Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) Full-Auto Machine Shotgun/FRAG-12 High-Explosive Round Combo/Weapon System!

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by David Crane
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June 03, 2005 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, 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.

The FRAG-12 family of 12-gauge ammo represents true “leap-ahead” or “transformational” technology with regard to the combat effectiveness and capability of 12-gauge combat/tactical shotguns in military infantry and, more specifically, urban warfare applications–provided that all variants perform as they were designed and developed to perform. Combining the FRAG-12 with the new Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) shotgun, which fires full-auto at 300 rpm (rounds-per-minute) would REALLY transform the combat capability for infantry combat shotguns. It’s therefore important that the FRAG-12 rounds prove to be both reliable and accurate in actual operational deployment (i.e. tactical application), as well as safe to handle, store, ship, and fire (for the operator/shooter).  If the FRAG-12 lives up to its billing, well then, folks, U.S. military combat shotguns just got some serious new life shot into them (excuse the pun), and will see a LOT more use on the 21st century battlefield, especially if the AA12-variant shotguns are purchased in large numbers by U.S. Armed Forces.  It could happen.
According to the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s (MCWL) FRAG-12 Shotgun Ammunition Fact Sheet (PDF file), all three FRAG-12 rounds utilize a standard 3-inch 12-gauge cartridge case and propellant, which fires a fin-stabilized 19mm warhead with a MIL-SPEC 1316-compliant fuze assembly. The projectile arms after firing once it reaches 3 meters from the muzzle, and detonates on impact with the target. The FRAG-12 HE projectile, for instance, is designed to punch a one-inch diameter hole through 1/4-inch cold rolled steel plate, have a maximum effective range of 200 meters (200m), and reliably cycle/function in both gas-operated and recoil-operated tactical/combat shotguns. 200m is an impressive effective range for a 12-gauge tactical shotgun employed/deployed in infantry combat/urban warfare environments. The FRAG-12 HE-AP round incorporates a shaped charge to allow it to penetrate 1/2-inch steel armor plate. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) states that “the main reason for experimentation [with the FRAG-12 ammo family] is to examine these rounds as potential improvements to the combat-effectiveness of shotguns in urban areas [for urban warfare operations], using shotguns for stopping vehicles [vehicle interdiction] at roadblocks and checkpoints, barricade attack, and remote probing of potential Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).”

The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Dahlgren VA is supposed to be test-firing (or have already test-fired) 100 FRAG-12 HE rounds in order to “provide data on the round’s reliability, safety, and handling characteristics. An additional 40 rounds of inert-loader FRAG-12 rounds have also been obtained for accuracy testing “where high-explosive projectiles are not allowed”.
As we alluded to above, MPS, Inc. (Military Police Systems, Inc.), which manufactures and markets the AA-12 Shotgun (Auto Assault-12 Shotgun), may be teaming up with the Experimental Cartridge Company, Ltd. and Action Manufacturing Inc. to create an AA-12/FRAG-12 combined weapon system. If this were to happen, the resulting AA12/FRAG-12 Weapon System would be a potent tool for urban warfare operations and counterinsurgency operations, especially if the rumors about enemy insurgents/combatents (Al Qaeda fighters et al) in Iraq being terrified of 12-gauge shotguns are true (these rumors are, as yet, unconfirmed/unverified).  If so, they should be REALLY terrified of a full-auto 12-gauge shotgun like the Auto Assault-12 (AA-12).

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.

If you’d like to get more information on the Auto Assault-12 Shotgun (a.k.a. AA-12 Shotgun, a.k.a. AA12 Shotgun) or the new AA-12 CQB (Close Quarters Battle) model, you can contact Military Police Systems (MPS, Inc.) by phone at 423-534-2480. Call for pricing, and ask for Jerry Baber or Randy Cates. MPS, Inc. is located in Piney Flats, Tennessee.

(Photo at Left: Firing the Auto Assault-12 Machine Shotgun upside-down. No problem.)

For more information on the FRAG-12 family of 12-Gauge ammunition (High-Explosive (HE), High-Explosive Fragmenting Antipersonnel (HE-FA, or HEFA), and High-Explosive Armor-Piercing (HE-AP, or HEAP), you can contact the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) Public Affairs Office by phone at 703-784-5170.

Click here to read Defense Review’s original article on the AA-12 Shotgun, titled “Auto Assault 12 (AA12) Combat Shotgun for Mil/LE Special Operations“.  The article discusses the AA-12’s use of “Constant-Recoil” for recoil-attenuation/mitigation.  It’s important to note that “Constant-Recoil” for gas-operated firearms/weapons was invented and patented by the famous, prolific, and Chinn Award-winning small arms designer/developer Jim Sullivan (L. James Sullivan) for his  Ultimax 100 LMG (5.56x45mm).

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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DefenseReview has been granted exlusive permission to provide the following scanned photos of Soldier of Fortune (SOF) Magazine’s recent article (June 2005 issue) on the AA-12 Shotgun and FRAG-12 Shotgun ammo, written by Gary Paul Johnston. The article, titled “The Auto Assault 12: An Ordnance Breakthrough For The Global War On Terrorism” is thorough, very informative, and contains lots of great photos (Defense Review has scanned the complete article for our readers, and the pages are listed below, in order):

Instructions for viewing images (below) full size: Click on the specific article page you want to view, then move your mouse over the photo and stop it while the arrow/cursor is on the photo.  A box with radiating arrows will appear in the lower righthand corner of the image.  Clickon that box, and the photo will enlarge to full-size, for easy reading.

Now, here’s the scanned Soldier of Fortune (SOF) Magazine article (June 2005 Issue), in its entirety:
Cover (SOF Magazine, June 2005)

Page 1

Page 2
Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Click here to either subscribe to Soldier of Fortune (SOF) Magazine or purchase individual issues over the web. If you’d like to subcribe or order specific issues by phone, instead, you can contact SOF Magazine at 1-800-877-5207.
DefenseReview would like to thank Soldier of Fortune (SOF) Magazine for granting us (exclusive) permission to publish the above scanned article photos.

Click here
to read Gary Paul Johnston’s (June 2005 issue) Soldier of Fortune (SOF) article on the AA-12 Shotgun reprinted at SoldierTech. SoldierTech’s version of the article is titled “THE AUTO ASSAULT-12: A Killer Shotgun for the War on Terror“. SoldierTech is a content partner.

Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) Full-Auto Machine Shotgun/FRAG-12 High-Explosive Round Combo/Weapon System! by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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