Coming Soon: AA-12 Shotgun in Semi-Auto for Civilians

The famous full-auto 12 gauge shotgun will finally be offered in a semi-auto, closed bolt version.

semi-automatic versions of the AA-12 shotgun
Two semi-automatic versions of the AA-12 shotgun will be sold on Armslist.com and GunBroker.com in two runs of 1,000 each.photo from ammoland.com

The AA-12 shotgun is a beast. It’s a fully-automatic 12 gauge shotgun originally designed back in the 1970s by Max Atchisson (the AA stands for Atchisson Assault) specifically to be a low-recoil option for law enforcement and military personnel.

It was intended for close-quarters combat, specifically, room clearing and ambush operations, in spaces with limited visibility, like city streets or thick jungles.

Ever since, it has largely been verboten for civilians in the U.S., as there was no semi-automatic version of the AA-12, until now.

Here’s the lineage of the AA-12: in 1987, Atchisson sold the patent to Jerry Baber of Military Police Systems.

Baber, along with Boje Cornils then began producing the gun as the Auto Assault-12, making 188 changes and improvements over the next 18 years, which included changing the gun from a blowback-operated guns to a gas gun with a l locked breech.

Now, Cornils has partnered with Sol Invictus Arms and Tactical Superiority Inc. to bring a semi-auto version to the civilian market.

A press release says this new version of the AA-12 with have “significant improvement over past production techniques, including improved design elements.”

“We’re proud to be a part of the legacy of the infamous AA-12 Shotgun and happy to be able to bring a civilian version to market,” Tactical Superiority Inc President and CEO Michael Conn said in the release.

AA-12 A Frame Sight Model
The AA-12 A Frame Sight Model listed on ArmsList.com.photo from armslist.com

The gun will initially be offered for pre-sale on Armslist.com first, and GunBroker.com a few weeks later, according to this story from ammoland.com.

Each site will be limited to the sale of 1,000 guns, which are expected to ship in December.

Armslist.com already has its listings posted here and here.

One version, with iron sights and an MSRP of $3,000 is listed here. The details call it the A-Frame Sight Model (the rear sight looks a lot like the traditional front sight on an M16/M4 platform.

Here are the specs as listed:

  • Closed bolt design
  • Minimal Recoil
  • Stainless Steel Construction
  • No Lubrication Necessary
  • 12 Gauge 2-3/4" Chamber (the full auto version has a 3" chamber)
  • Includes 1 20-Round Drum Magazine (anyone living in a state with restricted magazine capacity will receive 2 8-round stick magazines instead)

The fact that it’s a close-bolt gun is interesting because the full-auto version fires from an open bolt to help shed heat, which isn’t as much of a concern with semi-auto fire. The standard AA-12 is full-time full-auto with no selector switch, just a manual safety.

However, the cyclic rate in full auto is 300 rounds per minute, which is slow enough to allow a user to fire one round at a time with brief trigger pulls. Larger 32-round drum mags have been produced for the AA-12.

The listing says, “Each person who places a pre order between now and October 1, 2018 will be entered into a drawing  to determine who will receive serial numbers 1-10. Serial numbers 11-1000 will be assigned in the order in which the pre orders are received.”

The other listing called the "Picatinny Rail Version with Optic" is priced at $3,250 and, you guessed it, it has a small raised Picatinny rail mounted behind the charging handle, which runs along the top of the gun.

There are no details on what kind of optic is included, but it looks to be some kind of holographic red dot.

On the surface, the AA-12 might just look like a detachable box magazine gas-operated shotgun, but the truly remarkable thing about the gun is its recoil mitigation system, which is what allows a shooter to hold onto and actually aim the 12 gauge when firing in full-auto.

The switch from blowback to a gas system after the patent was sold is the most important innovation here: doing so allows about 80 percent of what would be felt recoil to be absorbed by the gas system when the bolt flies back after firing to cycle another round. A recoil spring absorbs another 10 percent, leaving a mere 10 percent of the normal recoil of a 12 gauge round being transferred to the shooter.

This allows the gun to put a full magazine on a target in full-auto fire without losing accuracy.

There’s no better way to understand it than to see it, so let’s look at that now classic video from good ol’ FPS Russia (this vid has racked up 59.2 million views as of this posting). Yes, he fires two AA-12s, one in each hand, and can actually hit what he's aiming at.

You most likely have seen the AA-12 in movies, namely the Expendables series in which Terry Crews and Arnold Schwarzenegger both use the full-auto shotgun. Another innovation is showcased in those movies: MPS teamed up with Action Manufacturing company and Special Cartridge Company to combine the gun with FRAG-12 high-explosive ammunition, making it a devastating hand-held firearm, which you see used to great effect through Hollywood magic.

Back in 2004, 10 AA-12 shoguns were produced and demonstrated for the U.S. Marine Corps, but nothing came of it.