Clearing the Air

Black Cloud cleans up its act with Flitecontrol Flex

Federal Premium’s popular Black Cloud waterfowl ammunition now comes in an improved version: Flitecontrol Flex. The new load will perform better, and it will simplify a retailer’s life, too. Original Black Cloud was deadly stuff, but it patterned badly in ported choke tubes, leading to dissatisfaction and confusion among waterfowl hunters. Now you’ll be able to sell Black Cloud to all your waterfowling customers regardless of which choke they use, and you’ll be able to sell them ported tubes without having to explain that they shouldn’t shoot Black Cloud.

The Flitecontrol wad is designed to produce tight patterns by staying with the shot 15 feet past the muzzle, then separating cleanly. Rear braking fins pop open to slow the wad, while window-shaped cuts in the side allow air inside the wad to equalize internal and external pressure. That’s all fine until you run a Flitecontrol wad through a ported tube, where the ports first chew the side windows like graters, then bleed off the pressure from expanding gases that’s supposed to open the rear fins. The result is poor, erratic patterns instead of the deadly downrange performance for which Black Cloud is known.

The new wad is redesigned with new materials and thinner brake fins. The side windows are gone, replaced by slits that are compatible with ported tubes. The results, as I saw on a goose hunt and on the patterning board, are excellent. The new Black Cloud Flex contains the same mix of ridged Flitestopper pellets and round shot for better on-game performance and patterns. The new Catalyst primer promises more consistent ignition and much cleaner burning performance, alleviating the complaint that Black Cloud dirtied gun barrels. Available in 10-, 12-, and 20-gauge offerings. (

—Phil Bourjaily