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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.