Travis Pike for TTAG
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A while back, I wrote about the merits, the downsides, and the popularity of mini shotgun shells from Federal, Aguila, and Challenger. These were all 1.75-inch shells that I have fun with, but didn’t see a ton of practical use for.

Today we are looking at a different type of mini shell. These are 2.25 inches long and come from Nobel Sport. If I remember correctly, Cabela’s Herter’s brand used to produce 2.25-inch shells, but I haven’t seen them in years. Currently, the Nobel Sport MiniBuck variety is all I could find in this length. Nobel Sport is an Italian company, and Italians make some excellent shotguns, so their ammo can’t be too bad, right? 

This 2.25-inch round is a buckshot load, and that seems to be the only Nobel Sport load available right now. From a home defense perspective, buckshot is the only load I really care about anyway. Since the size is compromised, you are reduced to six 00 pellets. That’s only two less than my average defensive load. It’s not a terrible compromise overall. The lead flies at 1250 feet per second and the aforementioned lead is backed by a plastic wadding. 

The Primary Benefits of Mini Shells

That shorter size is the primary benefit to mini shells. Since most shotguns use a fixed tubular magazine, the length of the shell determines your capacity. With the 2.25-inch mini shells, you can usually squeeze in one additional round in your shotgun. Your five-round tube becomes a six round tube.

Shotguns are relatively low capacity weapons, and with these shorter shells, I can get six rounds into the tube and one in the chamber of my ultralight, short Mossberg 500. Now I have the capacity of a Mossberg 590 without the weight of a 590. 

2.25-inch mini shotgun shells
1.75 inch shell (L), 2.25 inch shell (C), and 2.75 inch shell (R) (image: Travis Pike For TTAG)

The next benefit is reduced recoil. Shotguns are powerful weapons and are disliked by some due to their high recoil. This 1250 feet-per-second load is soft handling. They deliver less felt recoil than even most reduced recoil loads. 

The big benefit of these loads is a worthwhile payload of heavy 00 buckshot pellets. The smaller 1.75-inch shells usually carry either No. 4 or a mix of No. 4 and No. 1. These 00 pellets are much better penetrators than No. 4 loads, and with an already compromised mini-load, I’d rather have the larger pellets and the extra length. 

Reliability Among Shotguns

The main drawback with 1.75-inch mini shells is their reliability with pump-action shotguns. This limits their use to just a few shotguns, the most popular being the Mossberg 500 with the Opsol mini shell adapter

2.25-inch mini shotgun shells
The 2.25 inch shell compared to a 1.75 inch shell (Travis Pike For TTAG)

The 2.25-inch mini (medium?) shells don’t have that problem. Well, at least not that I could find amongst my shotguns. I cycled them shells through a Mossberg 500, a Remington 870, an Ithaca 37, a KS7, and a Hatsan Escort. They worked in all of them without issue. The shorter 2.25-inch size seems to be the perfect length to ensure reliability while increasing your capacity…and without the need for an adapter. 

I even ran the pumps super slow, trying to see if I could mess them up. The 1.75-inch mini shells would work best in guns like the 870 when you run the pump fast and hard. The 2.25-inch shells never failed to cycle. 

In the Field

Because of the current ammo drought, I could only secure 20 rounds of Nobel Sports mini buckshot. Gone are the days of Range backpacks full of buckshot. Although after a day at the range and cycling the rounds dozens of times through multiple shotguns, I figured I had a decent idea of how well they work overall. 

2.25-inch mini shotgun shells
The testing shotguns (Travis Pike For TTAG)

I brought out three guns, a Benelli M4, a Remington TAC 14, and a KelTec KS7. This gave me a perspective with a semi-auto shotgun, a, well, firearm, and a shoulder-fired pump gun. I figured that would give me a wide enough range of weapons to adequately test the shells’ performance. 

A Semi-Auto?

Well yeah, I had to test them through a  semi-auto just to see if they worked, right? Standard 1.75-inch mini shells don’t run in a semi-auto unless the shotgun is built specifically for them. I loaded five 2.25-ers into the Benelli M4 tube and set forth on my quest to find out if they’d work or not. 

2.25-inch mini shotgun shells
2.25 and 2.75-inch shell (Travis Pike For TTAG)

It was a short quest, again due to the ammo shortage. The M4 ate every single one without a malfunction. The little 2.25-inch shells cycled the gun perfectly. You may want to take that with a grain of salt as the Benelli M4 is the Lexus of semi-auto shotguns. They may not work in more ammo-picky guns like the Tavor TS12


Recoil most certainly varied among the guns tested. In the M4, the mini shells felt akin to a .22 Magnum. Okay, maybe it was a little more than that, but it was hardly a blip on my shoulder. Gas-operated semi-autos eat recoil up, and after the first shot, I remarked out loud, “Really, that’s it?” 

In the KS7, there was a little more recoil, but it was still below that of most reduced recoil loads. My sights hardly moved, and I felt like I could blast through seven rounds with hardly any real control issues. 

Lastly, I put some through the TAC 14. As you’d imagine, these guns can be a harsh mistress when it comes to full-powered loads. I fired from shoulder height, aiming, and delivered a heavy dose of lead without any pain or control issues. I’d hazard to say this would be the best load for the TAC 14 if you, for some reason, insisted on using one of these guns for defensive use. 


The patterns put up by the 2.25-inch shells was average. At ten yards, you could place all six pellets into the chest of a target. I used an 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper printed with a Sage Dynamics torso target. It spread from side to side, but every pellet stayed on paper.

2.25-inch mini shotgun shells
The Pattern was consistent (Travis Pike For TTAG)

Over half a dozen rounds delivered the same similar pattern, so it’s consistent at the very least. There didn’t seem to be any noticeable flyers from the loads, and I’d have no issue using these rounds for home defense.

Ejection and Extraction

As mentioned earlier, the loads seemed to eject and cycle well in my ‘dry’ fire practice. When I went live with lead at the range, I ran into zero issues. The shells extracted and ejected with ease with each gun and always cycled the next mini shell without issue. This includes going fast or slow with the manually operated pump guns. 

It It Home Defense-Ready?

I’m not gonna swap my favored Federal FliteControl rounds for these loads, even if they offer an extra round of capacity. However, the Nobel Sport 2.25 inch shells pattern reliably, function reliably, and offer both low recoil and an extra round in the tube. If you own a shotgun you have trouble handling, and can’t obtain a AR-15, then yes, these shells are perfect for that role. 

The Nobel Sport, 2.25-inch mini shells, are superior in many ways to the 1.75-inch shells. They’re less of a novelty and more of a legitimate option. 


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  1. I have found these to be an excellent shell for introducing my daughter to the Mossberg 590 shotgun. Low recoil and low blast. She had a very good time at the range that day!!

    • My Mossy (with adapter) holds 9 x 1 3/4″ Aquila 00 buck, supposed to be 1100 fps and 6 00 pellets. That’s with chamber empty, it is out where it could be found and I’d hate to ventilate my home. Strikes me as a FINE home defense weapon, plan includes working my way to it using onboard LC9 and then stowed Glock .40, also stored with empty chamber.

  2. I have an m2 benelli. No experience with the m4. But the m2 eats all the shells I’ve fed it. Low powered. High powered. Crappy cheap stuff. None of it seems to matter to the gun.

    If I ever encounter these short shells I will buy a box just for shits and giggles. And I have a dedicated house gun that runs 7+1 in standard shells. Be interested to see if the short rounds work well in it.

  3. So, I’ve had the game warden check my shotgun to make sure the plug is in and the tube won’t hold more than 2. Gets complicated if he noticed one of these.

    • If you’re using these for hunting for some reason you need a longer plug. These are short range shitheel rounds not deer loads.

      • Just for clarity, the limitation for hunting such that the shotgun can hold at most (including one in the chamber) three rounds, thus requiring for, say, the typical Rem 870 with its four-round tubular mag, a plug to block loading more than two rounds into the mag, comes from the federal migratory birds acts, not related to deer hunting at all. And you shouldn’t be shooting these short shells, particularly buckshot, at birds. Now, in the Peoples’ Republic of New Jersey, where there is no rifle hunting on deer except for blackpowder, I believe all hunting shotguns in the field, including those for deer during the brief (6 days in early Dec.) post-rut firearms season, by state law, are similarly restricted; check your own state law. But the genesis for the 3-round limit was the federal migratory bird act, which I think arose out of massive harvesting with boats and giant punt guns in the Chesapeake Bay during the 1930s Depression (I believe, if not earlier), although what the limit has to do with those cannons I can’t see. So, yes, if you’re hunting deer in NJ with these short shells, which I suppose is feasible given that they’re 00 buck, I assume you’re still limited to 3 shells, and the usual length plugs may not be long enough to avoid official interdiction. If accosted, rather than take the easy route of loading as a test, try physically removing and displaying the OEM plug and hope the game warden doesn’t notice your short shells (unlikely that). Or, as someone else suggested, adapt by getting a longer plug. Otherwise it looks like you might be using the short shells to give you more rounds with which to blast away at deer, a no-no. And, as anyone who has hunted can tell you (and as someone has already suggested for social purposes also), your actual need for more than three shells for any given shooting at a deer, and your likelihood of actually getting the three shells fired while the deer is in range, are both zero, so why bother using a short shell to squeeze out a fourth shot, even with a semi-auto it ain’t gonna happen.

  4. I’d like to try these, I don’t trust the 1.75″ and OPSol adapter, they’re not reliable. They work pretty good if the shotgun (firearm) are kept perfectly horizontal, not so much if its leaned to the right side. While the “rubber” adapter fits adequately it is not secured and can be dislodged. Would like to see how well these feed. Thanks.

    • Have not had an opportunity to actually *shoot* any of these, Aquila only makes 00 and slugs, concept is supposed to be same velocity with lighter payload, the adapter does seem kinda iffy, but has worked well enough in function checks, just haven’t fired any.

  5. When talking about shotguns shot shells and patterning you should also mention what all the shotguns used were choked at,even at 10 yds.

  6. Interestingly enuf I put $ down on a cheap pump shotgun today. Didn’t need one but if the DIMS go full retard I’ll just stash my AR. AND I have 60 Herters shotshells including 20 Minishells left from when I sold my last shottie. I already knew they worked well. Oh yeah Herters brand went to he!! after Bass Pro bought them. Great target ammo & prices too😕

    • If?! Brother, just read a few headlines or, better yet, check out the comment section of your local paper if you have a “mixed” community. My local dims are ready to go full fascist. Do I enjoy trolling ’em? Yeah, maybe a little…

  7. I made my own years ago after discovering reloading. #8’s worked good for killing snakes, I’d suppose using a slug would be okay for short-range defense.

    • Lots of things you can do with #8. Wax, Glue, heck, I saw some guy on youtube used flex-seal.

      The possibilities are endless. I used Jacks one time, kind children play with. meh, worthless but had to try once lol.

      • When I was a kid, I tried something like “glazing points” or some such, made for replacing glass panels in windows, they were about 1/4″ flat steel triangles. Boy, was I stupid, but I bet you had some of the same troubles with those jacks! The pattern was unbelievable, particularly since I had no concept of shot weight, just filled the shell up, then discovered I had scratched hell out of the barrel with just a couple shots. It was a single barrel 12, no great loss, but I can’t recall what ever happened to it.

  8. Buckshot is used for home defense and deer hunting. The two missions have very different requirements, and the latter is declining (slowly overall, but faster for buckshot as more jurisdictions permit better methods) – yet it seems like current loads all remain skewed in that direction.

    I’m talking about the “wad” (shot cup). As I understand it, a thick wad buffers the shot, promoting smooth energy transfer, preventing pellet deformation, and tightening patterns.

    That’s great for 35yd deer shots, but irrelevant for bedroom invaders – and, especially in shorter shells, comes at the expense of almost half the shot! I’d love to see someone produce a defensive load with a minimal fiber wad (like in muzzleloading) and max shot payload.

    • Umm,

      I second your comment.

      I would also like to see someone offer these mini-shells with a single large ball or slug in them — and the slug variety probably with a reduced weight/diameter slug as well.

      With respect to the slugs, the manufacturer could put a traditional Foster slug of reduced diameter in a crude sabot — the result would probably produce flying characteristics that are good enough for home defense ranges.

      I want to emphasize the usefulness and effectiveness of both such loadings. A single round lead ball of 0.61 inch diameter (20 gauge and should weigh 340 grains if my math is correct) or 0.72 inch diameter (12 gauge and should weigh 560 grains if my math is correct) with a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps has to be utterly devastating to a human attacker at close range. The same would apply to a .54 caliber, 300 grain slug with a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps.

      • U_S, as I posted here, Aqila makes 00 and slug loads, and the slug is right around 2/3 the weight of a normal 12 ga slug, just as the 6 x 00 weigh 2/3 of the normal 9 x 00. My understanding is that the slug is actually the same size as normal, just thinner to be lighter, aiming at the same velocity. Trick is finding them, I finally found the 00 but still have not seen the slugs in the flesh.

        • Problem with the Aquila loads is that they’re 1.75″ and severely underpowered… regardless of projectile. The 2.25″ Nobel Sports are nice because they have actual 00-buck thats doing over 1250fps… not 700 to 900. That extra punch helps cycle semi-auto shotguns, it runs and cycles perfectly in the IWI TS12 (20 rounds total, 6 per tube plus 1 ghost loaded and 1 in the chamber). Other semi-autos may not extract properly without a low powered setting like the TS12 has. The extra length of the 2.25″ shell also cycles perfectly, where many shotguns have issues with the shorter 2″ and 1.75″ mini’s getting flipped or jammed when loading and extracting.

          I’d pass on the Aquila simply on ballistics though. This is a major problem with most minishells.

      • The 6 pellets of 00-buck doing 1250 fps in a Noble Sport 2.25″ minibuck shell is about the only minishell I’ve seen that has decent ballistics. Case in point, it’s the only minishell I know of which cycles and extracts perfectly in a gas-driven semi-auto like the IWI TS12. The TS12 isn’t cheap, and it has an adjustable gas block you can flip on the fly for low powered shells… so they may not work in other gas-shotguns, but the point is that the charge is stronger than any other minishell.

        The real trick set up would/will be when someone uses a 2.25″ minishell to deliver TSS (Tunsten Super Shot) pellets instead of lead. Yes, lead will expand on impact, slow down faster, and deliver that energy quicker… but TSS is denser than lead, and as a result patterns TIGHTER and more accurate than lead pellets can.

        TSS’s higher density doesn’t just mean better patterns, it also means a #1-buck (0.300″) has the same weight as a 00-buck lead shot pellet (0.330″).

        Normal 2.75″ shells have 8 or 9 pellets of 00-buck (0.330″).
        Mini 2.25″ shells have 6 pellets of 00-buck.

        With TSS, you can get the same energy/weight pellets in a smaller package. A Normal 2.75” shell can have 10 pellets of #1 TSS (0.300″), while a mini should be able to fit 8 pellets of TSS #1 buck.

        Yes, a TSS minibuck could use 8 pellets, with the same weight and energy as a 00-buck 2.75″ shell… AND pattern better.

        The last difference with TSS is that the smaller diameter, and lack of expansion, means you penetrate deeper before losing energy. That’s a terrible amount of over-penetration if you’re shooting a coyote or paper target… but for a hog or bear, that deep penetration is exactly what you need.

        My guess is that TSS buck and slugs will become more and more common as countries and some US states go lead-free for hunting and at ranges. The extra penetration, tighter patterns, and the smaller shells possible might be the biggest improvement we’ve seen for firearms since semi auto actions or even brass-cased ammunition.

  9. As far as I can tell these NobelSport shells are the same ones sold under the Herters name by Cabelas. I still have a good amount of them from 8 or 10 years ago and they are perfect for my needs. The 2.25” functions in my Maverick 88 Security as well as my Stevens 350 – both get the +1 in the tube and recoil is about the same as a dove load.
    I like the 15 pellet #4 buck 1.75” from Federal, but the OpSol didn’t make me feel confident enough so I just reserve them for my H&R Pardner single shot.

  10. I bought a couple of the Opsol gadgets to try mini-shells in my 500 and my 590. After that, never did find mini-shells on the shelf, so I’ve never tried them. But I’ve lots of lots of regular length shells, various loads.

    The 500 is always ready with #4 Buck, not 00 Buck. The reason is distance, small place, too many neighbors. I figure those #4 Buck are going to be devastating in any self defense scenario inside this house.

    The 590 has alternating slugs and 00 Buck. Have had it setup that way since living in bear country. Seems to me if I have reason to step out of the house with a shotgun, this is still a good ammo load for whatever that threat would be.

    I’d still like to try those shorty shells someday. Just out of curiosity. Most likely I’d stick with the regular stuff.

  11. these mini shotgun shells are going to get many semi auto shotguns banned in illinois
    the deerfield ban basically states that “any semi auto ANYTHING that CAN accept a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds”
    now 7 8 and 9 round tubes are 10+ round capacity and they CAN be put on your shotgun

  12. I have a Mossberg 500 Tactical, it gives me 7+1 due to the full length tube mag – and that’s with a 2 3/4″ shell. No need for a shorter shell with less 00 Buck in it.

  13. I love this concept. Plus with 12ga, it’s very easy to make your own. My pet load right now is about 2″ with 9 .31 roundballs in it. It works best with titewad, is OK with universal, felt wad and a shot card on top, roll crimp to finish. Great spread inside of 10 yards and feels like shooting a target load, but practically flips my 8″ gong(that hangs from 3/8′ logging chain) over when it hits.


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