition was to deliver enhanced performance in any lever-action rifle. HammerDown provides the velocity and terminal performance required to be an effective and ethical hunting round for medium game, especially with traditional handgun cartridges such as 357 Magnum or 44 Rem. Magnum being shot out of a rifle,” said Federal Ammunition Centerfire Rifle Product Manager Eric Miller. “We also ensured feeding performance in all lever-action rifles: tube feed as well as side gate firearms. To do this, we use modified case geometry to eliminate any feeding issues. HammerDown delivers those main benefits and much more.”

Developed in conjunction with Henry Repeating Arms, Federal is initially offering six loads in HammerDown. In addition to .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum the options include 127-grain .327 Federal Magnum, 250-grain .45 Colt, 150-grain .30-30 Winchester and 300-grain 45-70 Government. In all cases, the ammunition boasts bonded-core bullets—known for their consistent terminal performance and ability to retain mass—smooth-feeding nickel-plated brass cases and Federal’s top-shelf Gold Medal primers.
The only knock, for some, might be the bullets are of a more traditional bent—flat-nosed. Thus they don’t boast the sexy ballistic coefficients of polymer-tipped options. Given dedicated lever-gun hunters take their shots at sober distances this shouldn’t turn many off from HammerDown.

Federal says it plans to expand the line in 2021, however, did not specify exactly how. Presently, the MSRP for HammerDown runs from $24.99 for .357 Magnum at the least expensive up to $50.99 for .45-70 Government for the most.

For more information on HammerDown ammunition, please visit

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