When you get down to it, shotguns are pretty simple, right? It’s a smoothbore tube, a (usually) tubular magazine, a stock, and we pretty much call it a day. Well, we’d like to, but to be perfectly honest, no one ever innovated by keeping things simple.
As a shotgun nerd, I embrace designs that try something different, and the SRM 1216 from SRM Arms might be the most different a shotgun can be.
The SRM 1216 is a semi-automatic shotgun that uses a roller-delayed blowback action. That’s already weird because this is the most HK shotgun that HK has never made. Two rollers built into the gun’s bolt create a delay that allows the pressure to drop before the action cycles. It’s the only roller delayed shotgun I’m aware of.
The SRM 1216 feeds from a removable magazine. That’s not too weird these days. However, it’s also a tube magazine. Well, technically it’s four tubes, all connected together. You rotate the tubes when one runs dry to bring up four more rounds. When you run dry, you can swap tubular magazines.
Hence the name; 12 for 12 gauge, and 16 for the capacity. Each tube houses four 2.75-inch shells. The SRM 1216 is the standard model, and if you don’t mind the tax stamp, there are short barrel models with 13-inch and 10-inch barrels (and lower capacities).
The SRM 1216 From the Outside In
At only 33 inches long, the SRM 1216 provides a shotgun that’s plenty capable for home defense. It’s six inches shorter than a Mossberg 500 with an 18.5-inch barrel. It also offers a total capacity that blows most shotguns out of the water and doesn’t require a finicky box magazine.
The SRM 1216 features a polymer stock and a steel upper receiver complete with a tri-rail system for accessories. Obviously, optics are the main concern, but you can also mount lights, lasers, cup holders, and the like. A final rail section sits forward of the rest of the gun to increase iron sight radius if you go that way.
The safety is an AR-type design. My SRM 1216 features a left-side charging handle and a right-side bolt lock/release. While not detailed in the manual, the SRM Arms Youtube channel has a guide on how to switch everything to a left-handed design.
You can swap the charging handle, safety, ejection, and bolt lock to a left-handed configuration. It’s a fairly involved and lengthy process but can be done with some basic tools.
You can also just order the SRM 1216 in the configuration you want. SRM Arms can ship you a right-handed handle, a left-handed model, or some combination of whatever left- and right-handed features you want. A California variant also exists that requires a tool to remove the magazine. Since the magazine is four separate tubes, you’re not stuck with just ten rounds for less free states.
I love the left-side charging handle. I can work the action without moving my firing hand, and I don’t know why other shotgun companies don’t produce left-side or reversible charging handles. The bolt lock/release is also positioned perfectly for a quick and easy release. Press it forward with the trigger finger and the bolt snaps shut.
That Magazine Setup
The SRM 1216’s magazine is quite unique. You get 16 rounds, and if necessary, you can swap mags on the fly. Mag swaps aren’t AR-15 fast, but they’re not difficult either. At the front of the gun, just forward of the magazine is a tab that’s easy to press to remove the magazine.
Installing the next magazine requires you to set the magazine in the rear port and then push it up to lock it in. It’s not tough to do, but it’s different and requires some practice to really master. While I love the idea of removable tubular magazines, I doubt I’d ever had to reload in a home defense situation after 16 or 17 rounds with a +1 of buckshot. That all being said, I love having the capability to reload with a whole tube even if I never need to use it.
It’s also a bit of a must because you can’t top off the four tubes when loaded in the gun. You have to manually push a shell retainer out of the way to load the tubes. You have to do this for every round, and it requires both hands to do so. It’s not fast, but it’s not hard to do or super slow by any means.
SRM’s animation helps to visualize the 1216’s operation.
Blasting Away At the Range
Now, 800 words later, we finally find ourselves at the range. None of the cool features listed above matter if the gun doesn’t go bang.
Cool and unique semi-auto shotguns tend to have issues with reliability. I can’t lie and say I wasn’t a little nervous. I had gotten my hopes up and wanted it to succeed.
I brought a box of heavy-duty birdshot with a 1,350ish FPS rating, alongside some basic 2.75-inch buckshot, some reduced recoil Flitecontrol, and finally, some super cheap birdshot game loads.
I worked through my ammunition in the order listed above. I fired 400 rounds over two days and had only two failures. The first was a failure to extract and eject because, just for fun, I used a trap/skeet load from Winchester that’s 980 feet per second. Believe it or not, the first round cycled fine, but the second didn’t. I don’t count that as a real failure since those lite rounds won’t really work with any semi-auto shotgun.
The second failure I induced purposefully. The SRM 1216 website advised not to apply rotational force to the magazine while locked and firing. It’s a rotating magazine, so I can see the issue. But I wanted to see how much pressure it took to torque the magazine enough to cause a failure.
I fired four rounds and with each one, I increased rotating pressure on the magazine. It took a surprising amount of pressure to get the round to fail to feed. The pressure applied would be difficult to do accidentally and feels incredibly unnatural.
Overall the SRM 1216 didn’t break my heart. Even the cheap Monarch birdshot cycled without complaint, and I was pleased.
That 12 Gauge Recoil
Semi-auto shotguns often have the benefit of taking some bite out of 12 gauge recoil. They are typically a lot more comfortable to shoot than pump guns. However in a smaller, lighter frame, the recoil is right there.
The bullpup-ish design does mitigate muzzle rise surprisingly well, which I appreciate. Fast follow-up shots make it easy to spin out double taps and destroy paper targets. In fact, we might as well not even use paper targets and stick to steel. After a single magazine, your paper targets are gone.
Ergonomics in Action
So how does that 16-round rotating tubular magazine system affect ergonomics? While it’s a bit heavy, it doesn’t toss the gun off balance. The magazine can be rotated clockwise or counterclockwise, and a set of ambidextrous tabs simply need to be pressed up to allow the magazine to rotate.
Once you run a tube dry, the bolt locks to the rear. When you rotate a fresh tube in place, the gun will automatically close the action and load a round in the chamber. It makes transitioning between tubes seamless and simple.
If you use a push/pull method for recoil mitigation, you’ll feel your hand slide a bit. I might add some skateboard tape to the magazine to improve the grip.
The left side charging handle and right side bolt lock make the gun very simple to use. A 13.25-inch length of pull makes it roughly A1 stock length and is plenty comfy and far from being too long. Lots of shotguns utilize a length of pull that’s much too long for anything other than wing shooting. The SRM 1216 avoids that. Also, at 7.75 pounds, the gun isn’t hefty by any means.
It’s a well-thought-out design that works well ergonomically.
Home Defense Ready?
Sixteen rounds of Federal Flitecontrol is a mighty load for home defense. If a group of ninjas comes at me, I’m well prepared to deal with them. I feel confident engaging home invaders, ninjas, dinosaurs, and Alfred Hitchcock’s birds should that ever come to pass.
The SRM 1216 provides an ergonomic, above-average capacity shotgun with a unique design. The reliable semi-auto action makes it easy to disperse lead with little effort. I think this is a great gun. The biggest downside is the cost of extra magazines…roughly $200 a pop. Other than that the SRM 1216 is a fantastic shotgun.
Specifications: SRM Arms SRM 1216 Shotgun
Overall Length: 33 inches
Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Length of Pull: 13.25 inches
Weight: 7.75 pounds
Capacity: 16 + 1 rounds
Caliber: 12 gauge 2.75 inch and 3 inch compatible
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics * * * * ½
My one ergonomic complaint comes from the tubular magazine acting as a forend. A little texturing would keep your hand from slipping. I’m nitpicky, and I think SRM Arms did one helluva job designing the SRM 1216 and making it ergonomic to boot.
Accuracy * * * * *
Well, it’s a shotgun, so it’s tough to be inaccurate. However, I did use slugs out to 50 yards and made consistent headshots with the smoothbore blaster. The 6ish pound trigger is surprisingly nice for a bullpup.
Reliability: * * * * *
I debated taking a star off for the rotational force issue with the magazine but hesitated. Should user-caused malfunctions count against a gun’s reliability? If I put my thumb in the way of an AK charging handle and try to fire it, is it the gun’s fault? Transmitting enough force to cause a failure was hard to do and seems only possible when forced.
Ease of Use: * * * * *
This review is long enough, but given its unique design, the SRM 1216 is very easy to use, clean, and take down.
Overall * * * * *
While expensive, the SRM 1216 is a fantastic shotgun. It’s a very well-made and well-thought-out design that uses a unique magazine system that mixes the best features of a tubular mags with removable magazines.