Shotgun Shell Review: A First Look at Federal's New Prairie Storm Pheasant Loads

The pellets you see here make up the content of a pre-production sample of Federal's new Prairie Storm pheasant loads, a lead version of their Black Cloud. The normal looking shot is copper-plated 4s. They are mixed with "Flitestoppers," which are also 4s but have rings around them that look like Saturn, or like WWI helmets. The white stuff is buffer, which helps the pellets keep their shape as they go down the barrel.

Both pellets and the buffer are loaded into ...

... the Flitecontrol wad, a solid shotcup that holds the pellets together for the first 15-20 feet out of the muzzle (rather than beginning to spread immediately upon leaving the muzzle as is the case with other types of shotcups), tightening patterns and increasing downrange velocity slightly. The Flitestoppers are loaded first with the copper pellets on top. That way, the round pellets can draft for the less aerodynamic ridged pellets.

The Flitestoppers are nasty little things, at least, on the basis of the autopsies I performed on a couple of roosters I've been able to shoot with them. The ones I have dug out of the carcasses did indeed leave larger and more ragged wound channels than did the round 4s thanks to the ridges around the pellets. Contrary to my expectations, the ridges on the pellets I recovered survived passing through to the far side of the bird fairly intact.

Prairie Storm will be available at first in 4 shot, 1 1/4-ounce, 2 3/4-inch loads at 1500 fps. They are unnecessarily fast, at least in my recoil-sensitive opinion ("Ringneck Rocket" was the other name the Federal marketing people considered), and I could certainly feel them going off in my lightweight Benelli Montefeltro. They wouldn't be bad to shoot out of a gas gun, though. Besides, speed sells, the name is cool, and they seem to work. I suspect they will develop a cult following like the one that has grown up around the steel Black Cloud.

My standby pheasant poison will likely remain the milder-kicking yet deadly 1 1/4 ounces of 5 or 6 shot at 1330 fps, but I'm looking forward to shooting up my two sample boxes of Prairie Storm in the meantime and reporting back.