A downside to the side saddle is that they are weapon specific, and often replace the gun's take down pins with through-bolts, and if over tightened, these bolts can bind up the operating system on top of being adding a step to cleaning. Another problem (in my mind) is that they still only add about a mag's worth of extra ammo. Better than nothing, but wouldn't it be great to have a quick change system when you want to top off your saddle?
Esstac has addressed these issues by designing the "Shotgun Card," a Velcro backed nylon and elastic 7 shell holder. I recently picked up three of them from SKD Tactical to use with my Mossberg 930. Another bonus is that they're nowhere near the price of a standard side-saddle, at $15 a piece.
Overall, the cards are pretty impressive. They're nice and stiff, and only curl slightly when fully loaded and not on the gun. There is a 550 chord loop at one end to aid in pulling them out of a pouch (two cards, back to back, fit in a 2 mag AR type pouch) or off your gun. The back is completely covered in the "hook" half of "hook and loop."
To attach to the gun, I simply cut out some "loop" tape to match the contours of the receiver, leaving a slot to expose the serial number and the take down pins.
|This also gives your gun a larger "cuddle factor" for the ladies.|
And then simply slap a card on there-
I can see more than a few advantages of the system. Mainly in that you can simply rip off an empty card and slap a fresh one on, rather than fumbling with reloading each slot. As mentioned, the cards are sized to fit in a double AR mag pouch, so you can carry plenty of spares. Plus they're cheap enough to have plenty of spares. (You just need to watch the retail site like a hawk, they tend to sell out fast.)
The other major plus is that they are not weapon specific. As long as the receiver is lined with the "loop" tape, it will work. Great if you're taking a class and your semi goes down and you have to switch to your pump, or for when your buddy starts running low when the zombies finally come. (I did not have any double AR pouches handy at the time of writing though, so how well they fit is yet to be determined.)
On the range they handle just like any other side saddle when you reload. The shells stay in the loops even when firing-
-even if the card isn't completely full.
Reloading is no different from any other side saddle system.
The card stays firmly in place due to the amount of Velcro on the back even when doing speed reloads.
The only problem I could see with the Esstac Shotshell Card is that the elastic loops may be hard to reload in a high-adrenaline situation, but by keeping extra, loaded, cards on you that shouldn't be a major concern. Just rip the empty off and slap on a fresh one. Also the elastic will loose its stretch after some time if you store them loaded, and that may cause the shells to fall out when firing. (I wouldn't call it a defect, simply something to keep in mind when using this type of system, as this can be an issue with the plastic and metal saddles as well.)
For the price, they're worth giving a shot, especially if you have an oddball model gun and want a side saddle (partially the case with the 930) or just looking for an alternate to a fixed saddle set up.