With the Smith & Wesson M&P 12 the company returns to the tactical pump-action shotguns market after decades of absence. A new version of an already familiar design, featuring numerous improvements
The brand new Smith & Wesson M&P 12 12-gauge pump-action bull-pup shotgun, announced officially on August 17th, marks the return of Smith & Wesson on the pump-action shotguns market – from which the company had been absent for 35 long years now, ever since the Model 3000 shotgun, manufactured in Japan by Howa, was removed from the Smith & Wesson catalog.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 12 is conceptually and technically similar to another pump-action shotgun design: the Kel-Tec KSG, one of the most popular modern shotguns for home defense and tactical applications. That's not casual: most firearms enthusiasts will know by now that the KSG was initially conceived as an improvement over the Neostead 2000 shotgun of South African manufacture, but not many know that, in 2006, American firearms designed Ted Hatfield worked himself on an improvement of the Neostead following Smith & Wesson's request for a new, cutting-edge tactical shotgun.
Back in the day, Smith & Wesson ultimately decided to shelf the project – which would later be further refined by and put in production in Turkey as the UTAS UTS-15 pump-action shotgun. Albeit polarizing among gun enthusiasts, sport shooters and professional operators alike, both the Kel-Tec KSG and the UTAS UTS-15 have since enjoyed an undeniable market success, which must have prompted Smith & Wesson to reverse their 15-years old decision.
Just like the Kel-Tec KSG and the UTAS UTS-15, the Smith & Wesson M&P 12 is mostly manufactured out of black polymer and matte black 4140 Chrome-Moly-Vanadium steel, and is extremely compact and fairly lightweight, standing at 706 mm / 27.8" in overall length, sporting a 482 mm / 19" long barrel, and weighing in at approximately 3,7 kilograms (132.8 oz) when empty.
And just like the KSG, the Smith & Wesson M&P 12 feeds through two independent, parallel magazine tubes located underneath the barrel, with the loading port placed under the stock and also dubbing as an ejection window, offering a gentle, downwards ejection pattern that makes the shotgun completely ambidextrous. Each tube holds up to six 12-gauge, 76mm / 3" shotshells or seven 70mm / 2.¾" shotshells, for an overall capacity of twelve or fourteen shots, plus an additional shell in chamber.
What sets the Smith & Wesson M&P 12 apart from the Kel-Tec KSG and the UTAS UTS-15, however, is a plethora of new features and product refinements that make this new shotgun easier, safer, and more practical to hadle, load, and operate.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 12 shotgun features a visible and tactile loaded chamber indicator, and a side-mounted assist button on each magazine tube to speed up and make loading and unloading easier.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 12 feeds through a magazine tube at the time, and just like with the KSG, it's up to the shooter to manually switch to the other tube when the need arises. On the Smith & Wesson M&P 12, the selector is located at the rear end of the sliding forend, in form of a push-button that is easier and more intuitive to operate than the KSG's original lever. Shooters can keep the M&P 12 loaded with different types of ammunition in each tube, switching from one another on the go if need be.
Another improvement of the Smith & Wesson M&P 12 is the reciprocating cover: by pushing a release button located underneath the stock and pulling the entire stock assembly rearwards with some energy, the shooter may widen the ejection window area momentarily to clear damaged shells manually on the field, with no field-stripping or complex maneuvers required.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 12 pump-action shotgun comes equipped with an AR-15 type ambidextrous safety selector located over the trigger guard, at easy and fast thumb reach; the action lock lever button – or, in this case, ambidextrous paddle – is located in front of the trigger guard for the shooter to press downwards with his or her trigger finger. The design of the M&P 12 makes malfunctions extremely easy to clear.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 12 also features an M&P-15 style pistol grip with interchangeable palmswells – four issued with each shotgun, to adapt the ergonomics of the gun to any shooter hand size – and a vertical M&P-15 style foregrip for easier and quicker chambering, as well as a safety measure to keep the shooter's hand as far away from the muzzle as possible.
Other significant features of the Smith & Wesson M&P 12 pump-action shotguns include a sheet metal ventilated barrel shroud/heatshield with M-LOK side guides for accessory rails; a top MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for optical sights or back-up iron sights; a set of QD sling swivel cups located on both sides of the buttstock; and a quick takedown system for easier cleaning and maintenance.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 12 pump-action bull-pup shotgun is sold in the United States at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $1,165.00; potential buyers from outside the U.S. may want to contact their national Smith & Wesson importer or authorized distributor for local availability and pricing.