Field Test: Federal Premium Black Cloud TSS

Big geese don’t die easy. That’s just a fact. In addition to their size, internal organs are protected by dense layers of feathers. Sure, put a pellet or two in the head or neck and even the biggest goose in the air will crumble, but those shots are few and far between. Most often, when it comes to Giant Canadian geese, the largest of the seven recognized subspecies, birds hit the ground with a thud only to stand and start waddling away. Worse yet, many seem to sail a good distance before finally putting the landing gear down. This requires hunters to get up out of the decoys and go on a chase. While running down cripples, approaching flocks flare and the hunt quickly goes to crap. Of course, lots of seasoned goose goers have a dog, but I’ve seen injured Giant’s beat the crap out of even the most seasoned labs. A slap or three from their wings can be like taking a blow from Mike Tyson, and you don’t want your dog in a heavy-weight bout while approaching flocks draw near.

My goose hunting compadres and I target big geese. Few things are as exciting as watching a flock of 18 to 20-pounders hover mere feet above a set of well-placed fakes. Our time in the field has taught us that big geese seem to decoy better. I believe this to be for a pair of reasons. First, Giant Canada geese seem to fly in smaller-sized flocks than lesser geese. That means fewer eyes on the decoys. Second, big geese don’t seem to be in love with flying high and making multiple swings over the field before committing. They have big bodies that need to be fed, and when they find a field full of food, they want to leave the roost and land. This is great news for the goose hunter.

A group of Giant Canada geese lock-up and swing low over a spread of decoys.

Last season, however, my hunting partners and I spent too much time out of the decoys chasing big geese and ringing necks. My lab, Kimber, got where she didn’t want to go after wounded monsters because of the wing slaps. This year, we made a change. 

Black Cloud TSS

Federal recently added to its famed Black Cloud line, and while I’m a fan of Black Cloud’s FS Steel 12 Gauge 3 ½-inch BB for smaller-sized geese, I wanted something more potent for hunting the big dawgs of the sky. The newest Black Cloud family member, Black Cloud TSS 12 Gauge 3-inch BB and 7 was the answer. 

Filled with 56 percent denser-than-lead #7 Tungsten Super Shot and FLITESTOPPER BB, Black Cloud’s TSS shotshells proved lethal on big honkers.

Said by Federal to extend your effective range beyond 50 yards, Black Cloud TSS shotshells are filled with FLITESTOPPER BB-sized steel pellets and #7 Tungsten Super Shot. Tungsten is 56 percent denser than lead and more than double the density of steel. I realize #7 shot is on the smaller size of the spectrum, but after melting a turkey at 60 yards this past spring with a tungsten-filled #7 shotshell, I quickly became a believer in its power and energy.

TSS pellets maintain their velocity and are able to penetrate feathers and meat at extended distances. Not to mention the fact that because the 18 g/cc #7 shot is smaller in diameter and makes up 60 percent of the payload, Federal can fit a lot of it into a 3-inch shotshell. More pellets equal a denser pattern, and the FLITECONROL FLEX wad, which opens from the rear, ensures a controlled release of the shot. The Black Cloud TSS shotshells sport a muzzle velocity of 1,450 fps and carry a payload weight of 1 ¼ ounce. 

The FLITECONTROL FLEX wad opens from the rear to allow for a controlled release of the payload.

Paper Test

At $43 per box of 10, Black Cloud TSS shotshells cost a pretty penny. However, I was willing to invest the money to see if their performance was worth the price. An obsessed goose hunter, I put a dent in my bank account each year when it comes to gas money for scouting, decoys, calls, layout blinds and the like. In truth, in my neck of the woods, all of that effort and money equates to about 10 good goose hunts on big geese per season. My waterfowl journal shows that of those 10 hunts, most would have been much better if my hunting partners and I weren’t having to act like Usain Bolt in the decoys. 

My first shot on paper with the 3-inch TSS BB and 7 produced an ultra-impressive pattern at a distance of 40 yards. My shotgun of choice was a Browning A5 fitted with a Kicks High Flyer Modified choke tube. The pic below shows the pattern, and being that most of our shots on Giant Canada geese are less than 30 yards, I was uber-confident in the loads ability to produce a lethal-on-big-geese pattern. 

At a distance of 40 yards, when paired with a Kicks High Flyer Modified choke tube, the TSS BB and 7 produced a goose-killing pattern.

Field Test

The sky was soup. A northern front had rolled over the Rockies and built up steam as it slid out on the plains. Snow pellets danced in the wind and visibility was about 80 yards. Perfect. The local honkers had been hitting the field for three days; searching for carbo-filled nuggets of gold left behind by a John Deere.

This Giant Canada goose was killed 56 yards from the decoy spread with a Black Cloud TSS BB and 7.

We couldn’t see the first flock, but we could hear them. Deep honks and clucks sliced through the fog and wind, and when the group finally became visible, they were on the deck. Honks and clucks quickly turned to guttural moans as the group made only a single pass before locking their wings and dropping their feet. My lone hunting companion, knowing I was conducting a field test, allowed me the opportunity to take the group solo. The result was three stone dead birds. A rangefinder reading showed the last bird to hit the ground was 56 yards from the decoys. I was blown away. Rarely, if ever, have I pulled a triple on Giant Canada geese, and to see all three geese lying dead put a smile on my face. As a hunter, I want a quick and clean kill. Plus, the group that followed less than a minute behind the first, dropped right into the decoys. I killed a pair to finish off my limit and my buddy, who was also shooting TSS, hammered a double. In total, we killed 10 geese over the morning with 12 shells. It was obvious the Black Cloud TSS lived up to its hype, and if you put a premium on killing big geese dead, you need to think long and hard about saving your pennies and investing in a case or two of this lethal load. 

The author with a limit of Giant Canada geese taken with a Browning A5, Kicks High Flyer Modified choke and Federal’s Black Cloud TSS ammo.

For more information visit Federal Premium

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