The Army has began to issue the M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS) to troops. The first to receive this new shotgun is the 2nd BCT of the 101st Airborne Division according to Clarksville Online . So what exactly is the M26?
It’s a 12 gauge shotgun that can be mounted underneath a M4 rifle or used as a standalone shotgun. Because it is magazine fed, it measures only 24 inches in standalone configuration and 16.5 inches underneath a M4. Its a “bolt action” meaning you have to pull the charging handle to the rear and then push it forward to chamber the round. Its pretty much a pump action but with a little handle on one side.
Is there a need to replace our Mossberg 500′s we currently have? Depends on who you ask I guess. Yeah I get that you are supposed to be able to transition from your breaching weapon to your primary weapon (M4), but is the cost worth it? I know our shotguns never leave the wire. Our machine gunners carry them around the COP and I have never had to use a shotgun to breach a door here in Afghanistan, atleast where I am.
The Army issued me a M320 grenade launcher. Same concept as the new M26 shotgun. You can use it underneath your M4 or you can use it standalone. I can tell you from experience, having anything mounted to the bottom of your rifle sucks. It becomes heavy very quickly, and makes it awkward to shoot effectively with your M4, so we use them in a standalone configuration.
In a standalone configuration, the “bolt action” will come into play. You will have to remove your hand (and therefore a good grip on the shotgun) to chamber the round and then return your hand making for slower and I am guessing less accurate shot groups then a traditional pump action. I know that this is not intended for direct use on enemy and made for breaching, but what if you need to use it as a direct force weapon?
I will say that the M26 in standalone configuration does look pretty good, but it looks absolutely horrible attached to the M4.