Jim Grant reviews the Smith & Wesson M&P12 Bullpup Shotgun.
U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- I’m a huge fan of bullpups in general, and especially bullpup shotguns like the Smith & Wesson M&P12. I’ve always felt that the bullpup configuration makes a ton of sense for otherwise forward-heavy guns like pump-action shotguns. Instead of the shooter having to wrestle with the weight of a tubular magazine filled with hefty defensive rounds like buckshot, shifting the center of balance rearward can turn an otherwise unwieldy gun into a compact, potent defensive tool.
That said, the pump-action shotgun market is filled with dozens of inexpensive, reliable options. So for this new gun from Smith to really make an impact, it will have to do more than rest of the laurels of the S&W brand, or the benefits of its configuration.
Smith & Wesson M&P12 Bullpup Shotgun Features
Smith’s new M&P12 is a pump-action, magazine-fed 12-gauge bullpup shotgun. It features two separate, parallel tubes that hold six rounds each. Meaning shooters have 12+1 rounds of hard-hitting 12-gauge shotshells at their disposable in a compact, handy package. The M&P12 also features a toggle switch that allows shooters to select which tube they want the next shot to feed from. This is useful if one tube is filled with buckshot and the other with slugs.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the muzzle and work back. The Bullpup M&P sports a 19-inch cylinder bore barrel, but is also threaded for chokes and includes two in the box – a modified and full. So if a shooter’s local hunting laws allow it, the M&P12 could be used for both home defense, and say.. turkey hunting? Maybe not practical but possible.
Above the barrel, the Smith shotgun features a full-length Picatinny optics rail but lacks any sort of traditional iron sights. For our review, we installed a Holosun 507C.
Just beneath the optics rail, the M&P12 comes adorned with the iconic S&W M&P grip texture on the included vertical foregrip. This brings me to my first issue with the gun. The foregrip becomes the first point of impact during the recoil impulse. So a shooter’s support hand actually bears the brunt of the gun’s “kick”. This isn’t terrible with bird or controlled recoil buckshot, but 3-inch slugs beat the ever-living hell out of the support hand. Though in all fairness, the same can be said of basically every pump-action shotgun equipped with a vertical grip.
Speaking of the foregrip, this is the location where S&W decided to place the magazine tube selector. It functions like a crossbar safety, in that the shooter depresses the lever on one side and then protrudes out the other. It’s very positive, and difficult to screw up even under pressure, and is clearly marked, “L” and “R” to designate which tube the gun will feed from next.
Behind this, the M&P12 utilizes some excellent ambidextrous fire controls that make the gun comfortable to shoot and manipulate for both left and right-handed shooters. Especially the safety selector, which is very reminiscent of the one found on AR-15 rifles. As far as the action release, it incorporates generous paddles that surround the trigger guard, allowing the shooter to release the pump without shifting their firing grip.
At the back, the stock incorporates dual loading gates (one for each magazine tube) on the bottom side, as well as an inch-thick rubber recoil pad and a pair of ambidextrous QD sling mounts.
M&P12 Bullpup Shotgun Field Strip & Reassembly
M&P Shotgun Performance
I tested the M&P12 with Herter’s low-brass birdshot, Hornady Critical Defense 00 buckshot, and some Federal 1oz slugs. As is expected from a manually-operated shotgun, M&P12 never encountered a single malfunction whatsoever. Recoil is stout with defensive rounds and slugs, but no more so than with a traditionally-configurated shotgun.
The action too, was easy to manipulate, though it didn’t feel as solid as older Remington 870s – it certainly doesn’t feel cheap at all.
Bullpup Shotgun Verdict
With an MSRP of $1185, the Smith & Wesson M&P12 Bullpup Shotgun is going to be a tough sell for many shooters. Sure, it features a better polymer shell than Kel-Tec’s KSG, but the tipping point for potential buyers will likely be how much weight the name Smith & Wesson carries. If you’re a die-hard Smith fan, and you want an ultra-modern compact shotgun, the M&P12 is a no-brainer.
But if you’re looking for an inexpensive versatile pump-action shotgun, there are much cheaper options on the market. That said, the Smith & Wesson M&P12 Bullpup Shotgun is by no means a bad gun, I would argue that in the role it was designed for, it very much excels. It would make an excellent home defense weapon, law enforcement tool, or fun range plinker. But it doesn’t do anything revolutionary enough for owners of the DBS-12, or KSG shotguns to ditch their weapons for.
Product, parts, and Ammo as seen in this review:
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.