I’ve talked a lot about mini shells, and I’ve experimented with all the varieties I can get my hands on. I’m still trying to get my hands on some of the Mason Munitions No.1 mini shells, but they are continually sold out.
One of my biggest complaints about mini shells is compatibility. Recently Defender Tactical came to my attention, and their Universal Mini Shell Adapter seemed too good to be true. I reached out, and they agreed to send me one to test and review.
Adapters like the Opsol exist, and the Opsol is fantastic. The main problem with the Opsol, though, is that all you can shoot is mini shells when it’s installed. To shoot shells of other lengths, you had to move the adapter.
As most of us now know, mini shells come in a variety of sizes. Mossberg released the 590S series that eliminates the problem, but that means I have to purchase an entirely new shotgun.
Since I already own a number of Mossberg 500s, 590s, and Shockwaves, I wasn’t planning to buy a 590S series, especially when I could spend $25 and get an adapter that claims to do the exact same thing. And sure enough, the Defender Tactical Universal Minishell Adapter allows you to shoot any size shotgun shell from 3 inches to 1.75 inches without complaint.
Installing the Universal Minishell Adapter
Grab your Mossberg shotgun of choice and pop out the trigger retaining pin, hen remove the trigger. Inside the gun sits two grooves. The Universal Minishell Adapter slides into these grooves. It has a tongue, and the tongue faces downward. The little flapper is made of soft rubber that easily flexes.
Defender Tactical includes a bright red aluminum follower. They say the setup is optimized for this follower. It’s also possible you won’t need to swap followers. I did because why keep a polymer follower when you have an aluminum model?
Installation takes about a minute. The soft rubber flapper is what ensures the shells are oriented correctly regardless of their length. The design flexes, so it moves out of the way to accommodate longer shells but provides enough extra length to keep the mini shells from bouncing around.
Defender Tactical produced a handy video showing how it’s done . . .
To The Range
I brought out all of my many minishells along with a few 3-inch magnum slugs and a variety of 2.75-inch shells. With the Universal Minishell Adapter locked in place, I hit the ground running.
I started by just loading the littlest fellas, the 1.75-inch shells, and working my way up to the 3-inch shells. From the little Federal and Aguila rounds to the big and mean 3-inch magnums, I had zero issues.
The gun fed and chambered and ejected every length of shell. I used the aforementioned 1.75-inch, 3-inch, and 2.75-inch shells alongside 2-inch and 2.5-inch shells. Every single one of them fed reliably.
After that, I mixed up the shells. I started going from smallest to largest, then reversed it. You can mix and match at will, and the Universal Minishell Adapter ate its way through any blend of shell lengths.
It’s almost silly how much the ammo varied in recoil and feel between shots. Feeling the poof of the 1.75-inch birdshot shell and then the thud of a 3-inch magnum slam into your is an interesting way to play redneck roulette with your shoulder.
I also tried a variety of 2.75-inch shells. Shell length is measured prior to crimping, so some 2.75-inch shells are longer than others. Rio and Monarch, for example, are a bit longer than Federal and Hornady. (Rio is long enough to reduce capacity by a round.) Even so, they all functioned fine and without any complaint.
Does It Get In the Way?
When you look at the Universal Minishell Adapter, it seems like it might get in your way for reloads. However, that isn’t the case. It moves out of the way and allows you to easily load the gun. The flexible design keeps it out of your way and doesn’t provide any additional challenges when it comes to reloading.
I fired a total of 200 shells with the Minishell Adapter installed, mostly 2.75-inch birdshot and my crazy mix of mini shells. I had no reliability issues outside of a single 3-inch shell. For some reason, it wouldn’t load from the magazine to the chamber.
It turned out to be a shell issue, and a portion of the shell was flat. It was likely part of an experiment I did with leaving shotgun mags loaded for a year. It wouldn’t feed in any gun, so it wasn’t a problem with the Universal Minishell Adapter. This thing works flawlessly.
Specifications: Defender Tactical Universal Minishell Adapter
Compatibility – Mossberg 500/590 and Maverick 88
MSRP – $30.00 (on sale for $25 at this writing)
Ease of Use * * * * *
It drops in without a problem, and once it’s installed, you’ll forget it’s there.
Reliability * * * * *
From 3 to 1.75-inch shells, the little Universal Minishell Adapter cycles without complaint.
Overall * * * *
The Defender Tactical Minishell Adapter just works. And it works for the piddling price of $30 (or less right now), letting you shoot anything you can load into your 3-inch chambered Mossberg pump gun. I can’t think of any reason not to have one installed in your Mossy pump. Go buy one.