Franchi SPAS-12

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The SPAS-12 is a combat shotgun manufactured by Italian firearms company Franchi from 1979 to 2000. It is a dual-mode shotgun, adjustable for semi-automatic or pump-action operation at the push of a button in accordance with the type of ammunition being used at the time. The idea behind the dual modes is to have the weapon cycle in semi-automatic when using normal shells, while the pump-action setting is for low-pressure ammo such as beanbag or baton rounds. To switch modes, the user simply need to push down a button on the underside of the forend, then either locking the forearm forward (semi-automatic), or sliding it back towards the shooter (pump-action). A series of two guide lines engraved onto the top of the heatshield serves as the mode indicator when matched up to the rear end of the pump sleeve; the forend matched up against the front guide denotes semi-automatic mode, and pump-action for the rearward line. Several iterations of the SPAS-12 existed throughout its 21-year production run, with four different stock types (fixed, folding, removed and skeletal) and three manners of safety mechanisms, though perhaps the foldable stock version is the most well-known, either with or without the bracing hook on the buttstock. Most depictions of the SPAS-12 in video games feature the shotgun with the first-generation lever safety.

The SPAS-12 was sold primarily to law enforcement customers and on the civilian market and has been featured in many movies, TV shows, and video games. Originally envisioned as a dedicated and rugged police shotgun, the SPAS acronym initially stood for Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun, but was later renamed to Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun in the hope this name would be less likely to cause problems with exports to the United States. Sale of the SPAS-12 in the United States was originally through Firearms Import and Export (FIE), and later American Arms Inc. following FIE's closure. Both "generations" of the shotgun bear distinctive features, however, most notably the magazine tube capacity (only FIE SPAS-12s have full-length tubes) and safety type (FIE SPAS-12s in their original configuration have the recalled lever safety that often failed to engage, and on some units could even fire the weapon if it was disengaged while a shell was chambered; the ones on American Arms SPAS-12s are a reliable button-type cross-bolt safety). Importation of the SPAS-12 into the United States ceased in 1994 following the advent of the Assault Weapons Ban, and official production stopped in 2000 with around 37,000 made, making it a relatively rare (and understandably expensive) weapon nowadays, with less than two thousand units ever having made it onto American soil. The SPAS-12 has since been succeeded by the Franchi SPAS-15, which has also been discontinued.

Owing to its impressive appearance, the SPAS-12 is often depicted in media as a "hero's gun" or advanced/prototype weapon of sorts, being essentially the shotgun equivalent of the Desert Eagle. Films and video games made during the latter half of the last century often has the SPAS-12 being used as a police shotgun, which is not incorrect, however such a sight in reality is rare. In actuality, the SPAS-12 was plagued with a plethora of technical shortcomings that made it unpopular among law enforcement units. Most of the complaints were directed towards its heavy weight, its fragile safety mechanism that is prone to breaking and/or not working half the time, the numerous sharp edges on the folding stock, the stiffness of the forearm in pump-action mode (since the forend pushes on the action rather than being directly attached to it), and the reliability issues when using even full-power loads in semi-auto. Another issue that is often overlooked in media is how unwieldy it is to reload the weapon; since the carrier latch also doubles as the SPAS-12's bolt release, reloading it requires the user to upend the shotgun while keeping the button depressed in order to insert fresh shells, as the carrier will be immobilized otherwise. Most depictions in games simply has the user jamming additional shells into the weapon while ignoring the release button entirely.

The SPAS-12 is often depicted as being used almost exclusively in pump-action mode: this is largely a product of movies, since the SPAS will flatly refuse to cycle even the hottest blanks in semi-auto mode. Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to show it in semi-auto consistently cycling anything other than magnum buckshot or high-power slugs. Certain video games also oddly has the player character rack the pump while the weapon is in semi-automatic mode, which is not possible.

Derivatives of the SPAS-12 are the Franchi LAW-12 (semi-automatic only) and the SAS-12 (pump-action only), neither of which have parts interchangeable with the parent weapon without some serious modification.

The SPAS-12 shotgun has appeared in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:

Contents

Specifications

Franchi SPAS-12 with butt hook attached to stock - 12 gauge
Franchi SPAS-12 with stock folded and butt-hook removed - 12 gauge
Franchi SPAS-12 Short Barreled Version - 12 gauge
Franchi SPAS-12 combat shotgun with stock removed – 12 gauge
Franchi SPAS-12 with fixed stock - 12 gauge

(1979 - 2000)

  • Type: Shotgun
  • Caliber(s): 12 gauge
  • Weight: 9.7 lbs (4.4 kg)
  • Length: 41 in (104.1 cm)
  • Barrel length(s): 22 in (54.6 cm)
  • Capacity: 5, 6, or 8-round tube magazine +1 chambered
  • Fire Modes: Pump-Action, Semi-Auto

Film

Title Actor Character Note Date
The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger The Terminator 1984
Blastfighter Michael Sopkiw Jake "Tiger" Sharp With sniper scope and night vision device 1984
Exterminator 2 A thug 1984
Water mercenary 1985
Brazil Ministry of Information Troops 1985
Cop's Honor (Parole de Flic) Stéphane Ferrara Abel Salem 1985
Hold-Up Montreal SWAT 1985
The Hitcher Rutger Hauer John Ryder 1986
The Hitcher C. Thomas Howell Jim Halsey 1986
The Wraith Modified with LEDs on the heatshield 1986
Legacy of Rage Brandon Lee Brandon Ma 1986
RoboCop Detroit SWAT officer 1987
Beverly Hills Cop II John Ashton Sgt. John Taggart 1987
A Better Tomorrow II Chow Yun-Fat Ken Lee 1987
Let Sleeping Cops Lie French police officers 1988
Cohen and Tate Adam Baldwin Tate 1989
Hardware Dylan McDermott Moses 1990
La Femme Nikita cop 1990
If Looks Could Kill SWAT officers 1991
Highlander II: The Quickening General Katana's men 1991
Jurassic Park Bob Peck Robert Muldoon 1993
Sam Neill Dr. Alan Grant
RoboCop 3 CCH Pounder Bertha 1993
Cyber Tracker Seen in armory 1994
Dead Weekend TWF soldier with stock removed 1995
Virtuosity Denzel Washington Lt. Parker Barnes 1995
Bad Boys An Assassin 1995
Jumanji on display 1995
Mercenary Olivier Gruner Capt. Karl 'Hawk' May 1996
Mercenary One of the Alan's mercenaries 1996
Original Gangstas Ron O'Neal Bubba 1996
The Lost World: Jurassic Park Hunter 1997
The Rage Lorenzo Lamas FBI Special Agent Nick Travis 1997
The Rage Kristen Cloke FBI Special Agent Kelly McCord 1997
The Rage Sheriff's deputies 1997
The Matrix Carrie-Anne Moss Trinity 1999
The Matrix SWAT officers 1999
In China They Eat Dogs Slavko Labovic Ratco 1999
Snatch Robby Gee Vincent 2000
Battle Royale(Film) Shogo Kawada 2000
Ghosts of Mars Pam Grier Commander Helena Braddock 2001
Ice Cube James 'Desolation' Williams
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider seen in Lara's gun cabinet 2001
3000 Miles to Graceland Kevin Costner Murphy 2001
Warriors (Guerreros) Blerim Gjoci Albanian leader 2002
2009: Lost Memories JBI SWAT 2002
Christmas Rush Dean Cain Cornelius Morgan 2002
Santino Buda Simulus
Chris Benson Al Quigley
Redemption Lam's thug 2002
Underworld Michael Sheen Lucian 2003
I, Robot Chi McBride Lt. John Bergin 2004
Doom Seen in an armory, mocked up to resemble the shotgun in Doom 3 2005
The Departed One of Costello's thugs with fixed stock 2006
Babylon A.D. A soldier 2008
A Dangerous Man Chinese thug 2009
Crank: High Voltage Orlando gang member 2009
New Kids Nitro Wesley van Gaalen Rikkert stock folded and butt-hook removed 2011
Huub Smit Richard stock folded and butt-hook removed
Interview with a Hitman Stephen Marcus Traffikant 2012
The Project: Panacea (Proyekt: Panatseya) Pavel Kobzar Dan 2013
3 Days to Kill is seen in Ethan Runner's safe 2014
Brick Mansions Tremaine's men 2014

Television

Show Title Actor Character Note/Episode Air Date
Hunter - Season 1 Fred Dryer Hunter 1984-1985
Stepfanie Kramer Dee Dee McCall
Hunter - Season 2 Fred Dryer Hunter 1985-1986
Miami Vice - Season 1 Jim Zubiena Ludovici Armstrong Ep. "The Hit List" 1984-1985
Jaime Escobar Ep. "The Maze"
Miami Vice - Season 2 A pirate Ep. "Trust Fund Pirates" 1985-1986
Miami Vice - Season 3 Reb Brown Reb Gustafson Ep. "Viking Bikers from Hell" 1986-1987
Police officers and SRT members Ep. "Cuba Libre", "Viking Bikers from Hell"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine A terrorist 1993-1999
Star Trek: Voyager Clayton Murray Porter Ep. "Future's End" (S3E8) 1995-2001
Bugs Ep. "Stealth" 1995-1999
Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei Various bad guys Several episodes 1996-present
V.I.P. Seen in Vallery's armory 1998-2002
Stargate SG-1 - Season 3 Richard Dean Anderson O´Neill "Nemesis" (S3E21) 1999 - 2000
Christopher Judge Teal'c "Nemesis" (S3E21)
Julie Lescaut French SWAT "La tentation de Julie" (S11E04) 2001
Stargate SG-1 - Season 5 Richard Dean Anderson O´Neill "Menace" (S5E19) 2001- 2002
Christopher Judge Teal'c "Menace" (S5E19)
Don S. Davis George Hammond "Menace" (S5E19)
My Name is Earl Juliette Lewis Jesse "The Bounty Hunter" (S1E21) 2005
Hokkaido Police. Russian Department (Politsiya Khokkaydo. Russkiy otdel) S.A.T. 2007-2011
Blue Bloods Bank robber "Officer Down" (S1E04) 2010-Present
Bullet in the Face Racken's henchman with stock removed (S01E06) 2012
The Walking Dead - Season 5 Unknown Alexandrian Resident "Forget" (S5E13) 2015
The Walking Dead - Season 6 Seen in the Alexandria Armory; "Now" (S6E05) 2015
The Walking Dead - Season 7 Norman Reedus Daryl Dixon "Service" (S7E04) 2016
Savior Member "Service" (S7E04)

Video Games

Videogames with aim-down-sight mechanics tend to invent a way to aim down the SPAS' iron sights with the folding stock up: this is not possible in reality.

Game Title Referred as Mods Note Release Date
Jurassic Park: Trespasser 1998
Half-Life Incorrectly depicted as able to "double fire," as if the tube magazine is a second barrel 1998
Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear full-auto 1999
Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror "SPS12" 1999
Resident Evil Survivor 2000
Resident Evil: Code Veronica 2000
The World Is Not Enough "Frinesi Special 12" incorrectly shown as full auto 2000
Project IGI: I'm Going In 2000
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Caution and Alert modes 2001
Conflict: Desert Storm "Franchi SPAS-12 Combat Shotgun" 2002
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin "SP12" 2002
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City "S.P.A.S 12" 2002
The House of the Dead III Short barreled and stock removed, With built-in weapon lights foreend Hold only 6 rounds 2002
The Specialists 2002
Splinter Cell used by hostile NPCs 2002
007: Nightfire "Frinesi Automatic 12" Incorrectly shown as full-auto 2002
Project IGI 2: Covert Strike 2003
Freedom Fighters 2003
Resident Evil Outbreak 2003
Ghost Squad "SG112" With stock removed and foregrip Holds 6 rounds in 8-round tube 2004
Hitman: Contracts 2004
Söldner: Secret Wars 2004
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas "Combat Shotgun" 2004
Half-Life 2 Incorrectly depicted as able to "double fire," as if the tube magazine is a second barrel 2004
Area-51 "M-170 "Hammer" Combat Shotgun" 2005
F.E.A.R "VK-12 combat shotgun" shown to hold 12 rounds at a time 2005
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories "Combat Shotgun" 2005
Black Short version 2006
24: The Game "Gray MK5" 2006
Hitman: Blood Money "SP12 Shotgun" 2006
Splinter Cell: Double Agent used by hostile NPCs 2006
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories "Combat Shotgun" 2006
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2006
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl "SPSA14" 2007
Code of Honor 2007
7.62 High Calibre "SPAS-12" 2007
Stranglehold 2007
World in Conflict Cutscenes only 2007
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men "SP12 Shotgun" 2007
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune 2007
Alliance of Valiant Arms 2007
Urban Terror 2007
Army Of Two "FSPS-12" 2008
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 2008
Grand Theft Auto IV Seen in the hands of a police officer during a loading screen, but not in the game itself 2008
Battlefield: Bad Company 2008
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky 2008
Far Cry 2 12-round magazine 2008
Counter-Strike Online "SPAS-12" 2008
Wheelman 2009
Code of Honor 3: Desperate Measures not usable 2009
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Pump-action only; capable of equipping suppressor, foregrip, and/or various sights 2009
Left 4 Dead 2 "Combat Shotgun" holds 10 rounds, w/ the tactical flashlight and optional laser sight 2009
Rogue Warrior 2009
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 "SPAS-12 Combat" 2010
Splinter Cell: Conviction Suppressed 2010
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker 2010
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days "Gras-12" 2010
Bloody Good Time "Shotgun" 2010
Call of Duty: Black Ops Incorrect mix of pump-action and semi-automatic operation. Can fire Dragon's Breath shells in semi-auto 2010
GoldenEye 007 (2010) 2010
The 3rd Birthday 2010
Dead Island 2011
Battlefield 3 2011
Uncharted 3 2011
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 2011
Uncharted: Golden Abyss 2011
Chernobyl Terrorist Attack 2011
The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut Automatic Shotgun Replaces Benelli M3 Super 90 from original version 2011
The Expendables 2: Videogame 2012
Black Mesa Incorrectly depicted as able to "double fire," as if the tube magazine is a second barrel 2012
007: Legends 2012
Call of Duty: Black Ops II 2012
Far Cry 3 Lefty receiver with aftermarket top rail. Accepts silencers, standard rifle optics and extended magazine tubes. Semi-automatic mode only; incorrect pump-action chambering. Short barrel and 6+1-round magazine tube by default. 2012
The Showdown Effect 2013
Tomb Raider (2013) 2013
Warface 2013
Ghost Recon: Phantoms 2014
Survarium SPAS-12 2014
Far Cry 4 Lefty receiver with aftermarket top rail. Accepts silencers, standard rifle optics and extended magazine tubes. Semi-automatic mode only; incorrect pump-action chambering. Short barrel and 6+1-round magazine tube by default. 2014
Contract Wars 2014
Payday 2 Predator 12G 8-round magazine tubes and different stock configurations Semi-automatic only 2014
Rainbow Six: Siege SPAS-12 Red Dot Sight, Holographic Sight, Reflex Sight, Laser Semi-automatic mode only; added in the 2016 Operation Dust Line expansion 2015
Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades 2016
Ironsight SPAS-12 Pump-action mode only 2018
Far Cry 5 SPAS-12 Lefty receiver with aftermarket top rail. Accepts silencers and standard rifle optics. Semi-automatic mode only; underloaded 6+1 capacity in 8-shot magazine tube. 2018

Anime

Title Character Note Date
Burn Up! Maki With stock and butt hook 1991
Spriggan Jean Jacquemonde 1998
Vandread BC 2000-2001
Noir Paolo 2001
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex Marco 2002-2003
Burn-Up Scramble Maya Jingu 2004
Blood+ Red Shield personnel 2005
Boondocks, The 2005-2014
Black Lagoon Roberta Mocked up as a parasol 2006
Asobi ni Ikuyo: Bombshells from the Sky Manami Short barrelled version 2010



See Also

  • Franchi - A list of all firearms manufactured by Franchi.



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