Aguila Minishells Review: Bigger isn’t always Better

So, the Aguila Minishells caught your eye, and you’re trying to decide if these are just a gimmick round or something you could actually use.

In this Aquila Mini Shells review, I’m gonna shoot ya straight about the performance and uses of these rounds. So by the end of this article, you’ll know whether you should grab a few boxes or keep searching for more shotgun ammunition.

I’ve got my coffee, so it’s time to grab yours and continue reading!

Let’s go!

Aguila Mini Shells Ammo Overview

Aguila Ammunition was founded in 1961 and is manufactured in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, by Industrias Tecnos. Today Aguila has facilities in Mexico and Texas. It is one of the largest manufacturers of rimfire, centerfire, and shotshells in the world and utilizes cutting-edge manufacturing technology to accomplish its goal:

“To deliver innovative performance with each and every shot. Engineered using state-of-the-art technology and high-quality components, [their] ammunition is guaranteed to give shooters the competitive edge.”

Aguila makes ammo for self-defense, shooting sports, hunting, law enforcement, and the military. The 1-3/4” 12ga Minishell is one such product that’s the opposite of a 3 1/2″ magnum shell. Aguila is the originator of the Minishell, which dates back to 1998.

The Minishell is just that, a smaller shotshell. While the slug or shot size remains the same, there is less of the rest of the components of the shell. Since the payload is decreased, they have less recoil than 2-3/4 inch shells, which makes them a great way to introduce new shooters to shooting a shotgun.

These shotgun shells were not initially designed for pump-action shotguns like the Remington 870, Mossberg 500, or Mossberg 590. However, thanks to the Opsol mini-clip adapter, these short shells can be cycled through pump guns and used in double-barrel and single-shot shotguns.

The Aguila Minishells still lack the power to cycle a semi-auto shotgun, so don’t bother loading them into your semi-automatic.

They’re marketed as a hunting round; however, I have my doubts about how effective they are for hunting.

Our Aguila Minishells Review

Aguila Minishells 12ga lead slug

Combining my decades of shooting a 20 gauge and 12 gauge shotgun while hunting and at the range researching Aguila 12 gauge Minishells for hours, I feel as though I’ve come to a fair conclusion on the quality and functionality of these shells.

Let’s start with the fact that Aguila isn’t resting on their previous innovations and successes. They released the 12ga minishell in 1998, and now there are three versions, a birdshot, buckshot, and slug minishell. Aguila has also added a 20ga buckshot minishell to the mix.

Each Minishell’s ballistics is about half its longer shell counterpart, but that’s to be expected when you have less powder, resulting in reduced recoil. They are very comparable to a handgun load, which explains their similar ballistic performance to handgun rounds like the 45 ACP.

The birdshot Minishells are best used for competition and range shooting. At the same time, the Minishell slugs are only recommended for close-range target shooting. The buckshot Minishells are the most versatile and can be used for close-range hunting, target shooting, home defense, and tactical shooting.

Despite having low recoil, I was impressed with how much power these rounds still had, especially the slugs.

However, it’s not all praise for these rounds.

As I mentioned, they’re not powerful enough to cycle a semi-auto shotgun, and you have to have a special adapter when using a pump shotgun; otherwise, you’ll have great difficulties cycling the shells.

If you don’t want to purchase the adapter, you’re limited to single-shot, double-barrel, and over-under shotguns, which isn’t the end of the world, but they’re not something I want to use for self-defense.

Hunting upland game or deer wouldn’t be ideal, as I think there are much better options for these instances.

Alright, let’s dive deeper into where these shells shine the most.

What Is It Best For?

Aguila Minishells 12ga Buckshot

I remember how scared I was to shoot a 12-gauge shotgun for the first time. I’d seen how it moved my dad when he shot at ducks, and tipping the scales around 50lbs soaking wet, I didn’t think I stood much chance of staying on my feet.

However, had I had access to these shells, it would have made the process much less frightening with the reduced recoil that they offer. This is why these shells are perfect for introducing beginners to shotguns.

While I think the slug is still a bit overkill for home defense, the #4 buckshot Load is ideal for at-home protection because it’s less likely to penetrate walls, you get more rounds loaded in your pump action, and the lower recoil allows you to get back on target quickly.

The average shooter will see the most benefit in these areas, but what about the drawbacks of these shells? That’s what we’ll talk about next.

Disadvantages of Aguila Minishells

The need to purchase an adapter for pump-action guns is one of the most significant disadvantages of short shells (The KelTec KSG tactical shotgun does the best job of cycling these rounds without an adapter).

Granted, the adapter isn’t expensive, and it’s easy to install, but if you’re purchasing these shells to have more rounds loaded in your shotgun for self-defense, you’re likely shooting a pump and not a single-shot or double-barrel shotgun.

These rounds will only reliably cycle with an adapter, and that’s a huge drawback for me.

Another disadvantage is that they claim to be hunting rounds; however, they lack the needed power and accuracy to ethically harvest game animals, such as deer, at distances greater than 50 yards.

The range of these rounds is incredibly limited due to the lack of powder.

Pros and Cons of Aguila Minishells

Below I’ve come up with a quick reference list of pros and cons for the Aguila minishells after researching these rounds for many hours.

Aguila Minishells 20ga Buckshot


  • Lower recoil, which makes them great for new shooters
  • Reasonably priced
  • Versatile, comes in a few different shot sizes and gauge options
  • Reliable, they go bang when you pull the trigger
  • It allows you to load more rounds in your shotgun for home defense


  • It needs an adapter to work with pump-action shotguns; otherwise, you’re stuck using single-shot shotguns
  • It doesn’t generate enough force to cycle semi-auto shotguns
  • Only suitable for very close ranges
  • There are much better hunting shells on the market
  • Too short for reloading under normal conditions

Aguila Mini Shells Specifications

If you’re a lover of numbers, especially when those numbers have to do with ammo, the table below is filled with numbers regarding the specs of Aguila Minishells for your enjoyment.

Aguila Minishells Cartridge Specifications


Since Aguila Ammo introduced the Minishells to the market in 1998, they’ve developed several versions to appease shotgunners.

20ga Minishell Buckshot

Aguila claims the 20ga #4 buckshot version of their Minishells is a highly versatile round, capable of hunting, target shooting, and tactical situations, and I would have to agree.

I’ve often thought the 20ga is an overlooked shotgun gauge for all these scenarios, at least in close quarters.

12ga Minishell Birdshot

Aguila Minishells 12ga 7 1/2 shot

The 12ga 7 1/2 Shot Minishell is excellent for clay shooting competitions and plinking at the range. This version is one that I’m the most confused by, as I’ve never thought 7 1/2 shot 12ga shells had much recoil. Plus, I often need the extra pellets to hit a fast-moving target, such as clays, doves, or quail!

12ga Minishell Buckshot

The 12ga #4 buckshot Minishell is excellent for close-quarters home defense and hunting. It’s also great for taking to the range when you don’t want a sore shoulder in the morning.

12ga Minishell Slug

The 12ga Minishell slug is ideal for taking to the range and close-range coyote and deer hunting. However, it doesn’t have the necessary powder to power it past 75 yards reliably and consistently.

Ballistics of Aguila Mini Shells

Below, I’ve compiled a simple ballistics table for all Aguila Minishells. Please enjoy to your hearts content.

Aguila Minishells Ballistics table

Alternative Short Shotshells

In case you can’t find the Aguila Minishells in stock, here is a very similar product we often have at

The Federal Shorty 15/16 oz. #4 Buck is a little heavier than Aguila Minishells buckshot but has similar recoil and muzzle velocity.

Parting Shots

Now that you’ve finished our Aguil Minishells review, you know these shotshells are great for a fun day at the range, and some variations are solid choices for home defense. However, I wouldn’t recommend them for many hunting scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below we’ve rounded up and answered some of the most commonly asked questions about Aquila mini shells.

Is the Aguila Mini Shells worth buying?

Yes, the Aguila Mini Shells are worth buying if you want a fun day shooting at the range. However, they’re not worth buying for hunting purposes.

What is the range of Aguila Mini Shells?

The range of Aguila Mini Shells is 50 yards with iron sights; after that, they become increasingly inaccurate.

From By Wes Littlefield Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Guest Contributor

Self-Reliance Central publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of SRC. Reproduced with permission.