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Carbon Arms FSL 8 – Quad Load

Category : Competition, Shooting Gear Review, Shotguns, Tactical, Video

If you follow 3 gun you already know that the ability to load a shotgun fast is a skill that sets the winners apart from the losers. In larger matches, or on an all shotgun stage, you may have to load up to 30 rounds in your shotgun on one stage. If it takes you 10 seconds to load 8 rounds in your shotgun, but takes your competitor only 4 seconds to load 8 rounds, then on a stage where you have to load 24 rounds, you lose by 18 seconds, even if you shoot the targets at the same speed.  This is why shotgun loading is so important.

Carbon Arms FSL 8 Shell Carrier

In the past year, new methods have revolutionized shotgun loading. Many of these techniques have been fueled by new innovations at Carbon Arms.  For a very long time the weak-hand reload with a caddy has dominated at 3 gun matches (you could argue that it still does as several of the top competitors are still using traditional caddies; watch for this to change). The fastest weak-hand loaders can load 8 rounds between 4 and 5 seconds. However, under match conditions, it is probably closer to five and maybe even 6 seconds, and there is a fairly high fumble factor because of the dexterity that it requires. Weak-hand or caddy reloading is also a skill that requires constant practice to remain consistently fast. Keith Garcia is probably the fastest weak-hand or caddy reloader alive. Watch Keith demo the weak-hand caddy load here.

LEFT: The Carbon Arms Pinwheel can be used for load two method or quad loading with some adjustments. RIGHT: Traditional weak-hand or caddy shotshell caddy.

Enter the load two or twins method. The first time I was appropriately impressed by the load two method was when I saw this video(see below) of Patrick Kelley winning an all-shotgun stage at the 2012 Superstition Mystery Mountain 3Gun match.  The load two is  a very legitimate and competitive way to load a shotgun as it has a very low fumble factor and a user can be competitive in just a few practices.  In the video, Patrick’s using the Carbon Arms Pinwheel System.  My wife uses the load two method with her strong hand, and without much practice is a competitive shotgun loader. Load two can be done weak-hand or strong-hand.

Quad loading has come about since the load-two method and is similar to load-two, but instead of grabbing 2 shells at a time you grab 4. Some of the fastest shotgun loaders are getting into the 3 second range with the quad load.  Carbon Arms has several shell carrier options for doing the quad load. The FSL 8, FSL 12, and Pinwheels all allow you to quad load.

I have been practicing with the FSL 8 and to be completely honest, when I first started, I was disappointed in the FSL 8 and had decided to sell it. The plastic it’s machined from is extremely sharp.  All the fingers on my left hand had small infections from where the carrier would bite and puncture skin.. After taking a month or two off and going back to my weak hand reload, I decided to give the quad load another try. This time I took a file and knocked off all the corners and edges on the FSL 8. Doing that made a huge difference and  after warming up, I’ve had some loads using the FSL 8 hit 3.5 seconds. I can consistently hit 4 seconds.  I’m currently using an FNH SLP shotgun and the quad load on this shotgun has a higher fumble factor. The hand guard is in the way and causes occasional problems with the extra set of shells. Even so, the fumble factor isn’t any worse for me than it was with the weak-hand load and allows me to hit times in the high 3’s and low 4’s with less practice, which is much faster than I ever got with the weak hand load.  The load two method is still easier and requires less practice but is likely about a half a second slower than the quad load.  In all fairness to Carbon Arms, the reason that the carriers come not having the edges removed is to keep the costs down. The carriers themselves are machined and expensive to make. To prevent making them more expensive to the end user Carbon Arms has elected to let the end user take five minutes and round the corners. I’d personally rather have to do a little sanding than have them cost more so this is a reasonable effort by Carbon Arms to save shooters some money.

The FSL 8 is a well-designed, innovative,  and thought out product.  Because the shells lay horizontally, the carriers  take up about as much room as two weak hand shot shell caddies on your belt, maybe a little less.  There are holes pre-drilled in the back for Safariland ELS, TechLoks, or whatever belt attachment system you prefer and the FSL can be mounted at different angles on your belt.  Number (#)8 sheet metal screws will self-tap in the mounting holes and don’t come with the carriers, but can be bought for a few cents at your local hardware store. Additionally, the carriers are adjustable for different size shells so that you get a perfect fit and good tension.  The carriers are machined from a special high strength plastic that is more expensive than aluminum and are strong enough to go prone and not be damaged. The carriers allow the shells to be placed either directions so they will work for weak hand or strong hand quad loading.The newest FSL8 retainers have been redesigned to better support the Quad load. They allow the shells to sit lower in the rails and give you more time to get your hand around the shells before the top row releases from the rails.

Everyone has different fingers, hands and dexterity, and there is no single product that is going to be perfect for everyone, but this is a legitimate and high quality option for anyone that wants to try load two or quad load with their shotgun.

Overall, the FSL is a well-built shot shell carrier that allows you to use either hand  and load two or quad load. I think that in most 3 gun matches the ability to load both ways will come in handy.

Check out Carbon Arms website for more information on the FSL 8.

Carbon Arms also posted a picture tutorial that’s worth looking at on quad loading.


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Comments (1)

You’re still alive!! I was starting to wonder, haha.

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