Italy’s Franchi SPAS-12 is a semi-automatic combat shotgun produced from 1979 to 2000.  This combat shotgun has a dual-mode shooting cycle:  gas-operated, semi-automatic (self-loading) firing up to four rounds per second and a manually-operated, pump/slide-action system.  The switch is easily made via the two-position selector switch located close to the fore-grip.  The SPAS-12 was initially marketed as a combat shotgun or for anti-riot use.  The shotgun eventually found its way into the civilian sporting world.


The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has an incredible collection of Firearms and Ordnance in the museum.  The room houses a wide range of history dating back to the Revolutionary War.  This gallery awes visitors as they realize the history and the power encased within.


Specifications for the SPAS 12

  • Weight:  8.75 lbs.
  • Overall Length:  41 inches (with stock extended)
  • Barrel Length:  22 inches
  • Cartridge:  12-gauge, but 2 ¾” shells only
  • Effective Range:  Varies depending on the ammunition



Designed as a semi-automatic firearm, the pump-action mode allows the shotgun to fire low-pressure ammo – including tear gas rounds and less-lethal bean bags.  The pump-action on the SPAS-12 is slower compared to the traditional pump-action shotgun.  This is attributed to the intricacy of the changeover device coupled with the friction of the fore-grip.


Unique Features:

  •  Magazine cut-off feature – internal magazine cannot load a new round if gun is cycled
  • Hook on Folding Stock Variants – Can be rotated in 90 degree increments to allow it to fit under the arm of the user when the stock is extended.  This features theoretically allows the shooter to fire the gun using the one hand.


The overall weight of the SPAS-12 is quite a bit heavier than other shotguns, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be used by an average shooter.  Aiming and recoil also make one-handed use less likely.   The Franchi SPAS-12 barrel is externally threaded, which permits a number of different attachments, including the rare ‘diverter’ which allows the shooter to spread the shot vertically or horizontally.  All barrel attachments are difficult to locate.


Italy’s Franchi SPAS-12 combat shotgun has been used by a number of nations throughout the world, including the United States, where it is primarily used by SWAT teams.