Crossfire MkI: A Creature from the AWB Lagoon (Video)

The Crossfire MkI is a combination rifle and shotgun, with the two barrels sharing a single pump action mechanism. The shotgun is a 12ga bore, with a 4-round tubular magazine located on top of the buttstock. The rifle is a 5.56mm NATO barrel feeding from a bottom-mounted AR-15 pattern magazine. The initial design was debuted at SHOT Show in 1988, as a semiauto .308/12ga combination gun with a more conventional appearance, but it wasn’t until about 10 years later that the first guns actually hit the market, and they were 5.56mm and pump action only.

The Crossfire was, I believe, intended for folks who expected the combination of a rifle and shotgun to produce a universally handy weapon, suitable for any circumstance. The pump action simplified the design significantly, and also allowed the designers to use standard AR type magazines during the era of the US Assault Weapons Ban (1994-2004). In reality, however, the Crossfire is exceedingly awkward and requires a non-trivial amount of practice to run reliably (that pump handle is very far forward…). The gun had an initial MSRP os just under $2000; an insane price tag that helped solidify it position as a dismal commercial failure.

42 Comments

  1. I do remember these on the shelf of a local gunshop. Almost two decades ago. I didn’t buy one, though.

    Remington produced a pump action .223 that took AR magazines. It had nice peep sights, and I regret not buying that one more than the Crossfire.

    Thanks for bringing back old memories.

  2. I also remember when this came out. It was maybe a good idea for a weapon with a flawed execution, but they also used a misguided ad campaign trying to sell this to law enforcement as having bean bag rounds in the shotgun. I was trying to get a consulting gig with them at the time and I tried pointing out that it was pretty reckless encouraging folks to have to point a loaded rifle at someone in order to use less lethal rounds.
    Requiring an armorer to disassemble the weapon? I never knew that before. How did they think that the Army was going to buy this when they went for military sales?

  3. Wow, something even sillier than the “M203” 37 mm flare guns that bolted onto your AR. Just the thing to have if you got lost in between the house trailer and Der Preperbunker!

  4. Like the SPAS 12, which could malfunction as both a self-loader and a manually-operated repeater, the Crossfires in my experience could choke horrifically as both a rifle and a shotgun. 😉

    • Sometime it happens that: you try to make 1 thing with advantages from 2 different things, but in effect get thing which joins disadvantages from both

  5. Ironically, this thing would be illegal over here (pump-action shotgun).
    If the shot barrel was single-loading instead… you could do away with the selector, make the stock a bit shorter, probably move the rifle action back so there’s no space between magwell and trigger guard…
    I can’t help feeling that would make the weapon unarguably better.
    Lighter and cheaper as well, of course.

    • Notice that weapon in your link is pump-action rifle. Just rifle. Not rifle-shotgun combination.
      In late 19th in US rim-fire pump-action .22 rifles were quite popular (see Winchester Model 1890)
      John D. Pedersen in early first half of 20th century designed some pump-action rifles for Remington (model 121, model 141, model 25)
      Marlin produced Model 27 pump-action rifle firing .25-20
      But all were just rifles, not blended weapons

  6. The H&K XM29 OICW was sort of a self-powered (i.e. autoloading/
    selective-fire) iteration of this same concept on steroids.

    Like the Crossfire, it showed that the “Swiss Army Knife” concept works remarkably well in pocketknives, but not so good in infantry rifles.

    As in Vietnam, you have to accept that the guy in the squad with the Special Weapon (shotgun, blooper, WETF) either needs it bolted to his rifle (as with the M203), or else needs a pistol or SMG for self-defense.

    The M26 shotgun system is probably the least unreasonable answer to this problem;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M26_Modular_Accessory_Shotgun_System

    BTW, when they tried to sell this thing to my former employers, I quickly learned that not only do you need to learn an entirely new set of muscle memory to pump it, but anybody much under 5′ 10″ probably hasn’t got the necessary “reach”, and thus enough leverage, to do so when firing from the shoulder.

    cheers

    eon

    • “M26 shotgun system”
      Hmm… under-barrel repeating shotgun. Does anyone tried to make under-barrel sub-machine gun (or machine pistol)? I think that it might be more compact that stand-alone sub-machine gun, because high rate-of-fire wouldn’t be such problem, considering mass of whole weapon.

      • I’d think that an under-barrel SMG on an assault rifle would be less logical than the shotgun.

        If you just want to kill something with full-auto fire within 100 meters, the rifle will do it far more effectively than a pistol-caliber weapon would.

        The underbarrel shotgun I think is mainly to have a shotgun handy if needed, without having a squaddie stuck with just the shotgun and no rifle. It probably gets issued to one man in each ten-man section, stuck under the front end of his AR. Just like one man in each ten gets a grenade launcher under his rifle’s business end.

        It’s an extra “adjustable wrench” in the squad leader’s toolbox without depriving him of a rifleman.

        cheers

        eon

        • Closer to one in four or five is a grenadier and likewise a breacher with the shotgun to dynamically unlock doors. Same way the SAW gunners. That way each three to five man fire team covers all the bases. I’m not sure how prevalent Designated Marksmen are, as all of this is well after my time. We were still lugging M60s then.

  7. Amusing!
    Perhaps it’s intended role was to blast (shotgun) open doors, then shoot bad guys with .223.
    Ian, have you considered filming an episode about door-breaching shotguns?
    ……….. or any of the dozen other UGLys bolted below barrels of assault rifles?
    Ian, can you name any other shotguns with quick-change tubular magazines?

    On a related note, do you know of any revolvers with quick-change cylinders?
    RobW

    • The same act of door-breaching can be done with an under-barrel grenade launcher and a regular M16. Plus you aren’t required to flip a fire-selector and manually cycle the action while taking out the other team.

      • The best way to “breach” a door is with a door ram;

        http://www.cainstructor.com/Articles/Door%20Ram%20August%202014/Door%20Rams.html

        Among other things, shooting out locks and/or hinges with a shotgun carries a serious hazard of either a ricochet hitting someone on your side, or a miss penetrating a wooden (solid) or plywood (hollow-core)door and hitting somebody on the other side.

        NB; drug dealers have been known to have kids in their houses, both as “runners” and in event of a breach by gunfire. Fire at a downward angle=hits kid due to being closer to floor=public outcry against the police. Very Bad Thing, even disregarding the Obvious Bad Thing, i.e., you don’t want to hurt a child!

        A ram takes the door down and the only risk to occupants is maybe being too close to the door and getting hit by it.

        It’s very good for dealing with perps who watch too much TV, and think “I’ll hide behind the door and shoot the pigs in the back as they come in past me”.

        As Judge Dredd might say, “Eat door, creep”.

        Best of all, a ram is actually pretty cheap. I’ve seen them made from “found” materials like pipe, etc., for under $20.

        Way cheaper than a “breaching barrel” for a shotgun.

        cheers

        eon

          • Yes, I’m quite sure that explosive entry is a great way to get the drop on the defending party, if you assume there aren’t any potential hostages in the room. Pole charges can blow a door off its hinges. Sliding doors are a different story. If you’re braver than usual, drop-kick the door after a good running start. The receiving end will not see that coming until he gets your shoes in his face… or am I wrong?

          • CD;

            I’ve seen that trick done. The last time, the ex-college fullback who did it tripped over the door, ricocheted off the doorframe, and ended up skidding into the room on his chin. He also fractured his ankle in the process.

            And oh yes, the SWAT tam had to get around and over him to get into the room full of drug dealers before they could go to Grab Weapons Phase as they say in gaming.

            As a crime-scene tech, I was watching from a safe distance. And got to see the sheriff and prosecutor groaning and shaking their heads. No, this did NOT look good in court.

            Like I said, grab a piece of pipe (18″ of 6″ water pipe works well with one end threaded for a cap), an old brake drum, some sheet iron (wrought, not cast), a couple of pieces of 1″ diameter steel rod with rubber hosing around them for handgrips, some strap iron for the “bails”, and visit you local welding shop.

            They’ll make you a nice door-opener for about $20 and it takes about two hours.

            Don’t forget to fill it with sand- yes, plain old sand- before you swing it at any doors.

            cheers

            eon

  8. that just seems impractical and silly, if you really want a shotgun/rifle combination go find one of the savage o/u models sure they are single shot for both but they always work and don’t make you go ew

  9. A first! I believe this is the first time here that every operation of every function of a particular firearm works poorly. Meh.

  10. California tacticool Moonbeam Brown special!!! I thought these thing were a overpriced joke when they ran ads for them in Shotgun News. Did anyone buy this thing outside the state of California?

    • Assuming it isn’t a SPAS-12. I owned one. Even assuming you could get the dual safety to function correctly, it rarely worked right.

      Best choice is still a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 pump-action.

      Other than the old Colt Lightning series and the Remington 760s, pump-action centerfire rifles have been few and far between.

      The only other ones I can think of were the Browning BPR version of the sporting BAR developed during the AWB, and the Springfield Armory pump-action in .357 Magnum, that never worked well and sold even less well.

      Frankly, I’ve never seen much a pump-action rifle could do that a lever-action couldn’t do as well or better.

      For anyone who responds, “lever-actions can’t handle high-pressure cartridges”, I’d suggest looking up the Winchester Model 88, Sako Finnwolf, and/or Browning BLR.

      Also, back in the early Seventies, P.O. Ackley and Jack O’Connor got together and designed a lever gun with a Winchester-type rotating bolt designed to handle anything up to .458 Winchester.

      It was intended for fast shooting on African heavy game at close range, but I’d say it would be a prime choice for “walking up” a Kodiak, grizzly, or polar bear, too.

      cheers

      eon

      • “Frankly, I’ve never seen much a pump-action rifle could do that a lever-action couldn’t do as well or better.”
        Pump-action should be better suited for (very) long cartridge (notice that there exists 12/89 pump-action shotguns, where 89 stands for overall length of 89mm).
        I am not sure: can repeating lever-action rifle use very long cartridges?
        Anyway, in times when new (shorter) cartridges (duplicating older long cartridges) are introduced easily, it is dubious advantage.

        • The Winchester 1886, designed by John Moses Browning, was chambered for a variety of “long” rounds, such as the .40-72 WCF (OAL 3.15″), .45-82 WCF (2.88″), and .50-100/.50-110 WCF (2.75″).

          The Winchester M1895 with the box magazine (another JMB design) chambered even more emphatic “long” cartridges, such as the .38-72 WCF (2.75″ OAL) and the legendary (if a bit overrated by Theodore Roosevelt) .405 WCF (3.18″).

          Today, the advent of the Short Magnum rounds, like the .300 and .338 Winchester Short Magnums, make cartridge OAL something of an irrelevancy.

          Many modern propellant powders show better burning characteristics in cases that are relatively short compared to their internal diameter. The long, narrow cases were largely a remnant of the black-powder era, when as much case capacity as you could create was needed to get as much black powder in as possible if you wanted as much velocity as was practical with that sort of propellant. (Rarely above 2000 F/S, as it turns out.)

          Today, modern powders can cause strange effects if loaded in cases that are too “long”, resulting in unwanted pressure peaks at the wrong place in the burning curve inside the barrel.

          A modern, strong lever-action combined with modern short magnum cartridge cases would probably solve most of not all of the above-mentioned “issues”.

          cheers

          eon

      • What l would like to say was, an autoloading rifle or shotgun which to be cocked, not via common cocking handle or arm connected to the bolt, but via an slidable forearm capable to push the bolt rearward, but locking to the barrel or frame at foremost position. One way cocker like AR15. The gun to work as an autoloader but, in case of an interruption issue to eject and load by forearm actuation rapidly by aid of non triggering hand.

  11. First of all, great channel!

    I’ve been playing catch-up with older Forgotten Weapons videos and just came across your analysis of the Crossfire pump rifle/shotgun monstrosity. I’ve no doubts that your conclusions about its particular flaws are entirely justified — even if the action worked smoothly, the location of the pump handle and slide lock are pretty awful. However, at the end you made a blanket statement against ‘pump-action mag fed 223’ rifles.

    I’d certainly agree if your point was that a semi-auto AR will beat any manual repeater. However, try looking at this from another direction: for whatever reason (mainly legal), you are in the market for a rapidly-operated manual repeater. Even the best bolt actions are slower than a properly designed pump or lever action. My feeling is that pumps are, generally speaking, a bit faster and less disruptive of your sight picture than lever actions. A box-type magazine is better on all counts than a tubular magazine, which also rules against most lever actions. In fact, the current choices are limited to the Remington series of pump rifles and the Troy Defense PAR, precisely the kind of AR-15 adaptation you consider wrong.

    My prime consideration was whether the Troy PAR was, irrespective of the AR heritage, a good pump action design. First of all, I much prefer its extractor over Remington’s riveted clip. Ergonomically, the slide lock is located directly behind the mag well and the pump handle is about the same distance from the trigger as my Remington 870 — the transition between these guns is easy. The slide release is actuated by the fall of the hammer rather than inertia, so it is very reliable (barring parts breakage). The pump handle is attached to a tubular slide riding within the free-float handguard and therefore does not touch the barrel. The action bar (rod) appears to be at least as robust as any AR piston system. In use, I’ve found the feed and ejection cycle smooth and reliable using standard MagPul P-Mags. Since there is no buffer, it is available with a decent folding stock. Mine appears to be AR-level accurate using white box FMJs.

    The most obvious drawback to any pump action firearm is that reliable manual operation requires practice to avoid short stroking. There may be specific manufacturing defects to the PAR that surface later, but from a design standpoint the more I use it the better I like it.

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