Gun Makers Push the Limits on Tactical Shotgun Design

  • SRM Arms Model 1216
  • Crye Precision Six12 shotgun

LAS VEGAS – U.S. firms continue to reinvent the tactical shotgun, pushing its design limits well beyond traditional pump-action and semi-auto models.

Whether it's loaded with buckshot or slugs, the shotgun is still a valued tool in police work and military operations.

A 12-gauge shotgun is a potent weapon, capable of stopping a determined adversary. It's also very effective at breaching locked doors during forced-entry operations.

But the shotgun has its drawbacks. Bulky shot shells mean limited ammo capacity. Most shotguns use a tubular magazine that runs beneath the barrel and holds four to eight rounds. Longer magazine extensions increase capacity but can make the shotgun unwieldy in tight quarters.

SRM Arms displayed its answer to ammo capacity here at SHOT Show 2015. SRM's shotguns feature a detachable magazine made of four tubes bonded together that connect beneath the barrel. On the Model 1216, each tube holds four shells for a total of 16 rounds loaded into the compact, 37.5 inch shotgun.

SRM offers semi-auto and full-auto versions of its shotguns. Once one of the tubes is empty, the shooter rotates the magazine to line up a fresh tube of shells.

Selling this new concept to law-enforcement agencies has been a challenge since many police units still cling to more traditional designs, said Scott Turlington, who works with SRM Arms.

Ground combat forces use shotguns, but the short-range weapon will never replace the rifle or carbine. That means a designated soldier or Marine has to carry a shotgun along with his carbine in case his unit needs to breach a door.

The U.S. Army tackled this problem by fielding the M26 Modular Shotgun System in 2012. The M26 is the straight-pull, bolt-action shotgun the Army began designing almost 10 years before for mounting under the M4 carbine. It weighs 3.5 pounds, has a 7.75 inch barrel and fires 12-gauge shells from a five-round magazine.

The M26's box magazine makes it a little bulky and cumbersome when mounted on an M4. It is not that popular in the Special Operations community.

Crye Precision's new Six12 rotary-fed, semiautomatic breaching is another option.

Crye Precision LLC., is the creator of the MultiCam camouflage pattern, but the company showed of its new Six12 concept last year at SHOT Show. The company showed off a newer model this year at the show that features a Titanium barrel to reduce weight.

The streamlined package is designed to mount under AR-style rifles and carbines. It's currently being tested in small numbers by some military units, said Eric Burt, senior design engineer at Crye.

The new breacher shotgun will be available in 12, 18 and 22-inch barrel lengths and will also come in a stand-alone model for the civilian market. The goal is to have both ready for production by the early next year, Burt said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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