Mark Otto’s Chest Rig: the Right Stuff for High-Volume Shotgun Stages
By Bryce M. Towsley - Each 3-gun shooter has a style of match that they like to shoot. For me, it’s the big stages where we use all three guns and burn a lot of ammo. I am there to pull the trigger, and those with “minimalist” stages that are over in 20 seconds disappoint me. I like to shoot.
But the big stages can present unique problems. I can stuff extra rifle and pistol mags in my belt or if need be in my pants pockets, but sometimes it’s difficult to carry enough shotgun ammo. Particularly when you want to carry the ammo in a way that allows fast reloads. Everybody knows that in these big stages with a lot of shotgun targets, the guy who reloads the fastest is the winner, at least in any class but Open. All the complaining in the world about it becoming “a loading match, not a shooting match” can’t change that. You need to get with the program and figure out a way to carry a lot of shotgun fuel in a way that lets you stuff it in the gun as fast as possible.
Mark Otto is not only an avid 3-gun competitor, but he is the king of gadgets to carry shotgun ammo. Mark’s products include nylon sidesaddles that mount on the side of the shotgun and hold up to nine rounds of ammo. He also makes those two-shell holders that you see on the side of a lot of shotguns. Other products include the forearm bands, some that hold up to 18 shotshells and a bandolier that crosses your chest with more ammo.
Mark also makes metal shell caddies in 4-round and 6-round sizes to fit on your belt. This style of shell holder has become ubiquitous at most 3-gun matches and the Otto brand has a reputation for excellence. My problem, though, is I run out of belt and places to put these holders for the big stages. I have trained to grab four shells at a time from these holders and like to continue with that style of loading. Most belts or bandoliers do not allow that.
I recently acquired one of Otto’s Chest Rigs. This is a large rectangle of hook-and-loop fasteners that is mounted securely on your chest with a harness system. The hook-and-loop pad allows mounting four metal shotshell holders, your choice of 4-round or 6-round, in any configuration you like. I picked the 4-round as I have found that’s all I can handle in one hand at a time. With four of these 4-round holders on the chest rig facing right and with the top slightly elevated, it is positioned to grab the shells very quickly with my right hand. I currently use a strong-hand loading method. But if I decide to go to the increasingly popular weak-hand loading method in the future, I can just reposition the holders quickly and easily.
I don’t use this chest rig in every stage as I still prefer to do most of my loading from the 4-round caddies on my belt. But when I encounter a big stage with a lot of shotgun targets, it earns its keep. Once I have depleted my belt-mounted shotshell ammo carriers, this is the best and fastest way I have found to keep shooting in those big multi-target shotgun stages.