Do you want a shotgun for survival without the added weight of big, bulky shells? Or perhaps your present shotgun is just too large to be wieldy for one of your loved ones? Some time back, I wrote an article on the practicality of shotguns for survival. Readers like you convinced me that there was a solution to help solve the problem of added weight and recoil associated with survival shotguns: shotgun adapters. I reached out to Short Lane and they equipped me with adapters of my choice before setting off for the range with the good old H&R Tamer 20 gauge survival shotgun.
Short Lane churns out shotgun and revolver adapters in new, innovative combinations from their shop in Miles City, Montana. Their products range greatly from adapters that allow for a smaller gauge shotgun shell to fire through a larger caliber shotgun, e.g., .410 gauge out of a 12 gauge gun. Short Lane offers adapters, both rifled and smooth bore, of various lengths to fire pistol caliber cartridges, 209 primer black powder conversions—which allow you to use your shotgun as a musket—and even conversion sleeves for the Taurus Judge 410 revolver.
So what are shotgun adapters? They are machined steel sleeves that fit the original shotgun barrel, but are bored out to accept a smaller diameter cartridge or shell. Short Lane goes a step further to rifle the bore of some models as well. Their Pathfinder models feature an eight inch length for the ultimate accuracy and power out of an adapted shotgun platform.
I received two shotgun adapters for the 20 gauge Tamer. The first was chambered for .38 Special. This smooth bore shotgun adapter also came with a steel rod to push the empty case free once fired. The second was a rifled .22 LR adapter from Short Lane’s Zombie line. Both have a recommended range of only ten yards, but I range tested each at seven yards and twenty-two yards. To use either shotgun adapter, insert one into the chamber of the single shot shotgun, and then insert the cartridge before closing the action.
The .22 LR adapter features a rubber O ring on the outside to keep it from ejecting from the gun. A fingernail groove on the adapter helps to extract the empty cases. To function properly, the adapter (with its .22 cartridge) must be aligned as shown in the photo to the left, or the firing pin won’t strike the casing, which means the round won’t fire.
I fired five Remington .22 LR Viper 36 grain rounds into this cluster at a distance of 22 yards (over twice the recommended distance), using only the bead the Tamer utilizes as a front sight.
The .38 Special smooth bore Short Lane shotgun adapter loads in the same manner as the .22 LR adapter, however, you must hold the adapter down so that it doesn’t eject because it doesn’t have the same rubber O ring to hold the round in place. The empty cases normally required a mere flick of my wrist to eject, but there was an occasional sticky casing that required some coercion with a push rod to get free. I should not that the more powerful .357 Magnum cartridge does technically fit in the adapter. Use caution when loading so you do NOT load high pressure (+P or .357 Magnum) in the adapter; it wasn’t made to withstand those pressures so firing the incorrect rounds risks severe damage to the adapter, the shotgun, and to the shooter.
I once discounted shotgun adapters as too easy to lose and inaccurate because of their short length. Having tested them, I find the shotgun adapter opens up a world of possibilities, which make a simple shotgun more versatile. You do not sacrifice the ability to use regular shot or slugs for birds or large game, but you do gain the ability to bring along other types of lightweight ammunition, as needed. The survival applications of being able to acquire a wider range of game while carrying a higher quantity of ammo for the same weight are significant. Not to mention, adapters that choke down the bore to fire softer punching rounds offer convenience in recoil reduction as well. That’s versatility you can count on.