Army equipment officials recently fielded the first of its M26 Modular Shotgun Systems to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. The M26 is the straight-pull, bolt-action shotgun the Army began designing almost 10 years ago for mounting under the M4 carbine. It weighs 3.5 pounds, has a 7.75 inch barrel and fires 12-gauge shells from a five-round magazine.
“This is a new capability that is now in your hands for you to conduct your mission downrange,” said Col. Scott C. Armstrong, the head of Project Manager Soldier Weapons, during a presentation ceremony held at Fort Campbell’s Strike Academy, Feb. 7. “This is a big day, not just for the 2nd Brigade, but for the Army.”
Really? I'm not so sure about that. The M26 was designed so units wouldn't have to carry stand-alone, short-barreled shotguns such as the Mossberg 500 for breaching doors. I got a chance to fire the M26 a couple of years ago at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. The bolt action is a little clunky; not as smooth as a Mossberg. But it's not a bad shotgun.
Army officials maintain that the M26 is the "most reliable, durable, rugged shotgun in the Army inventory." That sounds impressive, but I just can't help wondering -- if the M26 is so great, then why hasn't the special-operations community adopted it?
Fielding a new shotgun is a pretty big move. Seems like SOF and big Army should get together on these types of ventures to ensure soldiers don't end up with someone's pet project.