Sledgehammer: Sol Invictus Arms Takes on the Legendary AA-12 Full- and Semi-Auto Shotgun

By Tara Dixon Engel

It has been a hero’s journey of sorts for the legendary AA-12 “Sledgehammer” automatic shotgun. In literature and mythology, the “hero’s journey” occurs when the protagonist springs from humble beginnings, encounters numerous obstacles, stays in the fight through challenge after challenge and emerges evolved and enhanced. That the hero of this story is steel and polymer versus flesh and blood, makes the story no less compelling.

Sol Invictus Arms, LLC, is a new gun manufacturer located in Melbourne, FL, born of Tactical Superiority, Inc., a multi-million dollar company that builds high-quality OEM parts used in nationally known firearms. The fledgling Sol Invictus will specialize in small arms for law enforcement and military, as well as in resurrecting and updating historic firearms of yesteryear. I had the opportunity to test the AA-12 full-auto and speak with Sol Invictus Arms’ CEO Mike Conn about the semi-auto’s redesign.

The Full-Auto AA-12

Shouldering the AA-12 in its full-auto form is vastly different from swinging up a modern tactical shotgun like the Mossberg 500 or even a bullpup variant like Kel-Tec’s KSG. For starters, the gun is heavy. My biggest initial concern was being able to keep it aloft long enough to shoot. The gun is designed for military use, with stainless steel construction that makes it tough to damage or foul, even under the most adverse conditions. Unfortunately, the military has also balked at the weight issue.

For those of us used to deer or duck hunting with a semi auto or pump shotgun, the AA-12 is truly unique and just a little unnerving. Sure, you’ve read that the recoil is mild but what does that really mean? The AA-12 spits out about 5 rounds per second (or 300 a minute). At that speed, with a drum that holds just 20 rounds, the whole experience is over in a flash, leaving you with a sensation akin to your first intimate physical encounter. You feel a delicious afterglow accompanied by an adrenaline-infused rush of thoughts like, “wait ... what? That was cool ... I...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N10 (December 2018)
and was posted online on October 26, 2018


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