Blackhawk’s Shotgun Bandolier: A Game Changer

Over the years, I’ve engaged in a lot of training with shotguns. One of the main weapons used on my agency’s tactical team happened to be the Remington 870 Police shotgun. The good ol’, classic “riot gun.” And a fair amount of our training went toward dealing with riots, considering we largely operated in a prison setting. I wish we had the Blackhawk’s Shotgun Bandolier in those days/

During a typical training session, it was nothing for our squad to go through a few cases of 12 gauge ammunition. We’d stuff our pockets full before going through various training scenarios. Yes, I said it…we stuffed our pockets full. It was the most expedient way we had to carry 12 gauge ammunition, as we had no fancy ammo dispensers. We had tactical vests, but there were no special accommodations for shotgun ammo.

A pocket full of 12 gauge rounds.
Is that a pocket full of 12-gauge, or are you just happy to see me? Pockets are okay for holding spare ammunition. But there’s gotta be a better way! Photo: Jeremy Charles.

I’d fill the left, lower pocket of my BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) jacket full of shotgun rounds. More would go into my left BDU pants pocket and still more into the cargo pocket on the side of the leg. I could comfortably carry dozens of rounds like this and it was easy enough to reach into these pockets as I kept the shotgun magazine topped up with ammo.

High tech? Not at all. Effective? You betcha! After firing a couple of rounds, we always fed more ammo into the magazine as we went, assuring that we always had enough rounds onboard to deal with any problems that would come up.

A Better Way?

Over the years, I looked around for a better system for carrying spare ammunition. There are side saddle ammo carriers that attach to the side of the shotgun’s receiver. For a home defense gun, that volume of ammo will likely suffice just fine. But we were shooting well over 50 rounds at a time, so we needed more volume.

We used the Davis Speed Feedstock, which carried four extra rounds in the stock of the 870, which helped a little. But it still wasn’t even close to being enough.

There were shingles that we could get that had loops for shotgun ammo to affix to our vests, but there again, it just didn’t have the capacity.

We never really did find an alternate solution, so we just stuck to stuffing our pockets full of ammo and going with what we had available to us at the time. Necessity, creativity and adaptability often lead to innovation.


Enter Blackhawk. Over the years, I’ve used several products from Blackhawk, including their range bags and chest rigs, and have found each of their products to be high quality. My Blackhawk range bag has been going strong for well over 25 years and shows no major signs of wear. The thing will undoubtedly outlast me. I’ve found Blackhawk’s products to be reasonably priced and extremely durable.

When I got an opportunity to review Blackhawk’s Shotgun Bandolier, I was intrigued, figuring it just might be the solution to that age-old conundrum of how to carry more ammo for the scattergun. Here I am, no longer a member of the tactical team (I’m retired now), but I still had no better way to carry a lot of spare 12 gauge ammo than stuffing my pockets full.

Shotgun Bandoleer

Blackhawk’s Shotgun Bandolier subscribes to the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), which I happen to like. I’ve found that complex gadgetry either fails or trips the operator up during high-stress scenarios. So, the simpler a piece of gear is, the better.

Let’s take a look at what the shotgun bandolier brings to the table.

First, it holds 55 rounds. That’s a pretty healthy supply of 12-gauge ammo, and we should be able to cover most scenarios.

Blackhawk's 12 gauge bandoleer on an 870.
Blackhawk’s bandolier holds 55 rounds of 12 gauge ammo and is highly portable. It’s perfect as a grab-and-go option. Photo: Jim Davis.

It’s constructed of 2.25-inch wide nylon webbing, which is very thick and quite stiff. I see these as good things because they make the rig durable and won’t flop around like a dead fish. The rig has sufficient stiffness that, when it’s being worn, it stays put and won’t slide or flop all over the place.

The elastic loops are 1.5 inches wide and hold the shells in place quite tightly. It would be a gigantic pain if you were running along and shells were slipping from the loops, falling on the ground, and leaving a trail of ammo like the breadcrumbs in Hansel & Gretel. Just imagine getting to your destination after running through gunfire only to find that most of your ammo has skittered away into the dark and stormy night. After all, Mr. Murphy (of Murphy’s Law) is still alive and well. He visits me now and then just to screw up my day. And don’t think he won’t interject a healthy dose of a cluster-fornication into your day as well!

The loops with ammo on the bandoleer.
The construction is extremely sturdy, with a thick and stiff nylon band. The loops are strong and hold the rounds securely. Photo: Jim Davis.

Suffice it to say, I really can foresee this piece of gear lasting for decades. It’s just made that damn well. And given my experience with other Blackhawk gear, it gives me confidence that this piece will be no different than all the others.

The Rounds!

Now that we’ve established the construction of the bandolier, let’s touch again on its 55-round capacity. That’s quite a bit of ammo! It becomes even more apparent when you pick up the bandolier with that many rounds on it; it has some serious heft to it.

I like it because it can serve as a grab-and-go ammo option for the 12 gauge. Just sling it across the body, and you’re all set. The portability is excellent.

At The Range

I took the Blackhawk 12 Gauge Bandolier to the range to try out. I found it easy to extract the rounds from the loops, which is a huge factor; if they’re not quickly accessible, the bandolier isn’t much use. It kept the ammunition handy and organized quite well. It was also nice to be able to see exactly how much ammunition remains.

The author accesses a 12 gauge round from the bandoleer.
Blackhawk’s 12 gauge bandolier allows easy and fast access to ammunition. The ammo is at your fingertips, literally. Here, the author accesses a round to feed into his 870. Photo: Jeremy Charles.

The Bottom Line

Blackhawk’s 12 Gauge Bandolier sells for $28.99 at the time of writing, and I believe it represents a solid buy for what the consumer gets. The bandolier is built very robustly and should last for a lifetime. It keeps ammunition organized and allows fast access. Additionally, the bandolier allows the ammunition supply to be grabbed and transported immediately, whether we’re talking about an emergency at home or a bug-out scenario.

From where I sit, it beats the old stand-by of shoving rounds into the pocket. Side saddle ammo carriers are still good, and I believe they have their place in the tactical toolbox. But the bandolier offers an option that’s viable, convenient, and inexpensive. Give one a try, I think you’ll like it!

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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