Why You Should or Shouldn’t Consider A Chamber Adapter If You Are A Serious Prepper

Ryan Dotson
By Ryan Dotson May 18, 2020 11:52

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Consider A Chamber Adapter If You Are A Serious Prepper

When you first get started as a serious prepper, the whole process can be overwhelming. You hear about preppers with years of food and water stored.

Some have built underground bunkers. Some have arsenals of weapons and ammunition. There is so much to learn, so much to do, and so much to buy. One point I want to make upfront is that knowledge is your best tool, and it is free. Learning about survival and prepping should always come before buying gear.

However, some of that knowledge will help you buy less and spend less to accomplish your goals.

It is a widely debated topic, but most serious preppers feel that a good selection of firearms is essential to survive an SHTF scenario. These weapons serve the purposes of both hunting for food and self-defense. I have a fairly decent selection, but I always feel like I could have more guns.

In addition, I have a common dilemma with my weapons. I complete several survival challenges each year. On these challenges, I sometimes take a weapon with me. However, I try to pack light so I never take more than one gun. This limits what I can do with the firearm that I choose to bring.

For example, a 12-gauge shotgun is great for self-defense. I can use birdshot for small game or slugs for bigger animals. However, shotguns are very loud which draws attention. They have a long barrel and are heavy. They also have a limited range. I could bring my 30-30 rifle with a scope instead.

Related: This Survival Shotgun Can Fire 8 Different Calibers and It Fits in Your B.O.B.

This can be effective for self-defense and larger game but would blow apart most small game. I could bring my .22 survival rifle which breaks down small and is light. It does great for small game but is not ideal for large game or self-defense. A chamber adapter can help with the issue of deciding what firearm to buy or bring.

What Is a Chamber Adapter?

Searching for information on this particular tool can be difficult as it has several names. Chamber adapters are also known as cartridge adapters, chamber reducers, chamber inserts, sub-gauge inserts, reducer sleeves, barrel insert bushings, and caliber conversion sleeves.

These are all more or less the same thing. A chamber adapter is a metal tube that is inserted inside the barrel. It allows you to fire smaller ammunition in a larger caliber weapon.

Initially, chamber adapters were designed for large shotguns to fire smaller shells. They were first designed for clay shooters to convert their 12-gauge shotguns to fire 20 gauge or .410 shotshells.

These smaller shells have fewer lead shots inside, so they make accuracy that much more important. The conversion simply made clay shooting more difficult so marksmen could challenge themselves. These smaller shells also make the gun kick less when fired, so they sometimes help young shooters get used to firing the gun without destroying their shoulders.

There are limits to which firearms can use a chamber adapter. Shotguns need to be break action, so your pumps and semi-automatics are out of the questions. Rifles must be bolt action, so lever action and semi-automatics are out for rifles. You can buy chamber adapter kits for large caliber revolvers if you want to shoot .22LR rounds from a handgun.

Related: Top 10 SHTF Firearms

The New Market for Chamber Adapters

I just the last few years, chamber adapters have found a whole new group of fans in addition to clay shooters. That would be the survivalist or prepper.

In addition to reducing the variety of firearms you need to purchase and stockpile, having chamber adapters allows you to scavenge for ammunition. For example, if you are primarily using a 12-gauge shotgun and you run across an ammunition case filled with 20-gauge shells you may be able to use them with a chamber adapter.

I would not be a responsible writer if I did not mention that you should use extreme caution when looking for supplies, especially ammunition. There are plenty of scenarios that could lead to a collapse of our society. In many of these cases, there would be some abandoned homes and businesses with ammunition present.

The tough part is finding ammunition that has been truly abandoned. If the owner is present, you are probably not walking away with any new supplies.

Related: 15 Best Guns for Preppers

How to Select a Chamber Adapter

You can purchase chamber adapters in a variety of lengths. You can also get them in rifled or smoothbore version. Typically, the longer rifled versions are more expensive, but still, cost much less than buying another firearm.

You must realize that all chamber adapters will be less accurate than using a firearm designed for that round.

For example, firing a 20 gauge round out of a 12-gauge shotgun is going to be less accurate than firing it out of a 20-gauge shotgun. However, at closer ranges adapters can definitely get the job done.

My suggestion is to always get a rifled chamber adapter and to get the longest one you can find. The longer the chamber adapter, the more accurate it will be. This is a similar principle to why barrel length affects accuracy.

For example, firing a .22 round out of a pistol is not as accurate as firing out of a .22 long rifle. The longer the barrel, the more guidance you provide for trajectory. This makes longer barrels more accurate, and also makes longer chamber adapters more accurate.

A good comparison is using a 30-30 chamber adapter in a 12-gauge shotgun. I can get a kill shot on a deer from about 200 yards with my 30-30. However, putting a 30-30 chamber adapter in my 12-gauge shotgun gives me accuracy out to roughly 50-100 yards.

Obviously, this is not nearly as good as using my 30-30 rifle, but most of the shots I take on deer are at less than 100 yards. I cannot be a sniper with a chamber adapter, but I can still bag a deer if I need to.

Related: Top 6 Popular Types of Guns Not Suitable for SHTF

Other Options

You do have the option of purchasing firearms with the ability to change out the barrel and magazine for different calibers.

The CZ 455 is a line of rifles that let you fire .22LR, .17HMR, and .22WMR round by swapping out the parts on the same rifle. The cost of the primary rifle is typically reasonable, and the barrel sets cost about as much as a quality chamber adapter.

Because the barrels and magazines are specifically designed for each caliber, your shots would be much more accurate than using a chamber adapter. Rossi also produces some options with interchangeable barrels.

From talking to shooters that have used a variety of different chamber adapter types, the response has been consistent. If you get a longer, high-quality chamber adapter used for shotshell in shotguns they are surprisingly accurate. If you convert a shotgun to a .45 or .22 round, it is good for close range only. However, even at close range, it was suggested that you get in plenty of practice.

For the cost, I think chamber adapters could be a solid option. However, I suggest you buy one and try it out to see how you like it. If you are happy with the accuracy at your normal firing distance, then go out and get more of them. The bottom line is that you get what you pay for.

Do not go out and buy the cheapest adapter you can find. Instead, do your research and be sure you are getting a quality adapter. This will give you a much more accurate idea of how they fire.

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Ryan Dotson
By Ryan Dotson May 18, 2020 11:52
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  1. Johnny3 May 18, 14:08

    Even if one does not want to use, or even like, adapters, having a full set would provide several different, excellent barter items during a SHTF event.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Chuck May 18, 14:24

    How about one to fit a flare pistol? there are some for 12G, 20G and 410 which will also take a 45 Cal

    Reply to this comment
    • PB- dave May 18, 19:15

      An adapter can be made to fit about anything…. hence the name adapter. Just be sure the base weapon you are using is safe for the load used in the adapter.
      Also, if you get a bullet adapter for that single or double barrel break open gun, spent a few more dollars and get the longer version with rifling.

      Reply to this comment
    • Water pro May 19, 03:30

      The flare pistol works better than you would think. Convert it to. 410. That gives the option of 410 of all types and 45 long Colt. But remember 45 Long Colt is different than 45 ACP. ( semi auto ammo).

      Reply to this comment
    • Tomk May 19, 04:46

      Flare pistols are not designed for shotgun rounds.

      Reply to this comment
    • zeroturnzed May 20, 02:51

      watched a video where they tested your idea. It blew the flare gun to pieces. Lucky they took precautions to remotely fire it, otherwise someone would have likely died.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Range Rider May 18, 16:20

    I’ve owned quite a few of these adapters and was pleasantly surprised how well they preformed. You can get a single shot 12 gauge shotgun for around a hundred dollars and with multiple adapters in different calibers and their corresponding ammunition along, be prepared to bring down any type of game you may come across while hunting, from birds to big game.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Reticent Rogue May 18, 17:28

    Good points all. I would add these caveats. Chamber adapters for rifles depend on the rifling in the rifle barrel for accuracy. Those I own are as accurate as the original cartridge within the range restrictions. Adapters for shotguns come in smooth bore and rifled versions. Smooth bore ranges are indeed limited—feet, not yards—making rifling essential for 25 yards. Length is also important. I find 5” adapters to be nominal but then weight becomes an issue if you plan to carry a set. A full set of X-calibers weights about three pounds. For the long haul, I suggest an AR15 and a caliber conversion kit. After a good deal of experimentation with all of it, I have developed a purpose-built AR pistol with a polymer lower receiver, m-lok forestock, 10inch barrel, and cmmg conversion kit. It fires .223/556, .22 with the conversion kit and cycles .22 down to standard velocity (which is just subsonic at 1100 ft. above sea level) and will fire subsonic ammo with manual extraction. The kit, a 30-round mag of 223/556, and 200 rounds of .22 weigh less than eight pounds and fits in a medium back pack. This combo has taken everything from birds to bear. Before any backyard ballisticians go ballistic on the ‘bear’ thing—the fact is the cartridge will do the job if needed; but it is an optimum choice only for the Inuit, who take bears with them regularly. Anyway…just a suggestion for those who want to travel light and cover the full ballistic requirements for North America.

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  5. Chris May 18, 17:40

    I can only image the accuracy would be pretty bad. A 22 cartridge shot in a 30 caliber rifle would have pretty poor ballistics. Get a 22 caliber rifle that can shoot the full line of 22 rim fire rounds. 22 magnum could take down a deer.

    Reply to this comment
  6. left coast chuck May 18, 23:07

    I have have two chamber adapters. One is .22 LR to fit in a .223 chamber in a Thompson Contender. The Tompson has an adjustable hammer so that one can fire rimfire or centerfire in the same frame.

    That adapter works fine and with a 16.25 inch barrel in .223, the .22LR squeezes all the velocity out of that round that it is capable of. The .22 LR is quite accurate out of that barrel too.

    The other adapter I have was not so great. I bought a .308 adapter for a .30-06 bolt action. It worked okay, however, instead of easily extracting when I was ready to switch over to .30-06 again, I couldn’t get it out of the chamber.

    An old Marine Corps vet who said they used them in M1s said that they came out quite easily. Well, not out of a 03A3 chamber they don’t. I finally had to send the barreled action to a gunsmith who managed to extract it but ruined the insert in doing so.

    I don’t know why it wouldn’t come out and the gunsmith was unable to tell me either. I think it might have been that I fired a .308 Winchester round though it and it might have been reamed for a 7.62 NATO. This many years later I don’t remember the details.

    Considering that unless you have a single shot shotgun with rifle sights on it, the sights that your old H&R has are for shotgun shooting, not rifle shooting, so you are going to have to spend a fair amount of time practicing with a rifled insert to see where the point of impact might be. It might be advisable to get a laser sight for your shotgun that can be zeroed in with the insert so that when the dot is on target, so is the bullet.

    However, the more stuff you have to add to the shotgun to make it work satisfactorily with the insert eventually reaches the point where you might as well have purchased a Ruger American or a Savage or another budget priced rifle in the caliber you want.

    For my money, the kit that the author mentions wherein you can purchase the basic shotgun and several inserts is an expensive item and in my opinion you really would be better served purchasing a basic rifle in a common caliber, .30-06, .308, .270, 7.62×39, .223, .30-30 are all common cartridges generally available in most small stores and even specialty big box stores such as Big 5. Yes, there are newer cartridges that have much to recommend them, but what you need for an EOTW situation is the kind of ammo you will find when you are searching for ammo at Uncle Johnny’s Bait, Bullets and Beer shop in a town of 500 in Northern Nevada or Western Oregon or the same in Maine, Wisconsin or Michigan.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Illini Warrior May 19, 13:18

    in regard to gauging down shotgun shells using an adapter …
    I’d either use the smaller shells in trade or dismantle for the components to reload 12g if really totally necessary & desperate …

    I wouldn’t downgrade my firepower to a single/double barrel shotgun to accomodate an adapter situation …

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 19, 23:54

      While I have been able too actually test it, I have a feeling that a subsonic round fired out of a shotgun would be a lot quieter than that same round fired out of a gun designed for its use. In other words, a .38 sp. fired with an adapter at 850 fps out of a 12 gauge might be quieter than that same .38 sp. fired from a 4 inch barreled revolver.

      Notice the operative words are “might be.” I haven’t done the experiment and so am not in a position of make a statement with any authority on the subject. The .22 fired out of a .223 chamber sounds just like a .22 LR being fired from a .22 LR barrel which is what I would expect. The .308 sounded just like a .308, but I feel that it just might be that a sub caliber round fired from a shotgun barrel might be a tad quieter. Perhaps someone who has actually performed that exercise could speak more authoritatively on the subject.

      Reply to this comment
      • Illini Warrior May 20, 11:08

        ???????????? – what the f__k does anything of your reply have to do with my posting?

        post all you want but don’t use my posting to just BS pontificate your crap …

        Reply to this comment
        • True American May 20, 18:54

          So call warrior? Chuck makes good sense!! I know, been reloading and doing small gunsmith work for around 40 years? No one cares about what you would trade or shells you would dismantle? What a stupid remark!! It works chuck! Like your comments!!

          Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck May 25, 21:27

          Well, excuse me. I didn’t realize that each of us had a proprietary interest in our posts and that it was verboten to post a reply that didn’t respond point for point to the original post.

          The single shot H&R 12 ga. shotgun was the go-to firearm for many a farm family in earlier times before the advent of the low cost pump shotguns of the mid 20th century. Many families not into shooting have not seen fit to upgrade Grandpa’s 100 year old H&R 12 ga for the latest 18 inch club handled Remington or Mossberg pump. Perhaps they are put off by the appearance of it. Perhaps they tried one at a gun range that also sells firearms and the recoil intimidated them and all they have is Grandad’s single shot 12 ga.

          While an Illini Warrior of course is a world renown gunster with a battery comprising dozens of shotguns in assorted calibers, depending upon trading shotgun shells in an EOTW situation just might be unrealistic.

          Being able to purchase an adaptor for far less money than a whole new shotgun is an economical way for someone who already has a 12 ga single shot to acquire the capability to handle other size shells they might acquire in an EOTW situation without the necessity of having to spring for a whole new gun.

          While your choices might suite your own personal situation, not everyone’s situation fits a standard mold. Unless a person is a gunster such as yourself, they might not know about adapters for their single shot, so what you in your superior armament situation might reject might be just the ticket for someone like Clergylady who has a very limited budget and might not know about adapters and how they can expand one’s battery without spending dollars that are in short supply.

          Reply to this comment
      • Tomk October 6, 18:13

        I’ve been considering an adapter for a few years, but keep coming back to the same question. What advantage does a 3″ adapter have over a 6″ revolver besides a more stable platform? You used to be able to get rifle stocks that bolt on to revolvers. Don’t know if you still can.

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck January 6, 03:33

          TomK: I can answer that. You can only buy stocks for the broom handle 9 mm, so-called Red Mauser. That is because it is considered an antique and a relic. If you have one that works it is just a deadly as it was in the 19th century at Omdurman when Winston Churchill was using one to take out Dervishes.

          Otherwise what you have is an illegal weapon thanks to the gun control act of 1968 when all sorts of gun rights were overridden in the name of gun safety.

          The inherent accuracy of a barrel has nothing to do with its length. A 3 inch barrel can be just as accurate as a 24” long range rifle barrel. What makes the 3 barrel seem less accurate is the sight radius. The 3 inch or 1 1/2 inch barrel seem less accurate because the sight radius is so much shorter. Thus a 1/16” difference in sight alignment is much more significant with a 2 7/8” sight radius than it is with a rifle with a 23” sight radius. There is a match formula that allows one to calculate the offset in degrees which is much too complicated for my brain to utilize let alone memorize.

          Tests conducted using a clamp to hold the firearm to a bench have shown that many times, actually the shorter barrel is more accurate due to induced harmonics in the barrel from the bullet’s passage. The bullet has more time to induce harmonics in the 24” barrel than it does in the 3” barrel.

          So how come we have short barrel shotguns with just clubs for handles?

          Well, lawyers who are retained by the firearms industry lie awake nights figuring out how to get around really stupid gun laws written by folks whose ideas about guns come from watching too many movies or too much television.

          This short barreled, club handled pump action and semi-automatic shotguns fall into a loophole category. They are neither fish nor fowl. You may have seen short barreled .223s offered for sale. They too fall into a specific loophole discovered by clever, well-paid lawyers. The BATF originally recognized the validity of the loophole and stamped their imprimatur on them but now that Ole Two-Shot is going to be El Supremo, they are back pedaling and saying that they now fall into another category called “Short-barreled rifles” which require $200 and a long wait while our master in the District of Corruption take their time processing your request. In addition, the usual suspect states have laws against short-barreled rifles. For instance the PDRK forbids even thinking about owning a fearsome ultra-deadly weapon of mass destruction such as the short barreled rifle.

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  8. anonymous May 21, 11:23

    I think one of the more useful adapters is the 20 gauge / 12 gauge chamber adapter. Allow two different bores in your 12 gauge shotgun. The single shot break open shotgun is often very lightweight and in 12 gauge, has quite a bit of recoil. Being able to reduce to 20 gauge is welcome.

    I have a MCA Ace Dube sleeve for a 20 gauge shotgun, it an 18″ 30-30 Winchester adapter. Allows my Savage 24 Camper three rounds, the factory .22l4 / 20 gauges and now 30-30. It is my spare camp gun.

    The downside with these sleeves is the additional weight. A 20 gauge bore is approximately .615 in diameter. Adding solid steel to this adds weight – I’m sure in 22lr, probably at least a pound of weight to the gun.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 25, 21:32

      Do the sights on your combo gun register close enough so that you can use them for the .30-30 chamber adapter?

      If they do, that is really an ideal situation. You have the shotgun, you have a small caliber rifle that can take varmints and small game and you have a proven round that can take most U.S. game. I don’t consider myself a good enough shot to humanely take an elk with a single shot .30-30, and I would sure want to get some practice in so that I knew where the strike of the bullet was if I tried to take a bear, but the cartridge will do the job if I do my part.

      Reply to this comment
  9. fredoesway October 5, 17:39

    you are all missing the point. my goal is to hunt grouse with my 222/20 ga. in my state you can only take grouse with shot gun or rimfire. so my t c contender 45/410 is NOT LEGAL for grouse or 222 either so in my savage O/U. i would like to have a 22 rimfire insert for my 222 chamber. take one grouse with 22 and have second shot with 20GA. but i cant find an insert. does anyone know where i can buy one?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck January 6, 03:43

      There is an insert company in Alaska whose name escapes me right now that has been making inserts for many years. Search chamber inserts and look for the address of a company in Alaska. They stopped advertising for a while due to personal circumstances but the last contact I had with them they were back in business. It is a garage business, so lead times are not by return mail unless they just happen to have what you want from an order that had a check that didn’t clear the bank.’

      One thing you need to consider is that your .223 barrel is center fire and the .22LR is rim fire. Those folks do have a chamber adaptor for that situation. The .22LR is offset but enough to clear the chamber wall.

      The Thompson Center fram has a switchable hammer and so it can fire both centerfire .223 and rimfire .22 with just the insert. I can also get a .22 Hornet insert and a .22 Mag insert so can fire at least 3 different cartridges with the same barrel. I suppose a .22 Bee and some other wildcat .22 cartridges but its purpose is EOTW and some little known .22 wildcat will be of little utility.

      Sorry I didn’t feel like doing your research. Just search chamber adaptors and you will find their name.

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