Choosing a shot shell caddy is an often-discussed topic on the 3-gun forums. It seems that almost everyone has an opinion on the topic, and they’re more than happy to voice that opinion. I’ve even seen some of these discussions become heated. While I have my reasons for choosing the brand and style that I use, they may not be what is best for everyone. There are many companies and styles to choose from and each has their pros and cons. Instead of discussing which brand and style is best, let’s talk about some things to consider before making your choice.
The first criteria we’ll discuss is price. Most of the caddies on the market today won’t break the bank, but some come in at a lower price point than others. The most glaring difference in price becomes apparent when deciding whether you want to place caddies on your belt, or perhaps to run a chest rig. Chest rigs are often times a little pricier than individual caddies for your belt, however, many shooters find that a chest rig is worth the added expense.
Since we are on the topic of chest rigs, you may be wondering why someone would choose a chest rig. Well, most often, chest rigs are used because a shooter doesn’t have enough space on their belt to fit the necessary number of shot shells. So, if you do intend on loading off your belt, one thing to consider is how much belt space does the caddy occupy. Not all caddies are the same size, and most of them are modular enough to angle them to fit to your liking. Along with shooters finding chest rigs to be faster or more convenient than loading off the belt, many smaller-statured shooters find a chest rig is necessary for stages with a high shotgun round count.
Another physicality to consider is the size of the hand. Quadloading has taken the sport by storm, but there are many shooters who believe that quadloading is not an option because their hands aren’t large enough. While I’ve seen shooters with small hands quadload their shotguns with speed and consistency, it doesn’t change the fact that hand size should be a consideration when purchasing a shell caddy. If the shooter does intend to quadload, there are a number of choices on the market, and each one uses different methods and spacing to hold the shells. If a shooter has small hands, perhaps it would behoove them to purchase caddies that keep the shells as close together as possible.
Having the shells in the right spot, is a key component to consistently successful reloads. So, a couple of considerations to make along those same lines, would be the purchase of your hand on the shells. Some caddies allow the shooter to get more of their hand on the shells than others. A good purchase on the shells while they are still in the caddy is of the utmost importance. Another consideration is the angle of extraction. Most of the quad caddies on the market today allow the shooter to cant the caddy in order to customize the angle, or orientation of the shells. Also, there are a couple of variations on the method of extracting shells from the caddy. Some caddies need to have a specific method while others require less technique in order to remove the shells. So, another consideration is ease of extraction. Everyone wants the shells to come out of the caddy quickly and easily, as this is usually indicative of the fastest reloads.
While purchasing a caddy that allows for easy extraction of shells seems to be the best option, bear in mind that the easier they are to extract, the more likely they are to come out of the caddy at the most inopportune time. I’ve witnessed several occasions where shells have come out of a shooter’s caddies as they simply ran through a course of fire. So, while ease of extraction is a component to consider, it is secondary to shell retention. It’s impossible to extract shells from a caddy, when the shells aren’t there.
The next thing to consider is the material of the caddy itself. Some caddies are more robust than others. Some are made of different types and qualities of plastic and some are made of a combination of plastic and metal. Some are extremely modular and allow the shooter to completely customize each caddy to their liking. Allowing them to accommodate for their body type, which hand they choose to reload with, and even customizing each individual caddy to fit on different places on their belt. Some shooters like caddies that are simple to set-up, and others like caddies that allow for complete modularity. Another thing to consider is whether the caddy will accommodate different shell sizes. In the sport of 3-gun, it is not uncommon to shoot different types of loads on a stage, and not all shotgun shells are the same size. Having a shell caddy that can accommodate different shell sizes can be beneficial.
The last thing we are going to discuss when choosing a shot shell caddy is customer service. This is an often overlooked topic when shopping for anything. We need to remember that shot shell caddies may break, or need to be replaced, so customer service is very important. This is where I don’t think a shooter can really go wrong. While there are many manufacturers in this market, and they are all in competition with each other, I haven’t heard of a bad experience when it comes to customer service. The companies in this market have a “customer first” mindset and I don’t think that a shooter will have a bad experience when dealing with any of these companies.
So, now that we’ve discussed some of the considerations to keep in mind when shopping for your new shell caddies, it is up to you to go through the daunting task of making the decision of which is best for you. You will find several threads on forums that are dedicated to this topic. Please remember that everyone will pump whichever caddy system they’re currently using as the best option on the market. It can get a little confusing, but I hope that the points made in this article will help aid in the decision-making process.