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Some things in gundom are just downright fun to use, and the Versa-Mate shotgun gauge adapter is among them. These adapters fit into the breech end of break-open shotguns, essentially converting the gun to a smaller gauge.

For example, Versa-Mates are available in 12-20, 12-28, 12-410, 20-28 and 20-410. I tried the 12-20 in a Cesar Guerini over/under, and used 20-gauge shells in the 12-gauge gun. Literally, it was a blast.

The Versa-Mate insert tubes essentially re-chamber the gun, and each Versa-Mate ensemble includes two Versa-Mates, so they are ready to convert single or double shotgun to handle other sizes of ammo. They are only slightly longer than the shotgun shell itself and it is amazing how they work so well. For example, my scores at skeet were the same as I shot with that gun, whether I used the full-bore 12-gauge ammo, or 20-gauge shells through the Versa-Mate inserts.

Gauge reduction systems are not new for shotguns. in fact, there has been any number of "tubes" used in skeet shooting for years and years. Most of those tubes are full-length and include their own choking system. Back in the 1970s, Browning marketed tube inserts that were a little more than a foot long. But the Versa-Mates are much shorter.

Unlike most of the full-length skeet tube designs, however, the Versa-Mate system does not include a separate mechanism to extract the spent shell after shooting. Most of the time, merely tilting the gun and tapping it lightly with the hand caused the spent shells to fall far enough out of the Versa- Mates to grab them and then discard them. Sometimes, though, it was necessary to use a small screwdriver to pluck the empty from the chamber.

Although this phenomenon caused no significant problems, it would be a bit cumbersome in a shooting match. For normal bird hunting, or just recreational shooting, however, it is not a factor. The Versa-Mates can be removed easily and quickly from the gun. Merely use a small tool provided with the kit to pull the Versa-Mate out of the barrel.

Overall, there is no question that the Versa-Mate system does what it is supposed to do, and it is downright fun to use. It is definitely worth its weight in enjoyment should parents want to use a 12- or 20-gauge shot-gun when instructing new shooters. It affords the opportunity for the gun to be shot, but with ammo that doesn't recoil as much as the full bore size loads.

— Steve Comus, Cabela's Outfitter Journal columnist 


*note: Versa-Mate is designed and custom manufactured by GaugeMate specifically for Cabela's and is equal to our GaugeMate Gold line of products.

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See GaugeMate's sub-gauge adapters in action in our Gaugemate Challenge Video
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Learn more: "How Sub-Gauge Adapters Work

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