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Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

AAI CAWS (Close Assault Weapon System)

Assault Shotgun Prototype [ 1985 ]

The AAI CAWS shotgun system was developed by AAI Corporation for the United States Navy as a close-quarters, anti-personnel solution.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/12/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The AAI Close Assault Weapon System (CAWS) was a creation of AAI Corporation for the Naval Weapons Support Center of Crane, Indiana and sponsored by the Joint Service Small Arms Program during the 1980s. It was developed around the concept of an automatic shotgun-type weapon firing flechette-based ammunition through two fire modes. It was not adopted.

The complete AAI CAWS weighed 9lb when empty and had an overall length of 38.75 inches. A recoil-operated system was used in the firing action which resulted in recoil no greater than the standard-issue M16 assault rifle. Two modes of fire were built into the gun: semi-automatic and full-automatic (the latter operating at 450 rounds-per-minute).

The straight, detachable magazine was inserted under the action in the usual way and held twelve ready-to-fire shells specifically developed for the gun. The shells were of a anti-personnel flechette design (eight 1-gram flechettes to a shell)) intended to incapacitate subjects at close range with penetration values up to 3" of wood and 1/8" of steel sheeting. In testing, all eight of the fired flechettes stayed within a 13-foot radius, showcasing the inherent accuracy of this weapon. Standard, commercial 12-gauge ammunition types were also supported. Range was out to 495 feet.

Sighting was through a front/rear iron arrangement with an optional optics set over the receiver being supported. The bulk of the receiver was slab-sided and relatively featureless save for the usual controls found on automatic weapons (charging handle, fire selector switch). The shoulder stock was reminiscent of the M16 rifle and the forend was perforated to allow for heat dissipation of the hot barrel with an under-barrel section used to protect the firer's supporting hand. The muzzle included a large brake.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


Assault Shotgun Prototype

Untied States (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Close Support
Extreme close quarters use; trench-clearing; doorbuster; security.
Special Purpose
Special purpose weapon for a specially defined battlefield role.

Overall Length
985 mm
38.78 in
Empty Wgt
8.99 lb
4.08 kg

Iron Front and Rear; Optional Optics.


Recoil-Operated; Selective Fire (Semi-, Full-Automatic)

One shot per trigger pull; self-loading or auto-loading action aided by internal mechanism; trigger management (and initial cocking) typically required by the operator; subsequent shots are aided by the unlocked / moved bolt.
Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)



Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 12-gauge shotgun shell
Rounds / Feed

12-round detachable box magazine.
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
500 ft
(152 m | 167 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
785 ft/sec
(239 m/sec)

CAWS - Base Series Name.

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Images Gallery

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Image showcasing the prototype form of the AAI CAWS combat shotgun.


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