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Shotgun Sidesaddle - Brass Up or Brass Down

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It’s amazing how contested something as simple as shotgun shell orientation can be. My take on it.   
 

 

 

Edited by DBTN
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I run the front two brass up for quick slug changeovers on my M4.

Otherwise, it's brass down. 

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Can't watch the video right now but there are so many variables at play that there really is no hard and fast "always and never" with regards to shell orientation.

The conventional wisdom is gravity works against you and we do actually see people lose shells in class and matches from time to time from recoil and gravity combining to work against you. If the brass is down it can fall out of the hard plastic Tac Star sidesaddle (and the stretchy fabric ones too) . It is not common but it CAN happen. If the brass is up it is almost impossible to fall out of the sidesaddle. Frankly though it is so rare I don't even consider that as a consideration. 

 

Having said that.....

If you only plan to load into the tube and not into the ejection port then brass down makes that more ergonomic. Pull down and thrust into the tube. This is my "default" recommendation for shell orientation. 

If you plan to load into the port when it runs empty then brass up makes that easier. You pluck it up, roll the receiver slightly and drop the shell into the open port , close and fire.  If I'm shooting a match with a pump gun this is the setup. Load them in the sidesaddle all brass up.  Just shoot it empty and then reload singles through the ejection port (like they do in cowboy action with a 97 Winchester).

If you plan to have some available to load into the tube to top off with AND some to load over the top into the port as an emergency speed load if you run it empty then some up and some down makes sense.  

If you plan to have both slugs and buck in your side saddle then running one up and one down helps keep them "separate".  The "up" ones will be slower to load into the tube  because you will have to reorient them but this method does simplify keeping them separate. 

And if you plan to run BOTH slugs and buck but want to run them all with brass down (or all brass up) then I'd suggest different color shells to differentiate the two.  

I'll try to get some time to watch the video and comment specifically on it later. 

Edited by Cruel Hand Luke
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I always give people the option of which to choose. There are various ways to run them. I hope to not have to perform a combat load and to keep the  gun up and running by loading the tube.  Many like to run slugs and buck but I prefer not to.  Only time I do it is in gun games, 3. Gun. Most do not train enough and end up messing up their select load. 

Edited by DBTN

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Here is a good discussion on this topic:
 


My experience does not mirror that of the OP.  I have seen rounds come out of the side saddle when run brass down. 

I have seen one round come out when oriented brass up.  I was at Gunsite for their 260 Shotgun course and bought some Winchester AA hull shot for the test, and the hulls were so slick that I had one fly out and go right past my head.  My elastic side saddle was very, very worn, and I replaced it after that class.

I much, much prefer the elastic cards and velcro to a side saddle attachment that replaces the action pins.  I have seen numerous problems with those in relation to being too tight, too loose, or the screws breaking under stress.

I'm in the above posted video at the 5:41 mark as an example of the first two up and the remainder down.  Daryl Bolke, who is mentioned in the all up section, trained extensively with Scotty Reitz.  Mr. Reitz was one of the instructors for the LAPD Metro Division (SWAT and SIS).  They adopted brass up due to losing shells.

I don't thing either is wrong.  When gaming it, I'll go two up, remainder down.  On my work guns, I run all up.

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Lee mentions AA Winchester shells which are slicker than most other shells. I too have seen those come out of the side saddle. Something that helps is to actually push the shell up in there high enough that the plastic holder is making contact with some case rim. For some reason I see a lot of folks wanting to place the the shells hanging out as far as they can put them. That makes it even more likely for them to fall out. No reason not to push them up farther into the carrier. 

Also on the action pins, that is a real thing and tends to be more a big deal with aluminum receivers (like Benelli ad Mossberg) that get the screws tightened down too far and then the receiver and bolt bind up because the receiver is in effect "pinched". You have to fight the urge to over tighten the screws. But as Lee mentions, the velcro cards alleviate that issue as they do not hang from the trigger group pins.  

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OK, I finally watched the video and I thought it was nicely done. We all are products of our own experiences and no two people's experiences are exactly the same. If your guys are not having any issues with shells falling out then no reason to change. I'd just make sure they know it is a possibility (even if remote). To be forewarned is to be forearmed (but not four armed). 😉

Regardless of whether you have issues with shells falling out under recoil or not, the good news is that rarely do civilian and LE fights that involve shotguns go enough rounds to actually NEED a reload. 

And while I do not have a video to add to the discussion I thought I might mention this for those looking for some shotgun training in the VERY near future....

 

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Common sense and training will prevail. Common sense says that brass down is the way to go. But if you don’t train often; you will be slow no matter where they are or what orientation they are in. If you do train; you will figure it out. Common sense also says if a round falls out on the ground, ever; you need a new or different type carrier.

 Beside the new recruit training, how often do your Officers train with a shotgun?

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25 minutes ago, Cruel Hand Luke said:

Regardless of whether you have issues with shells falling out under recoil or not, the good news is that rarely do civilian and LE fights that involve shotguns go enough rounds to actually NEED a reload. 

;) That was my first thought, but I figured if I posted it, I would get scolded, along with a bunch of links to where cops had to reload a shotgun in a shootout.

My experience was that while some folks wouldn’t comply or care if you were pointing a handgun at them, they couldn’t comply fast enough when an Officer with a shotgun or a Dog arrived. I only remember a shotgun being fired by anyone on our department once. 

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:06 AM, MacGyver said:

I run the front two brass up for quick slug changeovers on my M4.

Otherwise, it's brass down. 

This. If you watched Magpul's Art of the Shotgun, slug changeovers happen when your target is too far away for a safe shot with buckshot. Slug changeovers go over the gun thru the election port, not the loading gate. 

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23 minutes ago, DaveTN said:

;) That was my first thought, but I figured if I posted it, I would get scolded, along with a bunch of links to where cops had to reload a shotgun in a shootout.

My experience was that while some folks wouldn’t comply or care if you were pointing a handgun at them, they couldn’t comply fast enough when an Officer with a shotgun or a Dog arrived. I only remember a shotgun being fired by anyone on our department once. 

If you stick a side saddle on a shotgun, you are prepping for an all out fight with zombies. Now. if you don't believe in zombies, you probably don't even need one. Not up to me to lecture about having your brains eaten in your own living room.

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2 minutes ago, mikegideon said:

If you stick a side saddle on a shotgun, you are prepping for an all out fight with zombies. Now. if you don't believe in zombies, you probably don't even need one. Not up to me to lecture about having your brains eaten in your own living room.

My Zombie gun is an AR-10. Won’t that do?

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BTW… DBTN does a good job on these videos. We need to support him by subscribing to his you tube channel and giving him some likes. :up:

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At work, my technique for ammo selection is that I have one shotgun loaded with buckshot and one loaded with slugs.  They are turned opposite ways in the rack; so, that I can tell which is which.

If I jump suspects on the ground, I pull the buckshot.  If I jump suspects in a car, I pull the slugs.

Otherwise, I just run buckshot in/on the gun, and if I feel I just have to have them, I'll have slugs on the belt.  I tend to use a shotgun for known confined spaces and a carbine for everything else.

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2 hours ago, DaveTN said:

My Zombie gun is an AR-10. Won’t that do?

I think so. I haven't shot a real zombie yet

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4 hours ago, DaveTN said:

;) That was my first thought, but I figured if I posted it, I would get scolded, along with a bunch of links to where cops had to reload a shotgun in a shootout.

My experience was that while some folks wouldn’t comply or care if you were pointing a handgun at them, they couldn’t comply fast enough when an Officer with a shotgun or a Dog arrived. I only remember a shotgun being fired by anyone on our department once. 

The racking of a 12 gauge shotgun would immediately get a lot of people's attention.

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Thanks for the support DaveTN.  Other than the initial three days of training and subsequent qualifications there has been no additional live fire shotgun training on a regular basis. That’s actually changing this year as I will be pushing out several one day shotgun training opportunities for officers. 

For the people I train I don’t care how they run the shotgun as long as they do it safely and using one of the methods we teach. I just present them with all viable options and let them know the pros and cons of each. There are a few absolutes in life. Yet I’ve worked with people who would swear that the only way the shotgun can be run is with the brass up and doing anything otherwise is foolishness.  It would be foolish and disingenuous of me to teach one way yet do it another.

I’m personally not a fan or advocate of running buckshot and slugs.  This does limit the shotguns versatility but this comes from someone working primarily in an urban environment. I’m a straight up slug guy.  Even though I have students pattern their shotgun many do not stay on top of it and soon forget at what distances they can keep buckshot on the target. My agency uses Federal flightcontrol tactical buckshot. It shoots so tight up close that it is like using a slug. Even though it shoots tight, at distance it will not allow you to keep all the pellets on a lower probability target.  By lower probability target I mean that part of a head or arm that may be exposed from around a position of cover.  We are responsible for all projectiles we put down range.  With a slug I only have one to worry about versus the nine with 00 buck. Additionally, at distance past 15 yards I regularly see one flyer with 00 buck. That flyer will definitely not stay on a low probability target and as the distance increases it will not stay on a full-size target.

We allow the use of buckshot, slugs, or both. I just caution people about select loading. I’ve seen too many incidences in training and competition of someone shooting a slug when they thought they were shooting buckshot or birdshot and vice versa.

 

 

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Instances of people actually performing a select slug exchange in the midst of a gunfight are rarer than actual Bigfoot captures.  I've heard of several instances of people shooting all of their buckshot and then loading a slug, but I've only heard of one possible actual exchange.

I'm a big fan of the FliteControl.  I've got one shotgun that will keep all of the pellets in the coke bottle of an IALEFI target at 35 yards if I do my part.  Most of my guns will do that at 25+.  

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Lee's right with regards to "select slug drills" . In 20 years of teaching (and 30 years of researching this stuff) I have come across 1 instance where someone specifically put a slug into their shotgun mid-fight to deal with a problem that buckshot was not solving. It was (IIRC) an Oklahoma State Trooper who switched to a slug to shoot through the car door a suspect was using for cover. I'm sure someone somewhere has probably done it at some time but we just cannot find them. Folks tend to solve it (or not) with what was in the gun to start with. 

And as DBTN mentions if you carry both slugs and buck then there is the possibility of loading the wrong one at the wrong time. There is a reason that they have dedicated "Less Lethal" guns so a bean bag round does not end up being buck or a slug accidentally. If you spend enough time around people shooting shotguns with mixed loads you'll eventually see someone load the wrong one and shoot a target with a slug that they were not supposed to shoot with a slug or shoot a target with buck when it was supposed to be with a slug. I actually have some match video of a very squared away and high level shooter with A LOT of experience with shotguns both in LE and competitively (who some of you know) get DQd when he shot a slug target with buck accidentally in a match. 

Most of our readers (I assume) are probably not sworn personnel and the actual need (and justification) for them in civilian world USA to shoot at anyone in an urban area past the "B zone" of a buckshot pattern is pretty rare. The "B zone" with Flight Control (especially the 8 pellet LE13300) is a legit 35-40 yards.  And the legit low probability target distance (A Zone of the buckshot pattern) with 8 pellet Flight Control loads is probably at least 15 yards. (Obviously this can vary from gun to gun so you HAVE to pattern your own gun with the ammo to know for sure how big YOUR pattern is at what distance) 

 

Clarification for those reading along who are not familiar with some of the terminology... the A zone is the distance where the pellets are all still a tightly massed group- essentially a "dissolving slug".  The "B Zone" is essentially the distance where all the pellets are still close enough to fall within the upper thoracic area of a silhouette target. And then the "C zone" is where the pattern has opened to the point that all pellets cannot be guaranteed to hit what you were aiming at. The C zone is where slugs are normally chosen. 

With regards to the 8 pellet load vs the 9 pellet...the 8 pellet loads are stacked differently than the 9 pellet and as such have less surface area touching other pellets. This leaves less flat spots on the pellets when the whole shot load goes from zero to 1300 fps in a fraction of a second. 8 pellet loads simply tend to pattern tighter. Flat spots on pellets cause pellets to not fly as straight. People will often find 8 pellet 00 loads pattern tighter than 9 pellet 00 loads.  000 loads also generally  pattern tighter than 9 pellet 00 because of this. The 000 loads with only 8 pellets have less deformation than the 9 pellet 00 loads. 

 

 

Edited by Cruel Hand Luke
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There is a lot of good information in this thread.  Threads like this is one of the reasons TGO is so great.

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Another thing to consider with slugs is one's sighting system.  As I primarily run FliteControl in my guns, I had gravitated to big, easy to pick up front sights.  When I was at Gunsite, shots on steel at 70 yards with a front sight that was wider than the steel were challenging.

Ghost rings with a blade front work well for such shots, but they are slower up close.

I have mounted an Aimpoint H1 on a shotty, but at present, I don't have enough data to comment, but it appears this is a happy median.

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3 hours ago, KahrMan said:

There is a lot of good information in this thread.  Threads like this is one of the reasons TGO is so great.

Great thread

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32 minutes ago, jlw said:

Another thing to consider with slugs is one's sighting system.  As I primarily run FliteControl in my guns, I had gravitated to big, easy to pick up front sights.  When I was at Gunsite, shots on steel at 70 yards with a front sight that was wider than the steel were challenging.

Ghost rings with a blade front work well for such shots, but they are slower up close.

I have mounted an Aimpoint H1 on a shotty, but at present, I don't have enough data to comment, but it appears this is a happy median.

Here's mine. Cheap red dot. Also the 25 yard sight in target. At least for me, the red dot tops anything.

 

870.jpg

IMG_1455.JPG

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2 hours ago, mikegideon said:

Here's mine. Cheap red dot. Also the 25 yard sight in target. At least for me, the red dot tops anything.

 

870.jpg

IMG_1455.JPG

How many rounds do you have through that setup?  From my research, the recoil impulse of shotguns tends to kill off cheaper RDS.  Even RMRs are not known to have great lifespans when topping shotguns.  That's why I went with the Aimpoint.

Counterpoint:  A very experienced shotgun aficionado friend has had very good results with a Holosun.   

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