The Holy Grail of tactical shotguns has always been a detachable magazine feeding system. Several have come to market, but none of them worked well. Even those based on the ultra-reliable AK-47 fell short. For some reason, scaling up to 12 gauge just doesn’t feed the way it should. This week, we got our hands on the latest attempt to reach this bar. We have good news. For once, someone may have solved it.
Standard Manufacturing made waves at SHOT SHOW last year, with a prototype SKO 12. The SKO-12 features AR-15 style controls, is magazine fed, and a very attractive price at $1,100. We have all been anxiously waiting, and this week my test sample showed up. To be 100 % honest, I have a pre-production model, but they should be on store shelves at any minute.
- Type: Gas-operated semiauto magazine-fed shotgun
- Gauge: 12
- Capacity: 2+1 rds.; 5+1 rds.; 10+1 rds.
- Weight: 7 lbs., 10 oz.
- Overall Length: 38 in.
- Barrel Length: 18.875 in.
- Stock: 7075 aircraft grade aluminum
- ButtStock: 6-position collapsible AR-style
- MSRP: $1,100
- Manufacturer: Standard Manufacturing Mfg. Co.
Standard Manufacturing is based in Connecticut and their products are American-made. Famous for their double-barreled DP-12, Standard has delivered on another semiautomatic 12 gauge. Normally, I am skeptical of any magazine-fed shotgun, I have seen too many fail. How do you spot the mag fed shotgun guys at a 3-Gun match? They are the ones performing a full tier down and clean between every stage.
That being said, I looked forward to testing this scattergun, but also dreaded it. What if it failed too? Is a mag-fed shotgun too much too ask, in an age when we put a rover on Mars? I would go so far as to say a functional detachable magazine is enough to change a lot of my opinion about a shotgun being a horrible tactical choice. And I am extremely happy to report, the SKO-12 ran like a champ. I even violated the hell out of the manufacturers recommended break-in period. Standard Manufacturing is man enough to tell you it takes recoil to make this shotgun work, and low recoil/ light rounds might require a break in of 100 rounds first. I shot 5 slugs, then a magazine of buckshot, both of which performed flawlessly. Skipping right past the guidelines, I tossed in a magazine of light birdshot and ran the magazine no issue. I even got bolt lock.
In the course of shooting, I quickly ran through the provided Federal ammunition and switched to what I call my trash bucket. Over many years of shooting, I have managed to fill up a 5-gallon bucket with random loads. This includes stuff left in my truck by other shooters, off-brand cheap stuff only useful in training, test rounds — you name it and I probably have it. The only hang-ups I had during testing came from military surplus buckshot, probably left over from Vietnam, which is notoriously junk. I can’t fault the shotgun on that one. In just a few days, I have shot over 500 rounds of sub-par ammunition and miscellaneous loads, and I have come away impressed. The SKO-12 is a shooter.
The SKO-12 features similar controls of an AR-15. The trigger is amazing for a shotgun, and better than most factory AR rifles. If you’ve run AR-style rifles, then you will appreciate the familiarity of the selector (which is ambidextrous) and bolt latch. The learning curve is nonexistent. The magazine release is in the same spot, but a bit larger than an AR, which I liked. Even the 6-position collapsible buttstock is AR standard. The one that came on the shotgun works fine, but you can swap to any Mil-Spec version you desire. Thes shotgun is a bit on the heavy side, but that comes with the territory in a semi-auto shotgun. The weight does help dampen recoil, which you will appreciate when you see how fast you can shoot this monster.
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The upper and lower receiver is machined from 7075 aircraft grade aluminum. The barrel is 18.875 inches long, made of 4140 steel and comes threaded to accept a wide variety of choke tubes, including door breacher, stiletto and tactical chokes. It features a 22-inch Picatinny rail that proves ideal for mounting lights or a red dot. It’s a gas-operated semiauto and the internal parts are salt-nitride coated to increase lubricity. I put this shotgun through its paces without cleaning or oil and it continued to eat almost every load I shoved in the magazine. Shooters will be pleased to know that it comes in 2, 5 and 10 round capacities and a 15-round drum and 25-round drum are currently in development. This is one of those guns, you can feel the quality when you pick it up. The machining is second to none, with attention to fit and finish you would expect from a more expensive gun. This is a great option for iron sights if you choose that route. I opted to pair mine with a Vortex Sparc AR. A red dot felt like the way to go, and I recommend this one if you end up with an SKO-12.
I haven’t had this much fun with a gun in a long time. The SKO ran like a sewing machine, which left me to focus on important things. Like pumpkin skeet. It was the only flying object I had handy, but it did prove the point you could use this gun on birds if necessary. On stationary targets, I was amazed at how fast the SKO will shoot. I recommend you purchase the 10-round magazines, you’ll empty the five-rounders in the blink of an eye. Also available are two-round mags, making this gun legal for hunting.
I walked away from this test very impressed. Out of the box, this was a performer, and in a difficult arena. If you have an interest in tactical shotguns, this is the one you want.
For more information about Standard Manufacturing’s SKO-12, click here.
For more information about the Vortex Sparc AR Red Dot, click here.