M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System

The M26-MASS (Modular Accessory Shotgun System) is a shotgun configured as an underbarrel ancillary weapon attachment mounted onto the handguard of a service rifle, usually the M16/M4 family of United States military, essentially making the host weapon a combination gun. It can also be operated as a stand-alone shotgun by attachment to a pistol grip/collapsible buttstock module. Rollout commenced in 2013, replacing the M500 shotguns in service.[2]

M26-MASS (Modular Accessory Shotgun System)
The M26-MASS configured under the M4 carbine.
TypeUnderbarrel Shotgun
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service2003–2011 (limited service)
2011–present (full service)[1]
Used byUnited States
WarsIraq War
Production history
DesignerIra M. Kay
ManufacturerC-More Competition
No. built9,000+
Mass3 lb (1.36 kg) underbarrel
5 lb (2.26 kg) with collapsible stock
3.5 lb (1.58 kg) with stock removed
Length16.5 in (419 mm) underbarrel
26.5 in (673 mm) stock extended / 24 in (610 mm) stock collapsed
18 in (457 mm) stock removed
Barrel length7.75 in (197 mm)

Caliber12 gauge
ActionManually cycled straight-pull bolt action
Feed system3 or 5-round detachable box magazine
SightsUnderbarrel configuration:
Zeroed for host rifle M16/M4 sights
Stand alone configuration:
Flip up non-adjustable iron sights or MIL-STD-1913 rail attached optic

Development edit

Soldier with M26-MASS configured underbarrel to M16/M4. Note that this M26 is missing the front sight folded over the barrel.
Left side of M26-MASS showing bolt handle.

The M26-MASS is a lightweight underbarrel shotgun configured to be secured to a main rifle, developed by C-More Systems and manufactured by Vertu Corporation[3] and originally marketed toward special operations forces. It attracted the interest of soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan who wanted a lightweight system that could eliminate the need to carry additional weapons.

The M26-MASS had been in development at the U.S. Army's Soldier Battle Lab since the late 1990s. The idea was to provide soldiers with lightweight accessory weapons which could be mounted underbarrel of the standard issue M16 rifle or M4 carbine. These would provide soldiers with additional capabilities, such as: door breaching using special slugs, very short-range increased lethality using 00 buckshot, and less-lethal capabilities using teargas shells, rubber slugs, rubber pellets, or other non-lethal rounds.

The original idea was based on the Knight's Armament Company Masterkey system, which dates back to the 1980s and originally comprised a shortened, tube-fed Remington 870 shotgun mounted under an M16 rifle or M4 carbine. The M26-MASS improved upon the original Masterkey concept with a detachable magazine option and more comfortable handling, thanks to a bolt-operated system which is manually cycled for reloading and is characterized by a bolt which must be moved backward to remove a spent case and forward to chamber a new cartridge. The relatively large bolt handle is located closer to the rear rather than the slide on the Masterkey pump shotgun, and thus is easier to cycle in combat. The handle can be easily attached on either side of the bolt. The detachable magazine offers quicker reloading and change of ammunition types.

The M26-MASS was chosen by the U.S. Military over the Masterkey as a breaching tool.[4] Small numbers of M26-MASS shotguns were issued to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The current contract calls for the delivery of 9,000 shotguns.[2] In February 2012, the first unit was fully equipped with M26-MASS.[5] At the same time the U.S. Army is in the process of replacing the M500s with the M26s.

War in Afghanistan edit

In May 2008, the Army announced it would procure 35,000 units.[6] The first M26-MASS shotguns were procured and fielded to military police and engineer units in 2010. However, some units in both Iraq and Afghanistan were issued the M26-MASS in small quantities as early as 2003.[7] Full initial fielding began in 2011.[8]

Specifications edit

M26-MASS Stand-alone configuration. Note that the "rear sight" is just the ring used to mount it around a rifle's barrel (as visible in the other pictures).
  • Caliber: 12 gauge
  • Operation: Manual Straight pull bolt-action.
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 round detachable box magazine.
  • Ammunition: 2.75 (70mm) and 3 in (76mm) lethal, non-lethal and breaching rounds.
  • Barrel length: 7.75 in (197 mm) with integral breaching stand-off adapter.
  • Under-barrel configuration:
    • Overall length: 16.5 in (419 mm)
    • Weight: 2 lb 11 oz (1.22 kg)
  • Stand-alone configuration:
    • Overall length: 24 in (610 mm) (stock collapsed)
    • Weight: 4 lb 3 oz (1.90 kg)

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ M26 MASS. Weaponsystems.net. (n.d.). https://weaponsystems.net/system/716-M26+MASS
  2. ^ a b Parsons, Dan (1 January 2013). "Army, Marine Corps Succeed in Rapidly Fielding Specialized Individual Weapons (UPDATED)". National Defense. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  3. ^ US Army’s M26 Mass 12 Gauge. Tactical-Life.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-22.
  4. ^ The C-MORE M26-MASS may be available to civilians. The Firearm Blog (2010-02-16). Retrieved on 2013-01-22.
  5. ^ 101st Airborne's 'Strike' brigade first Army unit issued M26-MASS shotgun | Article | The United States Army. Army.mil (2012-02-17). Retrieved on 2013-01-22.
  6. ^ U.S. Army set to buy 35,000 M-26 Rifle/Shotguns Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine. defense-update.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-22.
  7. ^ Lance M. Bacon (30 April 2011). "Improved carbines headed your way". Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  8. ^ Fuller, BG Peter N.; COL Douglas A. Tamilio (18 May 2010). "Project Manager Soldier Weapons Briefing for NDIA" (PDF). PEO Soldier. United States Army. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 November 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2010.

External links edit