The first time I ever got to see, handle, and
shoot the SRM 1216 auto loading shotgun was when visiting with
some friends in New Hampshire several months ago. I had heard of
the 12 gauge wonder-gun, but had never had the opportunity to
play with one, so was anxious to give it a try. We were shooting
skeet using some quality over/under shotguns, when the SRM was
uncased, and everyone wanted a turn behind the unusual shotgun.
I didn’t set any new world records shooting skeet with the
SRM, but then, I usually fail to impress anyone with my
clay-shooting abilities, regardless of which shotgun I am using.
What I did manage to do was develop a new interest in
semi-automatic shotguns for fighting, as this SRM 1216 is a
The name 1216 refers to the shotgun having a
magazine capacity of sixteen rounds of twelve gauge ammunition.
The SRM is a roller-locking recoil-operated semi-automatic
design with a unique four-tube magazine. Each of the four
magazine tubes holds four rounds of either two and three-quarter
or three inch shotshells. The SRM 1216 is very compact for a
semi-auto fighting shotgun, with an overall length of only 33.5
inches, but still wearing a legal eighteen-inch barrel. The
length of pull (distance from butt to trigger) on the test gun
measures thirteen inches. The four-tube rotary magazine locks
into place under the barrel. In operation, when one mag tube is
empty, the bolt locks open. Pushing forward on the ambidextrous
latch, the magazine is rotated to align the next tube with the
action. A loaded magazine tube comes into alignment, the bolt
closes, chambering another round. This process is repeated until
the magazine is empty or the fight is over, whichever occurs
first. If more ammunition is needed, the magazine quickly
detaches for reloading, or another loaded magazine is snapped
into place, and the festivities resume.
The 1216 is a very easy weapon to operate,
and the design is totally ambidextrous. The charging handle and
safety can be switched to either side, and the magazine release
and rotation buttons are ambidextrous. The top of the receiver
and about half the barrel length wears a Picatinny rail. There
are also rails on each side of the barrel at ninety degrees to
facilitate the easy mounting of a flashlight or laser
sight, if desired. There is also a small section of rail
atop the magazine hanger housing for the mounting of a front
sight. My sample 1216 came with the optional folding sights, but
the Picatinny rail works perfectly for mounting a variety of
optical or mechanical sights, or even an AR-15 carry handle.
To load the 1216, the magazine is removed by
pushing inward on the release at the front of the magazine
hanger housing. For residents of California, there is a
California-compliant version that requires the use of a tool to
remove the magazine. Each tube can be loaded with up to four
shotshells, and the magazine locked back into place. If the bolt
is open when this is done, it will close upon insertion of the
magazine, chambering a shotshell. If the bolt is closed when the
loaded magazine is inserted, the charging handle can be pulled
to the rear and released to chamber a shotshell. The video shows
this much better than I can explain it. With a little practice,
it is easy to quickly deliver seventeen shots into the target
from the 1216. While on the subject of capacity, SRM has
shorter-barreled models that fall under NFA regulation, with
capacities of eight or twelve, depending upon their length.
However, with this 1216 being short and handy already, I
personally have no need for a shorter shotgun, and I really like
the sixteen-round magazine capacity.
A distinct advantage of the rotating mag
tubes would be to load different types of ammo into each tube,
if desired. The tubes could be color-coded with tape to
distinguish between slugs, buckshot, birdshot, or combination
loads. Switching tubes is as simple as rotating the desired tube
into alignment with the action.
I fired the 1216 using various types of
twelve gauge ammunition including trap loads, field loads,
slugs, and buckshot. The SRM functioned perfectly with
everything tried that is recommended by SRM. SRM advises against
the use of one-ounce skeet loads, as they do not have sufficient
power to operate the action. However, the one and one-eight
ounce target loads functioned perfectly, as did everything else.
Recoil is not punishing, as the stock is straight, and the
recoil impulse is straight back into the shooter’s shoulder.
Comparing the 1216 to other shotguns on the
market, it is much shorter and offers over twice the available
firepower of a standard-configuration semi-auto shotgun.
Weighing in at about seven and three-quarters pounds with an
empty magazine in place, it is about eight ounces heavier than
the Kel-Tec KSG pump gun, and about
seven inches longer. The 1216 holds two more rounds than does
the KSG, and offers the advantages of an auto loading design.
There is and probably always will be an
argument over which is better; a semi-auto or a pump shotgun.
Both work very well, and I do not understand the resistance to
the semi-auto from those who should know better. Some make the
argument that the pump is more reliable, but a good semi-auto is
just as reliable as a pump. We long ago accepted the use of a
semiautomatic pistol, and just as with a pistol, if the correct
ammunition is used, a semi-automatic shotgun will run perfectly.
I like the fact that the autoloader can easily be operated
one-handed, if needed. Many quote the old adage that “The
sound of the pump will scare off the bad guy”. That just isn’t
so. The sound of racking the pump before the shooting begins
just gives away your position, and costs precious time in a
gunfight. If someone needs to be shot, they need to be shot
immediately, without trying to scare them away with mechanical
sounds. They should hear nothing before feeling the impact of an
ounce and a half of lead shot. The roller-delayed action of the
SRM is very reliable, and at close range against multiple
targets, with the 1216’s firepower and reliability, I can
think of nothing that I would rather have in a fight that I can