Goldilocks is Dead: Federal’s LE132 1B (#1 Buckshot Flite Control)

Somewhere around 2012, Federal introduced a #1 buckshot option in their Tactical product line. It used Federal’s game changing Flite Control wad to deliver acceptably tight patterns out to 20-25 yards with what is often considered the “optimal” pellet size for defensive use of the shotgun.

LE132 1B is loaded with 15 copper plated pellets. Uses the typical Federal buffer material, and as far as I can tell a Flite Control wad that is the same as all the other Flite Control wads.

The thing about 1-buck is that on paper, it should be the optimal shot size for personal defense use. It maximizes the number of pellets giving it a theoretical potential for more tissue damage, while still having enough mass to penetrate to the key structures of the human body. It is, at least on paper, the Goldilocks pellet size in terms of use as a defensive implement. You can read more about 1-buck and its social use in the 1996 Volume 2 Number 4 issue of the IWBA Wound Ballistics Review.

Federal sought to push the 1-buck load into the current age by designing a load that performed better than most other buckshot loads. Supposedly the market wanted it. So Federal made it. The Flite Control 1-buck load was born.

Even though Flite Control loads hit with a really tight pattern, the pellets disperse rather quickly internally. It is not a feature exclusive to Flite Control. This is commonly called the “billiard ball effect”, and was documented in the 1990’s by Mas Ayoob in his book Stressfire II.

Despite supposed market demand, the load didn’t last. Federal eventually pulled the plug on it in 2018. Rumor at the time was that Federal wasn’t all that happy with pattern performance. The load had fliers at extended ranges, so they discontinued it to try and fix it. It hasn’t come back. So maybe the market demand wasn’t that high after all.

Even when LE132 1B was being manufactured, it was a little hard to get. It came in and out of stock really quickly, since it was never really intended for the private market. Federal has this weird thing about only selling certain things to Law Enforcement. Now the load is basically impossible to get. The people who were smart enough to stack a few cases in the closet aren’t letting them go, and for good reason. A fan of the blog blessed me with an opportunity to get my hands on some, so I jumped at it and secured 25 rounds. Thanks to Citizens Safety Academy for the hookup.

I decided to pattern test the load through two different shotguns. A cylinder bore Remington 870 Police Magnum with an 18.5” barrel and bead sight, and an 18.5” Mossberg 590a1 with a factory cylinder bore screw in choke and ghost rings.

I patterned in 5 yard increments from 10 yards to 25 yards, firing 3 rounds at each distance to try and have a more representative idea of actual performance while getting the most that I could out of 25 rounds.

Three rounds from the Mossy on the left, and three from the 870p on the right from 10 yards. The Mossberg appears to hold a slightly better pattern. This particular gun shoots incredible patterns with LE13300 as well.
Again with the 590a1 on the left and the 870p on the right. Three rounds each from 15 yards this time. We begin to see the fliers start to manifest. Especially on the 870p target with the pellet impact at about 10 o’clock, well away from the main pattern.
At 20 yards we see our first misses off the the 8.5”x11” pattern target from the 870p on the right. The bulk of the pattern is nicely centered, but there are some significant fliers on both sides. The Mossberg 599a1 patterned quite a bit better at this distance, maintaining about an 8” pattern over the 3 shots fired.
At 25 yards we see similar fliers from the 870p and a tight cluster off the right of the pattern target. That could be a little bit of me and the limitations of a bead sighted gun. The Mossberg still maintained a reasonable pattern for 25 yards. There are a couple hits just off the pattern target in the shadow at 3 o’clock, but they are very close misses.

As I understand it, this is about the performance to be expected from this load. Be sure to take note that even though both guns used are similar, both cylinder bore, both 18.5” barrels, one gun shot better patterns than the other. this is the nature of shotguns. Even though the Flite Control wad is doing most of the work in terms of pattern performance, there is still a clear difference between the two. Always confirm patterns in your gun, with the same lot of ammo you intend to use in the gun.

For comparison, this is the typical performance from Federal’s LE132 00 (9 pellet low recoil Flite Control).

Under most circumstances I think this level of pattern performance would be considered exceptional. Compared to most other loads, it would out perform them all. The problem is Federal has set the bar really high in terms of pattern size at distance. Their 8 pellet 00 load (LE133 00) is capable of 6”-ish patterns over multiple rounds at 25 yards. Their low recoil 9 pellet 00 load (LE132 00/PD132 00) is capable of 8”-ish patterns at that distance. Even though the LE132 1B patterns better than ever other load out there not made by Federal, it is sub par for a Flite Control load. I suspect the expectations were really high for pattern performance from the 1-buck load and it just didn’t quite meet the expectation.

It would be nice if Federal would bring this load back and put it out in the general market place as part of their Personal Defense line instead of giving us stuff like the Force X2 buckshot. The market expectation for the 1-buck load just needs to be appropriate to the load. This isn’t 8 pellet Flite Control, but it is still better than 99% of what is out there and with a pellet size optimized for the defensive use of the shotgun. I think creative marketing could get this stuff to sell like hot cakes, if Federal really wanted to.

7 thoughts on “Goldilocks is Dead: Federal’s LE132 1B (#1 Buckshot Flite Control)

  1. I have long considered this the ideal general-purpose home-defense buckshot. Less overpenetration concerns than 00 buck, still plenty of penetration to meet FBI specs, and a whole lot of wound channels per shot. At typical indoor distances, it patterns just fine. It’s a shame Federal discontinued it, and I’d love to see it come back.


    1. Would much prefer this over the Force X2 stuff Federal is trying to pimp. A little shift in marketing strategy to target the private sector market and bam, Federal has a market place champion.

      Quite honestly, I am surprised Hornady hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon as they seem more inclined to pursue “out of the box” loads with their Versatite wad. It probably wouldn’t be as good as Federal’s version, but maybe Hornady could pull a rabbit out of their hat and surprise us all.


  2. Late reply…
    At the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in 219 a Federal rep told me that it as off the market while they redesigned the Flite Control wad for #1 Buck, due to “flyers.”
    The fact that it has not returned to the market might be because they couldn’t fix it to their satisfaction, or that demand just isn’t there, or they are so busy pumping out LE132 and LE133 that they just don’t have the capacity to add another load.
    Or a combination of two or all of these: Law Enforcement agencies tend to be consrvative in what they buy, and the average shooter is happy with whatever is cheapest.


    1. I have heard that was the case. I would rather see them do something with #1 buck instead of splitting 00 buck in half. Even if it were just a low recoil #1 buck load in their standard Triple Plus wad. There isn’t anyone making a purpose built defensive #1 buck load right now.


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