Franchi SPAS12 Shotgun

General Operation

OK, I'm asked, how does the gun function?  What's the auto/manual deal?  (The numbers here refer to numbers on the parts diagrams.)

Auto vs. Manual
When the gun is in “manual” mode it functions like a normal pump-action shotgun.  The foregrip (42) is slid back and forward to cycle the gun; back to eject the spent round, forward to load the next round.  It is connected by two action rods to the bolt (28).  The foregrip locks forward until the round is shot, then unlocks for the next cycle.  The little operating handle (26) sticking out of the side of the bolt  just goes along for the ride in this mode.

When the gun is in “auto” mode it functions much like a normal semi-auto shotgun.  (No, it is not “full-auto”).  The foregrip (42) is permanently locked forward in this mode and does not move.  The operating handle (26) is used to cycle the action in this mode, primarily to load the first round.  After each shot is fired the action will cycle all by itself and load the next round, ready for the next pull of the trigger.  You can shoot 8 rounds in about two seconds.

How Does It Do This?
When the foregrip (42) is fully forward, a button (44) in is is pressed in to unlock it.  It can then be slid forward to pick auto mode, back to select manual or pump.  The travel is about ¾”.    The button is then released to lock it in the selected mode.

When the foregrip (42) is slid forward to select auto mode, two things happen.  One, it  disconnects it from the gun’s action and locks it in place.  This disconnect lets the gun's action move back and forth and cycle by itself.  The second thing is a groove in the foregrip switches a little valve handle (57) that will now supply gas from the gun barrel to the piston (25).  This gas pressure pushes the piston and cycles the gun after each shot.

When the foregrip (42) is slid backward to select manual mode, the opposite two things happen.  It unlocks the foregrip and connects it to the gun's action so it can be used to cycle the gun.  The valve moves and blocks any gas from going to the piston.

The gun has one real and one pseudo manual safety.  The real one locks the trigger so it cannot move and is right by the trigger.  It was a lever on the original guns – it proved to be very unsafe and was recalled and replaced by a pushbutton style.

The pseudo safety is the so-called “auto safety lever” (114) or "quick deployment safety."   This is simply a normal action unlocking lever found on most pump or auto shotguns.  And, like all good shotguns, if the action is not fully closed and locked, it won't fire.  So if you unlock the action, the gun is “safe” – at least safe not to fire.  If in manual, the foregrip could accidentally be pulled back and a live round ejected.  So don't take them too seriously when they call it a “safety.”   I'd just keep the real safety on until some situtaion demanded I take it off, and then be very aware of keeping my finger off the trigger till I put the safety back on.

Comments? Questions? Additions?  Corrections?