ASG Franchi SPAS-12
One Totally Boss Shotgun
Words and Photos by Jason Boulanger
WHO MAKES IT: ASG
GUN NAME: Franchi SPAS-12
WHO IT’S FOR: Players with good upper body strength, Players preoccupied with 1985
HOW MUCH: $59.95
FPS: Approximately 275 with .20g BBs
The 1980’s were a magical time. Marty and Doc Brown perfected time travel, Ferris Bueller took a day off, and E.T. phoned home. There was U2, and Blondie, and music still on MTV. Neon leggings and big hair were in vogue, and apparently there was something about a whole bunch of red balloons. But of all the contributions that the 80’s made to popular culture, my favorite have to be the classic action movies. You know the ones I’m talking about… The Terminator, Robocop, Top Gun, or the greatest Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard. The actors and actresses weren’t the only attention-getters on the screen, though. These films featured a number of iconic firearms, such as John McClane’s Beretta 92f, Tony Montana’s M16, and just about every vaguely-German terrorist’s MP5. The shining steel of these lethal weapons often got as much glory as the actors holding them.
If I asked you to close your eyes and think if a shotgun from this era, you’d almost certainly think of the Franchi SPAS-12. Used by none other than the Terminator himself, the SPAS-12’s sleek looks and cold, efficient design made it a weapon to be feared. Now, this Italian 12-gauge goodness is coming to America thanks to ASG. You might have missed your chance to shake it on the hood of White Snake’s car, but at least you can relive some of your 1980’s fantasies (and no, I’m not talking about Phoebe Cates.)
SHOOTER’S OPINION – Jason Boulanger
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The SPAS-12 is an inexpensive airsoft gun, and it feels like it. The exterior is made almost entirely of plastic, the pump is stiff, and there are really no frills to speak of. With that in mind, you have to view it in the context of its price and performance category. Just as I wouldn’t compare a Fiero to a Countach, I wouldn’t compare the SPAS-12 to an AEG that costs several times as much and is built for a different purpose. The SPAS-12’s performance is a dead heat with other tri-shot shotguns in its price range, and despite its low cost, it feels solid (as a rock). If you have realistic expectations, you won’t be disappointed. For around $60, you can’t really beat it.
BARREL LENGTH- 18.5”
GRIP- ABS Polymer
TRIGGER GUARD- Integral
BODY – ABS Polymer
MAG RELEASE –Enlarged Paddle
OPTIC SPACE – None
MAGAZINE – Tri-Shot Shells hold 30 rounds for 10 3-round shots
ROF- How fast can you pump?
.20g- Approximately 275
– Magazines – ASG Tri-Shot Shell Magazines
– BB’s – .20g Matrix Match Grade
The first thing you notice about the SPAS-12 is its stark appearance. Just like the buildings that sprang forth from brutalist architecture, the SPAS-12 is monochromatic, slab-sided, and all business. Risky business, possibly. Other than the legally-mandated orange tip, this gun is all black. It is not pretty in pink, it does not contain the color purple, and it is not adorned with blue velvet. It’s 31 inches of near black intimidation.
This version of the SPAS-12 is the “cruiser” variety; it has a pistol grip and no stock. The grip itself is hard plastic. It’s not particularly fancy, but it is chunky and easy to hold onto. The trigger guard is oversized to accommodate gloves or exceptionally fat fingers. Just behind the trigger is a cross-bolt safety; push it (real good) to the left for “fire,” or to the right for “safe.” Or you can push it back and forth real quick and make the safety dance, but I’m not sure why you’d want to. Just in front of the trigger is a large spring-loaded on lever. On the real-steel SPAS-12, this lever is the gun’s safety. On the airsoft SPAS-12, this lever functions as a magazine release. Pushing down on the lever opens the gun’s loading gate and ejects the shell-style magazine. This lever is not ambidextrous; it is on the right side of the weapon only. There are also molded carrier latch and cut-off buttons, but they aren’t functional. What are functional, however, are the sling attachment points at the rear of the receiver and on the tube magazine.
The outer barrel and faux tube magazine are both metal, a pleasant departure from the rest of this gun. The heat shield appears true to form, although it is plastic and, well, there isn’t actually any heat to shield you from. At least there shouldn’t be. If the gun is getting Hot! Hot! Hot! enough that you need to be protected from it, you’re probably doing something horribly wrong, or there’s some kind of weird science going on. The front and rear sights are non-adjustable and made of plastic (plastic construction seems to be the never ending story of this gun, but I digress). The aperture on the rear sight is quite big; combined with the chunky front post, this makes aiming easy, even for somebody who lacks marksman training or hasn’t just come out of the police academy.
The pump handle is perhaps the greatest deficiency on what is otherwise a thriller of a weapon. The grooves don’t offer much grip and the cocking spring is quite stiff, which might get in the way of your plans to pump up the jam. Under pressure, it would be easy short-stroke the pump, which might leave you in a vulnerable position where you can’t fire back. If that happens, you might have to bust a move out of the danger zone. I’m sure the pump will loosen up over time, but right out of the box it’s really tight, like a [EDITOR’S NOTE: Come on Jason, any Madonna reference but that one].
ASG includes 5 standard shotgun shell-style magazines. Each holds 30 BBs for up to 10 3-BB shots. The SPAS-12 is compatible with similar shells from other manufacturers. A plunger-style speedloader is also included.
I chronographed the SPAS-12 while firing only 1 BB at a time, as firing 3 at a time confuses my chronograph. Using .20g BBs, I recorded an average velocity of 293 feet per second. Firing 3 BBs at one time will reduce the velocity; I’d estimate that the velocity when firing 3 rounds is somewhere around 250-275 feet per second.
The SPAS-12 is a shotgun; it is not meant for long-range accuracy. With that in mind, I limited my testing to CQB distances. In general, the vertical spread between the 3 BBs fired with each shot is greater than the horizontal spread. At 50 feet, I found that the vertical spread was typically around 1 to 2 feet. At typical CQB distances, hitting a man-sized target is child’s play. If you try to push your luck with targets better suited to a rifle, though, you’ll be livin’ on a prayer.
The biggest challenge with the SPAS-12 isn’t its accuracy, however. The pump takes a lot of effort to operate, and time and after time I found myself struggling to get a good grip on the pump handle. It takes a bit of practice to get into the groove. Because of this, I cannot recommend this gun for younger players, or anybody with poor hand and upper-body strength. If you can operate this gun efficiently though, don’t stop believing in yourself. As long as you do your part, the SPAS-12 is an effective CQB weapon.
- Includes 5 shells, a speedloader, and BBs – everything you need to get started
- Possibly the “gauge” Vanilla Ice was referring to in “Ice Ice Baby”
- Exterior is almost entirely plastic
- Pump-action is stiff
There really isn’t much to modify on a gun like this. Aside from buying more shells, I’d get a sling to make carrying it around easier. You could even use a single-point sling as sort of a pseudo-stock by pushing the gun away from you with the sling wrapped around your shoulders. Beyond that, I think I’d be inclined to upgrade to a higher-end shotgun before putting more money into this one.
THE LAST WORD
The SPAS-12 isn’t a high-end airsoft gun, but that’s OK. For somebody who is looking for an inexpensive entry into the shotgun world, this gun is worth checking out. It’s dead simple, includes everything you need right out of the box, and has all the cool 80’s styling you can handle. It would also make a good backup gun. With no batteries or gas to run empty, the SPAS-12 is one gun that’s never gonna give you up.