Weapons: Combat Shotguns

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September 12, 2016: There haven’t been many efforts to develop and market a new combat shotgun since 2009 because of the 2008 defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq. But that changed recently when Russian and American manufacturers offered a similar new automatic shotgun. The American one is the Fostech ORIGIN-12. This is a 4.2 kg (9.2 pound) 12 gauge shotgun that has a suppressor (called a silencer but isn’t, it just reduces sound and flash). It can carry up to 30 rounds (in a drum magazine). The standard five round box magazine adds about 340 gr (half a pound) while the 30 round drum magazine adds 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) for a max weight of 5.7 kg (12.5 pounds). You can also add accessories like a battle sight and a flashlight which would increase weight to nearly 7 kg (15 pounds) but both of these are generally superfluous in most combat situations. The ORIGIN-12 can fire on full automatic, emptying a 30 round magazine in eight seconds. Full automatic for a combat shotgun was never a popular feature with the troops but it might help sell the ORIGIN-12 to collectors. This weapon goes for about $2,600 each.

Meanwhile it wasn’t just the end of urban warfare in Iraq that slowed innovations. Another reason was that the major buyer of new combat shotguns had, after nearly a decade of trial and error the found a shotgun accessory design was adequate for their need.

The U.S. Army decided the M26 12 Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun Systems (MASS) was what it needed and bought over 10,000 of them. The M26 weighs about one kilogram (2 pounds, 11 ounces) and has a five round magazine. The M26 is a 42cm (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 1.9 kg (4 pounds, 3 ounces) and is 61cm (24 inches) long (with the attached stock collapsed).

The first versions of this weapon weighed 4.1 kg (nine pounds) and carried only three rounds. The design evolved, over the last decade, into the production model M26. Troops tested prototypes in combat for two years. There were complaints about the cocking mechanism, which used 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.

Before MASS, troops used 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 reached the troops in 2009.

The effort to find the best military shotgun design began after 2001. First in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Initially troops successfully used 12 gauge shotguns as an "organic ballistic door breaching tool" to blow down doors on raids. Troops from the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 10th Mountain Division were the first to use this method. This technique has long been used by police in the United States. There are a number of special "door breaching shotguns" available, for about $300 and up. Most have no stock, just a pistol grip and barrel length varying from 255-560mm (10 to 22 inches) and shell capacity likewise varying from three to nine rounds. The lightest versions, with three round magazine, weigh only 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds). One or two shots will usually knock down most doors, particularly when special shot (for knocking down doors) is used.

By 2009 some Chinese troops were seen with the new Type 97-1 combat shotgun. On further investigation it was revealed that the Type 97-1 was mainly used by the police or troops operating in police type operations (like raids against Islamic terrorists). Type 97-1 is a 3.1 kg (6.8 pound), 94cm (37 inch) long, fixed stock 12 gauge shotgun with a five round tube magazine. There is a more military type version of the Type 97-1 version with a bullpup magazine layout and a collapsible stock. This model, however, is more often seen in use by the police than by troops. The army later adopted the QBS 09 which was more suited to military needs in many small and large ways (like an autoloader).

 


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