First Impressions: Mesa Tactical Shell Carrier

Posted: May 1, 2011 in Benelli Super Nova, Shotguns

As I had mentioned in my first shotgun upgrade post, the most important upgrade for a tube-fed shotgun is to increase the amount of ammunition in and on the gun. To be fair, there are not many options for side mount shell carriers on the Super Nova, but conveniently, the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell carrier is one of the nicest units around.

I had previously read an excellent review of this carrier on this website, but the review is a few years old now, and there’s mention of a newer version of the carrier designed a little differently around the front so to prevent cutting and abrasion when pumping the action.  I wanted to be sure to get a current unit so I ordered online from CMC Government services and, despite some back-order issues, I received the carrier two months later.

In the box are the carrier itself, four mounting screws that go through the picatinny rail section and into the top of the Super Nova receiver. To install, you have to remove the barrel and loosen the stock (if you have the pistol grip stock). Then it’s just a matter of punching out four screws, and screwing the new unit in. The whole process only took 10 minutes.

Fit and finish are superb and the carrier looks of the same quality as if it was made by Benelli themselves. You can see in the pictures how they have removed some of the material in front of the shell carriers so there is a nice rounded curve where the shells and rail meet.  Additionally, there are holes drilled into the carrier to reduce weight. This is particularly important as this relatively small shotgun has become increasingly heavy with each ‘upgrade’.

The section of rail feels very sturdy and doesn’t interfere with the sights, but adding an optic would likely not allow for a co-witness because of how low the ghost rings are compared to where a red dot would end up. Even still, I think I’ll eventually put a red dot sight such as the Insight MRDS mini-red dot or Burris Fast Fire.

The shell carrier securely holds all of the shells that I tried in it including some bird shot, buck shot, managed-recoil slugs, and Hornady Critical Defense shells. Some of the shells were very easy to slide in and out, others required a bit of twisting and a conscious effort to remove.  Overall, I think it’s a pretty good balance across the range of shells that I tried.  Mesa Tactical does offer different elastomer inserts to try out if you aren’t happy with the standard, but I’m going to trust their testing and judgment on this and stay with what came out of the box.

On the topic of capacity, this carrier holds 6 shells.  There are other models by Mesa Tactical in 8 and 4 shell configurations, I felt that 6 was perfect for providing the capability to hold a few shells for buck or bird shot and two slugs as needed for side matches or defensive needs.  The 8 shell carrier holds the shells closer to the front and I was concerned that it may interfere with the pump action of the firearm.

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