Cobray Terminator at the Range: The Worst Shotgun Ever

Most of the guns made by Cobray are pretty awful, but one can at least understand the market they were made for. The Terminator is different, because it really is rather incomprehensible who would have actually thought that a single shot, open bolt 12 gauge shotgun with a terrible stock would be a good thing to spend money on. Really the only explanation I can come up with is that it looks industrial and mean, and I suppose some people would have bought it just for that.

Having taken one to the range now, my suspicions of its terribleness have been fully confirmed. It actually is painful to shoot, and the open bolt slamfire mechanism does a greta job of magnifying the inevitable flinch it will give you. It’s clunky and annoying to reload, and also to unload after firing. I never did figure out why it was failing to fire so much for me, unless it was simply a short firing pin with deep-set primers. To be honest, I don’t really care. I’m just happy to be able to send it back to the generous (if perhaps sadistic) viewer who loaned it to me.


  1. “only explanation I can come up with is that it looks industrial and mean, and I suppose some people would have bought it just for that.”
    If not plastics parts, at first glance I would tough it is from WWII made by resistance member having some mechanical skills, who take inspiration from STEN, but for some reason decided to make it 12 gauge. That would explained perforated shield, stock to able to deploy from under coat and dubious ergonomics (some weapon is still better than not weapon at all). And it looks formidable.
    Anyway, it must be noted that in case of European Resistance of WWII make-shift fire-arms were in most cases sub-machine gun, some were derived from STEN but not all, see for example:
    (which I think probably would win against Cobray Terminator in area of ergonomics)

  2. Ian is secretly twirling his moustache knowing he is going to upload a Chinese mystery pistol video tomorrow.

    • Remember about important marketing rule:
      the weaker weapon more cool name it needs
      And that is rule is far from being something new.
      Just take for example THANDER:
      whatever it is just error form of THUNDER or clever solution to dodge some trademark or something like this I don’t know.
      Anyway, it was just 6,35 mm Browning (.25 Auto) automatic pistol, thus far from powerful, even by 1920s standards.
      Also keep in mind reverse is no true, proud names could be also found applied to weapons deserving them, like for example Soviet-made THUNDERCANNON:

      • The Soviet nomenclature allowed for a name in addition to type and that was common practice, it was not a senseless boasting.

        On sideline and for general diversion. Upon my arrival to NA I was struck with overly ambitious if not outright threatening names for vehicles (such as Charger, Viper or Cobra and similar) to the point of ridiculous. I never seen an amicable name for car such as Cute monkey or Singing birdie. Although Honda motors did produce a minibike with name Monkey. Maybe it was intended as a counterpoint to mentioned nonsense. 🙂

  3. I know this doesn’t have anything to do with that crapy shotgun but keep making videos I literally watch every day There are the best firearms videos anywhere

  4. The designer was John P. Foote, who was a colleague and friend of Gordon Ingram and Maxwell Atchisson. They all worked for the Military Armament Corporation back in the 1970s.

    Foote specialized in extremely cost-efficient designs of all types; submachine guns, assault rifles, and even an LMG. Sterling Armaments in the UK were apparently interested in some of his designs but this amounted to nothing. He also designed a series of 9mm carbines under the name “Enfield America” (no official connection to RSAF Enfield) and they were sold as the ENCOM.

    Sadly it never quite worked out for him and he had difficulty finding manufacturers for his designs. I believe he’s still alive and retired now.

    • So in this case he literally shot himself in Foote. 🙂

      As you know it is hard to made silk purse from pig hide. Anyone who went thru course of history(not just to small arms) knows that.

      • It’s very easy to say that in hindsight, but coming off the back of World War II, a lot of people thought cheap, basic guns made from stamped steel were the way forward. And for a large part of the world, they were – most countries couldn’t afford to completely arm themselves with expensive, over-engineered gear. Hence why stuff like the Uzi, MAC-10, and Carl Gustav were successful.

        • Ok, but still I would say it was foreseeable that single-shot shotgun with quirky reloading method would spawn very little interests among military users, even that short on budget.
          I really doubt it to be so cheaper to justify choice of this weapon in place of cheap sub-machine gun.
          I wonder if: is not Cobray Terminator just answer to question no one asked?

  5. At least the “Liberator” went bang! You might have better luck if you hit that Axis sentry in the face with a nice, big custard pie…woo, woo, woo!

    • At least a Type 94 Nambu pistol fired when the trigger was pulled and it had a six-round magazine… and why not stick a large sheet of fly paper on the sentry’s face while you’re at it?

      • Fly paper? Great idea! Then you’ll have time to scissor through his suspenders!
        He’ll die of embarrassment!

      • Liberation not likely unless you have stupid guards smoking on the job. And trust me, there are probably plenty of sentries who tend to urinate in the river (for lack of an outhouse or portable toiletry facility) when nobody’s looking (perfect opportunity to shank the dude).

  6. At least, it looks compact when folded and with a better spring/striker it may fire. Loading gate seems big enough, rim is kept in place.

    This kind of thing once debugged could be an interesting open source project, but would it be better to make repeating shotgun based on Sten design?
    (if possible with locked breach and better butt plate and in caliber such as 20, 16 or mild to medium 12)

  7. The “Terminator” was about one tech level up from a slamfire Filipino “Paliuntod” shotgun;

    In that it has an actual searage and a forward-moving spring-driven bolt. Other than that, the principle (fixed firing pin hitting shotgun shell primer) is the same.

    “Pen gun” type shotguns show up rather frequently in odd places- like prisons;

    Note the ones in the lower right hand corner. Far more polished ones have been made in prisons all over the world.

    About the only practical role I could see for the Cobray when it was introduced was as a basis for an improvised SMG, requiring an altered or replaced bolt, the addition of a magazine housing, and etc. Needless to say, this would be highly illegal.



  8. It lives up to its name. You’ll get “terminated” trying to use this thing in a gunfight. I have to ask, was the designer high on cocain when they came up with the idea for it?

    • The Cobray Terminator was an attempt to bring the old single-shot-capacity shotguns from the post-medieval-to-Confederate-War era to the modern era by fitting the action inside a steel shell.

      • If so, for me it is hard to believe in designing weapon of such low reliability of which is center-fire and single-shot.

  9. When Rossi sells 12 gauge break-open shotguns for under $150. This thing does not even have a use, other than bolted to a wall as a display.

  10. Failure to fire is I suspect from maybe weak spring that does not propel the barrel backwards fast enough.
    Another flaw from that blow forward design!

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