Weapons: The Little Shotgun That Could

April 14, 2009: After over a year of additional testing and tweaking, the U.S. Army is buying large quantities (over 10,000) of the M26 12 Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun Systems (MASS). The M26 weighs less than three pounds (2 pounds, 11 ounces) and has a five round magazine. The M26 is a 16.5 inch long, 12 gauge shotgun and can be operated right or left handed. It fires solid shot for blasting open closed doors, or lower velocity, non-lethal (most of the time) rubber slugs for dealing with hostile crowds. A stand-alone version weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces, and is 24 inches long (with the attached stock collapsed).

The first versions of this weapon weighed nine pounds and carried only three rounds. The design evolved, over the last decade, into the current M26. Troops have been testing it in combat for two years. There were complaints about the cocking mechanism, which uses a bolt instead of a pump action (which many troops expressed a preference for.) The final design improved the cocking mechanism, and the reliability of the magazines. Currently, troops use a conventional (Mossberg) 12 gauge shotgun for getting locked doors open in a hurry. The M26 proved very reliable during testing, with over 20,000 rounds being fired. Large quantities of the M26 will be reaching the troops this year.

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