Ammunition Review – Federal Premium Black Cloud


Seeing as how Michigan is flanked by water on all three sides, one could assume just looking at a map that this would be a viable travel route for migrating waterfowl. Not only are those assumptions correct, but Michigan is a waterfowlers paradise! There are plenty of marshes and inland lakes sprinkled throughout the state where you can shoot teal and wood ducks early in the season. Followed by a mix of the larger puddlers like Mallards, Widgeon, Gadwall and Pintail, just to name a few.

What really sets Michigan apart, though, are the Great Lakes and the variety of ducks they offer that differ from what you typically see in the marshes and timber. Divers galore cruise down both coasts on their way south for the winter, along with everything else from Buffleheads and Bluebill to Redheads and Canvasbacks. On good days you can even run way offshore in search of beautiful “Longtails” or Old Squaw as they are known.

Shooting ducks in a marsh is hard enough, and if you have spent any amount of time in a duck blind you have probably had a cripple dive under water, grab on to a reed only to never be seen again – frustrating to say the least.  Divers on the other hand, sometimes seem to have Kevlar body armour requiring some serious knock down power. Not that they are ACTUALLY tougher than puddlers, but it makes sense in my mind anyway that these ducks are the Mack Truck of the duck kingdom. Living out on the open water, dealing with the harsh wind and waves it would only stand to reason that these birds have a little more grit.

Recently, we hunted for a few days up on Michigan’s famous Saginaw Bay. In typical Michigander fashion, I will use the Mitten analogy; Saginaw Bay is the part of Lake Huron where the thumb meets the index finger. Growing up here and having hunted ducks my whole life, I have thousands of hours of real-time, in the field data which has helped me form some of my stubborn opinions, whether they are right or wrong remains to be seen. I can tell you that I have been using Federal Premium’s Black Cloud shotshells almost since they came out and I can also tell you that I will continue to use them because they fold birds like I have never seen before in all my years of hunting the bay.

Black Cloud contains a payload of 40 percent FLITESTOPPER steel pellets and 60 percent Premium steel for dense patterns and larger wound channels. The technology is there to prove on paper why these shells are just better and in the field results reinforces those claims. One may think; ‘it’s just a shotgun shell, what can be so innovative about it?’ Plastic tube, primer, powder, wad and pellets, right? How many more ways are there to “reinvent the wheel?”

Well, I can tell you Federal found a way!


Black Cloud FS Steel is now equipped with the FLITECONTROL FLEX wad to deliver improved pattern density and consistency through both ported and standard waterfowl chokes. That coupled with the 1,450 fps muzzle speeds make it the perfect combination for those fast moving, open water birds.  Pattern density is so important, especially when it comes to diver hunting. More pellets on target, creating those devastating would channels that results in feet up folded birds!

Federal Black Cloud

Those aren’t the only innovations, there is plenty more packed into each shell.

  • 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
  • High-performance primer and clean-burning, temperature-stable propellant drastically reduce residue
  • Plated head inhibits corrosion
  • Sealed crimp defeats moisture in extreme conditions

If you do any bit of waterfowling and have not yet tried Black Cloud, you should definitely head out and pick up a couple boxes.

Given all of the craziness this year, I am sure all you hunters and shooters out there have come to realize how difficult it is to find certain ammo. For this reason, I just did a quick check to see, and Black Cloud is still readily available! You can even purchase directly from their site,

I suggest you head over to their website anyways to see the specs for yourself and see what types, shot size and gauges they have available. You will find there are plenty of options to choose from for any and all waterfowl enthusiasts. I personally have always shot #3s for both puddlers and divers, but Federal offers the full line up of choices all the way from #4s to BBB for those hearty geese.

Like I said, I am a huge fan of these shells and have seen the first-hand results countless times in the field. Do yourself a favor and give Black Cloud a “shot” if you haven’t already done so, I can almost guarantee you will experience a noticeable of that folded bird feet up scenario I mentioned earlier.

Again, head on over to and check them out.

Read More