by David Crane
June 03, 2005
DefenseReview.com was given exclusive permission/rights by SOF Magazine to display the complete SOF Magazine article, below (at the bottom of this story). All SOF Magazine article photos were scanned by DefenseReview.com, specifically for this story. Click on digital photos below to view them full-size.
DefenseReview readers may remember the short article we published on the Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) Full-Auto Shotgun back in October (2004). The article was titled “Auto Assault 12 (AA12) Combat Shotgun for Mil/LE Special Operations“. The standard AA-12 (18″, approx. 10.5 lbs OA weight, empty/dry) and more compact AA-12 CQB (13″ barrel, approx. 10 lbs OA weight, empty/dry) shotguns will most likely “change the game” with regard to combat shotgun capability/effectiveness and flexibility for infantry combat (especially for urban warfare ops and CQB), if it ends up getting adopted by the U.S. military in large numbers. The Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) full-auto shotgun is based on the original Atchisson Assault-12 (AA-12) shotgun. However, the new AA-12 has been updated and greatly-improved in just about every way (including its 8-round box magazine and 20-round drum mag) by engineers Jerry Baber and Boje Cornels (nicknamed “Panzerfaust” by Baber). Randy Cates assisted them. The AA12 Shotgun is currently being manufactured and marketed by Baber’s company, Military Police Systems, Inc., a.k.a. MPS, Inc. (Phone: 423-534-2480), which is located in Piney Flats, Tennessee.
This updated/product-improved AA-12 shotgun is reportedly combat-reliable under adverse conditions, built like a tank (so it’s highly rugged, or “ruggedized”), and, according to MPS, Inc. company officials, requires zero cleaning or lubrication (that’s right, none). DefenseReview would think that eventually the guns would have to be cleaned at some point, but none of the AA-12 prototypes have required it, yet (and we’re talking about many thousands of rounds fired through all of the prototypes, so far)–but more on that, later. The story gets even better: As it turns out, there’s an exciting new…
family of 12-gauge (12ga.) shotgun rounds on the U.S. military horizon to go with the AA12 Shotgun, and it’s called the FRAG-12. There are three members of the FRAG-12 munition family: the FRAG-12 High Explosive (HE), FRAG-12 High Explosive Fragmenting Antipersonnel (HEFA, or HE-FA), and FRAG-12 High Explosive Armor-Piercing (HEAP, or HE-AP). This unique and exciting shotgun ammunition has been designed and developed by the Experimental Cartridge Company, Ltd. and Action Manufacturing Inc.
Rumor also has it that these enemy fighters/combatants have correspondingly little fear of the M16A4 and SOPMOD M4/M4A1 Carbine and their 5.56x45mm cartridge, since the over-stabilized 62-grain 5.56mm rounds fired out of 1-in-7″ twist barrels are rumored to be zipping right through the skinny bad guys/insurgents (not dumping their energy inside the body) and thus failing to stop and drop the enemy quickly (unconfirmed/unverified)–unlike the excellent and reportedly terminally-effective Black Hills MK262 MOD 1 77-grainer. This is similar to the problems U.S. Army Rangers and Special Forces experienced in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. Rumor has it that it’s taking multiple hits with the standard NATO 62-grainer (5.56mm) to put these guys down (unconfirmed/unverified)–if they go down at all (and don’t escape, altogether). With the right combat loads (shot, buckshot, and slugs–depending on mission-specific and task-specific requirements), the Auto Assault-12 should be one shot per customer, two shots at the most for quick enemy neutralization. Even without the FRAG-12 mini-grenade rounds, the AA-12 still gives the operator 8-20 rounds of full-on 12-gauge firepower at his immediate disposal (depending on whether he uses box or drum mag) and quick-reload/rapid-reload capability (AA-12 is magazine-fed) in a combat-reliable full-auto shotgun.
That’s some serious firepower, and it should give the Spec-Operator, infantry soldier, or Marine tasked with the rough-and-tumble close quarters battle/close quarters combat (CQB/CQC), urban warfare, and counterinsurgency roles a significant degree of confidence in his weapon (or weapon system, if equipped with the AA-12/FRAG-12 combo). And, the kicker, again, is: (and this is according to Jerry Baber, owner of MPS, Inc. and chief engineer on the Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) project (again, he co-developed the weapon with fellow engineer Boje Cornels and Randy Cates–Baber’s assistant) the AA-12’s operating mechanism is self cleaning and self-lubricating, so the weapon doesn’t require lubrication. According to Baber, it operates reliably, totally dry.
“Junior [Baber's pet name for the compact AA-12 CQB model] has at least 8-9,000 rounds through it without any cleaning or lubrication”, Randy Cates said. “The intenal components and parts are all black as a coal mine from carbon build-up when you open the guns up, because no one’s touched them [cleaned or lubed them], but the guns just keep running.” They reach a stabilization point where the carbon kind of seeks its own level of build-up until you have a thin layer of carbon buid-up on all the parts, and that provides enough lubrication for the gun to run. We’ve never applied any lubrication of any type to any of the guns. And, the real breakthrough is that we don’t have any plastic fouling from the shotgun rounds building up in the gun, either. That’s just one of the tricks of the trade,” Cates went on to say.
According to Cates, the AA-12 is the only shotgun in the world that has been developed from the ground up to be an infantry combat weapon, specifically–as opposed to all previous combat shotguns that were merely adaptations of existing hunting shotgun designs. “This is a machine gun [or, machine shotgun, if you will] that just happens to shoot shotgun rounds, as opposed to an existing shotgun that’s being over-stressed to perform an infantry combat role. [An example of the latter would be] the Benelli M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun, which has been experiencing horrendous failures on the battlefield, due to parts breakage and reliability and maintenance problems. They can’t handle the sand. They [Benelli M1014s] just stall and stop working in that environment,” Cates said. Earlier, Mr. Baber had gone into more detail about the rather serious-sounding reliability and maintenance problems that the Benelli M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun is experiencing in the Sandbox (in-theater of operations).
Anyway, it would seem that an AA-12/FRAG-12 Weapon System would also be relatively low-risk and rapid-deployable to the field. We’ll see how this pans out. If it does, look out. Pappa’s gonna’ have a brand new bag for urban warfare operations, counterinsurgency operations, and anti-terrorism/counterterrorism ops (including CQB). Word on the street is that U.S. Marine Corps personnel and others in the U.S. military (infantry and Special Operations) and foreign militaries/governments that have test-fired the AA-12 are all licking their chops over the the new weapon. Once someone fires it, they apparently become a believer.
(Photo at Left: Firing the Auto Assault-12 Machine Shotgun upside-down. No problem.)
Gary Johnston’s Soldier of Fortune (SOF) Magazine article on the AA-12 featured below mentions the Ultimax’s use of Constant-Recoil. However, the Ultimax didn’t just happen to utilize Constant-Recoil. Sullivan actually invented Constant-Recoil for gas-operated weapons in order to make the ultra-lightweight Ultimax fully/easily-controllable when fired on full-auto (off-hand shooting). He owns the patent on it (which has since expired). Constant-Recoil is what allows Sullivan’s 9-pound Ultimax 100 LMG to outhit significantly heavier machine guns (in the same caliber)–like the FN M249 SAW, for instance–on full-auto. Sullivan’s latest small arms project, the “Backbone” Weapons System (a.k.a. “Backbone” Family of Lightweight Small Arms and Ammo”) utilizes something called “Constant-Reaction” to accomplish the same recoil mitigation/attenuation as “Constant-Recoil” in a lighter, more compact envelope. The “Backbone” is a true family of machine guns, including (but not limited to) an 11-pound, 100-shot 7.62x51mm BFR (Belt-Fed Rifle) GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) that’s fast-reloadable on the move (as fast to reload as an assault rifle) and a 6.5-8-pound (depending on config.) 60-100 shot 5.56x45mm Rifle/MG assault rifle/LMG/SAW (Light Machine Gun/Squad Automatic Weapon). Once fully-developed, the “Backbone” family of machine guns will signficantly outperform all currently fielded machine guns in most (if not all) combat-relevant aspects–including (but not limited to) the FN M249 SAW, FN MK46 MOD 0 SAW and FN M240 GPMG.
Above Photo: Notice the total lack of muzzle rise upon firing the military Special Operations (SPECOPS)-ready compact/short-barreled AA-12 CQB (Close Quarters Battle) model (13″ barrel), as well as the relatively diminutive size of the young individual firing it. Remember, he’s firing a 13-inch-barreled 12-guage shotgun on full-auto!
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Click here to read Gary Paul Johnston’s (June 2005 issue) Soldier of Fortune (SOF) article on the AA-12 Shotgun reprinted at Military.com SoldierTech. Military.com SoldierTech’s version of the article is titled “THE AUTO ASSAULT-12: A Killer Shotgun for the War on Terror“.
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