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M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS)
Shotgun Lethality Module (SGLM)
Lightweight Shotgun System (LSS)

Program History

In June 1997, the US Army Infantry Center developed an operational requirement for the M4 Modular Weapon System (MWS) calling for an accessory attachment shotgun. The Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab (DBBL) pursued an Advanced Concepts Technology II Program contract with Colt Firearms that asked them to produce an accessory attachment shotgun that met the specifications in the operational requirement. Colt, in partnership with C-More Systems, produced 4 Lightweight Shotgun System (LSS) prototypes that were tested in a Limited Objective Experiment (LOE) conducted by the DBBL.

The first prototypes were multishot, magazine-fed (3-round magazine), manually operated 12-gauge shotguns. Chambered to accommodate 3-inch magnum shells, the prototype fired a wide variety of lethal, non-lethal, and door-breaching munitions. The LSS was operated by a reversible charging handle (could be used right- or left-handed) and most importantly, only added 2 pounds 11 ounces to the weight of the M4 carbine. The length of the under-barrel shotgun was 16.5 inches. The test results validated the principle that the LSS was an effective delivery means for lethal, non-lethal, and breaching rounds at the standard ranges for these munitions.

Coinciding with the LOE for the LSS, the Infantry Center decided to support the requirement for the joint service combat shotgun and dropped the requirement for an accessory attachment shotgun from the operational requirements document for the M4 MWS. A second version of the LSS was developed based on the first LOE, and 4 prototypes were delivered to the DBBL. Subsequently, a third version was developed.

Version III was safety-released for a February 2003 evaluation funded by the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Program. It focused on the LSS in a non-lethal role and its application as an associated item to the US Army/Marine Corps Non-Lethal Capabilities Set (NLCS). A squad of Army infantrymen and a squad of Navy Seabees participated in the evaluation. Version III incorporated several features and improvements that were based on technical testing and feedback from the DBBL. Versions II and III came with a kit that allowed soldiers to convert the attachment version to a stand-alone version with a pistol grip or to a standalone version with a pistol grip and buttstock.

Meanwhile, the Infantry Center rescinded the Army requirement for the Joint Service Combat Shotgun. The DBBL, with the Program Manager, Soldier Weapons; the Program Manager, Crew-Served Weapons; the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Close Combat Armaments Center; the US Army Aberdeen Test Center; and the Infantry Center's Directorate of Combat Developments, evaluated the LSS for limited-issue operational experimentation.

Soldiers were expected to soon see the LSS operationally tested in the 3 generations as a 3-pound replacement for the 8.5-pound shotgun. Equally as important as reducing the soldier's load was the capability to fire non-lethal and lethal munitions from the same weapon system with equal speed. As the LSS was fed from a vertical magazine, the soldier could replace a 5-shot magazine of non-lethal buckshot with lethal buckshot as rapidly as the situation required. The skill necessary to fire the LSS was similar to the M-203, a skill that was taught to every soldier. The LSS enabled the soldier to quickly accomplish door-breaching, entry, and room-clearing operations in an urban warfare environment where he might encounter a non-lethal crowd-control situation on the next city block. The LSS represented a bold approach, meeting these challenges by providing a rifle and a shotgun, lethal and non-lethal capability, in one lightweight weapon system. The LSS was the first revolutionary combat shotgun of the 21st century.

In October 2003, DBBL's LSS underwent operational inspection and test firing for 200 shotguns to be fielded to the 10th Mountain Division for future use in Afghanistan. The original system was a prototype for proof of concept. The one being fielded applied lessons-learned from the first iterations of testing to make the weapons more reliable in the field. The testing identified a couple of areas for minor changes. In the future, the designer could make these changes in manufacturing to make it an overall better shotgun. The minor adjustments included polishing some of the parts to reduce friction. When the testing was finished, about 15,000 rounds were fired through the 200 systems going to the field.

XVIII Corps, deployed in Afghanistan, was the first unit receiving the Army's new LSS. A team from Project Manager Soldier Weapons and the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, part of the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, fielded the system. A total of 199 of the new shotguns were deployed to Afghanistan for use by elements of the 10th Mountain Division in response to an urgent operational need. The 10th Mountain fielded the lightest variation of the 12-gauge shotgun system, which attached under the M-4 carbine and weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces, less than the M203 grenade launcher. Cost for the system was yet to be determined, because it was dependent on production quantities.

The US Army TACOM-ARDEC at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey announced in November 2004 a requirement (W15QKN-04-R-0421) for a reliable, durable XM26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS). The XM26 MASS would securely attach to a primary weapon, to include the M16A2 rifle, M16A4 rifle, M4 carbine, M4A1 carbine, and the Modular Weapon System (MWS) equipped M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines, with the potential for attachment to future rifles and carbines and utilize the primary weapon sighting system. The XM26 MASS would be capable of being removed or attached to the primary weapon without the use of tools and utilizing a quick-disconnect feature while maintaining bore alignment with the primary weapon's sights. The Army required the XM26 MASS to be used as a stand alone shotgun with a sighting system and an integrated or attachable MIL-STD-1913 rail to attach various ancillary devices.

This 12-gauge shotgun would provide the user with door breaching, lethal, and non-lethal capability during close quarter combat operations. The XM26 MASS was required to be a lightweight and an easily maintained weapon capable of operating reliably in all climatic environments. The MASS would be manually or semi-automatically operated and capable of firing all existing US Army standard 12-gauge ammunition, to include the 2 and 3/4 inch and 3 inch magnum 00 buckshot, 2 and 3/4 inch slug rounds, the M1012 and M1013 Non-Lethal rounds, and the M1030 Breaching Round. The XM26 MASS would permit the quick transition from non-lethal to lethal rounds. The XM26 MASS would permit door breaching and shot shell employment while maintaining primary weapon control. The XM26 MASS would enable increased Soldier mobility over the existing combination of systems, the Mossberg Model 500 and the M16 rifle/M4 carbine.

The MASS requirement would be met with a base contract of 50 systems for developmental testing to be procured in FY05. There would be options for up to 5,000 systems per year for 6 years. The contractor had to be able to sustain a delivery schedule of 200 systems per month with a possible increase of as much as 400 systems per month beginning 60 days from the successful completion of First Article Testing.




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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:46:06 ZULU