Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

AA-12 combat shotgun


April 3, 2009

The AA-12 combat shotgun

The AA-12 combat shotgun

Image Gallery (5 images)

April 3, 2009 Assault rifles are all well and good, but when you really need to tear a person to pieces, nothing fills the air with metal quite like a combat shotgun. And for those times when a regular combat shotgun isn't generating enough flying body parts, connoisseurs turn to what must be the most outrageously devastating hand-held anti-personnel murder machine in existence: the Atchisson Assault Shotgun, or AA-12. Fully automatic and drum-fed, the AA-12 fires five 12-gauge shotgun shells per second, with extreme reliability and so little recoil that strong men can shoot it Arnie-style with one hand. And if that hail of hot buckshot isn't enough to make both shooter and target need a change of underpants, consider this: it has been developed in conjunction with the FRAG-12 - a new type of shotgun cartridge in which each round is a small, flighted high explosive or fragmentation grenade accurate up to 175 metres.

This staggering weapon was first developed by Maxwell Atchisson during the Vietnam war in 1972. He later sold the patent to Military Police Systems, inc, and weapons designer Jerry Baber spent the next 18 years perfecting the machine.

Baber's modifications included changing the AA-12 from blowback- to gas-operated with a locked breech. When the bolt flies back after firing to cycle another round, around 80% of what would normally be felt as recoil is absorbed by a proprietary gas system. A recoil spring grabs another 10%, leaving the final recoil a remarkable 10% of the normal recoil for a 12-gauge round - so you can point the AA-12 at a target and unload the full magazine without significant loss of accuracy.

Baber says the AA-12's aerospace-grade stainless steel body is self-cleaning and it self-lubricates with carbon from the shells' detonation. His personal AA-12 has fired upwards of 9,000 rounds without ever being cleaned or lubricated, without any plastic fouling from the shotgun shells, locking or jamming - issues which have plagued other combat shotguns like the Benelli M1014. Baber believes this is because the AA-12 is the first gun designed from the ground up to be a combat shotgun, rather than an adaptation of a hunting or target shooting gun. It will thrive in the sandy, urban battlefields of today's antiterrorist war theater.


You've got the option to load the AA-12 with either an 8-round box magazine or a 20-round tommy gun-style drum - but it's largely inconsequential in automatic mode as the 20-round drum takes only 4 seconds to expire if you hold the trigger down. That's a lot of ouch.

Being a standard 12-gauge shotgun, the AA-12 is compatible with a fairly wide variety of shells - but the one that's got our attention is the FRAG-12.

Designed and made in Britain by the Experimental Cartridge Company, Ltd and Action Manufacturing, Inc, the FRAG-12 is a standard 3-inch 12-gauge cartridge case and propellant, that fires a small warhead and fuse assembly that arms itself 3 meters out of the muzzle and explodes on impact thereafter. Small stabilizing fins pop out when the warhead leaves the muzzle, spinning the projectile and giving it an awesome 175-meter effective range.

FRAG-12 rounds are available in plain high explosive (HE), high explosive fragmenting anti-personnel (HE-FA) and high explosive armour-piercing (HE-PA) varieties, each designed to mince foes in different locations and situations. The frag grenade, for example, can be put through the window of a house from 100 metres away, and will explode with a burst radius of up to nine feet. Send a dozen in there, and there'll be very little left when the troops go knocking on the door.

Military Potential

Defense Review reports that troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars apparently complaining that their M4A1 carbines and other 5.56x45mm assault rifles aren't scaring the 'bad guys' or stopping them in their tracks fast enough. The bullets are simply zipping through the skinny insurgents and failing to drop them without multiple hits.

This would simply not be an issue with the tremendous firepower of the AA-12. 12-gauge shells do a heck of a lot of damage to a person when fired one at a time - let alone high explosive 12-gauge mini-grenades fired at a ruthless 5 per second. The AA-12 will be an exceptionally effective ground force weapon, as well as an asset of extreme intimidation.

The U.S. Marine Corps has test-fired the weapon, as have various international military and government organizations. Armed Forces Journal reports that most who get a chance to fire the thing come away absolutely convinced that there's little that can come close to the AA-12 as a close quarters weapon. When it hits the market, this killing machine will be in high demand.

Other Applications

Apparently AA-12s are also being mounted to unmanned helicopters to turn them into mini-gunships - and somebody else has built a turret-mounted twin AA-12 setup, which has gained a lot of interest from the anti-zombie lobby. You'll also probably find the turrets popping up out of Bill Gates' lawn when the revolution comes.

Check out the video below, from "Future Weapons" to see the awe-inspiring AA-12 and FRAG-12 in action.

Loz Blain

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade. All articles by Loz Blain

Despite the fascination with long-range sniping, I suspect most targets are within 100 yards. If you look at the accuracy of range estimation, moving target lead, and bullet drop, I\'d expect most hits are there, too.

The traditional commercial shotgun has a max of 8 rounds in an extended tubular magazine, is very slow to reload, and has a significant weight shift as you shoot.

To make this even better, they should add top and front rails and an adjustable length stock. Even explore a diverter on the muzzle.

Some will want to go bigger but 12 gauge 3\" is versatile and still shootable.


About 20-30% of the force is Combat Arms and they do abot 80% of the killing.

What is critical on any weapon is the sighting system and high fidelity training.

Trying to line up a black post in a black circle in poor light or lead a moving target or elevate to hit a distant target is difficult at best.

What is needed are smart sights with rangefinders and predictive lead. Lake City made 1.3B rounds of ammo last year, so smart sights can pay for themselves.


omg Ha i think im in love. xxx

Facebook User

how does it perform in the field,, rabbits ?


The Russian made Saiga combat shotgun is available as a semi-automatic. My son just built a version with a shortened barrel and a 12 round drum magazine legal in NC. He spent his enlistment as an airborne infantryman in Iraq.


@robinyatesuk2003 - I don\'t think there would be much left of any rabbits you pointed this thing at!

John Hogan

I love the last word from when you click on the video. So appropriate :-)

\"video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.\"


Curious. If they\' packed the shells in a spiral instead of just aorund the outside of the magazine, they\'d have had room for 64 rounds instead of just 20...


\"Winning the hearts and minds\" of the skinny population will not be easy once they\'ve seen one of their neighbors blown to pieces with this device...


Ths like, saw it on Expendables & GI Joe Rise of Cobra. awesome I want one , one with retractable stockpiece would be nice & leaner body overall.

Stephen Russell

I'm a little worried, considering the already staggering levels of collateral damage, mini-grenades going into general use with a shotgun pumping out 20 rounds in 4 seconds. Very difficult to use with restraint. I'd much rather see better sensing and intel equipment coming to market.

John Matthias

reduce the gauge on it to .410. lighter weight more rounds and still have the stopping power in kill range along with the variety of rounds shot, slug and darts. and the added advantage of handguns as well with matching caliber.

John Sweet
Maybe it is just me but aren't shotguns a violation of the Geneva Conventions? The tendency to mutilate but not stop or kill an enemy was the humane intent of the ban. Jim Sadler

You may be right about the Geneva Convention Jim but beheading seems a lot more likely to mutilate someone than a shotgun as it usually takes more than one strike with a sword to sever a head. Furthermore if you have ever had someone lobbing motor rounds, firing AK-47 's at you and wounding and killing your fellow troops about the last thing on your mind is the legal use of whatever weapon you may have at your disposal. The only thing going through your mind is what have I got that I can use to save my life. Additionally the Taliban use shotguns as well.


I live about 5 minutes away from Jerry Baber, the guy that now develops these things. I used to run a computer repair business here and when I met him, he needed some repair work done. I didn't realize I would be getting the grand tour when I got finished with his PC, but to make a long story short, I got to fire this weapon, and trust me everyone, this is without a doubt the single most devastating combat weapon that exists today. I didn't get to fire any of the grenades obviously, but the sheer power and accuracy of this thing is unbelievable. He showed me his test setup for recoil and the thousands of 25000fps camera shots he had for it perfecting the gas recoil system. You literally can hold it with one arm and hit the same spot every time in full auto. I still get chills when I think back to firing that weapon.

Bryan Parshall

Two words... awe some. I'll bet the CQC guys love this thing. Knock, knock...


If I place my order now, can I get it delivered before duck season?

Dave Merriam
Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles