The FLITECONTROL® wad was originally introduced in the Mag-Shok® turkey line in both lead and HEAVYWEIGHT™ shot options. Turkey hunters across the nation who took note enjoyed great success. Since then, it's been added to Vital-Shok® buckshot line and highly successful Black Cloud™ FS Steel.
We spend a few minutes here with Federal engineer Rochelle Poore to ask some popular questions about how the wad was developed and why it's such a success.
Q) When did Federal first start working on load development with the FLITECONTROL® wad?
A) "We've been working on FLITECONTROL® for a number of years. The first part of the project was for a tactical buckshot application. The promise in that showed that you can produce really tight patterns. We started working on it for a turkey application about 2-1/2 years ago."
Q) Explain the main differences between the FLITECONTROL wad and a conventional wad.
A) "In a conventional wad, as soon as the wad leaves the barrel, it has petals that open up in the front and dispense the shot into a cloud so that the shot isn't protected in any way. With the FLITECONTROL wad, as soon as it exits the barrel, the shot is kept inside the wad. There are no slits in the shot cup portion and the shot is contained in the wad for an extended period of time, say anywhere up to 10 yards, depending on the configuration of the wad. What happens is the slitting in the overpowder [rear] section opens up and starts slowing the wad down. Instead of releasing the shot in a cloud, it starts slowly backing away from the tight shot string sitting inside the wad, and releases the shot that way. The biggest difference is that the FC wad is a rear-braking wad that pulls itself off the shot and conventional wads kind of "throw" the shot out there. This is how we get such tight patterns."
Q) What was one of the biggest hurdles that your team faced on this project?
A) "Powder development was very big for this. This was such a different concept and a different way the wad functions that we did not have adequate powders in our current lineup to be able to develop the loads we wanted. Fortunately one of our sister companies, Alliant Powder®, has the powder capabilities. We worked closely with them in developing the powders we needed to get the performance we wanted. The big difference was that we were looking for a much slower-burning powder than we were used to working with in the past."
Q) Describe how Mag-Shok®, with the FLITECONTROL wad, went from the drawing board to a finished product.
A) "Well, [with this project] we started out looking for something with much tighter patterns. Instead of having a wide-spreading load you use for other applications, we wanted something with a very tight pattern for turkey hunting. First, we had the wad application for tactical buckshot that produced very tight patterns. After this we started working with it in small shot sizes and did a lot of pattern testing and modification. The interesting thing about this wad is that slight modifications in the slitting in the overpowder section and in the windows on the side of the wad give you vastly different performance. You can tailor the performance to the load you want to develop. What we did [with the modifications] is slow the wad down to the proper timing to be able to get the shot in a tight string for as long as possible. In general though, we take a product idea or concept, get it approved to move forward and then begin testing. We start with in-house range testing and then head out to field. We extensively field test a product before we bring it to market so that our consumers know they will get the best performance."
Q) Who has the "chore" of doing the field-testing? I am sure a few consumers wouldn't mind it as a side job.
A) "We have a variety of people we use for field testing. Some are experts that we have in house, and then there are other people in the industry that we often use."
Q) Have you been able to test this in the field yourself?
A) "Absolutely. I took my first Merriam's turkey out in Washington in the fall of 2004. It was really exciting. It really is the biggest reward to see how it works in a hunting situation."
Q) Now that the product has been on the market in several platforms and you've seen the great response, did you ever think this product would have as big of an impact as it did in its first year?
A) "Well I was really excited about it early on because I knew it was just such a completely different concept in the way it functions; it is so revolutionary. I thought consumers would be really excited about it too, once they got to try it."
Q) Why do you think this product has been so successful? Why do you think customers like it as much as they do?
A) "I think they can really understand how it functions and how it can produce tighter patterns. It's revolutionary, but not complicated. It's easy to understand and actually see how you can get a much tighter pattern out of this wad vs. a conventional wad."
Q) My guess would be that not too many young girls say they want to be a shotshell engineer when they grow up. How did you come to do something like this?
A) "Well, where I grew up we spent a lot of time hunting and fishing and in the outdoors. My dad was a wildlife manager, and it was just part of the culture and part of what I did growing up. When I went back to school, I am a mechanical engineer by trade, and this job opportunity came up, it was such a perfect fit for me because I am very comfortable with the culture, these are the kind of people I grew up with and the kinds of things I grew up doing. It was a great fit and an exciting opportunity."
Q) I know we might not be able to hear all about it, but is there anything new and exciting that FLITECONTROL wad fans can look forward to on the new product front?
A) "Keep your eyes peeled. We're working on some new gauges and looking to broaden the FLITECONTROL wad product offering even further. It's an exciting time...