Federal’s Shorty shotshells help open a new retail market

Though far smaller than traditional 12-gauge shotshells, Federal new Shorty shotshells pack a big punch

Federal’s new Shorty shotshells have been designed to deliver performance similar to that found in standard-size shells.
Federal’s new Shorty shotshells have been designed to deliver performance similar to that found in standard-size shells.Federal

Federal recently presented the designs for the 12-gauge 13⁄4-inch Smooth Bore Barrel cartridge and chamber, also known as Shorty shotshells, to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI), where they were voted on for standardization. The specifications were approved, and the new cartridge has been officially recognized by the organization. Technical data and drawings of the 12-gauge 13⁄4-inch SAAMI standards have been published and are now available to the industry.

“This is big news for our new Shorty shotshell ammunition,” says Rick Stoeckel, Federal’s shotshell product director. “The 12-gauge 13⁄4-inch cartridge has been around for more than a decade, but it was never brought to SAAMI to be considered by its Technical Committee. Once we decided to start manufacturing this load, we immediately submitted it to SAAMI for industry standardization. We’re excited about this approval, and we deeply appreciate SAAMI’s support.”

Federal’s new Shorty shotshells have been designed to deliver performance similar to that found in standard-size shells. “Although only 13⁄4 inches long, new Shorty shotshells offer patterns, energy, and accuracy similar to that of full-size counterparts,” he says. “They’re now available in No. 8 shot, No. 4 buck, and rifled slug loads.”

All well and good, but it begs the question: Why did Federal decide to run with this load in the first place?

“Larger 12-gauge loads were invented a long time ago when the 23⁄4-inch length was required to fit the amount of powder needed to propel the payload of shot,” Stoekel says. “With newer, modern powders, we don’t need that much space, so air gaps in wads are used. Today, short shotshells are all you really need when using modern powders. It is way more efficient in the amount of materials needed to make modern shotshells. It just makes sense.”

That kind of factory efficiency can go a long way to controlling (or lowering) the cost of production, which often translates into lower prices for consumers.

Although Federal had plans a decade ago to introduce Shorty shells, the company held off because it saw that the market was not there to support the big sales necessary to justify the cost of production and distribution.

“So, we sat on that work until the time was right,” Stoekel says.

And now the time is right.

“Recently, our customers have been asking for us to produce Shorty shells that can outperform loads available from our competitors,” he says. “We listened to those requests and are now delivering the loads they want.”

And just who are those customers? “Customers who shoot speed competitions, like 3-Gun and others, often are concerned about magazine capacity,” Stoekel says. “They are looking for ways to speed up reloads and shoot more rounds before reloading. With Shorty shotshells, you can fit more rounds in the magazine.”

Stoekel also notes that Shorty shells should appeal to sporting clay shooters as well. “You can put more rounds in a vest pocket or belt pouch, and those who use an over-under will feel less recoil. I think these shooters will also find that the rounds are a lot of fun to shoot. So, retailers will find this shell will appeal to a broad portion of their customer base.” That higher shell capacity should also appeal strongly to owners of self-defense shotguns.

As this shell design moves toward the mainstream, Stoekel says the next step is up to shotgun manufacturers. “As the industry and marketplace already knows, feeding of short shotshell ammunition in semi-auto and pump action shotguns is not guaranteed.”

That’s because shotguns today are designed to feed and eject a 23⁄4-inch shell, not a 13⁄4-incher.

“Shooters have been working around this with aftermarket modifications to the gun to help with function,” he says. “Ultimately, the market will have to rely on the gun manufacturers to adapt or design gun systems around the shorter design. SAAMI’s approval of the cartridge was a crucial step in legitimizing it within the industry, paving the way for broader acceptance with the shooting public. Our hope is that SAMMI’s work will inspire shotgun manufacturers to purposely build pump-action and semi-auto shotguns that can specifically run 13⁄4-inch loads.”

SRP: $11.95, No. 4 buck, box of 10; $11.95, rifled slug, box of 10; $5.95, No. 8 shot, box of 10.

Booth #14551 (federalpremium.com)