At the range, whether sighting in for deer season, or setting up for a long-range competition, most shooters probably are not thinking about the effort that has gone into creating the ammo they’re feeding into their rifle. But creating accurate, reliable ammo is a time-consuming process that involves the engineering and manufacturing talents of a team of seasoned professionals working at the top of their game. And that commitment to quality and performance is what has allowed Federal Ammunition to create Terminal Ascent, a product that combines match-grade accuracy with hard-hitting downrange performance.

A lineup of Federal Premium Terminal Ascent ammo after velocity tests.
A lineup of Federal Premium Terminal Ascent bullets after velocity tests. The new projectiles combine the features of top match-style bullet designs with the high weight retention, deep penetration, and lethal terminal performance, both up close and at extreme distances, of premium hunting bullets. Federal Premium

Figuring out how to create a single cartridge that could be used by hunters who needed fast-expanding bullets for hunting big game as well as by competitive shooters who required a sleek, accurate, match-grade bullet for long-range target shooting is no simple matter. However, Federal engineers could bank on the years of experience and knowledge gained in creating such successful designs as Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Trophy Bonded Tip, and Edge TLR. The new Terminal Ascent blends the features of top match-style bullet designs with the high weight retention, deep penetration, and lethal terminal performance, both up close and at extreme distances, of superior hunting ammo. Federal believes Terminal Ascent is its best hunting bullet to date.

The foundation of Terminal Ascent’s performance rests on three key components: a solid-shanked and bonded bullet construction; AccuChannel grooving; and the Slipstream polymer tip.

A bonded bullet has a lead core bonded to the copper jacket around that core. A solid shank means the bullet has a thick, solid copper base at the bottom of the bullet to support that lead core. And this, in turn, means the bullet retains its weight downrange for deep penetration. Furthermore, a large hollow cavity in the bullet nose, along with exterior jacket skiving, further aid expansion and penetration. Such penetration often means the difference between hitting a deer and having it go down or having the wounded animal run off into thick cover where it can’t be recovered.

A box of Federal Premium Terminal Ascent ammunition.
A box of Federal Premium Terminal Ascent ammunition. Federal Premium

Like many versatile bullets, Terminal Ascent features grooving along the shank to improve accuracy across a range of rifles. These grooves also help decrease barrel wear and fouling. But such grooves typically cause aerodynamic drag to the point where the bullet experiences more drop and wind drift while in flight. But Federal’s AccuChannel groove technology, accomplished through meticulous experimentation in the number, location, and configuration of the grooves, achieves these goals with only a minimal increase in drag.

The patented polymer Slipstream Tip is another engineering marvel. A small cavity runs the length of the shank all the way up to just below the point itself. That point breaks free upon impact, allowing fluid to enter the hollow core, where it generates pressure and easy expansion, even at low velocities. The Slipstream Tip’s hollow core sets it apart from all other polymer tips on the market—but it’s also unique in its high resistance to the elevated temperatures a bullet experiences during flight.

Federal engineers arrived at the unique design after extensive testing of other tipped bullets. They learned these tipped bullets failed to expand consistently at distances past about 600 yards. Obviously, a new approach was needed to ensure all-range performance.

The remains of a Federal Terminal Ascent bullet after velocity tests.
The remains of a Federal Terminal Ascent bullet after velocity tests. Federal wanted to create a fast-expanding bullet for big-game hunting that would also be just right for competitive shooters. Federal Premium

The inspiration came when the Federal engineering team drilled a hole through the center of the tip. Upon impact, that hole would allow target media into the front end of the bullet to initiate expansion. When the engineers tested that concept, they found it to be elegant solution that worked perfectly by extending the performance range by a few hundred yards.

In addition, Federal engineers incorporated other important features to boost ballistic coefficient (BC), delivering flat trajectories and less wind drift. Finally, Terminal Ascent also features nickel plating that resists corrosion while providing a hunter with ammo that will run smoothly through his rifle. The end result is a package capable of delivering accuracy and reliability both at close ranges (higher velocity) and at long ranges (lower velocity). And since it will expand reliably at even a low velocity of 1,400 fps, the bullet will appeal to hunters using shorter-barrel rifles or hunting handguns.

So, how does this new ammo perform? I shot 175-grain .30-06 Spring. at 100-yard and 200-yard targets. I found the ammo to be accurate and reliable. It fed from the magazine with ease, and I experienced no extraction issues when I cycled a new cartridge. Muzzle velocity at 100 yards is 2,558 fps; at 200 yards, 2,391 fps. I was sighted in for 100 yards; bullet drop at 200 yards was less than 4 inches.

The new line of ammunition is available in 11 cartridge options: 130-grain 6.5 Creedmoor; 130-grain 6.5 PRC; 136-grain .270 Win; 136-grain .270 WSM; 155-grain .280 Ackley Improved; 155-grain 28 Nosler; 155-grain 7mm Rem. Magnum; 175-grain .308 Win; 175-grain .30-06 Spring.; 200-grain .300 Win. Mag; and 200-grain .300 Win. Short Mag. All are sold in 20-count boxes. Prices run from $47.99 to $65.99 per box. Handloaders can also get in the game, as Terminal Ascent bullets are available 130-grain .264, 136-grain .277, 155-grain .284, 175-grain .308, and 200-grain .308. All are packaged in 50-count boxes. Prices range from $52.99 to $54.99. (