The semi-automatic shotgun has been around for over one-hundred years but has never really help a firm foothold in military services of the world. There is growing interest in the style of close assault weapon today and several global players have risen to meet the demand for a heavy-minded repeat-fire system that goes beyond the capabilities of traditional pump-slide action designs. The Vepr-12 is a Russian-originated semi-automatic shotgun offered by Molot Oruzhie Limited and is based on the tried-and-true Kalashnokov pattern while being influenced heavily by the successful RPK series of machine guns (detailed elsewhere on this site). Introduced in 2003, the Vepr-12 serves with Russia and is available in several variants to suit military and civilian market demand. Greek special police have also taken up the type.
Externally, the Vepr-12 clearly showcases its Kalashnikov-based roots through its rectangular receiver design, over-barrel gas cylinder mounting and support for curved detachable magazines. Sections of Picatinny rail are seen over the receiver and at the gas cylinder allowing for the fitting of various tactical accessories. The barrel assembly protrudes a distance ahead of the gas cylinder and is capped by a unique, multi-slotted brake. The shoulder stock is adjustable to suit operator need and collapsible for a more compact footprint. The pistol grip and trigger unit are positioned in their traditional place along the underside of the receiver with the magazine well found just ahead. Operational controls are found within easy reach of the trigger area.
Internally the Vepr-12 follows the Kalashnikov pattern gas-operated system with rotating bolt function. This gives reliable service even under the most extreme of battlefield abuses. The weapon is chambered for the 18.5x70mm (12 gauge) shell and also supports firing of 12 Gauge Magnum rounds. Feeding is by way of 2-, 4-, 5-, 8-, 10- or 12-round detachable box magazines or a 20-/25-round detachable ammunition drum with engagement ranges listed out to 100 meters. Sighting is provided through a tangent-based arrangement. Overall weight is 4.5 kilograms. Measurements include an overall length of 1,227mm (867mm with stock folded).
There are two major forms of the Vepr-12 headlining several variants within these marks: the VPO-205, with its side-folding skeletal stock, and the VPO-206, this model series with an M4-style collapsible slide stock.
Variants of the VPO-205 line include the base VPO-205-00 model with 16.92" barrel length and optional muzzle brake. The VPO -205-01 is a sport model with 20.4" barrel and fixed muzzle brake. The VPO -205-02 is a competition model with 26.77" long barrel and variable chokes. The VPO -205-03 is a dedicated military service mark with full-automatic fire capability and shortened 12" barrel assembly (optional muzzle brake). It also features either a fixed stock of folding stock and sports Picatinny rail sections over the receiver, along the sides of the forend and under the barrel. The VPO -205-00-CN is another sporting model.
The VPO-206 family includes the base VPO-206-00 with 16.92" barrel and optional muzzle brake, the sporting-minded VPO-206-01 with its 20.4" barrel and fixed muzzle brake, and the VPO-206-02 competition model with 26.77" long barrel and variable choke fits.