Smith & Wesson has reentered the pump shotgun market with a big splash with the M&P12 Bullpup. The new M&P12 is a gun they designed from the ground up for home protection, and at first glance, it looks similar to the Kel-Tec KSG. Well, I am here to tell you it is nothing like the KSG, and I mean that in a good way. This bullpup scattergun is the one to beat.
Smith & Wesson M&P12 Bullpup Details
This S&W 12-gauge is a dual-tube-fed bullpup that can accept a combination of standard 2¾-inch, 3-inch Magnum and mini-shotshells (no adapter needed). So that means you can load a total of 15 shells (2¾-inch), 13 (3-inch) and 23 (mini-shells).
I know S&W listed 20+1 for the mini-shells, but photographer Andy Grossman was able to stuff each tube with 11. There is a push-button magazine tube selector in the forend, which was easy to use. You can only select which tube you want to use when the forend is in the forward position.
There are reload assist buttons at the rear of both the left and right magazine tubes. A light press allows for an easier reload, while a harder press will empty out the magazine tube. Reloading the M&P12 is a bit of a pain, but with some practice it keeps getting easier. Plus, the idea behind this shotgun is that you will hopefully never have to do a tactical reload in a gunfight.
The smoothbore barrel is 19 inches in length, but the M&P12’s overall length is only 27.8 inches. That makes it nice and compact to move around in tight spaces. The business end of the M&P12 is definitely intimidating. It comes with modified and cylinder chokes, Rem Choke–compatible threads and choke tube wrench included. Right above the barrel, you have M-LOK slots on the barrel shroud.
The steel receiver and extra magazine tube put the weight of the M&P12 at 8.3 pounds unloaded. Even though it weighs more than most standard pump shotguns, the extra weight isn’t noticeable. The engineers at S&W did a great job balancing the M&P12.
The Lower Receiver
The lower features an ambidextrous AR-style safety, which is quick and positive to use. It also uses S&W M&P’s AR grip, which comes with four interchangeable palmswell grip inserts. If you don’t like the grip, it can easily be swapped out with any AR-style grip.
A little warning before you do this: The grip that comes with the M&P12 also houses the takedown tool at the bottom of the grip. I like that idea, instead of searching through your gun junk drawer looking for it. Speaking of which, field stripping the M&P12 is actual surprisingly easy. I am not going to put words here about how to do it—go watch the video on the S&W website.
The M&P12 features a visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator. There is a Picatinny-style rail on top with plenty of real estate for sights and optics. No, the M&P12 does not come with any sights at all. The reciprocating access cover features a release button to help clear out damaged and/or stuck shells. There are also ambidextrous QD push-button bases for slings on the buttstock.
The forend on the M&P12 features serrations on the sides like S&W’s M&P pistols, just larger—a lot larger. The forend also comes with an M-LOK vertical foregrip, which is also removable. You can replace that foregrip with one of your choosing, or go without one. Personally, I liked it as is and kept it.
The Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen II was added to my test M&P12. The Gen II features a dedicated night-vision button (providing four night-vision settings) and an improved sight picture through the enlarged window, making getting on target even faster. Plus, there is now a toolless battery cover and reduction in overall weight—now just 11 ounces—bringing the M&P12’s total weight to 8.99 pounds.
Everything about this UH-1 Gen II screams speed, from its low-drag, no-snag looks, which complement the M&P12, to its lightning-quick EB-CQB reticle. The AMG UH-1 Gen II is rugged, allows you to maintain situational awareness and won’t give away your position. It can handle whatever you need it to, like a good home-defense optic should. Lastly, MSRP comes in at $800.
To put things in perspective, I ran in the M&P12 what I also ran in my Mossberg 500 ATI Tactical, to see what the difference in recoil would be. I was expecting the M&P12, because of the bullpup design, to be a little harsher. Surprisingly, its felt recoil was slightly less than the Mossberg’s, and I would attribute that to the M&P12’s extra weight and great balance. The trigger, for being a bullpup, wasn’t bad.
Thanks to the insanity of 2020 and 2021, defensive 12-gauge shotshells and even mini-shotshells were hard to find. I was able to get my hands on some Federal Force X2 and Fiocchi Defense Dynamics buckshot, Hornady American Gunner slugs, Winchester Super X buckshot and Winchester Diamond Grade Competition Target load. The M&P12 ate everything without a single hiccup, no malfunctions at all.
You can mix and match the 3-inch, 2¾-inch and mini-shells however you want. It just keep going and going. That’s what you want in a home-defense 12-gauge—it gives you the confidence it will go “bang” when you need it to.
Hands down, I had a lot of fun with the M&P12. It’s a hoot to shoot and it just about perfect for a home-defense 12-gauge. I wish they had put an M-LOK slot or two on the forend, so your hand would be there to work the light and/or laser. Having the M-LOK on the shroud makes it a bit clunky to work. That’s my tiny criticism of this ultimate home-defense shotgun.
I really like this M&P12 enough, and have enough trust in it, that I am going to send S&W a check and keep this one. The M&P12 will be my go-to scattergun for defending my family, home and property.
Check it out for yourself at Smith-Wesson.com.
Smith & Wesson M&P12 Bullpup Specs
Barrel: 19 inches
Overall Length: 27.8 inches
Weight: 8.3 pounds (empty)
Stock: Fixed synthetic
Finish: Matte black
Overall Capacity: 14+1 (2¾-inch)
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World Gun Buyer’s Guide December/January 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.