For years Federal has been known, at least in my circles, as cheaper munitions but for many years Federal shotshells were easily recognized by the flying mallard in the headstamp. Even shells without the Federal name, perhaps in a box bearing the name of Sears or Revelation, were easily recognized as Federal-made by ‘the duck’. But now the duck is gone! Even shotshells now carry a silly looking symbol which requires study to recognize that its a bullet pushing energy waves or something. Even the colorful boxes that once boasted a graceful mallard duck, in full color, or a brightly dressed shooting gentlemen have been replaced by dull gray and black with a headstamp that isn’t even in the box! Even if they were only plated, the primers matched the heads and seemed to ‘fit’. Now, they use a cheap steel that tends to rust and looks to large for the hole. Except for the lack of anything else, there is no way to know who made these new shells!
The shell at the top is an older Federal buckshot load from the 1990’s with the flying mallard between 20 and GA. The lower one is a current production buckshot load.