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Review: Federal Premium Hi-Bird Ammo

Pigeons Are No Match for Hi-Bird Ammo

When we’re shooting, we prefer to shoot as much as possible. But blasting through cases of shotgun shells can put a toll on your body just from the repetitive recoil. The pain is worth it when there’s instant gratification like birds on the ground or disintegrated clays.

When Federal Premium introduced Gold Medal Grand shotshells, competitive shotgunners welcomed it with open arms. Gold Medal Grand’s main attractor was its newly developed Softcell wad, a two-piece design with an air pocket instead of a traditional buffer. The air pocket’s job is to reduce felt recoil. Other desirable features of the ammo include a brass-plated steelhead, reloadable hull, laser engraved load information on the hull, high-performance propellant, and a reliable primer.

Federal Premium created Hi-Bird shotshells using the same technology introduced in its Gold Medal Grand. This created a load that high-volume bird hunters could use without feeling like they stepped out of a boxing ring after leaving the field. Pigeon hunting is the perfect sport for Hi-Bird ammo, so much so that Federal included a picture of a pigeon on the box. Hunting pigeons is more feast than famine, with the opportunity to kill hundreds of birds in a single day.


Federal Premium boasts the Hi-Bird ammunition as producing uniform patterns with high-energy lead shot. A miss in the field could be the Indian or the arrow. Testing the proverbial arrow increases confidence by proving the true capabilities of the load.

As with most tests, the results are relative to the conditions in which they were tested. Results could vary dramatically depending on the shotgun, barrel, barrel length, and choke tube used. Be sure to pattern your gun at the average range you expect to shoot to increase your likelihood of success. Controlled testing was done using a Benelli Black Eagle II with a 26-inch barrel and a modified choke. The Hi-Bird ammo tested was the 7½, 1¼ ounce, 12-gauge load.

hi bird test

Using a 30-inch circle to test the pattern is an industry standard. It gives a measurable standard to determine how effective the load and gun combo is at putting pellets inside of a reasonable kill zone. For the load tested, hitting a pigeon at 40 yards should be effective. With this specific test gun, 40 yards would be the limit for a guaranteed hit. Past that distance, a bird could slip through; however, a dove was taken at 65 yards in one shot.


Consistency of the overall length, shot weight, and charge weight were impressive. Shell length difference was +/-0.0105 inch. Shot weight measured +/-4.35 grains, the difference of +/- 3 to 4 pellets. This test load was labeled as 1¼ shot, meaning the shot weight should be 1.25 ounces. All of the control shells tested had shot weights under 1.25 ounces.

The show-stealer was the charge weight; we’ve seen match-grade factory rifle loads that aren’t as consistent. Hi-Bird’s charge weight showed a difference of +/-0.1 grains — truly shocking. Data proves the Hi-Bird ammo is loaded consistently, this means you should get repeatable results throughout the same case of ammo or those with the same lot number.

Other specs on the box include dram equivalent, muzzle velocity, and shot. When you see “Dram Eq.” on the box, it’s just a unit of measure. One dram is equal to 1/16th of an ounce; 27.34 grains equal one dram.


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