The Gear Drives The Mission
It looks like Kel-Tec is expanding their operations and is now the R&D department for Smith & Wesson as well as Ruger. S&W’s new shotgun (yes, you read that correctly) looks to be a Kel-Tec KSG with better production values and an S&W logo, in much the same way that the LCP is a P3AT with (literally) all the rough edges knocked off of it.
Good move by S&W here. They read the room correctly. They saw how shotguns were unobtainable last year, much more so than pistols or ARs. We sold out of 12 gauge birdshot at work FOUR TIMES last year, and I remember around May of 2020, there was a Mossberg 500 Retrograde going for over $1500 on Gunbroker. Is that a nice gun? Yes, it is. Is it worth the same as a Benelli M1? Oh heck no. Seeing how things were different this time, Smith and Wesson took an existing, if flawed design from Kel-Tec, improved it somewhat and make it their own.
Now, all that being said, I am not that big of a fan of bullpup shotguns. The size of a magazine-fed scattergun can be overcome with good technique, and reloading a bottom-feeder is much easier than any bullpup gun. In addition to this, overall length is just one of the dimensions that matter when it comes portability and maneuverability. This new gun from Smif weighs almost as much unloaded as a Remington 870 does with seven in the pipe and seven more in a cuff on the receiver. A basketball might be about the same size as a kettle ball, but one of them is easier to move around the house than the other.
But, you say, the two tubes of 7 rounds, (14 total in the gun) in the M&P12 means you have to reload less often than the seven in the Remington. Ok, that’s probably true. However, to borrow from my friend Tam, if 15 rounds (14+1) of 8 pellet 00 Buck Flite Control doesn’t solve the problem, your situation isn’t just going to show up on the local news, you’re also about to have your very own Wikipedia page.
For the sake of argument, though, let’s say you don’t ever really need to reload other defensive firearms. The 15 rounds in a Glock 19 is probably enough to handle most defensive situations, as is the 30 rounds in an AR, yet both of those are very easy to reload. Makes sense that it should be the same way with a scattergun.
With all that being said, they’re going to sell a busload of them. Nice move, S&W, nice move. But are they going to change the industry? Maybe slightly. Let’s break it down.
When Ruger created the LCP out of a palimpsest of the P3AT, it didn’t change the training market. Neither did the Taurus Judge. The new Smith and Wesson shotgun will not change the training market because it shares something with those other two guns. Pocket guns, the Judge and this new scattergun are all extensions of existing markets. People with LCPs and Judges could take essentially the same pistol class as everyone else (with different holsters, I’ll admit), and people with M&P12s can take the defensive shotgun class of their choice. The market for the hardware may expand, but it won’t kick off a new niche in the training market.
However, the M&P12 may have an impact on how shooting ranges are designed. The public, state-run outdoor range near me allows shotguns only on the clay-throwing fields and not in any of the bays, and I’ve also seen that on smilier ranges In addition too this, shotguns are banned on some indoor ranges that use bullet traps instead of a backstop of shredded tires or the like. I can see how an increased demand for places to shoot guns like this new pump gun might affect range design in the near future.