Automatic Combat Assault Shotgun
The Franchi SPAS-15 was developed to replace the earlier SPAS-12 combat shotgun.
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The Franchi SPAS-15 shotgun is an automatic shotgun capable of firing multiple rounds without the need for a conventional and traditional manual pump-action slide system. At the time of its inception, the shotgun type was one of the few to be considered truly automatic in the sense that the user did not need to manually actuate a pump slide to introduce a new shell into the firing chamber. The weapon could fire traditional slugs, buckshot, flechette or flare rounds from a 3- 6- or 8-round detachable box magazine.
Utilizing some of the mechanics of the preceding SPAS-12 combat shotgun a pump-action / gas-actuated system, Luigi Franchi SpA developed the new SPAS-15 family. A key differentiating factor was its ability to fire in semi-automatic mode from a detachable box magazine as opposed to a tubular magazine design. Outwardly, the SPAS-15 also took on a more "assault rifle" form consistent with automatic fire and included a long-running handle grip atop the receiver, a wire collapsible buttstock, straight magazine, pistol grip and pump-action slide foregrip. The barrel was fitted underneath the gas tube and capped with a muzzle brake. The cocking handle was fitted atop the receiver within the hand grip loop.
The SPAS-15 weighed in at 8.5lbs and sported an overall extended length of 39 inches with the collapsing buttstock decreasing its overall size to 30 inches when folded. The smooth bore barrel measured in at 18 inches while the weapon was chambered for 12 gauge shells. The fire action was completed through either a pump-action facility or gas-actuated system utilizing an internal rotating bolt mechanism. Effective range was listed up to 130 feet though accuracy was generally higher at close ranges.
Franchi has since completed all serial production of the SPAS-15 series with primary operators becoming the Italian Army, Portugal and Serbia. Many more semi-automatic and automatic shotgun forms have since entered development or the shotgun market, many with an eye on potentially lucrative military contracts.