Black Cloud & Blind Side- Deal or No Deal?

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I stated in a previous blog “Steel Shot, is bigger, better?” that I would be going over the new non round steel shot on the market today.  When I say “non round” I am referring to Winchester Blind Side and Federal Black Cloud steel shot shells.  These shells have been a hot bed of controversy ever since they hit the shelves and I am going to give you my 3 points and a poem on them as well.

Let’s start with the nuts and bolts of each.

Blind Side- 3”- 1 3/8 oz – 1400 FPS – $209 a case (Cabelas)

Black Cloud-3”- 1 ¼ oz- 1450 FPS- $219 a case (Cabelas)

Ok, Winchester claims that the blind side hexagon shaped pellets are vibration stacked in the hull to gain more compactness and less air space during loading.

This will decrease the amount of unused space in the shell and they have a new Drylok wad which allows the  1 3/8 oz of shot instead of the 1 ¼ typical for round shot shells of the same size.  However, here comes the rub, 1 3/8 ounces weighs the same whether it is hexagonal or round…right?!?!  They are both made of the same components and weigh the same….so where is the extra 15% they speak of?  It is supposedly in the “wasted” air space in between round steel as opposed to stacked hex steel.

Since these hex pellets are non round and less streamlined they will have a lower ballistic coefficient.  However, they have slightly more surface area to impact the target and can create a slightly larger wound channel.

Now, let’s dive in to the Federal Black Cloud loads shall we.  Federal claims that each shell has 60% round steel and 40% Black Cloud steel with the Saturn rings around them.  The Saturn shaped pellets are loaded first and then the round steel after that.

The box shows an almost round pellet with a sharp ring around it.  However, this ring is barely even there and the shell is somewhat out of round.  I have seen several ballistic gel tests conducted and some are impressive while others are not.  Much like placebo, you make yourself believe what you want to.

A larger wound channel will kills birds more effectively because it is tearing up more tissue, bone and vital organs.  This wound channel is only possible if the non round pellets are able to keep their ballistic coefficient and down range velocity enough to penetrate the feathers and outer muscles.

Bottom line is when round pellets are fired from a gun they fly in a fairly straight path and predictable pattern.  The misshaped and non round pellets will tend to veer off course and get worse at longer distances.  You won’t see Tom Brady throwing a football end over end while trying to get the ball 60 yards down field.  Simply physics shows us that.  When a QB throws a “wobbly duck”, it is a pass that isn’t spinning in a tight spiral and is out of it’s round flight path and will catch more air and move slower.  The same theory applies to the non round pellets that are wobbling through the air.

I have read stories of people who have less cripples, more stone dead ducks and the list goes on.  I am not doubting any of these stories, but I do feel human error and shot placement has a lot more to do with the kills than the particular load.

In my opinion, these shells would be great for up close in your face shots.  Both will retain their down range velocity and be able to penetrate and create the larger wound channels to kill ducks faster and cleaner.  But, the further they travel from the barrel, there is no way physically that these non round pellets can fly in a straight and predictable path.  Go get a baseball and a wooden block and see which one flies true?  Or get a baseball and a second baseball with a duct tape ring around the middle…it will be great for close throws, but the further you get away, it is bound to break right or left and tumble.

You may 100% disagree with me and that is fine.  I just want to get you thinking about these loads next time you are buying some steel shot.  Whether it is smoke and mirrors or the real McCoy…that is up to the audience.

So I ask you Texas Nation- Deal….or No Deal?

Story by Shane Smith


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