Federal's New Smooth Gold Medal Handicap Shell
and other great news from Federal

by: Tom Armbrust
Posted: 05/27/2008

Federal's Gold Medal shells have had a big following of clay target shooters for many years, winning countless target shooting championships throughout the country.

In the July 1999 issue of Trap & Field, I reviewed the virtues of the excellent long range 27 yard handicap Gold Medal paper tubed hull story that I had authored.   Well now, Federal has once again through their on going research and design efforts introduced a new Gold Medal type shell.   Its exterior is now smooth versus the ribbed Gold Medal plastic tube.   Federal's own Mike Larsen told me many clay target shooters attending the big shoots throughout the country have been asking for the smooth hull.   Shooters like the looks and feel of the smooth exterior tube.   Some think that the smooth tube feeds better in a semi auto trap gun for a quick second shot in doubles.

Mike Larsen assured me that the new smooth Federal Gold Medal shell is identical in every way to the ribbed tube except for its exterior.   This is a time proven one piece shell design with an intricate plastic base wad.   In this way both reloading data and components will stay the same with no need to have to develop new reloading data.   Mike was kind enough to send along a case of the new Federal Gold Medal smooth handicap 12 GA loads, containing 1-1/8 oz of extra hard 7-1/2 lead shot.   Their order code is T1787.5 Lot Number 37LOTT100.   Breaking down a five round sample of these loads and verifying the powder and shot charge weights on my Denver Instruments Accurate Load III Electronic Scale, revealed the following.   Powder charges contained on average 22.4 grains of a silver gray flattened ball powder with a variation of .03 of a grain, note the minimum powder charge variation.   Shot charges averaged 505 grains of Size 7-1/2 high antimony extra hard lead shot numbering 392 pellets on average.   Pellet variation amounted to 9 pellets or 11.5 grains.   These very uniform charge weights of both powder and shot tell me the loading of these new Federal target loads is kept under very tight production quality control standards by Federal's shotshell operation in Anoka, Minnesota.

Federal's time proven 209 A shotshell primer providing instant and uniform ignition is employed.   In conjunction with the two piece triple plus wad column.   Providing a positive gas seal stopping hot powder gases from escaping past the over powder gas seal, even in over bored trap shotgun barrels.   The over powder gas seal measures .725 with a compressible center hollow post.   Atop of the post sits a plastic shotcup measuring .900 in length with four slits.   Shotcup petal thickness runs .028 at the bottom of the wad thinning to .021 at the top.   On ignition shot pellets are protected from setback deformation and acceleration up the bore caused by the exploding powder gases due to the compressible hollow center post taking up much of the shock.   Bore scrub and leading are eliminated as the shot pellets are contained in the shotcup.

Velocity and pressure measurements were recorded in a 12 GA SAAMI test barrel.   Its bore runs .727 with a choke constriction of .003 or skeet choke.   You may ask why a skeet choke is employed.   A skeet choke's shot string is shorter than a full choke tube at muzzle exit, resulting in a pancake shaped shotcharge versus an elongated full choke shot string.   Recording more uniform and slightly lower velocity readings on my Oehler Skyscreens III eyes and Model 33 Chronograph setup.   Velocity increases of up to 35 FPS will result from the use of a ful1 choke over skyscreens due to the elongated shot cloud, versus the skeet choke.   So when carrying out velocity tests with your target loads using skyscreens, always try to use the most open choke constriction available.   Industry chronograph systems use an induction coil system so the leading pellets are not clocked but the center of the shot mass.   Velocity with the Federal loading averaged 1246 FPS with a variation of just 26 FPS on five shots.   Very consistent velocity performance due in part to the minimal powder and shot charge variations.   Pressure averaged 10020 PSI as measured by a PCB Electronic Transducer Model 167A02 with a variation of 1100 PSI.

Patterns were carried out at 40 yards in two trap shotguns, a Remington 1100 and a Remington 90-T.   My Remington 1100 has a 30 inch barrel with Briley 25 ML. choke tube installed.   Steve Power of Briley also sent along a new extended ported choke tube for testing with .033 constriction and its parallel section length runs 1.00.   For more information on the full line of Briley's choke tubes and drop in sub gauge drop in barrel insert full length "Companion" tubes contact Steve Powder (Briley Mfg., 1230 Lumkin, Houston, Texas 77043, phone: 800-331-5718).

This Remington 1100 barrel is not overbore as it runs .728 with a long 1.50 inch forcing cone.   Patterns averaged 69.5 percent at 40 yards in the thirty inch circle with 272.6 pellet hits.   The twenty inch core had 167.4 pellet hits for 42.7 percent.   Pellet variation was normal at 7.6 percent.

Recoil was not bad at all even with the higher handicap velocity level of 1246 FPS.   Long yardage handicap targets were broke with authority all the way back to the 27 yard line with more than a few clays disappearing in a ball of smoke.

Sometimes a fellow is in the right place at the right time.   I was very lucky indeed when I walked into Darien Sporting Goods in Darien, WI and owner Dave Ennis showed me a Remington 90-T trap gun that was specially built for the Remington's 175th Anniversary in 1992.   This very unique trap gun, serial number 175, is truly a collector's item and one of a kind.   Hundreds of hours of tedious pain staking hand labor went into building this fine shotgun carrying on the fine Remington tradition of building quality firearms in the United States.   My brief description of the elegance of this shotgun will not in any way do it justice.   A most beautiful piece of very high grade wood was selected for the Monte Carlo stock and forend.   Wood figure, checkering, and finish plus fit to the metal were very well done to say the least.   Engraving on the gun's side panels and action bottom were out of this world with a very detailed lifelike picture of Mr. Remington.   Perhaps in a future article in Trap & Field a full story can be devoted to this exquisite shotgun.

My Stan Baker's bore gauge revealed that this 34 inch barreled 90-T's bore ran .745 with a choke constriction of .033 or a light full choke.   Parallel section length measured .550, so the choke design is the conical parallel type.

I was just itching to try Federal's new smooth Gold Medal handicap loads in 8 shot also.   So the 90-T was put on the pattern board again at 40 yards. Patterns averaged 71.0 percent in the thirty inch circle containing 335.4 pellet hits.   The twenty inch core encircled 200.8 hits for 42.5 percent with 136 pellet strikes in the five inch annular ring.   Let me now inject a personal observation.   To me Number 8 shot just may be a better pellet choice for handicap trap shooting.   Let's see why.   For the simple reason we have 81 more pellets (473) in the Number 8 Gold Medal shotcharge, versus 392 pellets in Size 7-1/2 shot.   Federal lists a per pellet energy figure at 40 yards of 1.1 foot pounds for 7 1/2 shot and 0.9 foot pounds for 8 shot.   This data was based on a handicap velocity level of 1235 FPS as stated on their shell box.   We know the number of pellet hits in the thirty circle with Size 7-1/2 shot was 272.6 hits multiplied by 1.1 foot pounds equals 299.86 foot pounds of total energy contained in the thirty inch circle.   Number 8 shot hits in the thirty inch circle averaged 335.4 hits multiplied by 0.9 equals 301.86 foot pounds.   So we now see the 8 shot very slightly edged the 7-1/2 size pellets in the energy department.   But more importantly, the addition of 64 pellet hits in the thirty inch circle gets my vote.   Especially if the clay target is slightly out of the twenty inch core.   Even the expert AA 27 yard handicap shooter can not every time perfectly center his target.   This leaves us to depend on the outer five inch annular ring, as the Number 8 shot again sweetens up the pattern fringe with 31 more pellet strikes.   Yes, I realize under some conditions such as high winds, yardage targets or cold winter weather size 7-1/2 shot may get the nod, but most all the time eights are hard to beat.

Dave Ennis, owner of Darien Sporting Goods, offered the one of a kind Remington 90-T for a couple rounds of long yardage 27 yard targets.   I would have loved to put this fine shotgun to work but the stock did not come close to fitting me.   Shooting from the port side, it took some coaxing but I talked big Dave into shooting this gun.   Dave shoots a release trigger so he switched his trigger out of his personal 90-T into this shotgun.   Handing Dave a box of the new Federal Gold Medal loads we proceeded into his back yard.   He had the pick over his four traps as Dave also owns and runs one great trap club.   For a fine selection of new and used shotguns plus reloading components, or if you just want to shoot some trap targets.   Stop in and join Dave and Mary Ennis and their son Scott at Darien Sporting Goods (N2669 Hwy 14, Darien, WI 53114 phone: 262-724-3433).   Keep in mind Dave had not shot in many months, as he and his wife Mary and son Scott are kept so busy handling all the many duties of both the gun shop, sporting goods store, and trap club.   Dave's first target was dusted hard but did not break, the next 24 were all hit with authority.   Talking Dave into a second round--"He Run Em".   Not bad for a strange trap gun and Federal's new smooth Gold Medal handicap loads.   Dave has put many big trap tournament wins under his belt using Federal target loads over the years, especially at doubles events.

I also took five of the new smooth Gold Medal hulls with me each week when I shoot a round of trap or skeet keeping close track of the number of times reloaded on my MEC Sizemaster.   Stopping at ten reloads I was pleased to see the crimps were still well formed and good looking.   Just three very minor cracks in the crimp area were noted after the sixth reload in one hull and the eight reload in the other two hulls.   Also a slight discoloring of the plastic tube in the crimp area.   Probably a couple of more loading could have been gotten out of these empties.   Great news for the cost conscious shotshell reloader.   Again reloading data can be used interchangeably with ribbed Gold Medal hull, as their interiors are identical.   Don't be surprised if Federals new smooth Gold Medal shotshells don't cause quite a stir among clay target shooters at the various big shoots throughout the country and at the grand.   Proving once again Federal shotshells are a real winner!

Dave and Mary Ennis, owners of Darien Sporting Goods Trap Club, hosted a new doubles trap shooting world's record.   Five shooters on the Wisconsin "Iron Man" squad shot at 3000 doubles or 6000 clays each for a total of 30,000 targets in 23 hours and 43 minutes.   This surpassed the previous world record in 1999 by five men in Kansas City, Missouri, as they shot 5500 targets each in less than 24 hours.   The five shooters are Neil Stephens of Fontana, WI; Russ Wang of Edgerton, WI; Keith McClintic of Brodhead, WI; Jim Russo of Green Bay, WI; and Mike Busser of Lodi, WI.   Mike donated the 30,000 Duster 12 GA wads for this long doubles event.

Not only is Mike Busser a great trapshooter, his company Micro Technologies (1405 Laukant, Reedsburg, WI 53959) makes an excellent line up of their Duster series of shot shell wads available in Red and Blue Duster 12 GA for trap, skeet and sporting clays plus Orange Duster 20 GA, Red Duster 28 GA, and Yellow Duster .410 bore wads for the skeet shooters.   The Duster series of wads are very competitively priced for the cost conscious reloader.   They are top quality wads showing very uniform ballistics in tests I have run for Micro Tech.   For more information about their complete line of wads and reloading information phone: 608-524-9999.

So at 5 a.m. in the morning on June 22, 2000, the long grueling doubles event began.   Just imagine for a minute both the great mental discipline and physical strength of lifting a 12 GA shotgun to your shoulder 3000 times as each shooter lifted the equivalent of 12 tons of shotgun weight, plus the shooting of 54,000 grains of gun powder or 7.71 pounds each.   Total shot charges fired at the 6OOO clay targets by each man equaled 421.8 pounds and 2109 pounds, just over a ton, by the five man squad for this monumental doubles event.   The squad averaged about a pair of doubles for every minute they shot over the entire event.   On 3:45 a.m. Saturday morning the last pair of doubles had been broken and the new doubles trap world record was now established!

What is very incredible to me is Mike Busser's outstanding performance, as he shattered 5670 doubles targets out of 6000, averaging 94.5 percent.   Truly an iron man trap shooting event.   These five men were dog tired after this long grueling event but they had accomplished something they will soon not forget!   In fact, I will be willing to bet they will remember this great feat for the rest of their lives.   Thanks fellows for one hell of a job well done!

Some more great news from Federal for hunters who reload their own shot shells both for ducks and geese and upland shooting.   More and more state run waterfowl (WPA) areas that also contain upland hunting areas now require non-toxic shotshells.   Up until now just steel and Bismuth shot have been available to hunters for reloading in the states.   In the UK Kent Gamebore Impact Tungsten Matrix shot is available to hand loaders but not in the US.

Now Federal has changed all of this making their new Tungsten Polymer shot pellets available to the reloader.   Tungsten Polymer shot has the same density as lead shot so if the velocity level and pellet size is the same as a lead shot pellet, both per pellet energy and pattern density will be identical to lead shot.   Another plus for Tungsten Polymer shot is it can be used in any type of shotgun without fear of bore scratching or choke expansion even the fine old thin barrel walled Parkers, Fox, and L.C. Smith doubles from by gone days.

As of yet I had not received any duck Tungsten Polymer shot from Federal so I cut down five of their 12 GA 2-3/4 inch 1-1/4 oz 4 shot loading robbing the pellets for a ballistic comparison test versus lead shot as follows:

Shell: 12 GA 2-3/4" Federal Plastic Paper Basewad (New)
Primer: Fed-209 A  (Lot 03013)
Powder: 37.5 GR Alliant Blue Dot  (Lot - 228)
Wad: Precision Reloaidng European Supersonic TUWSBL28
+ 20 GA over .135 NC
Buffer: 14 GR Precision Reloading 520
Shot: 1-1/4 oz 4 Lead Lawrence Magnum
Volocity: 1,359 FPS  EV 23
Pressure: 11,060 PSI   EV 600
Shot: 1-1/4 oz 4 Federal Tungsten Polymer
Volocity: 1,352 FPS  EV 32
Pressure: 11,040 PSI   EV 1100

As you can see from the above ballistic test, lead versus Federal's Tungsten Polymer pellet comparison tests both velocity and pressure were almost identical.   Just maybe reloaders can use published lead shot data for the new Tungsten Polymer shot but more ballistic tests will have to be run to be sure.

If you do not reload, don't feel left out as Federal offers a full line up of factory loaded Tungsten Polymer offerings in 10 Gauge, 12 Gauge 2-3/4 inch, 3 inch, and 3-1/2 inch, plus 20 Gauge 2-3/4 inch and 3 inch loads in Size 4 and 6 shot.   My Winchester Super X II 3-1/2 inch 12 Gauge harvested a number of mallards and big Canada geese last fall using Federal's 3-1/2 inch 1-3/4 oz Size 4 shot Tungsten Polymer loads.   Regarding game harvesting ability, I could not tell the difference from a premium lead shot loading equivalent, as some shots were on the long side under pass shooting conditions nearing the 60 yard mark.   This was verified by my yardage Pro 600 compact lazar range finder by Bushnell.   Patterns ran between 80 to 85 percent at 40 yards with the above gun choke and load combination again very similar to a premium buffered lead shot load.

The non-toxic future looks better and better as now another new alternative is available from the innovative people at Federal.

Copyight @ Tom Armbrust, USA 2008
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