Update 27-APR-01: The problem is with all three guns -- the SPAS, SAS, and LAW!
Update 10-MAR-10: See new page on the details see Why the Lever Safety Fails.
Have you subscribed to Chris's SPAS-12 Pages Mailing List? If any show up, you'd best be on the list!
There was a safety recall of all the SPAS-12's back in 1991 (thanks Bill!):
Type Safety (recalled) Button
or Cross bolt Safety (new)
(For another photo click here)
American Arms did repair these, but then they went out of business too. Franchi decided at that point to let users of any remaining guns just take their chances. A contact with them in 2007 denied there ever was a recall:
-----Original Message-----The Consumer Product Safety Council does not cover guns, only the ATF does. They are too busy chasing down White Surpremisist Groups to be bothered with shotguns that might kill their owners.
From: Customer9 [mailto:Customer9@benelliusa.com]
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 10:36 AM
To: Jim G
Subject: RE: FranchiUSA.com Comment
I just talked to a person here who was familiar with this and they said
there was no recall...it was something someone said on a forum list and
it got around that there was one...there was a never a recall from us,
we don't handle the guns or parts anymore...and if Carlson's can't help
then there it not much else to do...no official recall was ever
Now note the above notice only speaks of a problem when taking the safety off, not when putting it on. Dave, our toolmaker, says he can only see how it would fire when taking the safety off, not on. But if you read the experiences below (and I have a few more still to be added) the gun will fire when putting the safety on. It really does no matter what any experts might tell you -- the proof is in the pudding.
I'm told the lever-type safety is designed to be easily operated with winter gloves on.
Why was it recalled? When it fails, just moving the lever from safe to fire (putting the safety off) or moving from fire to safe (putting the safety on) -- fires the gun without touching the trigger!!!
Here is what Pat wrote me:
Pat: The recalled safety -- I still have a copy of the recall notice that was postedI just received this information from Chick Blood, the American Gunsmith Association technical advisor:
in Shotgun News somewhere. If I locate it I will scan it for you. My spas had the
lever safety and was defective. My safety worked in that it prevented the gun from
being fired while engaged. But if you had a round in the chamber and moved the
safety from "fire" to "safe" the gun would discharge- much to my dismay.
Chris: Yikes! I wasn't told it did that. More specifically, did you have to
pull the trigger when the safety was on, or did it fire every time it was turned on?
Pat: Every time it was turned on. It was not necessary to have the trigger
engaged while moving the lever to have it discharge.
On my gun more often than not it would fire when the safety was moved from
"fire" to "safe". I say more often than not because it would really depend
on the way I was holding the gun. Back in those days I had little knowledge
of how the SPAS trigger group worked, but I got the idea that the lever mechanism
was "catching" on something as it was moved to the safe position. I could
jiggle the lever sometimes and successfully move it to safe w/o discharging. Not
a episode for the faint of heart!
OK, I think we've got it.Here is what Andy just (8/16/00) wrote me:
At the time of its introduction, Franchi made the SPAS-12 and FIE imported
it. FIE is extinct. The gun had a rotating safety with a nasty design
problem: When the gun was locked and loaded with the safety on, moving the
safety "off" could result in a discharge. Franchi redesigned the trigger
mechanism to include a positive, button-type safety and American Arms began
to handle recalls for Franchi from 1989 to 1991. A.A. no longer imports
Franchi. Benelli does. Any queries on retrofitting a SPAS-12 with the new
safety system should be addressed to them.
Chris,I had been told the recall was just for the SPAS, not the SAS or LAW. I found it hard to believe the problem didn't affect all three guns -- and I was right. Here is what Joe just (4/27/01) wrote me:
I own 2 SPAS-12's (yeah, I know), and both have the lever style safety's.
Out of curiosity, I tested them out. Sure enough, one of them fails!
Here's what happens:
When the gun is cocked, then safety put on, nothing. But if you pull the
trigger while safety is engaged, you can feel it "give" a little.
Now try rotating the lever back to fire. You'll notice that the lever is a
bit more resistant while rotating, and as soon as it is placed back on
fire...click! (or BOOM! if you were stupid enough to try this with a
Thanks for the great info. You may very well be responsible for saving
Now I've got to locate at least one new trigger assembly.
Chris,Here is what Nigel wrote me on 6/12/2002:
I just bought a Law 12 from a guy that had it listed on your web site. I received the shotgun a few days ago. It too has two safeties like the Spa 12, it too has a level safety and yes, it too fires when moving it from safe to fire! Thank God I discovered this while it was unloaded!
The former owner only shot a few rounds through the shotgun over the years he owned it. Apparently he never knew the shotgun could accidentally discharge because he damned sure didn't tell me about it! Do you have any idea where I can send the shotgun for repair or from whom I can buy a replacement safety? I like the shotgun a lot, but this has really got me spooked! I would appreciate any help on this matter!
Hi Chris.Here is what ant wrote me on 7/12/2006 (condensed):
Do you know where I can get a new (button style) Trigger group?
My lever type one, fires the gun when moving from safe to fire if the gun is upside-down.
II've owned a spas 12 since 1996. I had a gunsmith that I know thru another pawnshop refurb
my gun up to manufactor standards just like when it came new out of the box.
He of course put the safety lever back on the gun because the previous owner
took it off ( now I know why ) and put the slide release lever by the
trigger back on there too. Well in
the course of bringing it out to unload it and clean it I was chambering
rounds through the gun and the 1st one locked into the chamber and since I
wasn't keen on the new safety switches I checked the side and the lever was
on fire, so I didn't want to put my finger anywhere near the trigger or the
safety release near the trigger. Well to make a long story short I found out
the hard way that this isn't an upgrade or a mod I really wanted on my gun.
I'm not scared of my gun but now it's not really going to be easy for me to
let my buddies shoot my gun without going thru the steps of how to really
use this so we won't have any accidents. Luckily the double OOO buck didn't
do much damage other then to my ego on my knowledge of this gun. My
intentions when getting these safety's put back on the gun was more of
wanting it original or stock. But now I'm not so sure this was the best for
I thought I would share my experiance with this episode so maybe there
wouldn't be an accident or someones life took over something as minor as
owner ignorance or a stupid switch. I of course haven't fired the gun since
and now keep it unloaded and until I get some time to really understand how
to work this I will probably just keep this gun out of my freinds hands. The
gun is still great but it's pretty sad to think that such a minor defect
would have such bad repercussions.
I love your website and it's by far the most informative on this gun that I
have found on the web. I also appreciate your info on the safety switch and
I think it should be renamed the kill switch since it will one day take a
life because of ignoranc. I thank god that I didn't have a more serious
accident and only had to patch the roof in a small area and touch up the
sheetrock. Looking back it was pretty funny because I almost crapped myself
and my girl was in doubt if I really needed this gun. But your article
backed me up alittle more, but I still take the blame for this since I
should have reaquainted myself with it before I ever put another round in
it. But then again " hind sight is always 20/20 "
I should have taken the
gun outside to clear it but since i've owned it for almost 10 years I was
pretty confident that i could clear the chamber without any problems. My
stepson was standing beside me when it discharged and my girl was lying on
the bed next to us when this happened. I'm just glad I had the barrel
pointed out of range of us or our heads just for this exact reason. I
wouldn't have had a clue that it would have discharged with this new
addition and if I read your site about 3 months ago I would have probably
not have had to fix the roof and the sheetrock. I was pretty sure that I
wasn't the only person this has happened to but it has been a learning
experiance. I've never had a gun accidently discharge in my possession
I Checked Mine, It Works Fine, Am I Safe?
No! It may work fine now -- but every gun that failed did work fine when it left the factory. Franchi would not have scraped 100% of them if some simple check could have sorted out the bad from the good. You have a time-bomb. For details see Why the Lever Safety Fails.
What can be done?
If you want the new cross bolt safety you can only replace the whole trigger group, but I don't know of any available from any source.
If you keep the lever safety, always make sure the gun is pointing in a safe direction when you take the safety on or off -- which is normal safety practice anyway. Or perhaps you shouldn't use the lever safety at all, just the so-called quick deployment safety?
Or perhaps you
shouldn't use the SPAS-12 at all! Chris
highly recommends that you do not use a Lever Safety SPAS, SAS, or LAW.
to Franchi SPAS Page