Mini Shells for Defense?

This is a guest post by Andrew Betts

Mini Shot Shells

mini shot shells

Back in the early 2000s, Aguila introduced some mini 12 ga shells. This is one of those things that “seemed like a good idea at the time”. I immediately bought a box of them thinking they would be a great choice for defense because they would increase the capacity of my Mossberg 500A. I certainly could fit more of them in the tube but as it turns out, the Mossberg uses an elevator that is open in the middle. More often than not mini shot shellsthe front of the shell would drop through that opening, stopping the flow of lead. From what I’ve heard, the mini shells had trouble in other shotguns as well.

Fast forward a few years and both Centurion and Nobel have released their own short 12 ga shells. This time they are just long enough to function reliably in Mossberg shotguns. So is this newer breed of ammunition suitable for defense? What they offer is one extra round in a five round magazine. You should be able to fit two extra rounds in a seven round magazine. Is that worth it, though? What are you giving up for that extra round or two?

To start with, you’re getting a larger pattern than you would with conventional, defense oriented buckshot. This might seem like a good thing to novices but shotguns derive a lot of their stopping ability from the capability to put a lot of damage in a relatively small area. It also increases the risk of a pellet missing the target shot shells

Another tradeoff is less pellets per round. You only get six pellets per round of #00 buck compared to the nine that you would get in most defense oriented buckshot. So that one extra round means a total of 36 pellets versus 45 pellets if you had five rounds of nine pellet buckshot. The recoil was very mild for 12 ga buckshot, as you might imagine with the missing three pellets.

There is little room for complaint in regards to terminal effect, though. The shot performed exactly as you expect from #00 buck, penetrating about 20”.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan.  Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan.  Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.


  1. 5 X 9 = 45…

  2. I have several boxes of the Aguila minishells. They function without a hitch in the Winchester 1300 Defender series. I can get 13 rounds in the full length magazine tube on mine. the only time there is a problem is if you pause in racking another round into the chamber. If you pause sometimes the round can tumble in the chamber causing a malfunction. i have never had a problem in well over 450 rounds through basic cycling.

  3. Franchi discontinued the AL48 a few years ago. I own one and most of the statements in this article are not accurate at least as far as I am concerned. I gave mine to my son because it was beating me to death. The thing kicked like a Missouri mule. I bought it from a friend for $65 for the same reason.

  4. I am quite happy with my 20g and #1 buckshot. 9 Pellets. Critters don’t seem to mind at all. Any home intruder I bet will be happy. I can always reload from the 25 or 30 shells in my sling and on my gun. 5+1 is more than enough. I bet they do what guy with knife tried to do at reststop. Run so fast he left vacuum behind him.

Leave a Reply