FAQ: Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carriers

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carriers

Why do you think your shell carriers are better than other brands?

We were originally asked by customers, who were in law enforcement, and in the military, to design on-gun shotshell carriers which would overcome specific objections they had to other shell carriers on the market. In particular, they wanted them to be virtually indestructable, and that they would not get snagged on clothing, or on gun cases, and the shells would not become loose and fall out. That meant that they could not be made of plastic, or have sharp edges. Next, they wanted them to be field repairable if they were ever inadvertantly damaged. One police department even requested that the serial numbers on their Remington 870s be visible without having to remove the shell carrier from the gun. In the end, we managed to accomodate all of their requests.

Finally, we’ve added some additional improvements of our own. As an examole, the receiver on the Remington 870 can be temporarily, or permanently, damaged if a simple nut and bolt are used to replace the forward trigger group retaining pin. If that nut and bolt are over-tightened, the receiver can be deformed to a point where it blocks the pump action. In our design, we replace both retaining pins with stand-offs, which are the same length as the width of the receiver, and are tapped on each end. When screws are threaded into the stand-offs they cannot be over-tightened to a length that is less than the width of the receiver, and the receiver is thus protected.

How well have Mesa Tactical’s design features worked out in the field?

In the June 2006 issue of S.W.A.T. Magazine, gun tester Eugene Nielsen had this to say about Mesa Tactical’s shell carriers:

“It’s obvious that considerable thought went into the design. The shell holders have a sleek, streamlined appearance. All exterior edges are chamfered to eliminate any possibility of the shell holders snagging on clothing or gear. A cut-out in the bracket allows the weapon’s serial number to be read for inventory. These are important features that have been lacking in traditional shell holders,” and he added, “The shells are retained in the holder by an innovative, yet ingeniously simple, elastomer retention system. The elastomer retention system utilizes friction to retain the shells, eliminating the need for the flexible plastic, shell retainers used by conventional shell holders.” Mr. Nielsen concludes: “The shells won’t come out accidentally, but are quickly and easily removed by the operator. It’s the best retention system I’ve seen.”

And from the battlefield in Iraq, we received the following letter. The author’s full name has been omitted at the author’s request for reasons of security.

“Dear Mesa Tactical”

“I would like to express my thanks for the outstanding quality of your products and your great support via e-mail and phone. I recently acquired one of your SureShell holders with rail for my Remington 870. My wife did the research on-line, bought it, and shipped it to me in Iraq. It is AWESOME, and is tough as nails. It actually has a small dent in it where it deflected a piece of shrapnel from an IED, which could have hit me. Thank you. While I know your SureShell was not built to be used as body armor, it worked as such. ∙ ∙ ∙ In the Special Operations world, we sometimes get to choose that weapon which we are comfortable with and that we know works well. ∙ ∙ ∙ My team carries 870’s and new 1187’s ∙ ∙ ∙ A number of my men have additional items purchased from your company.”


Mike’s SureShell shell carrier is still in use and is fully functional!

That’s all well and good, but I would like more technical information.

Our first task was to create the part that actually holds the shells, often called the yoke. We decided early on to make it out of hard anodized 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum. The real challenge, however, was to create a reliable way to hold the shells in place, since the yoke fully wraps around the shells and does not, in itself, clamp the shells in place.

The solution was to insert an elastomer tube into a slot milled the full length of the back of the yoke, which allows short sections of the elastomer to co-occupy a small area of the shell cavity, and provide enough friction to hold the shells in place, and at the same time make them easy to insert and remove. In the above photo, the elastomer tubing can be seen inside the shell cavities in the yoke. While the photo shows a receiver mount four-shell carrier, the elastomer retention system is common to all of Mesa Tactical’s SureShell shell carriers. The elastomer tubing is made out of a very tough synthetic rubber, and is pressed tightly into the milled slot by the backing plate/mounting bracket. which can be easily removed, and the elastomer replaced in the field if it ever wears out, or becomes damaged. The yokes, whether they’re two, four, six, or eight shell versions, are universal to all of Mesa Tactical’s SureShell shell carriers and only the aluminum backing plate/mounting bracket varies according to the mounting method and the brand and model of the shotgun.

I’ve heard that it’s possible to damage the elastomer tubing.

When we first began manufacturing our shell carriers we used silicon rubber tubing for the elastomer. Silicon rubber had all of the properties we were looking for in those early days; it had high surface friction, it was unaffected by chemical solvents, and it had high heat resistance. What we were unaware of in the beginning was that silicon rubber has another characteristic, which is similar to glass. If it is scratched on the surface it becomes easy to break along the scratch line. Some of our early shell holders were used in very hostile environments and were being subjected to lots of gritty contamination, which was scratching the surface of the silicon tubing. As soon as we became aware of the problem we set about to find a better material and we ended up with a type of neoprene called Santoprene, which actually works better than the silicon tubing and has exceptional toughness and resistance to abrasion and breaking. Once we had the cure we immediately began retrofitting every single shell holder we had produced up to that point, and simultaneously revised our manufacturing process. We have not had a problem since.

Will your SureShell shell carriers fit on all shotguns?

No, each shotgun is different, and none were designed to accommodate some kind of “standard” shell carriers. Therefore, it has always been a challenge for after-market manufacturers to develop some kind of suitable method for attaching their shell carriers to any particular shotgun. Mesa Tactical has gone to extreme lengths to accommodate most of the popular tactical shotguns for which we get requests for shell carriers. However, in order to fulfill those requests, we had to devise three types of shell carrier mounting methods.

Adapter mounted SureShell shell carriers

Since our High-tube and Low-tube stock adapters have those convenient accessory mounting pads on each side of the adapter, it was the logical place to attach our first shell carriers. In so doing, we were able to offer a technically advanced shell carrier, which would fit on any shotgun for which we make a High-tube or Low-tube adapter. The photo on the left shows our adapter mount six-shell carrier with the tab that attaches to the adapter. Note that the empty yoke of the shell carrier has no sharp edges to get snagged. The photo on the right shows the same six-shell carrier attached to a High-tube adapter mounted on a Remington 870 fully loaded. Note that the shells can be inserted from the top or the bottom, and the large hole in the shell carrier bracket allows the insertion of the quick release push-button sling swivel.

Receiver mounted SureShell shell carriers for Remingtons

However, it wasn’t long before customers began to ask for SureShell shell carriers that would mount directly to the shotgun’s receiver. That meant that each shell carrier had to be designed to fit a specific brand and model shotgun. Because of our basic design, only the backing plate/mounting bracket had to be changed. The photo on the left shows the same six-shell empty body shown in the photo above but with a bracket designed to fit a Remington 870. Note the cut-out area between the mounting screw holes that reveals the serial number on the 870’s receiver. The photo on the right shows the same six-shell carrier, fully loaded, and mounted on a standard tactical Remington 870.

Receiver mounted SureShell shell carriers for Mossbergs

The Mossberg receiver requires a different mounting method than any other shotgun. There is only one trigger group retaining pin, so it was necessary to create special hardware that replaces an internal screw, the end of which is normally flush with the receiver. Our solution replaces that screw with a longer one, which results in a threaded stud extending beyond the surface of the receiver. To this stud, we add a shouldered keyhole type of nut, and a keyhole slot in the shell carrier back plate. The shell carrier is slipped over the shouldered keyhole nut and then slid forward into the narrow slot in the keyhole. A retaining bolt and nut replace the trigger group retaining pin and the screws are then tightened, holding the shell carrier tightly in place. The photo on the top shows the back side of the Mossberg shell carrier and the various parts. The photo below that shows the shell holder with the various parts installed and the shell holder ready to attach to the Mossberg receiver.The photo in the center below shows the shell carrier installed on the Mossberg.

Receiver mounted SureShell shell carriers for Benelli M1 and M2 shotguns

The Benelli M1 and M2 semi-auto shotguns also required a special design since there is only a single attachment point on the Benelli receiver. The solution was to contour the shell carrier back plate to conform to the shape of the M1 and M2 receiver. A bolt and nut replaces the trigger group retaining pin and pulls the shell carrier snug up against the side of the receiver, and the contoured back plate prevents any movement. What started out to be one of our most challenging design projects resulted in one of our simplest and most elegant solutions.

Saddle mounted SureShell shell carriers for Benelli shotguns

Many of the requests we received were for SureShell shell carriers which would fit the Benelli M-series semi-auto shotguns. Unfortunately, the Benelli, being a semi-auto, precluded the use of a stock adapter, which ruled out the use of our adapter mount shell carriers. Furthermore, the Benelli’s receiver design also precluded the type of mounting used on Remington and Mossberg pump-action shotguns. Ultimately, those requests led to our development of a third type of mounting system based on what has been commonly referred to as a saddle mount. However, saddle mounts were originally created to facilitate the mounting of various types of sights on shotguns. Mesa Tactical’s solution, for mounting shell carriers on the Benelli shotguns, is to combine the saddle cocept for sight mounting and provide an integrated mount for the shell carrier assembly. The above photo at the top shows the Benelli saddle mount with our six-shell SureShell shell carrier, and the photo below that shows the same Benelli version installed on a Benelli and fully loaded with shells. Also, note the Picatinny rail, which is an integral part of the saddle.

Saddle mounted SureShell carriers for Remington shotguns

The popularity of the Benelli version led us to develop similar saddle mount SureShell shell carrier/Picatinny rail combos for the Remington 870s. The above photo on the left shows the Remington SureShell saddle with its integral Picatinny rail, and the photo on the right shows the saddle installed on a Remington 870.

More specifically, which shotguns will work with your shell carriers?

Our SureShell adapter mount shell carriers will work with the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500, 590, 835, or the Mossberg Maverick 88, and the Winchester 1200, or 1300. However, it’s important to remember that the adapter mounting method requires that the shotgun be equipped with a Mesa Tactical High-tube or Low-tube adapter and telescoping stock kit.

Our SureShell receiver mount shell carriers will work wth the Remington 870, or the 11-87, and the Mossberg 500, 590, or the 835, without the addition of a Mesa Tactical stock Kit.

Can I install your shell carriers on the right side of my Remington 870?

In our catalog you will discover that we also make adapter mount and receiver mount shell carriers, which can be attached to the right-side of the Remington 870. Shell carriers used on the right-side are limited to four-shells to prevent interference with the ejector port. The photo on the left shows the adapter mount four-shell carrier, which can be mounted on the right-side, or the left side, and for comparison, the photo on the right shows the slightly more compact, receiver mount four-shell version for the right-side only of the Remington 870. However, the right-side versions will not work on the Remington 11-87 because they would block the movement of the bolt handle.

Our saddle mounted shell carriers, as mentioned previously, were originally created to provide a method for mounting our SureShell shell carriers on Benelli M-series semi-auto shotguns. to that end, we manufacture one version, which fits the Benelli M2, and another, which fits the M4/1014.The photo below shows the Benelli M2 eight-shell version installed on a Benelli M2.

Both versions include an integral Picatinny rail, and are available in four, six, and eight shell versions. The M2 version can also be installed on the M1, although the top of the M1 receiver must be drilled and tapped to match the M2 hole pattern. We provide a template to help you accomplish this, but we suggest that you use a gunsmith. To retain the correct sight-line height, our M4/1014 version replaces the factory rail.

Are there any other shell carrier options for my Benelli?

We recently finished development of our fourth SureShell mounting method. It is a simple stock mount arrangement, which allows you to mount a four-shell carrier on any M-series semi-auto Benelli shotgun with a standard pistol grip stock. As can be seen in the two photos, this new shell carrier has a bracket, which replaces the sling loop bracket in the standard pistol grip Benelli stock. One side provides a mounting bracket, to which the four-shell carrier is attached and the other side provides an almost identical sling loop attachment point to the one originally supplied by Benelli. Our system is also reversible for left-handed shooters.

Do your Benelli SureShell shell carriers affect the operation of the benelli?

When the Benelli M1 was first introduced there were a few people who claimed that they had experienced jamming problems, apparently due to the fact that the M1 is recoil operated. Others claimed the M1 was sensitive to the additional weight of certain accessories, such as fore-end lights, which could also cause the gun to malfunction. In reality, most of those complaints were actually traced back to the use of extremely light, low-recoil loads, which didn’t produce sufficient recoil energy to operate the weapon. We were aware of those stories when we began development of the Benelli shell carriers, and for that reason we ran more tests than normal to be sure that our SureShell saddle rail system didn’t cause a problem. We never experienced any form of malfunction, nor have we had any complaints from our customers. The Benelli M4, of course, is gas operated, and one would believe that it is not susceptable to the same problems that might be encountered with a recoil operated action. In conclusion, we feel confident that our SurShell saddle rail system will not cause a problem, regardless of which Benelli shotgun you own.

The threaded holes in the top of my Benelli M4 receiver are aluminum. How much torque can I apply to the screws that hold your SureShell shell carrier and rail in place, without stripping the threads in the receiver?

You will be safe at about 18 lbs. and should not go beyond about 20 lbs. The use of blue loctite should be adequate to keep them tight, although shotguns are, by nature, prone to shooting srews loose and need to be retightened periodically to the above torque settings.