M26 MASS Shotgun System

M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS) mounted on an M4 carbine (US Army photo)

M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS) mounted on an M4 carbine (US Army photo)

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After over a year of additional testing and tweaking, the U.S. Army is buying large quantities (over 10,000) of the M26 12 Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun Systems (MASS). The M26 weighs less than three pounds (2 pounds, 11 ounces) and has a five round magazine. The M26 is a 16.5 inch long, 12 gauge shotgun and can be operated right or left handed. It fires solid shot for blasting open closed doors, or lower velocity, non-lethal (most of the time) rubber slugs for dealing with hostile crowds. A stand-alone version weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces, and is 24 inches long (with the attached stock collapsed).

I’ve kind of been wondering where this thing was. I knew some went to the combat zones and never heard another word.

I’m not sure what the advantage of using this as a stand-alone is over just using a standard shotgun. The M26 uses a bolt cocking system rather than a pump (or semi-auto) so if a soldier is going to be issued a shotgun, why not give him a real one?

As far as mounting on a rifle, I think it makes a lot of sense to have this available.


  1. Tell that to the Germans that got killed by Pershing’s men with 12 gauges in WWI.

    Using a bolt action is a good idea here … a bolt action 12 gauge can be silenced.

  2. Its really just there as a breaching tool. It allows a quick transition from the breaching tool (the M26) to the primary weapon (the M16).

    The bolt action M26 was chosen over the Masterkey pump action.

    Seems to me like a lot of extra weight on the primary weapon just so you can pop open a door.

  3. It’s a straight pull system, not a true bolt action. Pretty fast, although that isn’t really the point I don’t think. I fooled with them at SHOT. It’s lighter than mounting a pump under the M-16, and having detachable mags lets you swap out ammo types easily if need be.

  4. Hmm. If the specs haven’t changed since thefirearmblog.com wrote about this in 2007 — and the overall length hasn’t — barrel length is a whopping 7.75 inches. But the under-barrel ones never have a stock mounted, so…

    I may be wrong on this, because I’ve never owned an NFA or AOW item, but it seems to me that the MASS falls very nicely into the same category as Serbu’s Super Shorty, which you can get as an AOW. Anybody smarter than I am want to wade in on this one?

  5. What’s fun is to fire it with just the pistol grip rather than the collapsible stock of the stand-alone version. Imagine a 12-gauge pistol.

    The bolt is awkward, but with some training and practice can be cycled as fast as a pump, and reloaded much faster. The Masterkey makes the dual weapon far too front heavy to be preactical; the C=more design is very light, and of course the modularity is the best thing.

  6. I like all I have read about the M26 Mass Shotgun and would like to own a few just for home protection when the comes. I would like to suggest a semi auto version with a standard 10 clip. Are these available to us private citizens yet? If so where can I buy a few and how for how much? Father’s Day is in a few weeks.

  7. Has anyone else noticed that this thing uses a Saiga 12 mag? That means its 20 rd drum capable or 13 rd box mag.

  8. The purpose of this weapon is for both close combat situations and breaching. To be honest I want one to better protect my family. It is genius, you can use a smaller shell and back it up with your primary weapon. It makes a person able to use simple bird shot to knock back an enemy and then make a judgment as to whether he will keep attacking. I use OO buck which is what my Benelli eats, but I would happily put it up if I had one of these systems on my AR.

  9. Shotguns are not illegal in combat. This one is designed to use lethal or nonlethal rounds and can also be used for door breaching. It is very light, much less than a M203 grenade launcher, and can be mounted on a M4 or used standalone. Genius idea in my opinion. Not something you’d want to go hunting with, but if you want to breach a door and then be able to spray the entire room, perfect.

  10. As previous comments have mentioned in part, the purpose is many-fold:

    1) lighter weight than a pump when attached to carbine

    2) clips allow the shooter to best fit the ammunition to the mission; buckshot for anti-personnel, slug for breaching, rubber for non-lethal

    3) in stand-alone, shorter length with pistol grip (even with collapsable stock) is more suited to CQB than full-size or tactical pump-actions

    4) clips also allow for faster reloading, and the “bolt” was developed after the original pump idea was thrown out, partially due to length

    5) it’s just cool

  11. I think that its a great idea and I wish my company could have a few here in Iraq because we do route clearance and we roll in high threat areas of the RKG-3 and we use shotguns to counter them. It would be perfect.

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