Federal MeatEater Ammo Review: Good Ammo, Poor Branding
When Federal announced its partnership with Steve Rinella and the MeatEater brand, the hunting community was aflutter with excitement. The capstone of this relationship was the release of Federal Premium MeatEater ammo in 12 gauge shotshells and centerfire rifle ammunition.
Although this appeared like a match made in heaven, MeatEater ammunition has disappeared from Federal’s website, and it is extremely difficult to find. This led to many hunters questioning what happened and if Federal MeatEater ammo was a good choice for their next hunt.
If you’re one of those hunters or you just want to know what in the world happened, you’re at the right place.
In this Federal MeatEater ammo review, we’ll go into the genesis of this brand of ammunition, what happened between Federal and MeatEater, and what soured their relationship.
If you’re in the market for Federal Ammunition for deer season, we’ve got tons in stock and ready to ship to your door. But if you’re here for the review, simply keep reading, and we’ll tell you everything you want to know!
Once Charles Horn took control and re-founded the Federal Cartridge Corporation, Federal Ammunition became one of the primary ammunition manufacturers for the U.S. Military, law enforcement, and civilian shooters across the USA.
Federal Premium has numerous ammo lines encompassing every aspect of shooting, ranging from hunting, target shooting, plinking, self-defense, and competition. Federal Ammunition produces rimfire, centerfire handgun, centerfire rifle, and shotshell ammunition, as well as reloading components and muzzleloading bullets.
In August 2015, Federal Premium announced the release of its new line of hunting bullets, Trophy Copper. This new ammunition featured an all-copper bullet sporting a polymer tip. The projectile also utilized a grooved bullet shank to maximize accuracy across multiple rifle platforms.
Trophy Copper bullets feature a boat-tail design and a high ballistic coefficient for exceptional long-range pinpoint accuracy, while the tipped hollow point allows for excellent expansion across a broad velocity range with nearly 99% weight retention.
The polymer tip functioned similarly to a Nosler Accubond or Barnes TTSX bullet, as the tip is plunged into the bullet’s hollow point to initiate rapid expansion. This puts down game quickly and ethically, making Federal Trophy Copper an excellent addition to the already diverse Federal Premium line of ammo.
As a bonus, the all-copper bullet means that Federal Trophy Copper rifle ammo is California-legal.
Federal loads their Trophy Copper line in high-quality nickel-plated brass cases with Boxer primers, meaning they are corrosion-resistant and great for reloading.
Then in January 2020, Federal Ammunition announced its partnership with the Netflix hunting show, MeatEater. If you’re not familiar with this series, it is about Steven Rinella and his journey across the USA hunting a variety of different game animals.
The partnership was earmarked by the release of Federal MeatEater ammunition, which was essentially just Trophy Copper ammo with Rinella’s likeness and logo plastered on the front of the box. Functionally the ammo was no different than any other Trophy Copper round made previously.
Rinella focuses on a “field to table” concept in his show, emphasizing the importance of eating what you hunt and not just showing off the trophies on your wall. This is divergent from other hunting shows that focus more on the hunt itself, with the kill being the climax, where Rinella showcases the entire process of field dressing and processing wild game.
On the surface, this sounds like an excellent concept, as MeatEater’s Steven Rinella really explains how important conservation and being a good example for other hunters really is. Furthermore, he has made hunting more popular and mainstream, as America’s hunter population has been in decline for many decades.
Sadly, success in business often breeds the need for corporatization. In 2018, a controlling stake in the MeatEater company was purchased by The Chernin Group, which is a California-based investment firm that supports multiple gun control measures and numerous Liberal candidates.
And if this wasn’t enough, MeatEater’s Steven Rinella has openly donated to several Democratic candidates who openly support restricting your rights to keep and bear arms. These candidates also promise to maintain hunters’ access to public lands, which is something Rinella is an active supporter of.
The final nail in the coffin came in March 2021, when Rinella’s brother, Matt, wrote an extremely negative op-ed on their website, bemoaning the NRA-backed R3 Initiative. If you’re unfamiliar, R3 is a movement to get new and old hunters back into the woods. The three R’s stand for: Recruit, Retain, and Reactivate.
Matt Rinella was extremely critical of the R3 Initiative, stating that his favorite hunting spots were now overrun with new, inexperienced hunters.
This statement alone seems to contradict what MeatEater and the show are all about, which is to preserve the heritage of hunting while making it more mainstream.
The backlash from these left-leaning, anti-2A views appears to have scared off many sponsors of MeatEater, including (it seems) Federal Ammunition. As such, the MeatEater ammunition line from Federal has been discontinued, and all traces of this ammo have been expunged from the company’s website.
You can sometimes find Federal MeatEater ammunition out in the wild, but for the most part, Federal has reverted to their traditional Trophy Copper packaging and sought to distance themselves from Rinella and the MeatEater Netflix series.
This review of Federal Premium MeatEater ammo is somewhat conflicted, and I feel that two different aspects need to be addressed. On one hand, we have the Federal Heavy Bismuth 12 gauge shotshells and Trophy Copper ammo lines, and on the other hand, we have the MeatEater brand.
From the Federal Premium Ammunition side of the review, I have nothing but good things to say. I know that when I look down the scope of my Savage 110 chambered in 308 Winchester this season, I’ll have it loaded with Federal Trophy Copper ammo. With a muzzle velocity of 2,700 fps, I know this round will drop any buck that comes my way.
The all-copper expanding bullet simply works. It makes a massive wound channel that ethically harvests any deer I set my sights on. Furthermore, the high muzzle velocity reduces bullet drop, so I won’t need to make as many adjustments for long-range shots.
Now from the MeatEater side of the review, I will do everything in my power to actively avoid supporting this brand. If I have the choice between Federal MeatEater ammo and Federal Power Shok, I’ll take the Power Shok any day.
I simply cannot condone anything that MeatEater has done over the past few years. From the rampant and painfully obvious product placement to their support of gun control measures to ensure they can hunt on public land, this company clearly does not understand the demographic of its fanbase.
Furthermore, I cannot stand the op-ed written by Matt Rinella. The whole “For me but not for thee” attitude is exactly what drives people away from hunting in the first place. It’s nothing less than elitism, which is the exact opposite of what the hunting community needs.
If this sport is to survive, we need new, young hunters to carry the torch into the future. By condemning an initiative that would help that goal, MeatEater has essentially contradicted the aim of its program: to make hunting cool again.
Based on their stance against the Second Amendment and their elitist attitude, I simply cannot support anything related to the MeatEater brand. Federal Premium ammunition is good to go in my book, and I have no problem loading any Federal ammo into my hunting rifles or shotguns, but MeatEater is a hard pass for me.
Federal MeatEater ammunition is best used for hunting. Developed for pinpoint accuracy and reliable expansion over a broad velocity range, their rifle ammunition is ideal for taking down hogs, whitetail deer, elk, and moose.
The rimfire MeatEater ammo is great for small varmints, while the bismuth 12 gauge shotshells are great for waterfowl.
The biggest downside to Federal Premium MeatEater ammo is that it has been discontinued.
Although Federal has not made an official press release as to why, it is likely due to several controversial statements made by Meateater’s Steven Rinella and his brother over hunting rights and their affiliation with anti-2A supporters.
As much as we love ammo, we understand that no manufacturer is perfect. Here are some of the pros and cons of Federal MeatEater ammunition you should be aware of.
- Excellent weight retention
- Superb terminal ballistics
- Discontinued, limited availability
- MeatEater and Rinella have proven to be anti-2A
Federal Premium Trophy Copper – No reason not to simply stick with the original offering and skip the MeatEater brand of ammo. Federal Premium Trophy Copper is one of my favorite loads for big game hunting, and I’ll always have some on hand (just not the MeatEater variety).
Barnes VOR-TX Rifle TSX – Another classic hunting bullet and one that I’ll be more than happy to take into the woods. The Barnes TSX offers a high ballistic coefficient, boat-tail bullet design, and massive expansion to put down game quickly and ethically.
Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X – If you love Hornady ammo, then you need to check out the Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X line of ammo. Designed specifically for long-range hunting, the ELD-X is like the company’s ELD-M, which is their match-grade bullet. The ELD-X, however, is an expanding bullet that is designed for extremely high ballistic coefficient, minimal bullet drop, and exceptional terminal performance.
Nosler Accubond – The Nosler Accubond is one of the gold standards of the hunting bullet industry. Trusted by hunters around the world, the Accubond uses a proprietary bonding process to ensure the bullet remains intact through the entire expansion process. This means exceptional weight retention, a larger wound cavity, and more meat in your freezer this fall.
Remington Core-Lokt – If you’re on a budget, Remington Core-Lokt is a great option. Utilizing a classic soft point bullet design, the Remington Core-Lokt bullet utilizes a tapered copper jacket that is locked to the solid lead bullet core. This results in excellent expansion and deep penetration that hunters have relied on since 1939.
Although I love Federal Trophy Copper ammo, I can’t get behind the MeatEater line, as their anti-2A activities don’t sit well with me. From a functional standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s good ammo. I just can’t condone supporting an organization like MeatEater, which is fine trampling my right to bear arms in exchange for their access to hunt on public land.
If you see this ammo out in the wild, I say let it sit on the shelf and opt for one of our alternatives or just snag some original Federal Premium hunting ammo without supporting MeatEater.
However, if you have a few boxes of this ammo sitting in your stockpile, there’s nothing wrong with taking it out on your next hunt. No matter what you choose, make sure to load up on all the Federal hunting ammunition you could ever possibly hear at Ammo.com, and we’ll see you in the woods!
Below are some questions we get asked a lot here at Ammo.com about Federal MeatEater Ammo ammunition.
If you can find it, yes. However, since the ammo line has been discontinued, it will be far easier to find the original Federal Premium Trophy Copper, as this is an extremely popular hunting cartridge and easily obtainable.
The effective range of ammunition will depend on the cartridge being used and the barrel length of the rifle it’s fired from.
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