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Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier
 

As I write this, I'm a couple of weeks away from heading to Front Sight for their 4 day Tactical Shotgun course.  Several months ago, I opted for a new Benelli SuperNova 12 gauge tactical shotgun.  I decided on a couple of upgrades for it since then.  While I'm not certain everything will stay on the Benelli throughout the course, I'm positive that the Nordic mag extension will.  When the course is completed and I have time to add a few pages to the site, I'll update you as to the "final" configuration.  That all being said, time to take a look at the 6 pack shot carrier that I installed today. <grin>

Mesa Tactical's SureShell carrier lets you carry extra ammo on your shotgun.  After looking at what they offered, I opted for their 6 shell carrier for the SuperNova.  Just because it will hold a half dozen shells doesn't mean one must carry it full.  The carrier is machined from a block of 6061 aluminum alloy and so it adds but a few ounces to the Benelli.  Depending on what is going on during the shotgun course, I can leave it empty or load it up....I won't be carrying extra weight when it's not necessary.

The SureShell carrier for the SuperNova is mounted to the Benelli via the four factory tapped holes in the top of the receiver.  The holes were intended for mounting a picatinny rail on the receiver.  The SuperNova doesn't come with a rail but the SureShell carrier fixes that problem.  A full length picatinny rail is machined into the mounting bracket that attaches the carrier to the shotgun.
 

Less the packaging, the SureShell carrier for the Benelli SuperNova contains the carrier, four mounting screws, a Torx wrench, and installation instructions.  Pay no attention to the rubber gasket in the above photo as the installation instructions state that doesn't come with the SuperNova package (I guess the SuperNova didn't read the instructions!) 

To install the SureShell carrier on the SuperNova, start by ensuring that the shotgun is completely unloaded.  When you have verified it is unloaded, check it again.   Next, remove the barrel from the receiver.  The Benelli owner's manual details how to do this.
 

In order to remove the plastic plugs from the top of the receiver, the receiver must be disassembled.  The two pins that hold the trigger assembly in placed are pushed out to allow the assembly to be removed.  Again, consult the owner's manual for details on removing the trigger assembly and the bolt.
 

With the internals removed from the receiver, you can see the four tapped holes containing the plastic plugs (detailed in the yellow circles).  These must be removed before the SureShell can be installed.
 

I used a small drift punch to push out the plastic pins.  I was surprised at how well they were "in there".  The installation instructions suggested using a screwdriver to drive the pins out.....not sure I agree that a screwdriver is the best tool for this task. 
 

With the plastic pins removed, the SureShell carrier is set on top of the receiver and the supplied screws are started into the tapped holes after applying a drop of blue Loctite thread locker (not supplied).  The torque specs on these screws are 15 inch pounds in case you happen to have a torque screwdriver.  The blue thread locker will still allow you to remove the screws should you need to do so in the future.  The thread locker will/should prevent the screws from vibrating loose during operation of the SuperNova.
 

Mesa Tactical SureShell carrier mounted on a Benelli SuperNova

Here is the SureShell carrier installed and loaded with some #4 and #00 buckshot rounds.  There is no clearance issues between the carrier and the forearm when the forearm is pulled fully to the rear. 

The ghost rings sights are still fully functional and the picatinny rail does not interfere with their operation.  In fact, you can't see the rail at all with the gun properly shouldered. 

The aluminum alloy is anodized, per the paperwork from Mesa Tactical.  I'm not sold on the fact that this is the best coating solution for the SureShell.  Time will tell as to how the carrier holds up to scrapes and such things that occur during routine use of the SuperNova.  In the above photo, you can already see a few scratches (between the top two rounds) that I managed to inflict with it just being installed.  Before all is said and done, it may get a few layers of some other coating.  If I do, I'll update this review with the details.

Other than my concerns regarding the finish, I like the SureShell carrier, albeit it hasn't been at the range yet.  I've got a shoot coming up this weekend and so I'll get a chance to see how it works. 
 

Update:  11/12/2008

I was looking through the pages and realized I hadn't made any comments regarding the SureShell carrier.  Since this write-up was added to the site, I've had the Benelli at Front Sight for a 4 day tactical shotgun course and also many times to the local shooting range.

How does the SureShell perform?  AWESOME....that is the best word I can come up with.  First, it didn't fall off the shotgun like some of those tac-crap side saddles did during the shotgun course.  A good friend of mine walked up to me about mid-course with his tac-crap in hand looking pretty glum.....what could I say?  He wasn't the only one either. 

It holds the shells securely but yet they are easily removed when needed.  After a little practice, select slug drills was a piece of cake when the slug was kept in the SureShell carrier.  I did and still do enjoy doing those drills.

I laugh, a lot, when an on-line forum shooter responds with a "I spent $15 and got a butt cuff and it does just as good as that expensive side saddle you bought....what a waste of money."  Had I wanted a butt cuff, I would have bought one.  Since that clueless person has no idea how much of an improvement the nicely fitted SureShell is compared to his rubber banded butt cuff....I won't try to convince him otherwise.  You do get what you pay for....and I recommend this side saddle to anyone looking for a quality product.
 

Update:  10/26/2009

I found out today via another SuperNova owner that Mesa Tactical has changed the design of the SureShell carrier.  They have removed a significant portion of the angled bracket that ran from the front of the rail back towards the shell holder.  On mine, I noticed that the leading edge would bite/scrape me once in a while (sharp edge) while running the drills quickly (and under time pressure).  I thought it was just me being a bit sloppy on my handling.   

From an e-mail I received from Mitch at Mesa Tactical today, "The design of the SuperNova SureShell carriers has indeed changed.  We discovered that cut from the front of the rail back to the yoke was sharp and could cut people.  It didn't really serve any purpose, so we now cut the bracket to match the contours of the yoke.  You will notice we also cut some weight-saving holes in the bracket."

It is good to see that Mesa Tactical continues to improve on their product design.  A company that does that won't get caught sleeping at the wheel, only to wake up and find that others have passed them by.  Congrats to Mesa Tactical!  Since receiving that e-mail, I've removed that edge from mine with the help of a file and so no more accidental skin removal.   

 

 

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