Equipping for disaster

Firearm Review: Franchi SPAS 12

By Blaise Uriarte


The Basics:

SPAS stands for Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun (or Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun for the purpose of importation) and this weapon was produced by the Italian gun maker Franchi between 1979 and 2000. This is a selective fire semi-automatic or pump action shotgun, and was available with either a fixed or folding stock. This was one of the first “combat shotguns”. This does have a threaded barrel and choke tubes were also made for this weapon. Without any additional choke tubes the barrel is nominally a cylinder bore, however due to the tighter tolerances of European guns the barrel diameter is closer to an improved cylinder choke. This gives some very nice patterns as well as excellent accuracy with slugs.

The Ammo

The SPAS fires any 12 gauge 2-3/4in shells. It will also fire shorter 12 gauge rounds. That is the reason for the selective fire between semi-auto and pump. In order to cycle the action in semi auto mode you have to fire buckshot rounds, slugs or some other significant load. If all that is available is light loads, or you are using less than lethal rounds you can still have a functioning gun by using it in pump-action mode.

The Range Test

I love shooting shotguns of this type. In pump or semi-auto they are a lot of fun. At 15 to 20 yards the gun fires beautifully. I typically use military spec 2 ¾ , 00, 9 pellet buffered shot, and with fantastic results.

Shooting slugs is also a lot of fun, and it is very accurate too. The “ghost ring” rifle sights make it easy to acquire your target, and also to stay on target with repeated shots. In the course of a hundred rounds there were no malfunctions. Mostly the gun was tested in semi-auto mode, but it functioned fine in pump action mode as well.


The Pluses

Overall this is a fairly good weapon. The generic benefits of a shotgun of course apply, those being; versatility of ammo, availability of ammo, power, and higher potential for hitting the target. This is a semi auto with rapid fire capability which is another benefit. The ability to quickly switch to between semi-auto and pump-action gives you a wider range of rounds you could utilize, as well as a way to quickly clear the action in case of a misfire or malfunction.

The Minuses

Weight and mechanical complexity are two major weaknesses of this gun. The gun is heavy. This thing weighs in at almost nine pounds unloaded. That is a lot of weight if you are carrying this gun and extra rounds all day. Fatigue is a huge adversary in the battle against the undead, and I could foresee tiring quickly with this gun and a full pack. There are many alternative 12 gauge shotguns that do not weigh as much. The mechanics of this gun also present the potential for problems. The gun has several parts composed of rubber or plastic that degrade overtime. This gun has not been manufactured in more than ten years, and it has been even longer since it has been imported. Parts and accessories are very hard to come by. It must also be noted that this gun is limited to only 2 ¾ inch rounds, you cannot fire the three inch magnum rounds, which somewhat limits your choices in ammo.


Overall this is a great gun, and it is a lot of fun to shoot. Because it has been out of production for over a decade, these are more and more becoming collector’s items. That makes it impractical for your undead survival kit for a couple reasons. Good working specimens command a premium price, and it is difficult and expensive to find replacement parts. Though it is an accurate powerful and fairly reliable machine it would be best to stick to a less exotic shotgun in the apocalypse. As always, stay vigilant and be prepared.

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