Federal Premium

Federal Premium Trophy Copper Ammo: Everything You Need to Know About the Ammo Used By the MeatEater Crew

Federal Premium Trophy Copper ammunition is specifically designed for big game hunters. Here's what makes this ammo special.

Demand for high-quality, lead-free bullets for hunters has really increased in recent years, as states like California have started mandating the use of lead-free ammunition. Additionally, many hunters have also started to become more concerned about lead contamination in their meat. 

Well, most of the big ammunition manufacturers responded to this increased demand for lead free ammunition by producing gilding-metal or copper bullets like Nosler's E-Tip, Hornady's GMX, Winchester's Copper Impact Deer Season XP and, of course, Barnes VOR-TX ammunition.

Federal Premium has sold lead free offerings like the Power Shok Copper and Vital Shok Trophy Copper using various bullets for years, but they also recently started manufacturing the Trophy Copper product line

Just like the name says, Federal Premium Trophy Copper uses a single bullet type: the Trophy Copper. The Trophy Copper bullets are made from a copper alloy and have a polymer tip to help initiate expansion. Combined with a boat-tail design, the polymer tip also helps increase the ballistic coefficient and improve the long-range performance of the Trophy Copper bullet.

Similar to the Barnes TSX and TTSX, but unlike the Nosler E-Tip, the Trophy Copper has a grooved bullet shank to reduce pressure, minimize copper fouling, and improve accuracy.

The copper bullet construction is not only lead free, but also enhances weight retention and ensures reliable penetration despite the fact that the bullet is designed for aggressive expansion.

Federal advertises very high weight retention (approaching 99% in some cases) for these bullets. Furthermore, the company also claims that Trophy Copper ammo is optimized for expansion across a broad velocity range.

The end result is a bullet that expands very rapidly to about 2x its original diameter, but also retains virtually all of its weight and delivers reliable deep penetration. 

Interestingly, many of the Federal Premium Trophy Copper offerings have a slightly better advertised ballistic coefficient and/or higher muzzle velocity than many (but not all) comparable offerings by Barnes, Hornady, and Nosler. It's a small difference in the grand scheme of things, but that slightly more aerodynamic bullet and/or additional 50-100 fps in muzzle velocity means those Federal loads will have more retained energy and less bullet drop downrange.

The Trophy Copper does not have a gigantic advantage over the E-Tip or TTSX in terms of external ballistics. However, assuming Federal Trophy Copper shoots as accurately in your rifle as the offerings from Barnes or Nosler, the Trophy Copper might be the best option if you want every advantage possible on that trip of a lifetime hunting antelope in South Africa, moose in Canada, or elk, mule deer, or whitetail deer in the United States.

While it's not designed to provide match level accuracy like the offerings in the Federal Gold Medal line using Sierra MatchKing or Berger bullets, Federal Trophy Copper is still pretty darn accurate. The company advertises that this ammunition provides pinpoint accuracy and reviews from hunters actually using it afield seem to back up those claims.

Regardless of whether you're taking a shot at an elk just 40 yards away or at a pronghorn 440 yards away, Federal Premium Trophy Copper will probably deliver the performance you need.

Federal Trophy Copper ammo is currently manufactured in .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .25-06 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, 7mm-08 Remington, .280 Remington, .280 Ackley Improved, 7mm Remington Magnum, 7mm WSM, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 WSM, .338 Federal, .338 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Lapua Magnum.

Multiple bullet weights are available for the 7mm Rem Mag, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 WSM, and .300 Win Mag cartridges.

The other cartridges are only available with a single bullet weight option. This ammo is only available as centerfire rifle ammo, not as shotshells, rimfire ammo, or handgun ammunition.

Just to recap: Federal Premium Trophy Copper ammo is available in most of the really popular centerfire rifle cartridges, it provides external ballistics that are as good or better than many comparable lead free bullet options, it's designed for rapid expansion with high weight retention and reliable deep penetration, it delivers rapid expansion and high weight retention, it's really accurate, and it's lead free rifle ammunition.

Add it all up and this is some fantastic hunting ammunition.

Not surprisingly, Federal Trophy Copper ammo is the official rifle ammo used by Steven Rinella and the MeatEater crew.

Here's what Federal says about the partnership:

Memories and a meal are riding on every hunt. No one knows this better than MeatEater's Steven Rinella, who travels the nation looking to put wild game on his plate. Federal has partnered with the conservationist, author, hunter, and wild foods enthusiast on an exclusive new line of ammunition, featuring our Trophy Copper rifle ammunition, 3rd Degree turkey loads and all-new Federal Premium Bismuth, shotshells that bring back the performance of lead payloads—without the heavy metal. Each box features one of Rinella's own wild game recipes.

All things considered, Federal Premium Trophy Copper is a great nontoxic hunting bullet for hunting in states like California and other places where local laws require the use of lead free ammo. However, it's also an extremely well designed and effective bullet overall and is very popular among hunters who just want a lead-free bullet that helps them cleanly harvest game.

Like what you see? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on the Big Game Hunting Blog. Subscribe to his show: the Big Game Hunting Podcast or check out one of his African safari hunts.