Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shells Up or Shells Down?

I have been shooting shotguns a long time.  One of the things I see on various forums around the internet is the argument over which way to orientate the shells on your side saddle.  Do you orientate them with the shells facing up or shells facing down?  Some claim that shells facing up makes it easier and faster to load rounds into the gun with your strong side hand, while proponents of the shells facing down technique argue that the recoil of the gun will cause the shells to work themselves loose and fall off.

Having humped around shotguns in the woods a good portion of my life, I can tell you that shells down is my preference.  Gravity can be your friend sometimes, but in the case of shotgun shells being stored on your side saddle, it most certainly is not.  I have had more than a few shells fall loose while shooting as well as from running with the shotgun.  The argument of faster reload speeds from upward oriented shells is inconsequential if your shot shells have fallen off.

Another thing I'd like to reference is the fact that I don't normally reload all my shells from the side saddle at once.  I'm a huge fan of dumping a shell into the gun after the last round has been ejected.  It is then just as fast for me to reach back to my buttstock-mounted shell holder (rounds facing down as well) and reload the weapon from there, or use another ammunition source, such as a shell rack or a pouch on my hip.

No matter what method you employ to reload a shotgun, you're not going to win any races.  Shotguns, by design, are inherently slow to reload.  They are always in need of being topped off.  For me, I prefer to keep my emergency dump reload rounds on the side saddle because it's fast for me to dump load the gun in a situation where I have run dry and potentially save my life.  If we could, we would fire once, reload, fire once, reload, etc.  Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't.  It all depends greatly on what the situation is.

No matter what method you employ, your process and equipment need to be fully vetted to find what works and what doesn't.  Train using your methods and remain open minded to options that may not be yours, but work for others.  Remember, as long as it works, there is no wrong way to do a thing - just a way.

-James

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