Franchi LAW12 – Like the SPAS-12, but Semiauto Only

The shotgun in this video is coming up at auction here.

The LAW-12 was a sister product to the much better-known SPAS-12 shotgun made by Franchi in the 1980s. The SPAS was a selectable pump or semiauto system, and the LAW was semiauto only. This made it simpler, less expensive, and about 2 full pounds lighter. It was intended for the law enforcement market, with an eight-round magazine capacity (plus one in the chamber), a secondary “quick employment safety”, and  magazine disconnect for select-slug drills. It never did prove particularly successful, though, on account of its relatively high price and its lack of compelling features to distinguish it from other options available at the time. Importation into the US ceased in 1989 as a result of the Bush import ban, and production ended in about 2000.


  1. This shogun seems most intriqued Frachi products ever made. Trigger group is same with the one used in SPAS 12 and it causes some confusements. So called “Secondary safety” functions like “Slide Lock” of pump guns as retaining tuhe bolt in place when the hammer is cocked which is unnecessary even in SPAS 12 with the presence of recoil spring. The “Magazine cut off” is automaticaly released by impact of the first shell in the tubular magazine through inertia and releasing it manually when the bolt being open causes malfunction. The gun seems an economical intermediate model downgraded from multiaction SPAS12
    Which the price of it refuses.

    • I agree. Too expensive and it clearly does not seem to have been made idiot-proof. I know police generally pay more attention to maintaining their weapons than most folks, but asking them to read a 100+ page manual and learn what NOT to do during downtime is a bit much (I really don’t know if a user manual was issued with this shotgun at all). Why not just make the controls simple and intuitive?!

  2. Back in the days before the internet, where you can kit out your own 1100 from a myriad of aftermarket parts, & back before every manufacturer made a tactical/3-gun model, this was the “cool” shotgun. You got your pistol grip & your extended magazine in one set-up.
    I’d tote mine around to all the USPSA matches in case they had a shotgun side match & it’d hammer the steel down. It was also much more reassuring to have than a 1950’s vintage 870 for more serious endeavors.
    Only thing, the gun was AWFUL to shoot. After only a box of 1 1/8 oz. birdshot, I’d have the buttplate design bruised into my shoulder. With buckshot, it was too brutal to practice with. I think the poor stock design & the hard plastic buttplate really worked off each other to make this gun especially nasty to shoot.

  3. Mechanically, it’s a Remington 1100! I had the barrel of a Parkerized 1100 Special Purpose (3 in.) sawed off to minimum legal length, added a pistol grip stock like this and fore end and mag extension. It banged around in my pickup window rack for years for predators on the ranch. Not being used in competition or extended shooting, it didn’t bother me shooting it with 2 3/4 inch #4 buck.

  4. There was also a pump-only version called the SAS-12.

    All three (SPAS, LAW, SAS) suffered from being fundamentally sporting-grade designs with applied para-military features/cosmetics (and a horribly “kicky” fixed stock design). Most institutional uses stuck with 870Ps, or 590s.

  5. People who remark of shoulder ‘printing’ by this gun have good reason for it – it does not have self-adjusting valve, as many new guns do.

    For general interest; I had once tried 20ga Franchi which I was told was based on retarded blow-back. I did not have chance to open up action to see what’s behind it. The gun was very comfortable to shoot.

    • “I had once tried 20ga Franchi which I was told was based on retarded blow-back. I did not have chance to open up action to see what’s behind it. The gun was very comfortable to shoot.”
      What was length 20 gauge shot-shell you used? If same or shorter than 12 gauge, it is not surprising that it have milder recoil. Question is how much difference in felt recoil is caused by another ammunition itself and how much by shotgun design?

      • Firearms should be treated as systems of parts, ammunition included! Change one component and something else must happen to get better results… I hope.

      • I cannot remember; it was just couple of shots. But I remember the mechanism responded with reassuring clung. And Everyone at the scene was praising it.

        My own gun at the time was 12ga slide action.

        • Franchi still produces their own take on the Browning long recoil semi auto.

          I’ve never had the opportunity to get a really good look at one, and to think for a long time about the points where it differs from Browning’s original.

          As a fairly certain generalisation, changes from Browning’s designs are generally not for the benefit of the customer

          They get touted as “new” “modern” or “improved”

          And they’re generally for the purposes of production engineering, or outright corner cutting.
          For example the Remington “common fire control” that appears to be derived from a pre ww2 GM car door catch, and does away with the multiple levels of safety that are typical of mature Browning designs from around 1890 onwards.

    • The Franchi SPAS-12’s umbrella hook stock extension’s only tactical purpose is to give the SI experience of aiming-and-firing the shotgun one-handed by bracing the hook against the elbow, and when folded it compromises the shotgun’s streamlined profile by making it look tall enough to be seen even when the shooter is hiding behind ample cover.

  6. Australian Army used the LAW-12 stockless mounted on the Echidna EOD Robot.
    The secondary safety was a useful feature for loading it on the top-arm mount as the crossbolt was behind the solenoid, but a trap for young players not flicking it forward before sending the robot downrange.

  7. I have a Franchi Law 12. The first time I shot it, a lot of plastic type fragments started falling out of it. I’ve read that it has had buffer problems that did that. So I found someone online who said they sold Buffers, (CA Tech, LLC), and paid him paypal and never got the part. So I’m back to square one, does anyone know where I can get service or a buffer for this? Thanks!!

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