The SPAS 12

A couple of weeks back I finally obtained the gun I’ve been after since I first saw Jurassic Park, a SPAS 12. Here she is…

SPAS 12 and Choke Tubes

As you can see I also obtained a full set of choke tubes for it. As far as I know these are all the choke tubes that were produced for the SPAS 12. They are in order from left to right…

  • Improved Cylinder
  • Skeet
  • Improved Modified
  • Modified
  • Full
  • Extra Full

SPAS stands for Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun, although automatic really means semi-automatic. In actuality it’s a military shotgun now a sporting shotgun but the marketing people at Franchi probably didn’t think they would sell nearly as well with a name like MPAS.

The SPAS 12 is an interesting gun to say the least. It’s one of the few shotguns I’m aware of that can be used both as a semi-automatic and pump action shotgun. There is a button under the fore grip of the gun. Press it in and push the fore grip slightly forward and it goes into semi-automatic mode. Press the button and pull the grip back and it goes into pump action mode. This might seem like a strange idea until you realize some of the intended uses of this shotgun. Most non-lethal shotgun round, like beanbags and plastic slugs, lack the required pressure to cycle the gun in semi-automatic mode. Because of this the capability to manually cycle the gun was desired.

Another feature to facilitate using specialty rounds is the magazine cut off. On the right side of the gun is a small button near the magazine. Once pressed in the magazine is cut off so when the gun cycles next a new round won’t be automatically fed. So if you needed to use a slug but you only had shot loaded in the magazine you could hit the cut off, eject the currently chambered shot shell, and insert a slug. Once the slug is chambered the magazine cut off disengages automatically so the gun will function normally after the newly chambered shell is fired.

There are two safeties on the SPAS 12. The first being the quick action safety on the left side of the gun. When it is clicked back towards the user the trigger is disengaged. When you click it forward with a simple forward movement of your trigger finger the trigger is reengaged.

The second safety is located on the right side of the gun. There are two different setups for this safety. On older guns there is a large lever that really doesn’t have a save position which I’ll explain in a second. The second type is a crossbar safety which is a button similar to safeties on most modern shotguns. The reason I say the lever safety doesn’t really have a safe position is because it had a defect. Turning the safety from fire to safe could discharge the gun. This is why it was recalled and the new cross bar safety was used. Lucky me my gun has a level safety, but I’m not one to use manual safeties so it didn’t concern me much. The once nice thing about the large lever safety is it can be easily manipulated with gloves on, which was the original intent.

The final thing I’ll talk about in this post is the sights. Unlike most of the shotguns I’ve used the SPAS 12 doesn’t have a simple bead sight. Instead it has a nice ghost ring rear sight and a blade front sight. The ring has a notch cut out of the button. When using slugs you place the front blade into that notch, otherwise you center the front sight in the ring of the rear sight. It’s a very nice sight setup I will say.

I’ve had this gun out to the range twice so far and absolutely love it. I’ll be posting articles from time to time on interesting things I find with the SPAS as well as applications I’ve successfully used it for (I’m going to try trap shooting with it one of these days).

4 thoughts on “The SPAS 12”

  1. Hi there just wondered if you know anywhere I can get any original SPAS choke tubes. Thanks Rob

    1. Thanks. I never thought I’d actually come across a full set. Totally blew my mind when I found them.

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