Friday, November 23, 2012

Tactical Tailor Stock Shotgun Shell Holder

My biggest gripe about a shotgun - any shotgun - is the limited ammo capacity it has.  Inherent to its design, your average 12 gauge pump shotgun is limited to 6 or 7 shots in the magazine tube, as well as one in the chamber.  Those rounds go fast in training, and especially fast when your life depends upon it.  Now, I haven't had to defend my life with my shotguns, but I've trained as if my life depended on it, and if it's one thing I've learned with shotgunning, it's that you need to "feed the puppy" so to speak.  That is, you need to constantly keep the gun "topped off" lest you run out of shells, and running out of shells sucks!  Not only is a shotgun slower to reload than a magazine-fed rifle, but the shells are big, heavy, and require special gear to stow them well.  You must practice reloading a shotgun as much, if not more so, than actually shooting it.  Becoming proficient with a shotgun means learning to cope with the obvious lack of ammunition capacity and the slower reload times.

One thing I've learned about shotgunning is that when you are not shooting, you are reloading.  That is, if there is a lull in the fight, or a few seconds where you are scanning, you need to be reloading and constantly "feeding the puppy" because once you allow your gun to run dry, it may take some time to get your gun back into the fight - that's assuming you aren't dead.

Winchester 1300 Defender with generic Slip-on buttstock shell holder
Again, we come around to the subject of where to stow your extra ammunition.  There have been a lot of ideas and different schools of thought on how best to accomplish this task.  One method is to store the extra shells in a receiver-mounted side saddle, such as the Mesa Tactical Sure Shell holder or the Tac Star shot side saddle shell holder (which I have on my Winchester 1300 Defender).  Having extra rounds on the receiver is a good idea for anybody who owns a shotgun for self defense, or offense.  When you train yourself to reload, either an emergency reload, or tactical reloads, you are able to lay down some really devastating firepower that few guns can compare to.  I'm not going to discuss the various methods of mounting shells to the receiver, as some guys mount them brass up, brass down, slugs to the front, buckshot to the rears, etc.  That's really up to you and your preference.  What I want to discuss today is a really inexpensive way to get extra shells on your shotgun in a way that is not permanent.

The idea of the buttstock shell holder is not new. For over a hundred years, people have been coming up with ways to get extra shells onto their guns, and the buttstock seems as good a place as any to hang some more ammunition.  Back in the day, when I bought my first-ever gun, a Winchester 1300 Defender, I immediately bought one of those elastic slip on buttstock shell holders to go with it.  It was an okay solution at first.  At least I got to have an extra 5 shells that I didn't have before.  After buying the Tac Star 6-shot side saddle shell holder, the slip-on buttstock sleeve seemed to get relegated to sitting in the box full of spare parts and extra crap.

Wincchester 1300 Defender with Tactical Tailor Shell Holder
The problem I had with the slip-on sleeve was that it moved too much.  Rarely ever did it stay in one place.  As soon as I fired the gun, the sleeve would shift forward, moving my shells to a spot different than I expected them to be.  Additionally, when I'd try to yank a shell from the elastic loop that retained it, the entire sleeve would rotate, making extraction a bit of a chore under stress.

In late 2006, I discovered the Tactical Tailor "Stock Shotgun Shell Holder."  This holder not only holds 7 shot shells, vs the 5 on my old slip-on holder, but has a loop around the back of the holder, which retains it against the rear of the stock, keeping it from moving forward when firing.  In addition, two elastic Velcro straps attach it to the stock itself, and keep it very secure, yet easily removable.  I have had it on my Winchester for six years now, and it has not loosened up, nor has the Velcro weakened over time.  I do store it with the shell loops empty because I don't care to overly stretch them while the gun sits in the closet.  Remember, just because a piece of gear is quality doesn't mean you should abuse it needlessly - wait until your life depends on it.  Just don't let shelf wear get you down before it's go time.

Here's one attached to the Magpul SGA stock on my Remington 870 Tactical.  As you can see, I orientate my shells with the brass upwards because when I reload from this position, my way is to push the shell up with my index finger, and pull the brass up and insert into the magazine.  Plus, and this is just my mileage, when you are walking around the woods, banging the gun on trees, and running with it, the shells tend to slip a little.  I like the rim of the shot shell on top so that if gravity does have an affect on the shell, the rim holds it fast in the loop so it does not fall out.  Your mileage may vary, but that just reiterates my argument that there is not a right way and a wrong way - just a way.  I prefer this way.  Getting back to the shell holder, you can see that it holds seven shot shells in a predictable manner, and this facilitates easy access to more ammunition.  With a Remington, this is a perfect reload, as the magazine holds six rounds and the tube holds one, or seven shots.  I would imagine that in most home invasion scenarios, you probably won't need 14 shots, but who knows?  Either way, it's always a good idea to carry an extra reload, even if you don't use it.

The other side of the shell holder is shown here.  Sorry the buttstock appears upside down.  iPhone cameras are quirky little things.  What you see are the two main straps that hold the holder in place as well as the back strap as it wraps around the rear of the buttstock.  I personally use the weapon with the shells away from my face.  These little straps actually provide some comfort as they go up and over the top of the stock.  My cheek rests against the soft portion of the Velcro piece, and I keep the front strap down enough so that it doesn't overlap into my face.  It's secure like this.  In the case of my Winchester, with a more traditional Monte Carlo Style Hogue over-molded stock (which I might just review someday), I pulled it over tightly so that the tail end of the strap, again, is not in my face, but tucked over the other side.  In both cases, it's a very comfortable piece of gear that it easy to live with.  With as many years of use I've had with this shell carrier, I hardly notice it anymore, until it is needed.  With a shotgun, that need comes along quickly.

This picture actually shows the back strap going around the rear of the buttstock.  It is a very important component to this system and is a big part of what makes this thing work so well.  Not only can you adjust the retention of the two main straps to conform to your stock, but the back strap keeps it from shifting forward under fire, which to me is of great importance.  It also helps stabilize the shell holder so it doesn't tend to rotate around the buttstock.  You need not worry about finding the shells on the top or bottom of the stock when you reach for them.  Predictably, they are in pretty much the same place you left them, and that kind of reassurance can't be bought with any amount of money when things get ugly.  This is exactly why I have one on each of my shotguns at home.  To me, they are invaluable assets to have, and at a price-point of around $30-$35, you'd be wise to invest in a couple of spares.

As I mentioned before, this system gives you a relatively quick reload for your shotgun, and since it is self-contained, you can just grab your gun and go, provided you don't think you'll be heading into combat.  Of course, if I knew I would need a hundred rounds of ammunition, I might just grab my AR-15 and a chest rig instead, but sometimes, your situation won't require a military-style semi-automatic rifle.  Shotguns have their place, just like any other weapon system, and you need to know what to use them for, and how.  Training is paramount to proper shotgun operation.  Fortunately, you can buy dummy shotgun shells just about anywhere so you can train with emergency reloads, tactical reloads, and administrative reloads all in the comfort of your own home without the need to leave.  Plus, since you are not practicing with live rounds, there really isn't any way to hurt yourself or anyone else for that matter.  When you get out and train with your buddies, you will be able to impress them with your skills, as I'm sure you are the only person you know who actually trains, right?  Right?

 In terms of firepower, what does this shell carrier offer?  Well, When you take into account the capacity of the weapon itself, and the spares you have on board, you take the Remington 870 from a 6+1 only to a 6+1 and seven more.  That's 14 rounds on the shotgun itself.  That's nothing to sneeze at either.  14 rounds of 12 gauge buckshot is a force multiplier in and of itself.  In the example of a 9 pellet buckshot load, that's 126 pellets combined, which is brutal.  Imagine being shot by just one of those.  It's not a pleasant feeling at all.  Now imagine you facing a guy armed with 14 rounds of buckshot, or 126 lead balls that will be traveling extremely fast in your direction.  I hope I never end up having a shotgun pointed at me, ever.  Add a side saddle to that combination, and your devastation potential is much greater.  My Winchester 1300 Defender holds 21 shells total.  7+1 in the weapon itself, 6 on the side saddle, and another 7 on the Tactical Tailor buttstock shell holder.  Is it heavy? Yes, but a shotgun load-out is heavy anyway, so you'd better start hiking with it.  I personally do a lot of bench presses and bent-over row lifting to prepare myself for it.  One of the things you need to understand before undertaking any sort of shotgun shooting is that you must man up to the weapon system.  After a day of shooting, even with just bird shot, your shoulder will be bruised, your fingers will be numb, and you might just tear a fingernail or two trying to get those shells, which seem to develop sharp edges, into the magazine tube.  You noticed I wear gloves?  Yep, I'm speaking from experience here.

My wife tells me I can write a page about nothing, so I'm going to let the pictures above tell the rest of the story, as well as the links below:

Tactical Tailor Shell holder
Tactical Tailor Main



  1. I prefer to have a sideaddle on my shotgun but this buttstock shell holder looks very interesting! Good upgrade to have ammo on your shotgun.

  2. Will the tactical tailor shell holder go onto the left side of the stock? I usually use regular butt cuffs this way since I am right handed. when reloading tilt the shotgun to the right a little while still holding with shooting hand and load with the support hand. By tilting the gun a little it gives better access to the loading hand and decreases the chances of dropping the shell when reloading. I like this cuff and will have to check it out.