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Prior to SHOT Show 2023, Federal issued a press release detailing a number of new cartridges being produced. Alongside several sat two new loads of Number 1 buckshot. These No. 1 loads were in the premium line of Federal ammo, and for many shotgun nerds, this meant the possibility of the return of No. 1 loads with Federal’s FLITECONTROL wads. That’s a shotgun geek’s favorite option for defensive buckshot.

Why Number 1?

Number 1 is the smallest pellet capable of consistently getting through twelve inches of properly calibrated ballistic gel. A 2.75-inch No.1 shell can hold 16 pellets, and it’s the most efficient loading possible for a defensive shotgun by grainage alone. The Federal FLITECONTROL No. 1 loads were the bee knees for defensive shotgun loads. When you have 16 pellets stacked atop each other in a FLITECONTROL wad, it’s a devastating round.

Sadly, Federal discontinued those loads years ago. This left us with the 00 buckshot load, which is still pretty great, but not the best possible IMHO. If you want to chase the highest performance from your defensive shotguns, No. 1 FLITECONTROL is the way to go. When these new loads were revealed, I tossed Federal on my list of stops.

Sadly after talking to the fellas at Federal last week, this isn’t the case. They’re producing two new Number 1 loads, but they aren’t Flitecontrol. These loads are aimed at the hunting market, not the defensive shotgun market. These rounds don’t include the Flitecontrol wad.

My question is, well, why not? To which they graciously answered…they simply weren’t getting the performance they desired from the Number 1 Flitecontrol load. They didn’t think it was up to their standards. Their logic is that even a slight inconsistency when shot from a minority of guns isn’t worth the risk. If the load didn’t consistently pattern to FLITECONTROL standards, then it wasn’t up to par.

Cue the sad violin noise. Luckily, those same fine folks at Federal advised that Number 1 FLITECONTROL isn’t dead. They’re working on it and are hopeful they can get it up to their standards. So it’s not back, buts it’s not entirely dead. Not yet.

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  1. That’s really wonderful. It shows that Federal is on top of the technology.

    But truth be told, all I really want to buy right now are small and large pistol primers, and not have to give up a left or right kidney to do it.

    It’s long enough with the screwy supply chain crap. Federal, winchester, cci, etc need to get the shells stocked at a reasonable price once again.

    • Define reasonable price and the last time you were able to buy it at the afore mentioned cost

      • I last paid 33 bucks for a thousand.
        with inflation and all now, I’d be happy buying at 50 to 60.

        I’m not a buyer at $100

        • Well if it was 6-7 years ago 66 would probably be around the equivalent and may be what it comes down to if the current trend of ammo getting cheaper/more available continues. But I would guess 80-90 will probably be the typical outside of ideal (last few years of Trump) unless we have a sudden drop in demand.

        • “I just paid 10 bucks for a cheapo frozen pizza. They were 7 bucks a week ago. FJB”

          I guess you could throw the frozen pizza at the bad guy. Let us know how it works out.

        • Walt, that 3 cents a round. That was cheaper than .22 ammo. What was your source for 12 ga. ammo at 3 cents a round. Did that include shipping? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. A No.1 load sounds like something I’d like to buy/test if available, but I won’t lose too much sleep knowing I have “only” 00 buck. I don’t think anybody wants to be on the receiving end of a 00 blast.

    • Both will do horrible things to anyone without at least lv 2 body armor and even at 3a it will not be pleasant absent use of rigid plates and even those can have issues.

      • And no guarantee that every projectile’s POI will be on the plate. And even if they are, body armor only defeats penetration. It doesn’t prevent kinetic energy transfer.

        • Hard plate largely does but steel and rigid uhmwpe have issues that make them less common in 3a. Soft is rated for it but yeah not fun.

    • Juice wasn’t worth the squeeze the last time they did. You could tell it was a 1/2 ass effort begrudgingly put on the market.

      How is that true? LE132-1B was a super low power/low recoil pansy round. Rated at 1100 fps only, weak even for low recoil (of which I hate low power). Semi-auto? Forget cycling that, at all, pretty well pump only (even an M4/1014 has trouble with that light a charge). Nice way to shoot the product in the foot. Right?

      Some of the history, and an honest review of:

      Set up for market failure from the start. Prime indicator they didn’t want to make it at all, and only did after many begged them for #1 with FC. And of course it didn’t sell well because it was so specialized, so they quickly removed the sku when cancelling the product. All according to plan.

      Kind of like they did with the ‘High Density’ W alloy loads after buying out Hevi. Which sucked, because Hevi versions don’t have FC wads, making them far less than optimal for defensive use.

      Still have 5 cases held back of the FC equipped PHD159 00. The nasty ones at 1600 fps, although I don’t care for 9 pellet 00 most of the time. Even W alloyed 9 pellet tends to have a almost unnoticeable flyer, just a lot less than even hard plated Pb. For some clarity, I ain’t talking most people’s idea of home or defensive usage, but when they’re stacked up proper, and you’re shooting for t-shot/pelvic/thighs, because armored up.

  3. I don’t know. First, I’m not a big fan of a shotgun for defense. (Rifle, rifle rifle!) Won’t go into that now. Second, within typical shotgun defense range I want the heaviest pellet I can get. Light projectiles shed velocity/energy more quickly than the light pellets. I don’t care the distance. Heavier pellets penetrate deeper. Learned that when I killed my first deer. Single 0 buckshot at a few feet. Pattern was about the size of a baseball. Not a pellet exited. Still have 4-5 pellets I recovered under the off side of the hide. That said, recent articles have me rethinking things. I talked to Wilson Combat about a Scattergun Technologies 870 Standard the other day. We’ll see.

    • Gadsden Flag,

      I fully recognize that a rifle optimized for close-quarters combat (in other words a carbine with a 16-inch barrel) is an outstanding choice–and arguably the “best” choice–for home defense.

      Please note that a shotgun optimized for home defense (at typical home defense ranges) and loaded with buckshot does have one advantage over a carbine: the buckshot spread pattern increases the probability of putting at least some lead on target against your attacker in a highly dynamic situation.

      As you well know, there is a pretty good chance that both you AND your attacker would be moving rapidly–and putting accurate shots on a moving target while you are also moving is very challenging to say the least. In that scenario a grazing shot with a rifle would mean landing about half of your buckshot pellets on your attacker for a shot of equal accuracy. And a miss with a rifle bullet could still mean landing at least one buckshot pellet on your attacker for a shot of equal accuracy. In many instances, landing even a single pellet could very well be all that is necessary to convince your attacker to retreat.

      And we have not even touched upon the political/legal considerations of using a semi-auto carbine in states which violate the Second Amendment–a shotgun could very well represent a much lower criminal liability for the righteous home defender.

      • Oh no…. the old “AR vs Shotgun for home defense’ debate.

        In my home, at various places, readily reachable, recessed into the walls are hidden recessed secured firearms racks. In plain view, ya can’t tell the ‘panels’ covering these areas are even there. Cost several thousand to get those put in, but invisible they are unless you know where to press. Each rack is secured with at least two biometric sensors that activate the lock – one for my finger and one for my wife’s finger, which ever one gets to the panel first can open the rack and start grabbing guns, either one will open the lock. As a fail safe, there is also a push button ‘pin code’ in case the biometric can’t distinguish our finger prints. In each rack is one AR, one shotgun, two Glocks, and extra mags and ammo. The shotguns are currently Benelli M4 Tactical Shotguns, 12 ga, the shotgun ammo is Winchester Super-X 00 Buck. The AR’s are ones I put together and optimized for a defensive role. The Glocks are G19 Gen 5’s, optimized for a defensive role.

        These are the backups in case we need more, we do not lock up our primary defense firearms. There are now 11 of these caches in house spread between upstairs and down stairs. And although some might say “Whoa! WTH are you expecting?” – in short, we come from a place where crime was rampant and homes being overrun by gangs of violent criminals and criminals laying ‘siege’ became a norm because of ‘progressive’. We don’t live in that area any more, but were not going to make the mistake of pretending it can’t happen because we know it can. We saw what happened when our peaceful little community had ‘progressive’ democrats decide we needed ‘affordable housing’ built on the county land next door to our area so the very large criminal gang contingent from the city just across the state line would have some place to live. We got a concentrated dose of ‘progressive result’, but its spread out in society more and is still there.

        Our primary ‘immediate’ at hand all the time in home in various spots is either a Glock or a Sig and an AR.

        I EDC a Glock 22 Gen 4 and my wife EDC’s a Glock 19 Gen 5.

        Are we living in fear? Not at all, but we are living in prepared.

      • The one inch spread for every yard traveled urban legend has been put to rest by at two, what I consider valid, tests. The published results surprised the conductors of the test as well as me. Unless you are living in a McMansion, the shot column will not have spread much beyond the exit diameter of your barrel. This is for premium shotgun loads, not some El Cheapo brands from some country you never heard of. I used to be a firm believer in that urban legend of 1 inch for every yard. The only sure way to find out is to take your favorite load and your home defense shotgun and do some pattern testing. If you are using a private range, take you own cardboard as many private ranges don’t like to see their cardboard demolished by a single shooter. Besides, I wouldn’t count too strongly on a single OO shotgun pellet doing much to stop a hyped up home invader.

  4. The pic shows a “Shot Pouch’.

    Back in muzzle-loaded cannon ‘daze’, there was canister shot. Were there heavy canvas bags of shot?

  5. Uncommon, what? Inside the house you better be aiming that shotgun like a rifle. Because, that’s how tight the pattern is going to be. A grazing shot with a rifle means landing half a buckshot load? In what universe? What if it’s the outside edge of the buckshot load? What if you just plain miss? Now, a shotgun wound is devastating. So is a centerfire rifle wound. Especially with soft point ammunition. I’ve seen both. From the crime scene to the autopsy. You know, I think I just talked myself out of that Wilson Combat 870.

    • Honestly if you don’t have restrictions re semi auto/magazine capacity and don’t have issues with neighbors at risk from missed 5.56 /similar (buckshot has similar issues anyway) hard to encourage the shotgun over a reliable semi auto center fire intermediate rifle. Now in various people’s republicans of (insert commie state here) it can make a lot more sense.

      • Yeah, here in Commifornia, those horribly destructive .223 rounds that blow your lungs clean out of your body are mostly forbidden.What we need is for Remington to bring back the slide action .225/5.56 rifle built on an 870 frame. I didn’t get my hands on one before they pulled it from the market. That made a lot of sense. A magazine fed, pump action 5.56 based on the 870 frame. It’s not dangerous, it’s just like Grandpa’s old shotgun, not one of those black wonder guns. They could even make it just in green or maybe cammo so that it didn’t look so dangerous or even pink so it looks like some toy.

    • Gadsden Flag,

      The pattern from a shotgun with an 18-inch barrel and no choke opens up quite rapidly: the “rule-of-thumb” is that your pattern opens up 1-inch for every 3 feet of travel.

      For example: if your home invasion attacker is 21 feet away (an entirely realistic possible distance in a home invasion), your buckshot pattern has spread to about 7-inches in diameter at that distance. If your rifle bullet just barely grazed your attacker in that example, that same shot with a shotgun would land about half of your buckshot pellets on your attacker.

      For reference in my comparison of carbine versus rifle, I am expecting that the defender is doing his/her best to aim. I was not talking about blasting from the hip or some such silliness.

      • Have you actually tested several shotguns to see if that urban legend holds true for all OO and all 18″ shotguns? The length of the barrel has nothing to do with the spread of the shot it is how tightly constricted your muzzle is. All cylinder chokes are not the same. Deviation is significantly reduced with CNC machining but not all barrels are CNC machined. That’s why they have things called tolerances.

  6. I’ll have to decline to believe anything anyone at Federal says based on all the lying and production shenanigans. Getting consistent performance from that wad is down to the choke, not the load.

      • IC is fine with it, and even improves FC/TW equipped accuracy a tiny bit. But, use hard plated shot.

        Still undecided on LM, testing on FC/TW wad equipped is very pricey, so I can’t do a lot in one sitting without a sponsor.

    • Nonny,

      I have seen people compare Federal flite-control versus other manufacturer buckshot shells out of the same shotgun and choke: it was plain to see that Federal’s flite-control loads held obviously (and significantly) tighter patterns at distance.

      • My findings as well both personally and observed. Loads of fudd-lore going on up in this piece, and not just from this one.

    • I’ve taken four shotgun classes, and the only time 8 pellet 00 FC buck did not perform spectacularly well was old pre-FC Vang Comp choke guns. Every other shotgun I’ve seen had FC wads dramatically cut spread compared to non-FC ammo. So, basically, I don’t think it’s the choke. The FC wad works, and it absolutely lives up to the hype.

  7. I wish someone asked them about 6.8 SPC ammo. It looks like they got out of the game in 2020 when the focus became 9mm and .223. I like their 90 & 115 grain soft points.

  8. I stacked it high and deep, back when it was available and cheap. Now, I am even more pleased that I did.

    • Awesome, didn’t know what I know now when it was available and not looking to get into reloading shot shells quite yet so 00 it is.

  9. I bought a case of Flitecontrol #1 from SGAmmo in 2016. I’ve given a couple sleeves to family members, and what’s left will be my lifetime supply unless it (or whatever they cook up to replace it) comes back.

  10. I think a square shot with just about anything in a 12ga will leave bg prostrate, dead or running.
    Too much is made of the 12″ gel standard when hits are in the dozens. I like #7 Western buck. About 33 grains per pellet. Inside of my house even BB would be fine, finer still when they don’t go through my neighbor’s house.

    • BB’s a bad choice, as the saying goes, bird shot’s for birds. #4 buck is your absolute minimum recommended for HD. Only minimum el-FBI spec pen depth at 5 yards, and after passing through simple drywall walls has almost nothing left.

      Paul Harrell has a nice vid demo’ing this on YT.

  11. I believe Federal is telling the truth. I own quite a supply of the #1, and a lot of shotguns strip the wadding, and make it pointless. I sold a Beretta 1301 specifically for that reason. It ripped 00 Flitecontrol, too. Never did get touched by the “magic” of that gun, and good riddance to it’s cheap feel and crappy trigger.

    Anyway, TEST Flitecontrol in your gun. As expensive and as hard to get as it is, pattern at least 5 (and ten would be better!). Make sure it works before you count on it. You may be surprised.

  12. I got a bunch of Hornady Versatite (flite control) wads from demilled ammo years ago and duplicated the #1 load with nickel plated buckshot in a roll crimped hull. I still have a couple cases of the original Federal #1 load as well. Still have enough to do about 600 more.

  13. I know this is old, but I too have Fed Flitecontrol #1 shells from years back, and am thoroughly unimpressed with the performance. Sometimes it doesn’t open at all, and you get a slug-like hole at 25 yards. Mostly it opens too soon, and you get 12″ groups at 25 yards.

    Like most people, I fired one or two of these years ago, and they worked as expected; maybe 2″ at 15 yards. But they don’t do that with the shotguns I own today, regardless of choke– CYL, IC, MOD… same behavior– erratic.

    I think most folks are better served with traditional buckshot (the good stuff), and a “buck kicker” type of choke to tighten the group. No gimmicky and unreliable wad needed. Maybe I ought to write an article for this site…

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