April 22, 2011: Chinese arms manufacturers are showing a wide variety of combat shotguns at international arms shows. But the Chinese Army, while it has the Type 97-1 combat shotgun in its inventory, has not sought to expand its arsenal of shotguns. The Type 97-1 is apparently intended for riot-control, not close combat.
Meanwhile, Chinese firms have been showing mostly existing designs to Chinese Army procurement officials, and foreign buyers. Chinese designs range from the short barrel, 12 gauge (18.4mm), weapons with collapsible stocks, pistol grips and five round tube magazines, to those with box magazines (which tend to be the bullpup, or magazine behind the pistol grip). There is at least one model with a high capacity drum magazine.
The Type 97-1 is mainly used by the police. It is a 3.1 kg (6.8 pound), 94cm (37 inch) long, fixed stock 12 gauge shotgun with a five round tube magazine. There is a more military type version of the Type 97-1 version with a bullpup magazine layout and a collapsible stock. This model, however, is more often seen in use by the police than by troops.
Meanwhile, the United States saw its combat shotguns evolve rapidly during the years of combat in Iraq. The result, two years ago, was the appearance of a new shotgun design in Iraq and Afghanistan. This came after over a year of additional testing and tweaking. Then the U.S. Army bought over 10,000 of the M26 12 Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun Systems (MASS). The M26 weighs about one kilogram (2 pounds, 11 ounces) and has a five round magazine. The M26 is a 42cm (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 1.9 kg (4 pounds, 3 ounces) and is 61cm (24 inches) long (with the attached stock collapsed).
The first versions of this weapon weighed 4.1 kg (nine pounds) and carried only three rounds. The design evolved, over the last decade, into the current M26. Troops tested it in combat for two years. There were complaints about the cocking mechanism, which used a bolt instead of a pump action (which many troops expressed a preference for.) The final design improved the cocking mechanism, and the reliability of the magazines. Before MASS, troops used a conventional (Mossberg) 12 gauge shotgun for getting locked doors open in a hurry. The M26 proved very reliable during testing, with over 20,000 rounds being fired. Large quantities of the M26 reached the troops in 2009.