20 Sept 99

We recently completed several Courses here in the Midwest, both handgun and Rifle/Shotgun. One of our students (a good-natured chap, but a person who needs to do more research before he plunks down a fortune for ostensibly defensive firearms, about which he admittedly knows nothing) brought to the Course an H&K SOCOM pistol in 45ACP and a SPAS-12 shotgun in 12ga.

It was the first SOCOM pistol I’ve seen. It is very heavy and far too big for any practical purpose. In fact, I thought it was a Desert Eagle when I first saw it. He carried it in (what a surprise!) a thigh holster, bristling with all manner of magazine and accessory holders, to the point where it looked like an ugly, malignant growth on his leg.

In addition to being enormous, this SOCOM pistol “features” a two-stage decocking lever as well as a two-position, manual safety. My student wanted to carry it cocked and locked, but, owing to the fact that he was a beginner and utterly unfamiliar with pistol shooting in general and with defensive shooting in particular, I would not allow it. I insisted that he carry it decocked, eliminating from his concern at least one lever.

The decocking lever and the safety lever are in tandem on the left side of the slide, and both are oriented in the same direction. Getting them mixed up is just a matter of time!

Conclusion: The pistol is a silly example of design engineers going out of control and ignoring any practical purpose to which the pistol might ever be put. It’s a piece of junk!

The SPAS-12 shotgun is another example of the same misguided reasoning. My student (what a surprise!) had not the slightest inkling of how to operate it. My instructors and I worked with him and it for too long trying to figure out how he would be able to charge and void the magazine tube, speed load, ammo swap, etc. By the time I discovered the sixth control lever/button, I gave up and turned the project over to my most experienced instructor. After several more frustrating minutes, my instructor came over to me and indicated that the weapon was going to be unusable for our purposes.

The student then borrowed a Benelli Super-90 from another student and proceeded with the instruction. The Benelli, of course, worked just fine.

Conclusion: I guess I don’t need to lambaste the SPAS-12 shotgun, since I believe it’s been out of production for some time now. I am astonished that any design engineer would think, in his wildest imaginings, that such a maladroit contraption could ever be used in an emergency by any species of human being. It’s a piece of junk!