Looks like the Hornady wad is slightly shorter than the Federal wad - wonder if that's part of the equation @ 50 yards?
Yes. It is licensed by Federal to Hornady, but is obviously modified. It is shorter. That maybe only because there is one less pellet in the load and the shot is arranged a bit differently. If you look into the bottom of the VersaTite cup there are actually little recesses or round pockets for the bottom three pellets to sit in. Those recesses are not present in the FC wad cup.
It would take a lot more shooting to see if the Hornady pattern is, indeed, only 50% of a 10-12" circle at 50 yards (still great) compared to the denser 100% pattern of the FliteControl. But, I have a reason, presently unconfirmed, to believe that the FliteControl will shoot tighter.
There is a significant difference in how far downrange the pellets remain in the wad cup. This is not noticable at 25 yards. But back up to 50 and the white VersaTite wads are falling to the ground a good 10-15 yards before the FliteControl. My theory is that the longer the pellets remain inside the cup, the less time and distance they have to separate.
There is another variable that may contribute to what seems to be a tighter 50 yard pattern for FC: velocity.
The FC load leaves the barrel at the more standard 1325 fps, while the lighter VT load is moving considerably faster at 1600. I did not chrono these, and am relying on published specs. That difference is significant.
My theory is if the VT load is moving 275 fps faster and the wad falls away farther from the target, this combo of differences may result in the relatively poorer pattern of the VT.
Regardless. Either is lethal on deer at 50 yards and requires attention to precise aiming, rather than shotgun "pointing.
At up to 25 yards there seems to be no difference. I am a bit inclined to think 9 pellets at 1325 is better than 8 at 1600 for personal defense at home hallway distances where patterns will be baseball size and overpenetration might be an issue.
When weather improves, i'll continue the comparison and see where it leads and also back up to 60 yards for giggles.