Monday, September 13, 2021

Is Flite Always Controlled?

This is part III in a series of articles concerning a recent qualification where I noted some erratic behavior in the form of “flyers” from the Federal LE133 00 round with the FliteControl® wad system. (I define a flyer as one or more buckshot pellets that take a different trajectory than the one that the majority of the pellets in the load follow. From a home defense perspective, when these flyers fall outside of an acceptable target area at a given distance they pose a danger to innocent people who may be nearby.) Part l  and Part II

In that qualification I had one shot at 25 yards put all eight pellets in the center of the target and a second shot that put four of the eight pellets in the bottom of the target. I believe the other four pellets went into the target’s center. I suspect that the flyers I experienced are the result of FliteControl® wads that did not perform as advertised.

The difference between the FliteControl® wad system and the traditional wad is the way the wad releases the pellets as the buckshot exits the barrel. The traditional wad has forward facing petals that open when they exit the barrel. High speed videos show that often the petals on traditional wads open unevenly. This in turn causes the traditional wad to release the shot load unevenly and can disrupt the shot pattern.

Shot Separating from a Traditional Shotgun Wad

In contrast, the FliteControl® wad system has a set of petals six facing rearward and a set of three petals in the body of the wad facing forward. As the buckshot load in the FliteControl® wad leaves the barrel, the gas pressure from the powder forces the rearward facing petals to open. These petals then act as a sort of air-brake and begin to slow the wad. Simultaneously, the air pressure forces the forward facing petals to open to assist with the buckshot separating cleanly from the wad—ideally without producing flyers. 

Unfired versus Fired FliteControl® Shotgun Wad


Buckshot Separating from a FliteControl® Shotgun Wad

During the qualification I was able to recover the FliteControl® wads from fifteen Federal 8-pellet LE133 00 shells that I had fired through my Beretta 1301. Three of the wads had deformed when they struck the ground or target frame; however, twelve were fully intact.

I grouped the fired FliteControl® wads in roughly three different behaviors. Some wads evidenced little to no opening from either the rearward facing petals or the forward facing petals. Other wads showed the rearward facing petals opening partially and the forward facing petals opening very little. Some of the wads performed as designed with the rearward facing petals opening fully and the forward facing petals opening to varying degrees.

I fired all of these rounds in one sequence. I do not know if what I observed is a quality control issue or some other factor is causing the difference in wad performance; however, there clearly is a difference.

Patterning your particular gun with the ammunition you would like to use is a good idea. Patterning your load lets you know exactly where the gun shoots and at what range you may experience flyers or where the pattern is too large for acceptable home defense purposes. I now view the Federal 8-pellet LE133 #00 load as a 25 yard or closer load in my shotguns. That is not necessarily a problem, in an urban setting a justifiable shot beyond 15-20 yards is probably rare.

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