AK Pattern 10″ Entry Shotgun – The Fostech Origin-12 Takes Saiga Mags

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The 10"-barreled Fostech Origin-12 is an AK-based 12-gauge that makes for an amazing entry shotgun.

The 10″-barreled Fostech Origin-12 is an AK-based 12-gauge that makes for an amazing entry shotgun.

I have been using AK-based weapons for decades, including shotguns. My VEPR-12 remains a favorite, and I have owned more than a few Saigas over the years. While out-of-the-box AK-based shotguns can be a bit problematic, if tuned correctly they run well, shoot softly, and provide the advantage of a detachable box magazine design.

The author ran the Fostech in his full kit and found it to be easy to maneuver in tight spaces and around corners.

The author ran the Fostech in his full kit and found it to be easy to maneuver in tight spaces and around corners.

Detachable box magazine shotguns like these offer a lot of advantages. If you have the time to perfect the technique, more traditional tubular fed shotguns can be amazing, but just not easy for most people to master. Many see tubular magazines as training-intensive and limiting in both capacity and versatility. It’s one of the reasons many police agencies no longer issue shotguns, preferring the ease of operation an AR provides. Using a rifle-based shotgun can solve some of those issues. Employing one of the most proven and simple designs ever engineered, AK-based shotguns can be excellent home defense and tactical weapons.

Building around the AK has traditionally provided some stumbling blocks. Controls are less than left-hand friendly, safeties can be hard to reach and adding rails is costly and complicated. Most out-of-the-box guns are rudimentary, requiring substantial upgrades. Imported magazines are restricted in capacity, with aftermarket designs being less than optimal.

SPECS
CHAMBERING: 12 ga., 2¾ inch
BARREL: 10 inches
OA LENGTH: 30 inches
WEIGHT: 6 pounds
STOCK: AR-style collapsible, folding
ACTION: Gas-operated, semi-auto
FINISH: Matte black
CAPACITY: Detachable box magazines and drums
MSRP: $2,600

Several companies have tried to address these issues, but short of what amounts to a custom build they can be difficult to deal with. High-dollar custom shotguns are great, with many dedicated to the 3-Gun gaming world. However, few are designed to be modular with the tactical user in mind.

Fostech has come up with an interesting design that seems to address these issues. Built in the USA, import restrictions don’t apply.   Coupled with a number of upgrades designed around years of requests from users, the Origin -12 a refreshing change. Available in a standard length with an 18.5″ barrel, it can also be had as a short 10″-barreled shotgun.

Long & Short of It

Fostech’s Origin-12 is incredibly modular, making it easy to set up exactly how you need for any given mission. Shown with 18.5" barrel assembly.

Fostech’s Origin-12 is incredibly modular, making it easy to set up exactly how you need for any given mission. Shown with 18.5″ barrel assembly.

One of the best design features of the Fostech Origin-12 is ease in changing barrels. Turning a standard AK shotgun into an SBS (Short Barreled Shotgun) ranges from inconvenient to monumentally difficult. Stick with a 14” barrel and it’s not too intensive. You may be able to polish some things up, change the gas piston and it can work. Get shorter and most require shortening the gas system and some serious tuning. Move down to a 10” barrel and you are generally limited to full bore, high-brass buckshot or slugs for consistent operation.

They work, but it turns a pretty soft-shooting shotgun into a shoulder-fired jackhammer. Training becomes costly and painful, and most end up languishing in a safe. It’s a ton of money to spend on a gun you will probably never use. Fostech’s unique design makes the process simple and painless and their gas system allows operation with lighter loads.

You can order the Origin as an SBS from Fostech with the usual transfer times to your dealer, then to you. You can also start with the standard version, complete the appropriate NFA paperwork and register your existing 18.5”. As a Title 2 manufacturer, it’s a simple matter of filling out a form for me.

Swapping out barrels takes a minute or two. Remove the barrel pin, slide off the long barrel and reverse the process. Done! No gunsmithing needed. No fitting; just makes sure it all lines up, perform a function check and head to the range! Since many 3-Gun competitions have restrictions on barrel length, it also allows you to switch back to the long barrel easily.

Radical Design

The gas port regulator above the barrel can be adjusted easily by hand or with an expended shot shell. The hand guard is part of the barrel module assembly.

The gas port regulator above the barrel can be adjusted easily by hand or with an expended shotshell. The hand guard is part of the barrel module assembly.

Starting with a basic AK-pattern shotgun design, Fostech built around it from the ground up. Employing a good amount of polymer, it is relatively lightweight. Modular, it consists of a receiver and separate hand guard and barrel assembly. The barrel, gas tube, gas block and hand guard are all part of one separate module. It comes with rails on the top, both sides, and bottom along with a flip-up front sight. Each barrel module can stay zeroed to the rear sight regardless of length.

Gas is adjusted using a ported gas plug allowing you to bleed off gas as needed with heavier loads. It is restricted to 2.75” shells, which keeps it a tad shorter and lighter. Using standard Saiga/Vepr threads, the barrel will accept flash hiders, muzzle brakes or standoffs for these guns. Fluted and constructed of high-strength steel, the barrel is light with an attractive look. Installation and removal is easy; just slide it over the op rod on the lower and lock it in place using the barrel pin. It makes cleaning a breeze.

Controls are ambidextrous and easily reachable with either hand. Ambidextrous safeties allow access with the thumb or first finger of either hand in any position. A forward non-reciprocating, left-side charging handle sits forward of the receiver. The top cover is high-strength polymer and includes a rail that mates up to the hand guard rail. The magazines are rock solid and built very strong, using polymer bodies and steel feed lips. Insertion is straight up and in, and they are available in 5-, 8- and 10-round capacities. Also available are 20- and 30-round drums.

The Origin-12 provides an ambidextrous safety along with well-designed bolt and magazine releases that can be accessed without removing your control hand.

The Origin-12 provides an ambidextrous safety along with well-designed bolt and magazine releases that can be accessed without removing your control hand.

Locking open on the last round, the Origin-12 has a bolt release accessible using your strong hand. It allows you to run the shotgun using just your strong hand and never needing to come out of the “pocket.” Push the magazine release lever in front of the trigger guard and the magazines drop free. The Origin-12 uses a large ejection port cover that snaps open upon firing or when the charging handle is cycled. Snapping it closed keeps dirt and dust out of the action.

An AR-style stock slides over a buffer tube attached to a super strong folding mechanism. Using the standard stock, it folds flat on the left side of the shotgun, and the shotgun can be fired in this condition. Polymer flip up sights are included and co-witnessed my Shield red dot sight perfectly. Shield’s RDS is proving to be robust and easy to use for me, making it perfect for a shotgun.

The stock folds easily along the left-side of the receiver and provides a very compact package.

The stock folds easily along the left-side of the receiver and provides a very compact package.

An oversized charging handle allowed for positive loads, reloads and charging when gloves were used.

An oversized charging handle allowed for positive loads, reloads and charging when gloves were used.

Range Time

With a short length of pull and short barrel, the 10" Origin-12 was handy, controllable, and easy to use with a plate carrier.

With a short length of pull and short barrel, the 10″ Origin-12 was handy, controllable, and easy to use with a plate carrier.

Testing very short-barreled AK shotguns can be frustrating, if not painful. Most require full-length brass buckshot at 1,350 fps or more (mostly more), just to function consistently. They work and are great for duty applications, but not so much fun on the range.

The Origin-12 with the short 10” barrel was better than most. Attaching a King Armory KA1212 BR breaching brake was step one for me. It extends the barrel out a bit for safety, but more importantly it’s made of hardened steel. It’s not just a cosmetic attachment. The KA1212 provides excellent flash suppression and recoil reduction, and can even tighten some patterns. Using a square no-snag tooth design, it locks into doors for breaching without tearing up your gear. I have used this same muzzle device on numerous door breaches on a few other shotguns and it remains one of the strongest on the market.

Using light 1,150 fps loads with the gas at full-tilt, the SBR worked most of the time. Clean, oiled and pressed very tightly into the shoulder, it ran pretty consistently. Running dirty and with a loose shoulder, and it was less than reliable. Given most short-barreled AK shotguns won’t run this at all, it was a good start. Moving up to the 1,200 to 1,250 fps loads improved things. Keeping it tight to the shoulder, it ran most of the time, ejecting hulls a couple feet from the port. After a couple hundred rounds it would fail to eject on occasion.

The author found that when loaded with suitably powerful rounds, the Origin-12 would run like a top.

It really liked the Federal LE127 9 pellet 00 buckshot, cycling no matter how fast the trigger was pressed. Patterning was tight and you could shoot it all day long without any shoulder tenderness. It’s the same ammunition my Benelli M4 likes as well as my Mossberg 955 and was developed specifically for semi-autos. It has worked in my standard guns, just not one with a 10” barrel. So, the Origin-12 is a winner there. It also ran the Hornady Critical Defense well. At 1,600 fps it was a bit stouter, but it ran well and patterned the best of all out of this short barrel, likely due to the Versa Tite wad.

Patterning was similar to most shotguns. Quality tactical buckshot holds the pellets in the wad for a short distance after leaving the barrel. It makes the barrel length less meaningful. My tightest pattern with the Hornady was 4.75 inches at 20 yards, keeping well within the preferred size of a “fist.” From 5 to 15 yards it produced just one large hole.

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Some Thoughts

Fostech has done a great job on the controls. Accessing the safety from any ready position with either hand was easy. It was possible to operate it exactly the same as my AR rifles. They included an oversized charging handle on this one and it was really easy to access when needed. Since it does not reciprocate, it does not interfere.

Shield’s SIS red dot sight stays in place through barrel changes and never came out of zero or loose.

Shield’s SIS red dot sight stays in place through barrel changes and never came out of zero or loose.

I equipped the receiver rail with a Shield SIS (Switchable Interface Sight). Shield’s SIS has an auto adjust brightness meter that worked really well. Moving in and out of the shoot house, it dimmed as needed on entry very quickly. It can also be adjusted manually. You can switch between a 1 MOA dot alone, 1 dot and ring, 8 MOA dot, or 8 MOA and ring. There are other versions available including one with a 2 MOA dot and BDC. Cycling through was pretty easy, but I landed on the 1 MOA dot and ring and stayed there. My eyes pick up the ring very quickly while allowing me to keep the dot small just in case precision is needed without occluding the target. This was a fantastic combination for an entry shotgun.

Magazines insert straight in, locking into place. It took a bit more pressure, but they inserted when full on a closed bolt. If you are using marginal ammunition in terms of cycling, you will want to download one round. With the buckshot it worked great.

Bottom Line

Short-barreled shotguns are great for tactical use, and the Fostech is excellent in this role. Not only can you use a red dot sight with ease, the supplied sights are usable by anyone used to an AR. The barrel module includes rails for easy attachment of lights or lasers. Made in America, none of the annoying 922r import restrictions apply. You can use the AR stock of your choice, making it possible to facilitate a good sling.

The 10"-barreled Origin-12 is a compact and powerful tactical shotgun ready for entry duty.

The 10″-barreled Origin-12 is a compact and powerful tactical shotgun ready for entry duty.

The Origin-12 can be equipped with an 18.5" barrel assembly in a matter of minutes.

The Origin-12 can be equipped with an 18.5″ barrel assembly in a matter of minutes.

It really has all you need for an entry shotgun, and for a 10” barrel it is about as reliable as it gets. Pricing is about the same as a standard AK shotgun followed by tons of gunsmithing that may take months. Tactical shotguns are not for everyone, but for some, like me, they are a great choice. If that’s you, take a close look at the Fostech!

For more information, visit http://fostechoutdoors.com/.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Don from CT December 12, 2016, 9:13 am

    I am not an operator. I’m not a cop. But I do know one thing. Box magazine fed shotguns are NOT ACCEPTABLE as a home defense shotgun. Here’s why. I have experienced this first hand. Shot shells were not designed to be stuffed into a box mag and left for extended periods of time. If you leave them in a box mag for any length of time they will deform and this will affect reliability. I’ve tested this and its true. Yes, drum mags eliminate this problem, but most are just plain huge. If you are a cop about to kick down a door and you load your mags up for that specific event, then you won’t have any problems. But forget keeping the gun in the car with the mag in and the chamber empty. (cruiser ready). Until someone comes out with shells specifically designed to retain shape in a box mag, then this is setting yourself up for failure.

    DFC

    • C.Hale February 20, 2017, 4:09 am

      Well I guess I better sell the saiga I’ve been using for home defense for 5 yrs.I mean you used ALL CAPS to tell everyone how unacceptable it is. Or……maybe you could piss off mr. All cap.

    • BRC May 8, 2017, 4:43 pm

      I’ll disagree 100%. I am a dealer for both Fostech and Black Aces tactical both of whom employ box magazines in their respective firearms. Both companies use a polymer mag with a metal reinforced lip, no feeding issues, no problem with either company. Fostech’s offering is semi-auto while Black Aces is pump. I guess if you use the cheapest shotgun ammo on the market, in a cheap gun the scenario you describe “may” happen, but speaking first hand, the DTRS is my truck carry gun, and it is packed and loaded in the Texas heat and has no issues. In fact I have had it in the truck for months at a time, and it still works fine. As far the drum mags being more reliable than the stick mags, I’d disagree here as well, drum mags are typically problematic in both rifles and shotguns. And by your metric of “shot shells not designed to be stuffed in a box mags….” then by that logic, they would be LESS functional in a drum mag as they would be crammed even tighter into a 20 or 30 rd. drum. As far as “not acceptable for home defense” would-be criminals kicking in my front door will find that statement false as well.

  • johnk September 3, 2016, 2:27 pm

    Thanks for your review, I found it to be very helpful. But one thing I would like is; can you provide hardware detail on your sling setup? R/

  • 2A 4Ever August 18, 2016, 7:19 pm

    These shotguns are much less if you have an FFL 🙂

  • ToddB June 27, 2016, 9:30 am

    Why do all these companies price guns out of the reach of most people? Yea we understand there is research and development, but few are going to be able to buy these things, they will end up having poor sales and eventually stop making them. Sorry but $2600 for a semi auto shotgun is a bit much for most people. I saw one at the gun show this past weekend, must have been on sale at $2400, but not a spare mag to be found in the whole place. Thats usually a big requirement for me, being able to reload, and has to be factored into the price. Local shop has one of the new Sig subguns, guess not terrible at $1400, but then you gotta go buy the exclusive to Sig mags at $70ea. Figure a min of 7 mags thats another almost $500. And you actually have to be able to buy them.

  • Karl Vanhooten June 21, 2016, 3:13 pm

    Another overpriced plaything for Tactical Timmys everywhere. And another excuse to bring down the freakin’ Congress down on all of us. If I can’t stop or slow down an intruder with a $200 Savage 320 Security 12 gauge, I’m probably going to die anyway. Nice gun if you’re working for a “Black” security firm and helping to bring down a banana republic or ride shotgun for some sheik.

  • Damon June 20, 2016, 11:59 pm

    ” it ran pretty consistently.” and “it was less than reliable.”

    For $2600?!?!?!?

    This is the kind of weapon whose only utility will be in applications where your life depends on it utterly. You’re kicking in doors behind which you expect roomfuls of armed crackheads, or jihadis, or you’re jolting awake in the early AM to the sound of your patio door shattering and multiple footfalls in your hallway. “Ran pretty consistently” is a joke in those circumstances. “Less than reliable” is even worse. I guess after your home invaders have raped and killed you and your family, they can get a decent price for your stolen hinky scattergun on the aftermarket.
    That’s pretty much the only silver lining I’m seeing in this particular cloud.

    • Richard M August 3, 2016, 9:01 am

      The article says, “Running dirty and with a loose shoulder, and it was less than reliable.” You write like you have some sort of left-wing agenda misquoting and using scare tactics to get people to see things your way.

    • Richard November 15, 2016, 11:57 am

      You’re an idiot who obviously does not know how to interpret what you are reading or are unable to understand the complexity of the specific details of the man’s review of the weapon. I have a Fostech Origin 12 and it is by far the most superior out of the 3 tactical shotguns I own. My VepR and my Saiga are great weapons, but can not hold a candle to the performance of the Fostech. If you read the man’s review and pay attention to the details of it you will easily be able to understand he was reviewing the gun operating with a 10″ barrel, and that is what makes all the difference in how the weapon functions.

  • Bulldog June 20, 2016, 6:41 pm

    This looks to be one fantastic weapon I truly wish that I had one it seems to me that it would be one incredibly fun day of shooting however the price precludes any hope of ever owning one ……. another sad day it’s unfortunate

  • Jay June 20, 2016, 10:41 am

    My heart belongs to the Saiga 12, all these other “after the fact” companies who price gouge like their 12ga. Is going to do something my 12 ga. isn’t have no place in my Liberty Safe. It’s a shotgun not a machine gun and it’s not some fancy H&K MP-7 version of a shotgun either, it’s a platform that has been around since 1947. You can reinvent the wheel all you want but it still spins the same as mine.

    • Don from CT December 12, 2016, 9:16 am

      But the truth of the matter is that most people take their $700 Saiga and then add another $800 worth of customization to get it to a point where it has a pistol grip and is reliable with a range of ammo. And even then, its a one-off that feels like a clunky piece of rattle can painted steel from Mother Russia. This shotgun is built from the gorund up to address Saiga problems. It costs. But people will pay that.

  • LCDR USN Ret June 20, 2016, 9:34 am

    Oh great–yet another toy for the fascists to bust down our doors.
    Feds can afford using our seized tax dollars. We can/t.

  • Pat Bryan June 20, 2016, 8:55 am

    Silencer?

    • darrenp1976 June 20, 2016, 10:41 am

      Yes, just YouTube fast shotgun and it will come up with a guy and this shotgun with a 30rnd drum and a silencer, plus it’s full auto. Pretty neat.

  • Victor June 20, 2016, 5:54 am

    Dot one. Love it. Even though I am a big guy, the recoil sets me back in rapid fire. But still love it

  • Dean June 20, 2016, 5:44 am

    2600???? That just lost me……..no

  • gdog June 20, 2016, 5:11 am

    Another gun 99% of the people can’t afford. There are other reliable options in the 18 inch category that are less than a third of the price. Nice gun don’t get me wrong, but the price doesn’t appeal to the masses.

    • C.Hale February 20, 2017, 4:12 am

      I WILL have one. To hell with the masses

  • Andrew Baker June 20, 2016, 3:13 am

    VEPR-12. Cost less and has the same capability.

  • DRAINO June 16, 2016, 8:35 am

    I would love to have one in a 14 inch barrel. Seems like a better compromise between the 2 offered lengths. But very cool, none the less!

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