Federal Premium’s Black Cloud shotgun ammo has been a go-to choice for waterfowl hunters for about a decade now. Featuring the company’s FliteControl wad and FliteStopper steel pellets, the shells have gained a reputation for delivering consistent, deadly patterns on waterfowl.
New for 2017, Federal has announced an upgrade to the Black Cloud line that they say has resulted in “sizable gains in pattern density and killing power while slashing variations in velocity and reducing barrel residue.”
It’s called Black Cloud with FliteControl Flex, which is a new wad that Federal says improves pattern density and consistency through both ported chokes and standard choke tubes.
“The wad’s redesigned, rear-deploying brake fins and side-mounted vents stimulate the payload for separation from the wad at precisely the right moment for the densest, most consistent patterns possible,” said Dan Compton, senior ammunition product line specialist for Federal Premium, in a release.
What did the Federal engineers do to create the new wad? The beefed up the wad’s brake system by first reinforcing the wad’s flexible rear fins with sturdy supportive gussets.
“We rely on gas pressure coming from inside the barrel to flex the fins and keep them open, which triggers the shot to separate from the wad,” says Compton. “If there is insufficient gas pressure to keep the fins open, the wad doesn’t slow down enough for optimum separation.”
These pressure problems can be a common concern with ported choke tubes on semi-auto guns. The ports vent gas to the side before it exits the muzzle.
“FliteControl Flex makes it a non-issue with all chokes,” Compton said in the release. “Brake fins open and remain deployed, so payloads separate exactly when they’re supposed to, regardless of the gas pressure behind them.”
Federal also replaced the original wad’s window-like side flaps with straight slits running parallel to the shotshell, which allow an even flow of air inside the wad, to equalize internal pressure.
“This balances the force propelling pellets down the barrel with the air pressure in front of them, maximizing the potential for consistent shot and wad separation,” Compton said.
Federal says the changes collectively yielded sizable increases in pellet concentration with all types of chokes.
“Extensive testing with 3½-inch shotshells and a variety of choke styles revealed that the new Black Cloud with FLITECONTROL FLEX reduces variation in pattern efficiency by 36 percent in ported choke tubes and 41 percent in all other choke tubes with all shot sizes,” says Compton, explaining that pattern performance is measured by total pellet count within a 30-inch circle at 40 yards. This testing was conducted at Federal Premium’s facility by its ammunition engineers.
Plus, the new Black Cloud ammo carries deadlier pellets than the previous iteration. The new FliteStopper steel pellets are designed with a raised cutting ridge encircling the exterior, giving them an unparalleled ability to slice through feathers and flesh, the company says.
Compton notes that hard-hitting round steel pellets make up the remaining 60 percent of the Black Cloud payload: “That steel is precisely blended with the FliteStopper pellets to produce ideal patterns and flight characteristics for the target species and conditions at hand.”
Black Cloud with FliteControl Flex
Rear-opening FLITECONTROL FLEX wad provides the tightest patterns possible through both ported and standard chokes
Payload of 40 percent FLITESTOPPER steel pellets and 60 percent Premium steel for dense patterns and larger wound channels.
Catalyst lead-free primer and clean-burning, temperature-stable propellant drastically reduce residue
Black nickel head inhibits corrosion
Sealed crimp defeats moisture in extreme conditions
Available in 10, 12, and 20 gauge shells with various loads.
MSRP: $20.95 / box