The Esstac Shotgun Cards – Beyond Side Saddles

You know you’ve made it when counterfeit, IP ignoring, mostly Chinese companies start ripping off your idea. Esstac is one such company. They produced the original shotgun card, and now if you search Amazon, all you’ll find are cards from companies of suspicious origins. Luckily, you can still find the OG Esstac cards directly from Esstac. These shotgun cards serve as a detachable side saddle for shotguns. That may have you asking, why should I choose Esstac shotgun cards over a rigid side-saddle? 

Why a Card Versus Rigid Design? 

Oh boy, am I glad you asked. The Esstac Shotgun Cards has a few benefits over rigid designs. Keep in mind I’m only testifying to the quality of Esstac cards; your mileage may vary with cheap crap. 


First and foremost, these cards are universal in terms of shotgun applications. Most accessories in the shotgun world are limited to the Mossberg and Remington family of guns with a sprinkling of Benelli and Beretta stuff. Esstac shotgun cards fit whatever you need to toss them on. 

Second, they can be removed and swapped quickly. Should you run an Esstac shotgun card dry, you can pull it off, and replace it with a backup. These backups can be carried in an M4 spare magazine pouch. 

Thirdly, you can swap these between guns. If you own a multitude of shotguns, you can attach the same card to multiple firearms. 

Lastly, there is no need to swap parts from inside your weapon. Many side saddles require you to replace bolts that slide through the receiver and latch the saddle to the gun. The issue this can cause is those bolts can get too tight and cause problems with the weapon cycling. This happened to me with a 930 side-saddle. You have to get them just right tightness wise to ensure reliable operation. Esstac cards require no such tuning.  

Using the Esstac Cards 

Installation is simple, but you need to ensure you get the right loop backing. The cards come with Hook, and Esstac sells the Loop as well. If you buy the cards from a different distributor, you may need to seek proper loop material to attach to your shotgun. Velcro brand industrial strength loop tape is my go-to. It’s super strong and sticks well. Make sure you degrease the receiver before attaching the loop side. 

When you cut the Velcro to fit, make sure you go a little bigger than needed. This gives you a little room for forgiveness should you be a bit clumsy as you throw on a new side saddle in a  hurry. 

The Esstac cards have very tight elastic bands that make loading the carriers somewhat tricky. They are tight, tight, tight. They may leave you asking, will the elastic wear out? Can I leave them loaded? Well, I got good news and bad news. The bad news is that the elastic can wear out, but it will take a long time. 

The good news is you can leave these loaded just like a magazine. The wear and tear and loss of elasticity come from loading and unloading them, so feel free to leave them loaded without worry. 

The tight loops allow you to carry brass up or brass down or any mixture of both. These tight loops hold the shells well, and they won’t plop out while running and gunning, and as long as you aren’t a small child, you won’t have an issue drawing shells from them. The big pull tab hanging off the end makes it easy to rip them off the gun and draw them from magazine pouches. 

Running and Gunning with the Esstac Shotgun Cards 

The Esstac shotgun cards are robust and durable, with years of hard use ready for them. These shotgun cards are well made and made to last. I went with the 4 round models to reduce weight and to allow better balance on my scatterguns. They come in capacities ranging up to 7 rounds if you want to be a fat bottom girl. 

The Esstac shotgun cards work best when you own more than one. I own three and have found them ideally suited in a few different pouches from Blue Force Gear. From their belt pouch to their chest rig, they accommodate shotgun cards perfectly. Squeeze ‘em in with the pull loop placed upwards and you can quickly snatch and draw a shotgun card to replace whatever is on your gun. 

I also believe these are a great option if you need to switch between different shotgun shell load outs on your gun. A gun with breaching loads can swap to buckshot, or a weapon with buckshot can swap to slugs to respond to whatever situation lies in front of you. If you are like me and no longer a cool guy, you can keep them loaded with buckshot for side saddle reloads. However you choose to load them is up to you. 

The Esstac shotgun cards are an affordable and near-universal solution to weapon-mounted shotgun ammo. The only better option I know off the top of my head is almost impossible to find and costs 150 bucks. The Esstac Shotgun cards are available in a variety of colors and sizes. If you are a shotgun nut like me, you can appreciate their versatility, quick detach capability, and the fact they come in Multicam. Check ‘em out here. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.