SPAS-12 with stock folded and butt hook removed - 12 gauge
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Used by||See Users|
|Variants||LAW-12, SAS-12, PA-7, PA-8|
|Weight||4.4 kg (8.75 lb)|
|Length||1041 mm (41 in), stock extended|
|Cartridge||12 gauge 2¾ inch shells only|
|Action||Pump-action / gas-actuated|
|Rate of fire||Semi-automatic up to 4 rounds per second.|
|Effective firing range||Dependent on ammunition used|
|Feed system||8+1 rounds, internal tube magazine|
The Franchi SPAS-12 is a combat shotgun manufactured by Italian firearms company Franchi from 1979 to 2000. Only five percent (about 1,850) of the estimated SPAS-12 shotguns manufactured were imported into the United States. The SPAS-12 is a dual-mode shotgun, adjustable for semi-automatic or pump-action operation. The SPAS-12 has been sold to military and police users worldwide, on the civilian market, and has been featured in many Movies, TV Shows and Video Games.
The appearance and intended purpose of the SPAS-12 initially led to its "Military" designation. The SPAS-12 was designed from the ground up as a rugged military shotgun and it was named the (Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun). In 1990 Franchi renamed the shotgun to (Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun), this allowed continued sales to the U.S. as a limited-magazine-capacity, fixed-stock model until 1994. Following the United States Federal Assault Weapons Ban, imports of SPAS-12 shotguns were stopped to the United States. In September 2004 the ban had expired, but Franchi had ended production in 2000 of the SPAS-12 to focus on the manufacturing of the SPAS-15 model. The SPAS-12's retail price in it's final year of 2000 was $1500.00 averaged for final sales outside the U.S. to non-restricted countries. 
The SPAS 12 was designed to function primarily as a semi-automatic firearm, with the pump-action mode used to reliably fire low-pressure ammunition such as tear gas rounds or less-lethal bean bags. The firing mode is switched by pressing a button under the foregrip and sliding the foregrip slightly forwards or backwards until it clicks into position. However, the pump-action mode was slow and awkward compared to traditional pump-action guns because of the complex changeover mechanism and friction between the foregrip and the hand-guard.
The SPAS-12 has a magazine cut-off feature, which prevents loading a new round from the internal magazine when the gun is cycled. This allows the operator to load a specialized round into the chamber without firing the entire magazine first. A unique feature of the SPAS-12 was the hook on folding-stock variants. This hook could be rotated in 90-degree increments, so it would fit under the user's forearm when the stock was extended. With the stock supported under the forearm the gun could theoretically be fired with one hand, allowing the user to fire around cover or use their support hand for other tasks. In reality, the weight of the gun (substantially higher than a traditional shotgun) made such use unlikely or impossible for the average user. In addition, the difficulty in aiming and coping with recoil in one-handed use made it impractical.
Early SPAS-12 models featured a lever-type safety, but with use it would begin discharging the firearm when switched on or off. They were recalled by Franchi, and replaced with a push-button crossbolt safety. However, many guns are still available with the lever-type safety.
The barrel of the SPAS 12 was externally threaded to accept a variety of attachments, from chokes to gas-grenade launchers. All barrel attachments are rare; one particularly uncommon attachment, a diverter, spreads shot vertically or horizontally.
The first version of the SPAS-12 came with a wooden detachable stock with the standard grip. Models were available with a folding metal stock with hook. An aftermarket skeleton stock was available for a short time. After the U.S. imposed import restrictions on the SPAS-12 in 1989, a version was released in 1990 with a synthetic hollow fixed stock and a five- or seven-round capacity to comply with federal regulations for sporting purposes. Barrel lengths on the SPAS-12, range from a very rare 18-inch (46 cm) "shorty" to a 24-inch (61 cm) UK legal barrel length ( a standard barrel 21.5-inch (55 cm) barrel with a 2.5-inch (6.4 cm) choke tube brazed or silver-soldered in place). The second barrel 21-1/2" as a one piece barrel and another rarely found barrel is the 19-7/8 in. which was found on the earliest production SPAS-12 shotguns.
The SPAS-12 came equipped with a non-adjustable circular aperture rear sight and a large, non-adjustable blade foresight integrated into the barrel. Franchi released four other shotguns based on the SPAS-12 platform: the LAW-12, SAS-12, PA-7 and PA-8. The LAW-12 was semi-automatic only, and the SAS-12 was pump-action only. These four "sister" shotguns accepted all SPAS-12 accessories and could share many other components, notably trigger packs and stocks. The SAS was unusual in that it could accept 3" shells but did not have a bolt handle cut in its bolt body, while the SPAS and LAW could only accept 2¾" shells. The PA-7 and PA-8 had many similar attributes and were mainly used by Italy and Spain.
The SPAS-12 collectors grade shotguns vary heavy in price and are sought for certain features. 1. The front site blade is muzzle ended. 2. The longer extension allowing eight shells in the tubular magazine. 3. The date code on the receiver is proofed 1989 or prior with F.I.E. Corporation as importer. 4. The barrel length is 21.5 or less and the less barrel length by factory is more sought after. 5. Attached stock is the wooden detachable with grip and or the metal folding stock with hook.
The Franchi SPAS-15 is the successor to the SPAS-12 Shotgun. It is also a semiautomatic-pump shotgun, but uses a six shell box magazines instead of the SPAS-12's tube magazine. About 180 SPAS-15 models were imported into the U.S. until 1994.
The United States allowed two different licensed importers for the Franchi SPAS 12 shotguns. From 1982-1989 importation of the first version known as the (Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun), SPAS 12 imported into the U.S. from Italy with F.I.E. Corporation. In 1989 F.I.E suffered from major losses of sales do to the importation ban restriction act of an executive order by the president under national security ruling 18 U.S.C. 925 (d)(3) on sporting restrictions. The executive order was originated from the 1968 Gun Control Act.
In 1990 American Arms incorporated purchased all remaining inventories of parts and SPAS 12 shotguns and began the re-importation of the Franchi SPAS 12 as the (Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun) under newly approved restrictions. From 1990-1994 American Arms incorporated two changes with the fixed stock and magazine tube extension restrictions, thus allowing Importation to continue. ATF allowed importation of a SPAS-12 variant shotgun because its size, weight, bulk and modified configuration were such that it was particularly suitable for traditional shooting sports.
The law enforcement SPAS 12L models showed little sales to law enforcement departments as it was not considered a affordable shotgun for most law enforcement agencies to maintain. The SPAS-12 was tested by the U.S. Coast Guard and showed promising results but again was not considered cost effective for a contract over other contract suppliers. The Assault Weapons Ban of September 1994 caused American Arms to stop the importation of the SPAS 12 with major losses of sales due to the legal restrictions invoked by the U.S. Assault Weapons Ban.
It is important to know that both importers requested numerous additional orders for the Franchi SPAS 12 Shotguns that with both companies were never completely filled due to imposed laws by U.S. restriction throughout both importers time periods. Ultimately this was the reason for such few numbers of importation to the United States.
From 1982 to 2000, a SPAS-12L and SPAS 12L model were manufactured for law enforcement worldwide and imported in to the U.S. until the 1994 (AWB) Assault Weapons Ban. The SPAS-12L and 12-L models included the prior to 1990 folding stock and high capacity magazine tube extension proscribed for U.S. civilians. The SPAS-12L and SPAS 12L (older) model was sold on the U.S. civilian market as existing (grandfathered) import shotguns. The production year of an SPAS-12 may be identified by a two-digit letter code forward of the loading port.
A SPAS-12, SPAS-12L and SPAS 12L shotgun factory stamped by a year after 1994 is considered an illegal import with federal penalties for possession in the U.S. The SPAS-12 would not include Importation Markings on the side of the receiver prior to 1982 and after 1994 for the U.S.
- Austria: Used by EKO Cobra
- Bangladesh: Special Security Force
- Bahrain: Used by the Bahrain special forces
- Croatia: Used by Croatian Army
- India: Special forces
- Iraq: ISOF
- Italy: Used by military and police forces
- Indonesia: Komando Pasukan Katak (Kopaska) tactical group and Komando Pasukan Khusus (Kopassus) special-forces group
- Ireland: Used by the Army Ranger Wing
- Malaysia: Malaysian Special Operations Force.
- Pakistan
- Turkey: Turkish Gendarmerie
- United States: Used by police SWAT teams
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