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Old November 05, 2019, 21:58   #1
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For those interested in the sad tale of the AA12: Atchisson’s Auto Assault Shotgun

Great article with a few technical issues...but a good read. Had no clue how much drama was involved in trying to get a semi auto on the market.

Here is part of the story...but worth reading the whole thing.

AA12: the Saga of Atchisson’s Auto Assault 12

The AA12 “auto assault shotgun” was designed by former Marine Corps machine-gunner Maxwell “Max” G. Atchisson — it initially used a modified BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) magazine and had a starring role in some Mack Bolan style action novels.

AA12 Origins

In order to truly know the AA-12, you have to know Max Atchisson.

Maxwell G. Atchisson was born on February 17, 1930, in St. Louis Missouri. He would go on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps as a machine gunner (0331). He would go on to serve as a weapons instructor with regard to shooting, handling and maintaining machine guns for the Corps. He served until he was honorably discharged in 1952.

He would go on to work for a number of firearms and aerospace manufacturers as an engineer, inventor and designer with at least twenty-four patents to his name. Many of his prototypes were composites of existing components from other arms in US inventory. He saw a benefit in this so his arms could be inexpensively produced from surplus parts; in other words, “Why reinvent the wheel?”

Perhaps his most famous design was a .22 caliber conversion bolt for the M16 and AR platforms. This is still manufactured, sold and used to this day, as he sold the design to Jonathan Arthur Ciener.

My personal favorite of his designs is, of course, the AA-12 shotgun.

Atchisson’s original design in 1972 was a full-auto only, open-bolt, blowback-operated shotgun chambered for 2 3/4″ buckshot or rifled slugs and fed from an 8-shot magazine or 20-round drum. As mentioned previously with regard to reusing parts: the 8-round magazine was a modified Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) magazine, the drum was a modified M1 Thompson SMG and the handguards were from the M16A1. The receiver and stock were one unit and it weighed close to 12 pounds unloaded. overall length was 39″ and the barrel was 18″. The rate of fire was about 300 rounds per minute.

He called it the AA-12 Shotgun (Atchisson Assault 12 Gauge).

The design was the foundation for several other military styled shotguns like the USAS-12 and of course the Auto Assault-12.

The Auto Assault-12 Shotgun

The Auto Assault-12 shotgun was a “clamshell” design fitted with a two-piece nylon stock. It was a direct derivative of Atchisson’s prototype shotgun described above. This select-fire shotgun was manufactured in limited quantities in the U.S. and in Korea by Daewoo. In 1987, Max Atchisson sold the rights of the Atchisson Assault 12 Gauge shotgun to Jerry Baber of Military Police Systems, Inc.

He changed the meaning of AA-12 from “Atchisson Assault-12” to “Auto Assault-12”, removing Atchisson’s name from the shotgun.

According to statements by Baber, the schematics that were provided as part of the agreement were not accurate. He claimed Atchisson’s sole prototype was a wooden facsimile and Baber spent many years reworking the design before he could produce a legitimate prototype.

In a 2009 interview with The New Yorker, Baber claimed: “Everything was wrong! The magazines were screwed up, the springs were screwed up—it was just a damn mess. Weren’t nothing right in it. Atchisson was among the most brilliant gun inventors in history. But the original design’s problems could make a preacher cuss.”

Baber invested over $1.5 million of his own money into developing a prototype and went as far as to invest in a high-speed camera and snail trap so he could spot the errors during the firing sequence. He continued to improve on the original design and made over 180 changes with engineer Boje Cornills. One of the significant of these was going from blowback operation to a gas-operated long-stroke piston mechanism. Not only was this a safer mode of operation, but it improved the function of the AA12 by utilizing the Constant Recoil Principle.

According to Baber,

“When the bolt flies back after firing to cycle another round, around 80% of what would normally be felt as recoil is absorbed by a proprietary gas system. A recoil spring grabs another 10% of the normal recoil for a 12-gauge round – so you can point the AA12 at a target and unload a full magazine without significant loss of accuracy.”

Numerous videos on YouTube depict shooters firing the AA-12 one-handed on full auto and showing almost zero recoil impulse. The shotgun became popular in movies like The Expendables, Predators, GI Joe and on television shows like Breaking Bad and of course in a score of video games.

Yet, the guns were not to be seen anywhere else, apart from demonstrations to different military units.

By 2004, the United States Marine Corps was looking for a replacement for the M-249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) and Baber entered the fray with his AA-12.

As with other demonstrations, the servicemen who fired it loved it, but the top brass was not impressed.

The military cited lack of penetration, limited range and outside the scope of what they needed. Some critics blamed Baber’s personality. Baber went as far as to mount the guns on robots and drones for remote deployment. Eventually, he gave up the ghost and looked to offload the project that took up almost two decades of his life.

Cornils left and formed his own company, BC Engineering, and produced a semi-auto closed-bolt version of the AA-12. Baber wanted nothing to do with it and Cornils began looking for a manufacturer to produce the shotgun.

Sol Invictus Arms

Sol Invictus Arms had wanted to purchase the AA-12 shotgun design to produce both the full auto version and the semi-auto version. According to the company, they “made repeated offers to Jerry Baber to purchase all of the molds and tooling, and CAD/CAM files that he possessed for the shotgun as we originally thought he was the sole owner. He repeatedly gave us a ridiculous price for the design, tooling, and molds and when we asked to see all the blueprints and CAD files for both the full auto and semi-auto versions, he said he didn’t have those, and the semi-auto version was a waste of our time. He said that Boje (Cornils) had that. We asked about contacting Boje and Jerry refused to provide his contact information.”

The company performed a little research and found BC Engineering and Boje Cornils. He explained that he had designed a closed bolt semi-auto version of the AA-12 and that Jerry wanted nothing to do with it. When we asked more about how he and Jerry worked together, Boje said that he did the engineering to make the full auto version work after Jerry had purchased the plans from Max Atchison the original designer of the shotgun who had never built anything other than a wooden prototype.

Cornils went on to explain that he was the only person to ever build an AA-12 either in full auto or semi-auto. That he was the sole owner of the Patent on the AA-12 gas system and that all Jerry owned the tooling and molds which Cornils had in fact manufactured.

Sol Invictus Arms inquired about purchasing the designs and patents for the AA-12 from BC Engineering and went as far as to purchase all the designs and the entire BC Engineering shop. Upon completion of the sale, BC Engineering closed their business and turned in their FFL Logbooks to the ATF.

It looked like the semi-auto AA12 was about to finally become a reality and the line to shoot one at Range Day at SHOT Show 2019 was hundreds deep and over an hour at times.

Legal Problems

According to Sol Invictus Arms CEO, Mike Conn, “Jerry Baber called the ATF and claimed that the semi-auto AA-12 shotgun could easily be converted to full auto. This led to an investigation related to the AA-12.”

Apparently, in the early days of Cornils and Baber’s business relationship, Cornils asked if he needed any special licensing or a variance to produce the shotguns. He was told by Baber that it was not necessary as he was working under Baber’s SOT (Special Occupation Taxpayer). For all those years Cornils manufactured AA-12 full-auto machine guns in his shop without a license of his own while Baber entered the guns in his bound book and filed ATF Form 2s as though he manufactured them.

Eventually, Cornils received the proper licensing but never received a marking variance to produce these guns for Military and Police Systems and Baber continued to enter them in his bound book and Form 2s as the manufacturer. Cornils manufactured approximately 22 AA-12s using registered full auto receivers but only capable of firing in semi-auto. These were marked as being manufactured by BC Engineering and sold for between $5,000 and $7,500.

Recently ATF sent a letter to owners of these shotguns that were built on the receivers in question.

The letter read: “ATF has determined that the markings on the AA-12 are not accurate, and the manner in which the markings were placed is not in compliance with federal law. It is the ATF’s responsibility to retrieve this AA-12 machine gun. ATF seeks your cooperation in immediately surrendering to the ATF the AA-12 in your possession. Additional information regarding your opportunity to file a civil claim for this firearm will be provided.”

A criminal proceeding followed, and a shotgun owned by Sol Invictus was taken by the ATF and sent to the technical branch for review as part of the criminal investigation.

Sol Invictus Arms has placed operations on the AA-12 on hold until a ruling is issued after the legal proceedings.
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Old November 05, 2019, 22:40   #2
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So the ATF again with fake made up 'laws' pisses all over the Constitution
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Old November 17, 2019, 22:26   #3
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That is an amazing firearm, so little recoil. It looks like it could use a thicker or reinforced skin around the gas system though. Too bad it will never be sold to us citizens.
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