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New Army Shotgun to be Fielded to Afghanistan

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Updated October 12, 2003

By Pfc. Brian Trapp

FORT BENNING, GA -- Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab’s lightweight shotgun system is undergoing operational inspection and test firing for 200 shotguns to be fielded to the 10th Mountain Division for future use in Afghanistan.

The 10th Mountain will field the lightest variation of the 12-gauge shotgun system, which attaches under the M-4 carbine and weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces — less than the M-203 grenade launcher.

The system is a five-round, box-magazine-fed, manually operated shotgun. It uses a straight push-pull type bolt action that can be switched for either left or right-handed users. The attachment variation is 16.5 inches in length and uses the host weapon’s sights. It is capable of firing lethal, non-lethal and breaching rounds.

The shotgun stand-alone version is converted from the attachable version. It has a pistol grip and a butt stock. The stand-alone weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces and is 24 inches long, collapsed.

This version also has a reversible charging handle and is capable of firing lethal, non-lethal and breaching rounds.

The original system was a prototype for proof of concept, said Mike Barnes, chief, Robotics Division, DBBL. The one being fielded applied lessons learned from the first iterations of testing to make them more reliable in the field.

“We have identified a couple of areas for minor changes that we are doing on site,” said Mike Kennedy, project officer, DBBL. “In the future, from what we’ve found here, the designer can make these changes in manufacturing to make it an overall better shotgun.”

The minor adjustments included polishing some of the parts to reduce friction.

“When this system is fielded, we will know every shotgun is in good working order,” he said. “They will be ready to go into the hands of soldiers for operational use.”

When the testing is finished, about 15,000 rounds will be fired through the 200 systems going to the field.

“Out of 200 weapons, I’ve fired about 50 of them and I’m confident in the system,” said Staff Sgt. William Partin, instructor, Light Fighter School, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

“I think it’s a great weapon system, being able to attach to the M-4 and as a stand-alone,” he said. “I like that it’s light. This is the lightest weapon I’ve carried in the Army besides a pistol. It weighs just about nothing.”

Soldiers can use the shotgun as an all-around tool in an urban environment, Barnes said. They can use the non-lethal and breaching capabilities, and the big advantage is that they don’t have to sling their primary weapon to do it.

“Think about what’s going on in the world right now,” said Staff Sgt. Tito Zelada, instructor, Light Fighter School, 10th Mountain Div.

“You have combatants and noncombatants together in a crowd and (the non-lethal capability) is a good way to neutralize them, whether or not they are armed.”

“Numerous units in the field expressed the need for a tool like this,” Barnes said. “I think it will get a lot of use.”

“I thought the Remington 870, what we teach with, was sufficient but this gives us the upper hand on the way we breach,” Partin said. “It’s more accessible and easier than having to switch weapons.”

Cost for the system is yet to be determined, because it is dependent on production quantities.

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