Ammo Review: Federal HammerDown Lever Gun Loads

This new ammo is built from the ground up to work best in modern lever-action rifles and carbines.

Federal Premium HammerDown ammunition.
Federal Premium HammerDown ammunition.Federal Premium

Federal’s HammerDown ammunition line is the first and only ammo truly designed for cycling and overall performance in lever-action rifles. Velocities of the HammerDown loads are customized to produce superior ballistics through lever-action barrel lengths. Plus, the geometry of each round’s case, bullet, and cartridge ensure flawless cycling through tubular magazines and lever-action feeding systems.

HammerDown was created in conjunction with Henry Repeating Arms, so it works extremely well with Henry’s magazine system, which, until recently, exclusively used a brass magazine insert removed from the muzzle end for loading instead of a loading gate. The edge of the insert had a tendency to get hung up on the rim of some cartridges, especially the tried-and-true .30/30, which has a considerable rim. The .30/30 HammerDown ammunition has a chamfer on the rim, which allows the brass insert to slide over it easily during loading. Its accuracy was impressive, printing 1.5-inch groups when fired from a Henry All-Weather rifle with a 20-inch barrel and iron sights.

HammerDown’s line additionally includes .327 Fed. Mag., .357 Mag., .44 Mag., .45 Colt, and .45/70 Govt. loads, with .35 Rem. on its way. That lineup takes care of today’s most popular lever-gun chamberings. All HammerDown ammo uses molecularly bonded bullets to deliver optimal expansion and weight retention downrange, as well as nickel-­plated cases, Gold Medal primers, and specially formulated powders. SRP: $24.99–$50.99.