History of the Semi-automatic Shotgun
Semi-automatic shotguns have been around for as long as there have been semi-automatic firearms. The first mass-produced version was the venerable “humpbacked” Browning Auto-5, designed by John Browning nearly 120 years ago in 1898. It went into production in 1900 and was made until the mid-1990s.
Most examples that came after the Auto-5 relied on tubular magazines, which worked well but did not offer much capacity. This was fine for a hunting shotgun—but for military, law enforcement and defensive usage, more ammunition capacity was always desired.
The first truly successful version to use a detachable box magazine was the Atchisson Assault Shotgun in 1972. This was a fully automatic-only shotgun and was the basis for the USAS-12 model by Daewoo. When the Saiga-12 debuted in the 1990s they seemed to have worked out most of the bugs, with the exception of a reliable detachable magazine with a capacity greater than five rounds.
Often dismissed as a range toy, these shotguns are in fact fielded by military, security and police forces worldwide.