A variety of coyote traps have come and gone over the years, but one model has emerged in modern times that’s set itself apart in the canine trapping community. The MB-550 is in my opinion the best all around coyote trap available today. There are some traps that work better in certain situations, but if I were to pick one coyote trap for all conditions, this is the trap I’d use.
The MB-550 was designed by Minnesota Trapline Products around 2008 and was a culmination of all of the improvements in trap design and manufacture over the years. The trap is designed to fire quickly and effectively, hold any animal caught in it, and minimize damage to caught animals. Here are some of the features of the trap:
- Inside jaw spread: 4 3/4″, outside jaw spread 5 1/2″
- 3/8″ thick cast jaws
- standard offset jaw design
- Paws-I-Trip pan system
- Baseplate D-ring, center swiveled
- Machine chain with crunch proof swivels
- total weight 2.25 lbs
Benefits of the MB-550
The 3/8″ thick cast jaw design of the MB-550 results in smooth, rounded edges and little chance for cuts and abrasions to an animal’s foot. The jaw thickness is that of a laminated trap, minimizing the pressure applied to the foot and encouraging blood flow. The jaws come standard in offset design (you can buy regular jaws too, but I wouldn’t recommend it for fox and coyote trapping) which allows more space for blood circulation and allows the spring levers to achieve a higher lockup position and hold the animal more securely.
The 550 comes with the famous Paws-I-Trip pan system with a heavy duty round dog with a night latch notched into it. The dog is designed to resist chewing and bending by coyotes. The PIT pan system ensures that the pan is stable and does not wobble side to side. The night latch ensures that the trap is set at the proper pan height and pan travel is minimized before the trap fires. This results in an efficient trap that does its job consistently.
The trap is fastened with a heavy duty baseplate which increases strength, and holds a D-ring that is attached to the chain with a heavy duty crunch proof swivel. A length of machine chain and another swivel are included. The chain is mounted to the center of the trap, which ensures a straight line of pressure between earth anchor and paw when an animal is fighting the trap. This minimizes injury and reduces the chances of an animal pulling out of the trap. The heavy duty swivels and machine chain eliminate binding and twisting, which can also cause problems if allowed to occur.
The MB-550 is assembled in the U.S.A. by MTP, and they make every attempt to use US-sourced components. Because the trap is assembled by professionals in the trapping industry, with close attention to detail and quality control, the trap is ready to set and use pretty much out of the box. With cheaper traps, you almost always have to spend time fixing things and making adjustments before they are ready for heavy use. I’ve never had to make adjustments to the MB-550’s I’ve purchased prior to using them.
Disadvantages of the MB-550
There are a few disadvantages to the MB-550 in my opinion. First, while the trap is more than powerful enough to hold a coyote, the jaw spread is a bit small. At 4 3/4″ inside opening, there isn’t a whole lot of space for an animal to place its foot and get caught, as opposed to other traps like the #3 Bridger, for instance. That said, in my state we have a maximum jaw spread of 5 3/8″, so the larger traps aren’t legal here anyway. Even in states with no jaw spread restrictions, many trappers prefer the 550, not worrying much about the smaller catch area and instead focusing on quality sets and proper foot guiding.
Another disadvantage of the MB-550 is that you can’t easily adjust the pan tension with a screw. With no adjustment, the only way you can change the pan tension is by bending or filing on the dog. This makes things a little more complicated and makes it tough to make adjustments on the fly, but usually such adjustments aren’t needed because the heavy duty pan system doesn’t go out of adjustment very easily. In my experience, the traps come out of the box with 2 – 3 lbs of pan tension, which works great for my trapping.
Overall, the MB-550 is a heck of a trap, a tool many of the old timer trappers may wish they could have used. It isn’t a cheap trap, but the value is pretty incredible for what you pay. As far as an overall trap, I’d say the MB-550 remains the best in the industry today. A few newer traps have come out recently that may challenge the MB-550’s claim at the top. One of them is the No-BS KO K9 Extreme Jr., which I’ve used on my trapline and absolutely love, aside from the frustratingly high out-of-the-box pan tension and the somewhat higher price point. But this trap may grow to be as popular as the MB-550 over time. On the other end of the price and quality spectrum, Duke came out with their own version of the 550, which may take a great deal of market share from the MB in coming years.
MB 550 vs. Duke 550
Recently the Duke trap company came out with the Duke 550 OS Pro, which appears to be a near exact copy of the MB 550. The Duke trap is made in China and appears to use cheaper components. Its price point is much lower than the MB 550, and a lot of people have begun to use the trap as an affordable alternative that still works well for coyote trapping. There have been several reports of the Duke 550 spring levers and pans bending after catches, and the Dukes require more adjustment out of the box. If it comes down to quality vs. price, trappers looking for quality will want the MB 550’s while those looking for something affordable may choose the Dukes. Another consideration is where you trap, and whether trap theft is an issue. In places where traps are at risk of being stolen, many trappers may choose to go with the Dukes because you’re out less $$$ if the trap is stolen. Speaking of being stolen, many folks feel that MB’s intellectual property was stolen when Duke copied the trap and made a cheaper version – even down to the name! So I’ll let folks decide how they feel about that one. I like the MB-550’s and I think I’ll stick with them, but the Dukes are certainly a good option for some. To each their own!