Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>
We select and review products independently. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission, which help support our testing. Learn more.

Best Shotgun Mini Shells: Birdshot, Buckshot & Slugs [Hands-On]

What are shotgun mini shells good for? We give you all the deets plus our favorite shells for plinking, hunting, home defense, & more.

    In the world of shotguns, “DoEs iT tAkE mInI ShElLs?” has pretty much become the new “Does it take Glock magazines?”

    And it’s a shame because shooting mini shells can be really fun.

    Mini Shells

    Sure, mini shells have their pros and cons, and the critics have some valid complaints, but it’s important to remember that mini shells were designed to maximize performance by reducing recoil.

    That’s it.

    Mini Shells are great for plinking, skeet shooting, and certain types of hunting. These achieve a lot in a small package — recoil is light, accuracy is on point, and they are an absolute blast to shoot.

    Today, I’m going to stoke your appreciation by delving into the history of mini shells, exploring the pros and cons surrounding this type of ammo, and evaluating the performance and best uses of slugs, buckshot, and birdshot.

    Summary of Our Top Picks

    1. Best Birdshot Mini Shells

      Challenger Birdshot Mini Shells

      Best for target shooting and newbies

    2. Best Buckshot Minis

      Aguila Buckshot Mini Shells

      More felt recoil but still newb friendly

    3. Best Mini Slugs

      Federal Mini Slugs

      Best grouping, home defense worthy

    Table of Contents


    What Is a Mini Shell?

    The science behind the mini shell is simple — increase capacity and reduce recoil by making the shell shorter.

    In other words, a mini shell is just a small shotgun shell — a self-contained cartridge filled with shot and manufactured for a good time.

    As far as I can tell, mini shells only exist in the 12-gauge variety at this time. 

    Mini Shell Size Comparison
    Size comparison:
    Aguila 12GA Buckshot Mini Shell | Hornaday 12GA 70mm Buckshot Shell

    There are various shell lengths these days, running from to 1.75 inches to 2.5 inches. But when I say “mini shells,” I’m talking about the 1.75-inch shells.

    The 2.25-inch and 2.5-inch shells are not in the same boat. Not only are they hard to find, they’re also less…mini. If anything, they should have been called short shells, not mini shells.

    These short shells are neat, but not in the same class as the 1.75-inch mini shells.

    Aguila Mini Shell Loaded into Mossberg 590
    Aguila Mini Shell Loaded into Mossberg 590

    The good news is that 1.75-inch mini shells are getting a set of SAAMI specs, so we’ll likely see more companies producing these bad boys.

    What a win for mini shell fans and shotgun lovers!

    A Mini History Of The Mini Shell

    Mini shells became popular when PGO 12-gauge firearms like the Mossberg 590 Shockwave hit the market.

    (See, our favorite PGO-style guns here!)

    The OPSol Mini-Clip was released around the same time, and the two forces simultaneously triggered a perfect storm that catapulted these goofy little shells from niche to mainstream.

    OPSol Mini-Clip 2.0
    OPSol Mini-Clip 2.0 installed in a Mossberg 590 Shockwave.

    Three big-name companies produce and sell mini shells in the United States.

    Aguila Ammunition started the mini shell trend by designing and manufacturing their fairly popular buckshot, birdshot, and slugs.

    After witnessing Aguila’s initial success, Federal quickly jumped on the mini shell bandwagon and started producing similar rounds.

    Rounding out the competition was Challenger, who started manufacturing “Super Shortshells” to sell through Brownells.

    Of course, there are other smaller companies producing loads, but they’re rarely in stock and tend to be quite expensive.  

    Aguila vs. The World

    The Ups & Downs Of Mini Shells

    These little cartridges have come far since their inception.

    Over the last decade, manufacturers and powder companies have been tinkering with mini shells to improve their load density and efficiency.

    But, like everything else in the gun world, mini shells have their pros and cons.

    Pros & Cons

    The immediate advantages include:

    • Lower Recoil: The recoil from a 12-gauge mini shell is comparable to a 20-gauge buckshot load on the high end and a .410 birdshot load on the low side.
    • High Capacity: These mini shells allow you to squeeze in a few extra shells in a magazine tube. A Mossberg 590 Shockwave can hold 8 mini shells, while a Mossberg 590 8-shot magazine tube can hold 12.

    As for the downsides, we have:

    • Reliability Issues: These shells work like a dream in single- or double-barreled guns and Mossbergs equipped with an adaptor. But they won’t run in most pump-action shotguns and 99.9% of semi-autos.
    • Low Power: The smaller the shell, the less power; unfortunately, less power also equals less penetration and range.

    I know, that might have left you with more questions than answers. No worries, we’re going to analyze these little shells so you have a full understanding of what you’re getting into.

    I Gotchu

    Mini Shell Loads: The Breakdown

    Like most shotgun shells — or any ammo, really — mini shells tend to vary quite a bit in performance.

    To give you a solid breakdown of the different mini shells available, I’m going to review the birdshot, buckshot, and slugs sold by the big manufacturers.

    This should give you a general idea of how each mini shell performs on its own merit, as well as in competition with its key rivals.

    Mini Shells
    The inner workings of the mini shell.


    Birdshot rounds are pretty similar across the board. You can’t go wrong no matter what brand you choose to try out.

    Aguila and Challenger deliver 7.5 shot loads that are a light 5/8 ounce of a shot at 1,200 feet per second.

    However, Federal went a different route with a light eight-shot loaded to 15/16 of an ounce at 1,145 feet per second. 

    But performance-wise? There really isn’t a difference between these shells.

    They are super light recoiling loads that spread remarkably fast. So quick, in fact, that they’re not really useful for most tasks, including hunting birds or shooting trap/skeet.

    Not much else to see here, kids.

    Dead Dove

    Your relationship with birdshot is highly dependent upon your expectations and needs.

    Want to go plinking? Birdshot has your back. These little bad boys shine at the range, especially out of a Mossberg 590 Shockwave equipped with an OPSol Mini-Clip. 

    Mossberg Retro Shotguns 590 on a stump
    You can even use minis with a Mossberg 590 Retro!

    New to shooting? Look no further; these are fun target rounds that double as excellent training tools for new and young shooters.

    Need a solid shell that can stop a home invader in their tracks? Look elsewhere. Anything will serve you better than birdshot.

    Best Birdshot Mini Shells
    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons


    Buckshot loads are where things get interesting. Unlike birdshot, you’re going to see a significant difference between these shells.

    In my opinion, the Aguila load is the most interesting buckshot option on the market. Whether it’s the “best” option comes down to personal preference.  

    We’re dealing with low-powered ammo, so I want more penetration. This swanky little shell encases a combination of four #1 pellets and seven #4 pellets.

    However, in use, Aguila’s buckshot patterns widely and is way less consistent than Federal shells.

    It patterns left, right, in a circular shape, or maybe strung out horizontally — it’s almost frustratingly unreliable.  

    Aguila Buckshot
    Aguila buckshot pattern. Notice that big hole in the left-hand corner?

    The recoil is more significant than the birdshot, but still very light and comfortable. To me, that extra bit of recoil makes shooting PGO firearms a lot more fun. Recoil is just part of the experience. 

    Fortunately, the recoil from these shells is not at a dangerous level, and even new shooters should be able to handle it.

    These rounds are a bit more capable and useful than birdshot, but understand that your range is limited.

    Best Buckshot Minis
    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Challenger sells a #4 buckshot caliber that contains 14 pellets at 1,200 feet per second.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any Challenger mini buck on hand, so you’ll have to rely on my past impressions of that ammo as we proceed through. this article.

    It was impossible to find pre-apocalypse 2020, and now it lives on as but a character in song and myth.

    You tell him, Scully.

    The Federal load is also a #4 buckshot caliber, but with 15 pellets at 1,200 feet per second.

    Federal really pulled a Price is Right by adding that one additional pellet.

    Your move, Challenger. Prove your buckshot is real and worth the loss of one pellet.

    When fired, Federal’s buckshot loads can cover an 8.5×11 piece of paper at 10 yards, so they are far from FliteControl standards.

    Not only is the recoil noticeably light, but the spread patterns are tight and impressively consistent to the point of predictability.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons


    Slugs are by far the most useful of the mini shell family when it comes to power.

    They don’t pack the same effective range as a standard slug, but they also have a lot less recoil than a 1,600 fps slug. 

    Slugs are quite stout, and I’m pleasantly surprised at their limited recoil and overall efficiency.

    Unfortunately, they also share a trait that I could do without. When my bead sight was equipped, the slugs tended to land high from where I was aiming.

    This isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it’s absolutely something you should keep in mind when deciding which mini shells to purchase.

    berg 590 shockwave grip with xs big dot
    Mossberg 590 Shockwave grip with an XS Big Dot

    Of course, all three brands have their differences and vary in weight.

    For example, Federal’s mini slugs are the heaviest at 1 ounce, and they fly at 1,200 feet per second.

    These slugs are your most potent option. They’re also the most accurate.

    Federal Mini Slug Pattern
    Federal Mini Slug Pattern

    I produced the best groups with these slugs; the end result was typically one ragged hole. They land almost dead-on.

    As you can probably guess, Federal’s slugs are my favorite and definitely my go-to mini shell for serious use.

    It’s almost up to par with their standard reduced recoil law enforcement slug, which is 1 ounce at 1,300 FPS. 

    Best Mini Slugs
    at Federal

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    The Challenger slugs are the lightest at 3/4 quarters of an ounce and fly at 1,200 feet per second.

    They were acceptably accurate and seemed to group well enough. Not as precise as Federal’s slugs, but the results were respectable. 

    I could safely count on them for accuracy in a pinch against medium game or for home defense. 

    Challenger Mini Slug Pattern
    Challenger Mini Slug Pattern

    Lastly, the Aguila slugs fall right in the middle, the Goldilocks porridge, if you will, with 7/8 of an ounce at 1,300 feet per second.

    These are fast little fellas. And Aguila’s slug would be a great option if speed was all we needed in a mini shell.

    But speed doesn’t change or hide the fact that Aguila’s slugs are incredibly inaccurate and tend to fly wherever they please after approximately 25 yards.

    Aguila Mini Slug Pattern
    Aguila Mini Slug Pattern

    Honestly? Even at 15 yards, there appeared to be inches between rounds. This was never an issue with its two rivals.  

    As you can probably guess, this is not my favorite mini slug.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    What do you think of Aguila Mini Slugs? Rate them below.

    Readers' Ratings

    5.00/5 (469)

    Your Rating?

    Are Mini Shells Worth Buying?

    This is a big question and the answer, again, is highly dependent upon how you intend to use your mini shells.

    The yes or no is always going to come down to personal opinion, so let’s explore how people use mini shells for target shooting and home defense.

    Plinking With Mini Shells

    When it comes down to it, plinking is all about experimentation, informal target practice, and stress relief.

    Any type of ammo can be “useful” when you’re shooting for fun, and mini shells are no exception.

    Sometimes you just need to waste some ammunition, and firing birdshot, buckshot, and slugs are one way to chase that catharsis.

    Federal Buckshot
    Federal Mini Buckshot Pattern

    From a training perspective, these mini shells are also a great tool. New shooters can learn how to safely operate a shotgun and slowly work up to more powerful rounds.

    Mini shells are also a safe bet if you’re not ready for the recoil of a full-powered round — no shame there, my friend; if anything, your shoulder thanks you.

    Stupid Fun

    Mini shells may not be your most cost-effective ammo option, but life is all about taking chances and trying new experiences.

    So, go forth and wear your plinkster badge with pride!

    Hunting With Mini Shells

    Are mini shells good for hunting? That’s a doozy of a question.

    Yes, no, maybe so? Once again, it depends entirely on what and where you plan to hunt.

    Puppies Question the Universe
    Puppies can make anything cute, even vague answers.

    For instance, the birdshot could be useful for squirrels and small ground game, as well as tiny birds—especially if they are trapped on the ground.

    That’s not very sporting, but sportsmanship isn’t a priority in a prepping or survival scenario. 

    If anything, birdshot shells are great for prepping because they are small, lightweight, and can be easily stored and carried.

    Crushing the Apocalypse

    Sure, you could use buckshot loads for deer and medium game hunting, but I highly recommend sticking to standard shotgun shells.

    As far as ethical hunting goes, I want a full-powered buckshot load for the range and power it offers for medium-sized game. 

    For smallish predatory-sized game, like coyotes, you can probably take your pick of the mini buckshot loads.

    I prefer the Aguila for its #1 pellets, but you’ll need to get pretty dang close for buckshot to be of any (ethical) use.

    But if I found a coyote in the chicken coup, then one of these rounds would be perfect for dispatching it. 

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    It should come as no surprise that slugs are your most potent option when it comes to hunting game with mini shells.

    True, they don’t offer the same range as true full-powered slugs, but they’re still reliable for chasing down medium-sized game, especially within 30-50 yards.

    Their power level surpasses any magnum handgun, and those are common choices for deer and hog hunting.

    Personally, I would go with Federal’s mini slugs, especially if you want lighter ammo with limited recoil. But the others should work just as well.

    Pick Me

    Home Defense With Mini Shells

    Here we are, saving the best for last, as they say.

    Many people buy mini shells for home defense. The increased ammo capacity is a huge perk, and the low recoil makes it a relatively safe and accurate option for homeowners.

    Always be prepared for a worst-case scenario!

    But there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before relying on mini shells for home defense, particularly if you’re a new shooter or someone who rarely picks up a gun.

    Is this ammunition reliable? Does it cycle? Does it cycle all the time, regardless of how you manipulate the pump?

    If the answer is no, then you need to switch the ammo out for something different.

    And if you aren’t certain, I recommend taking your home defense gun and a few ammo options out to the range.

    After all, it’s always best to prepare and experiment before a worst-case scenario occurs.

    Be Prepared

    Alright, now we can get into the nitty-gritty: Which mini shells are the best for home defense?

    Off the bat, we can go ahead and strike birdshot off the list. I mean, I feel that way about full-powered birdshot, so why would I recommend a lower-powered shell?

    Firing birdshot at an intruder can result in a messy, painful, and possibly even fatal wound. But the injury probably won’t incapacitate an armed burglar, let alone scare them off.   

    Do Not Do That

    The buckshot loads may work, but why bother?

    You want your shotgun to deliver a sledgehammer’s payload per trigger pull. Reducing the payload per round minimizes the gun’s effectiveness and cuts one of its biggest selling points as a home defense weapon. 

    Also, #4 buckshot can be tricky. Full-powered 2 ¾-inch loads have difficulty penetrating the full 12 inches of ballistic gel, as outlined in FBI testing procedures.

    So, how can lower-powered mini rounds deliver optimum performance?

    Tap Forehead

    If I had to choose one of these buckshot loads, I would pick the Aguila because it has the most lethal potential with its #1 buckshot.

    I wish it patterned more consistently, but a 10-yard shot aimed at center mass will take the bad guy down, no problem.

    Finally, we get to the slugs, which are quite suitable for home defense.

    Not my personal choice. I don’t like to rely on minis when it comes to protecting my house, but the numbers don’t lie.

    Even the lightest Challenger slug weighs in at 328 grains and moves at 1,200 feet per second. That level of power makes for an effective home defense round.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    When fired from a long gun, mini slugs are controllable and slightly soft. Any brand will get the job done.

    In my testing, Federal’s slugs were easily the most accurate out to 25 yards.

    But, since distance isn’t an issue inside your house, any mini slug can do the job.

    However, the heaviest ones tend to be the most accurate, so Federal’s slug (437 grains) still gets my vote.


    What About Other Lengths?

    So far, we’ve talked a bit about 1.75-inch shells, but what about other lengths of mini shells? They do exist, and I’ve recently gotten my hands on 2- and 2.5-inch shells.

    Takho Mini Slugs

    While Ukraine might be battling Russians as I type this, they still found some ammo to spare.

    Servicemen ride on an armored vehicle with the letter ‘Z’ on it in Armyansk, Crimea, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, February 24, 2022. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

    Kind of, I’m not sure when these shells were imported, but these mini slugs are 2-inches long and fire a 3/4 ounce chunk of lead.

    They are a little longer than traditional mini shells by just a bit. I hoped they would improve reliability without the use of adapters. Do they? Well, kind of.

    These shells won’t cycle in a semi-auto, and believe me, I tried. They do cycle in a number of pump guns. The guns they won’t cycle in are guns with skeletonized shell lifters, like the Mossbergs.

    Takho Mini Slugs

    They flipped and got caught in the skeletonized shell lifter. However, in guns like the Remington 870 and Benelli Supernova, they ran without complaint. They were smooth shooters.

    It bears mentioning that the velocity isn’t mentioned, and recoil is downright soft. These slugs are made for “Practical Shotgun” competition. Do you know how people use little cheats to get an advantage in competition?

    This seems to be an example of that. They increase capacity by two rounds, run mostly fine, and have very little recoil. Not to mention, they are fun to shoot and accurate — but the listed range according to the box is 50 meters.

    These aren’t your grandpa’s slugs for deer hunting, and I would only really use them for hunting smaller predators like coyotes.

    Nobel Sport MiniBuck

    Nobel Sport is an Italian firm I stumbled across in an out-of-town gun store. They carried boxes of 12-gauge shells that were a mere 2.25 inches long. Sadly, the store had a limit, and I could only score two boxes.

    These short buckshot shells contain six pellets of 00 buckshot at 1,250 feet per second. Not too bad.

    How do they run? Well, honestly, absolutely perfectly.

    They run in my Benelli M4 and Mossberg 930 SPX without issue and are the first mini shells to do so. The MiniBuck loads run very well in pump-action shotguns too.

    They are a little longer but allow shooters to pack an extra round in their tubes on average. Nobel Sport MiniBuck rounds even tend to pattern fairly well, at least good enough for home defense purposes.

    Benelli M4 Thunder Ranch
    Benelli M4

    The velocity and payload make them the most practical of these mini shells. Recoil is fairly light, and they function reliably. This seems to be the optimum size for universal use among guns.

    The downside seems to be the fact they cost as much or more than my favorite buckshot loads, Federal FliteControl. That makes their only benefit one extra round in the gun.

    I’m not sure if they’re worth that kind of premium price point.

    Which Shotguns Fire Mini Shells?

    I can’t talk about mini shells without giving you a rundown of what types of shotguns work best with these little monsters.

    As a general rule, you should always double-check that your firearm is compatible with your ammunition.

    But there’s a lot to learn if you’re new to the world of shotguns and shooting. If you’re researching mini shells as starter ammunition, I recommend visiting our Beginner’s Guide to Guns and Ammo & Reloading [The Definitive Resource].

    Mossberg 500 Series With OPSol Mini-Clip

    The Mossberg 500 series — specifically the 500, 590, and the 590 Shockwave — is the GOAT with mini shells so long as you rock that OPSol Mini-Clip.

    In my experience, this combination works 100% of the time.

    Editor's Pick Not-A-Shotgun
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    If you aren’t familiar with the OPSol Mini-Clip, it’s a chunk of rubber that squeezes into the loading port and acts as a space filler.

    As you cycle the gun, the OPSol Mini-Clip prevents the mini shells from bouncing around and ruining your shot.  

    at OpSol

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    SRM 1228

    Remember when I said that 99.99% of semi-auto shotguns can’t cycle mini shells? Well, the SRM 1228 is the .01% that can.

    In fact, the SRM 1228 is a unique shotgun that only functions with mini shells. 

    It can hold 28 mini shells between four magazine tubes that rotate much like an IWI TS 12. However, this system is detachable and allows you to effectively change magazines. 

    at SRM Arms

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Kel-Tec KSG 

    The Kel-Tec KSG reportedly works very well with mini shells.

    I have no experience with this combo, but I can say that the KS7 does NOT like mini shells.

    Since I’m listing the Kel-Tec KSG on pure hearsay, verify for yourself before making a purchase.

    at GrabAGun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Final Thoughts

    While their uses may be limited, mini shells have certainly earned their place in the ammunition pantheon. Are mini shells a replacement for standard shotgun shells? No, never.  

    Get out there and shoot!

    They are a niche product that capitalizes on the shotgun’s versatility — great for training new shooters and, depending on your mood, the perfect addition to your plinking lineup.

    Some people use mini shells for certain types of hunting and even home defense. But in most cases, you should probably stick to your standard shells.

    Did any of these mini shells spark your interest? Have any solid advice for people new to mini shells? Let us know in the comments below! Also check out 6 Best Home-Defense Tactical Shotguns [Hands-On] and Best Shotgun Ammo [2020]: Home Defense & Target Shooting.

    The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

    Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

    30 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Wayne Jochem

      Hello. My question would be about the performance differences between the 12g mini shells and a standard 20g. I understand that with the 12g minis you have more round capacity, so the question isn't about capacity. For example, Winchester Defender, 20 #3 buckshot has 20 pellets at 1145fps which is almost on par with the 12g Federal mini #4 buckshot. Without researching to much it almost seems that the 12g mini are almost comparable with normal 20g shells, you just gain capacity by going with mini 12's. I have a 'shockwave' type in 16g that has less recoil than the 12 and more performance than 20g or 12g mini's. Maybe Mossberg should make a 16g shockwave? It would help bring the 16g back into the mainstream or so I would hope. Keep up the great work with all your reviews and articles.

      November 20, 2022 11:21 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mary Leeloo

      My husband started making me 20 gauge mini shells by cutting down shells made for clay target shooting and replacing the pellets with a slug, since we can't shoot birdshot at our range. They performed well and I rarely had any issues with them cycling. This is how I learned to shoot my Winchester SXP without being intimidated by recoil. I loved it! I can handle shooting normal ones now but we still make shorties because they are so much fun, and accurate too.

      June 15, 2022 6:39 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jeffrey Tate

      Anyone try these in a Maverick 88?

      June 13, 2022 5:42 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        They work great with the mini clip

        June 14, 2022 8:06 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Jeffrey Tate

          Thank you, good to know.

          June 14, 2022 10:17 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jeff Tannery

        Yes, they work 100% with opsol adaptor. Aguila & Federal both in birdshot, buckshot and Slugs. Very fun time!!!

        October 7, 2022 6:26 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      The discussion about 00 buck vs #4 buck vs slugs by gun writers in most cases is an opinion not fact based with real worl situations.

      As an infantry company commander in South Vietnam, we issued a widely varied group of 12 ga pumps to the troops.

      They either had 00 buck or #4 buck issued and loaded in their military shotguns. Most troops never knew the difference or cared . We had essentially the same results with either 00 buck or #4 buck.

      Remember hits count. I would trust any of the mini shell buck loads for my home defense.

      As an aside, one or two 00 buck hits in humans is not routinely a fatality in the combat that we were in. This includes 12 gauge and the old 40mm grenade launcher canister with 00 buck. Only center of mass buckshot loads did the needed job.

      April 16, 2022 8:32 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Travis L Pike

        Its a fact that No.4 is a crappy penetrator through the human body.

        June 13, 2022 10:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Moe Dietle

      Winchester 1300 cycles minis Reliably.....

      July 19, 2021 10:24 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        If they work reliably in a 1300 then they should work in a Stevens 320, which is basically a 1300 clone.

        June 14, 2022 8:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Any direction I might shoot, inside my house, there is a neighbor's house and possibly a neighbor downrange. My longest indoor shot would be ~20 feet; remember how fast buckshot loses velocity? I don't need the power to take down a deer at 40-60 yards, and I REALLY don't need enough energy to go through two lath-and-plaster walls and injure or kill a neighbor. The average human male chest cavity is 10 inches deep, and ideal penetration for this purpose would be the shot stopping just under the skin on the backside; 12 inches is enough to completely perforate. Going through a human chest cavity AND a wall is unlikely, but I might miss. I DON'T miss, but I won't bet a neighbor's life on my confidence.

      You are quoting factory-reported velocities, which are usually a lot of blue sky, often taken in much longer barrel than you are going to use. 1200 f/s? Maybe from a 30-inch barrel. ... I chronographed ONE--don't like risking my skyscreens to wads--Aguila slug load from an 18" barrel, and got 960 f/s. That's a hellofalot less than 1200: If that slug weighs 3/4 oz, 328 grains, 960 f/s is 671 fpe (foot pounds energy). That's a high-pressure .357 from a long-barreled handgun, a 10mm auto, or a low-end .41 Magnum--plenty for a human assailant at 20 feet. If those slugs now weigh 7/8 oz, as I read, 960 f/s is 782 fpe, way more than enough, especially given the multiple-hit effect that makes buckshot so effective.

      I've been thinking that eight pellets of No. 1 buck, .30 Cal./40 grains each--a .22LR slug--at around 950 f/s would be ideal. I don't like No. 4 buck--20 grains each--but for my purposes they might be better. When the ridiculous pandemic excuse for panic buying fades, I will get a box or two of all the mini shells available, and run them over a chronograph, maybe into ballistic gel or wet newsprint, and through a couple of different types of wall construction, from--let's see: I have 28 inch 12 gauge barrels--not sure if I have a 30 inch; 23 inch, 20 inch, 18 inch, and 14-inch--I just did the paperwork on a Mossberg Shockwave today. A year and a half ago I could have walked out of the store with it the same day. Now my state's police are ~3 weeks behind on background checks. No big.

      If you don't have real chronographed velocities for the length of barrel you're talking about, you're just blowin' smoke. Don't hold your breath, but watch for my YouTube.

      April 6, 2021 11:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I own several Mossberg shotguns, to include the Shockwave. Prior to the invention of the OpSol device I was already using minishells which were ALMOST reliable without the OpSol. The Aguila minishells are actually only 1 3/8" long and 8-9 can be loaded in the Shockwave. My main use for these is home defense with the Aguila buck rounds. Why not full size loads? Well, I've never fired a shotgun inside but I'm pretty sure that one full size load will make you temporarily deaf and reduce your vision! Less "sturm und angst" with the baby shells. As for accuracy, in-the-home defensive distance is limited to under 10 yards and all of these buck rounds will hit the target with enough force to incapacitate if not outright kill!

      March 8, 2021 1:00 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Shotshells are classified by their OPEN/fired length; if they're 1-3/8 long unfired, they'll be about 1-3/4 fired.

        BTW: Neither my Rem. 870s, High-Standard Riot King, nor Win. 1300 will feed 1-3/4 inch shotshells. They will all feed 2-1/4-inch shells, better with a roll crimp than a fold crimp. This will let you get a round or two more in the magazine, but more to my point, if they're a bit less powerful--I won't know until I chronograph them--they might be better home-defense loads, at least for you neighbors.

        April 6, 2021 11:37 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John Danner

      Rem 870 doesn't feed/fire mini shells.

      August 23, 2020 10:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I own no Mossberg pumps so I only shoot Aguila 5/8 ounce # 7-1/2 shot Mini-Shells in my Stoeger Coach gun for Cowboy Action. The Mini-Shells have NEVER failed to knock down the CA targets with authority!

      August 21, 2020 1:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      A few years back a fellow trap club member brought a sleeve of Aguila shorties to the range, gave each of us three and we had a shoot-off from about the 29 yard "line." Using our trap guns, none of us had a problem breaking targets so my experience with the little critters for trap shooting is positive. Several of the fellows load 7/8 ounce of 7.5 or 8's for 16 yards and use these for handicap on occasion for fun...and they consistently break targets. I shoot 1 ounce at 1145 for everything out to 24 yards then switch over to 1 1/8 ounce at 1200 for 27 and longer. The little shells have plenty of oomph.

      August 20, 2020 3:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Guillermo Maguire

      Great article....thanks for mentioning our product, the Opsol adapter. The adapter was developed on a Mav 88 with Aguila shells. It went on sale in May of 2015. We handed a few to Mossberg at Shot show 2016. At Shot show 2017, Mossberg rolled out the Shockwave, and marketed it with our adapter and Aguila shells. In 2018, Challenger entered the mini shell market. At Shot show 2019, Federal entered the market.
      The adapter was specifically developed for our wives and daughters. Minishells, though, are being developed that are becoming more powerful, etc. Personally, I have tested mini bucks with 6 00 pellets. They pass cleanly through two real 3/4" sheets of plywood.
      I agree with the author on Federal slugs....accurate at 100 yards for me (and I am not a good shot). For buckshot,all 3 rounds pass through 1 sheet, and a few pellets through the second. The federal, though, is buffered, and consistently has a tighter pattern.
      One thing to understand about minis, their potential is just now being explored. There is all sorts of power that can be developed in that short shell. I have tested 20g 1 oz minis slugs that go clean through 5 sheets, which Aguilas cant....
      As for KSGs, they will flip a shell. They did for me, and a customer recently advised me he had same issues. Not often, but they will.

      August 19, 2020 9:07 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        I agree with you, but strongly disagree with the author as to the purpose, use and future of 1.75 inch 12 ga shells. Keep in mind that the 2 3/4 inch shot shell is a reminent of black powder days when powder was less efficient and required more volume. To illustrate, the 1.75 in Exotic #3 buck contains 21 pellets and delivers the shot column with 1,611 ft lbs of muzzle energy resulting in recoil of 24.5 ft lbs in a 6.75 lbs shotgun. This will deliver superior terminal performance at short home defense distances (such as 20 feet) than the current gold standard, i.e., Federal LE132 00 or Federal LE133 00 with flight control, delivering 9 or 8 double-aught pellets at 1,412 ft lbs or 1,253 ft lbs respectively and with lighter recoil than the Exotic load. Federal, Aguila and Challenger have not pushed the limits of these shells. These certainly make a lot of sense for the close distances of home defense and the slugs and increased capacity make sense for law enforcement per a recent article in Police One magazine.

        October 5, 2020 11:33 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Marcus Aurelius Tarkus

      One thing not mentioned in this article is shooting ranges. The ones in my area prohibit any load other than slugs indoors. So if you're training for close-quarters home defense, mini-shells take on a significant role. For the heavyweight (6'4"/240#) shooter, such as I, minislugs (with the Opsol clip) are good warm-up/practice rounds, followed by full size shells. For my petite better half, minis are the max on the range. However, as the designated operator of the household Mossberg 500, I keep it loaded at home with full-size, 00 buck rounds: stock folded, side-saddle filled and at the ready.

      August 19, 2020 5:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      My Winchester 1300 Defender cycles them pretty reliably so you could add that to the list.

      August 19, 2020 12:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ian VanVranken

      I love the minishells! I have a mossberg 500 with the opsol clip and a benelli supernova...the benelli seems to cycle them pretty well as long as you are firm with you're racking.
      Also, the SRM was my idea ;) though it was only in my head

      August 19, 2020 9:45 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have run 2 boxes aof the Aguila slugs in my KS7 with no issues. I have even mixed them with 2 3/4 rounds with no failures.

      August 19, 2020 8:12 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        Same with my KS7. I put 200 of these through it no problem

        November 7, 2020 11:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have a 12 gauge 2 and 3 Quarter grizzly with a 12" barrel and a 5 round magazine Pump action.
      Are these guys going to work in my magazine or should I stick with my double 00 and 000 buck for home defense?

      August 18, 2020 6:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have the KSG and it loves the Aguila shells - you need shells with the high brass for the KSG. I can't think of a better load for home defense than 24+1 buckshot rounds :)

      August 18, 2020 5:45 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Same here with my KSG. I feed it minis almost exclusively.

        November 7, 2020 10:26 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      The KS7 doesn't like minishells? Maybe it's something that's individual between KS7s. Mine appears to like them just fine so far.

      August 18, 2020 3:33 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        same here. there were some issues in loading my KS7(sharp corner on magazine tube would catch shell) and the early releases sometimes needed to go back upgraded parts, but minishells function just like full size shells. Makes, in my eyes, his comments on ammo suspect also. Anything i have read suggests that the primary impact on shot spread is barrel choke .

        August 18, 2020 5:43 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Travis L Pike

          Author here.

          There is a lot more to spread that choke, especially with buckshot. Wad or shotcup is a massive factor. The shot cup is why Flitecontrol works so well.

          Also my individual experiences with the KS7 are my own and I wrote a loving review of the KS7 and have no reason to lie about it.

          August 19, 2020 3:26 am
          • Commenter Avatar

            Weird. I put 200 aguila mini buckshots through my ks7 last weekend with zero issues

            November 7, 2020 11:26 am
    Join the community! Log in
    Please provide a valid email address.
    Password is required.
    Please provide a valid display name.
    Please provide a valid email address.
    The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
    Please accept in order to continue.
    Trouble logging in?
    Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
    Please provide a valid email.
    Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
    Field is required.
    Account already exists
    We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
    To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
    Field is required.
    Account already exists
    We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
    In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

    Account in Pew Pew Tactical means more.

    Login or create a free account to get the following
    Access and save hundreds of reviews, gun guides, and articles!
    Find the best daily deals on guns, gear, and ammo
    Manage your newsletter subscriptions and comments