Streetsweeper Shotgun (Video)

It may seem sometimes that I’ve never met a gun I didn’t like…but I can assure you that isn’t the case. The Streetsweeper, for example, is a pretty terrible gun.

Originally designed in 1980 by a Rhodesian man named Hilton Walker, the Striker shotgun was refined and manufactured in South Africa before making its way over to the US. Its claim to fame was a 12-round capacity in a fixed drum magazine, which was significantly larger than magazine capacities available in other shotguns at the time. Today, of course, there are several magazine-fed shotguns that can give the same capacity without all the negative features of the Striker/Streetsweeper (primarily the Saiga-12).

The more refined South African Striker guns used the vertical front grip to load and wind the drum and featured automatic ejection of spent shell cases, but the version built in the US and marketed as the Streetsweeper (could they really have picked a worse name?) was a simpler and cheaper design. The Streetsweeper has a winding key on the front of the drum, and shells must be manually ejected with a rod much like a Colt Peacemaker revolver. It also “features” a nice cylinder gap, and sprays gas and particulates for out the front of the drum onto the shooter’s forearm and out the back into the shooter’s face. The trigger is a double-action type similar to a revolver’s, except that the first stage releases a catch and allows the drum to rotate one position under spring tension, where a revolver rotates with pressure supplied from the trigger mechanism. The second stage of the Streetsweeper (I feel dirty just typing that name) trigger releases the hammer to fire a round.

In 1994, the Treasury Department issued a finding that the Striker-12 and Streetsweeper shotguns did not have a sporting purpose. Since they have bore diameters over .50 inch (as do all 12ga and 20ga shotguns), this redefined them as Destructive Devices under the NFA. As such, existing ones had to be registered with the ATF, and sale of one today requires a $200 tax stamp and the standard NFA transfer process. The side effect, however, is that barrel length of destructive devices is unregulated, and to the guns can be cut down to 12″ (the shortest convenient length, given the handguard) barrels without any other paperwork or legal issues.

I got my hands on an example of the Streetsweeper with its original 18″ barrel, and took it out to the range for a spin:


  1. That has to be one of the best explanations of “this is a very poor gun you don’t want one” I’ve ever seen.
    Especially given that the transfer tax would be a big part of the cost (maybe more than the cost) of all manner of really 1st rate firearms that are safer, more pleasent, and probably actually faster in any sort of confrontation.

  2. doesn’t the US military have a 40 mm version of this that is highly regarded? By the way, your link isn’t clickable as it should be.

  3. Terrible is right. Given a choice, a Breda Modello 30 light machine gun seems a lot better to me than the Streetsweeper. At least loading a Breda 30 isn’t as cumbersome a process as it is for this shotgun (no winding key needed)…

    Let’s pit the two terrible weapons against each other. The Breda is limited by its fixed hinged magazine (and it is fed by 20-round strips), a need for oil and cleanliness, and a lack of a good fore stock. Its sights need to be re-zeroed every time the barrel is changed. The Streetsweeper has a revolver action loaded Colt Peacemaker style but requires a spring to rotate. There is cylinder gap (ouch, I was burned) and a long trigger pull (little accuracy, even for a shotgun). To unload, spent shells have to be ejected manually.

    While the Streetsweeper doesn’t jam, it seems to have no real purpose apart from looking cool. I mean, what is a revolver shotgun in this configuration supposed to do, scare people? The Breda 30, unreliable and ugly as it is, has a purpose (squad fire support) which it at least fulfilled to some satisfaction.

    • Was that the 1981 film adaptation of the Frederick Forsyth “white-mercenaries-in-Africa” _Dogs of War_ with Christopher Walken wielding a 25mm “Manville gun” with greatly exaggerated pyrotechnics and with FN/Israeli Uzi 9mm SMGs in lieu of the MP40s of the book?

      The “Protecta” and “Stryker” should be understood–or at least contextualized–as peculiar products of the last years of white rule in Rhodesia and apartheid in South Africa and the gun culture of those two nations. Then, as often now too, white farmers were frequently targets of attack by the black African majority who frequently held grievances against the white-dominated political order, or who saw these farmers as relatively prosperous and therefore targets for robbery and/or murder. The appeal of a relatively compact firearm that could be used by an outnumbered white Eurpeoan-descended farmer against multiple assailants with bludgeons and knives and agricultural implements like hatchets and machetes and so on led to a number of odd “Forgotten weapons.” The “Armsel Striker” or “Protecta” offered 12 shots of 12 gauge shotgun ammunition. Still another firearm was a semi-auto only version of the Czech samopal VZ 25 or 26 in 9mm Parabellum or 7.62x25mm Tokarev caliber that retained the 40-round magazines in a compact, telescoping-bolt SMG design that could not be used for full-auto fire. During the wars in the frontline states the SADF captured quantities of Soviet and Yugoslav-supplied Eastern European small arms, including the Czech SMGs, so magazines were fairly common.

      The “Armsel Striker” and the aforementioned semi-auto-only Sa.25, in turn, spawned the somewhat bizzarre MAG-7 by Techno Arms PTY, a shotgun with a 12-inch barrel and overall length of just 21 inches feeding special shortened 12-gauge shells through a box magazine in the pistol grip. Still another odd shotgun design was the 27-inch long Neostad with two 6-shot tube magazines for a total of 12 rounds.

      Somewhat ironically, these firearms were intended for something quite like the U.S. popular culture “zombie apocalypse” scenario, where the white Boer/Afrikaner/European-descended farmer would have a firearm at his/her disposal while the mob of presumed atavistic aggressors would have melee weapons…

        • Was just about to mention the MAG-7. I saw one for sale for about $500 two weeks ago. Now we have a selection of mini-shells to use, whereas when the were first available, ammunition was scarce.

      • David, that’s a very good analysis and digression on your part — thanks! In the meantime, I’ll stick to my Mossberg 500 Persuader 12-gauge :).

      • I don’t remember ever actually seeing the film.

        I only got to southern africa in the mid 2000s, long after Rhodesia had become uncle Bob’s Zimbabwe.

        White farmers in Africa currently suffer one of, if not the highest homicide victimization rates in the world, and most African countries rigorously enforce gun laws on whites.

        somewhere I have a photo I took of a big police poster in Nairobi, offering rewards for snitching about guns, and there’s a letter box below it to receive written tip offs – very effective that was in stopping the recent mall siege.

        The VZ25 style Rhodesian semi auto carbines were on sale in Britain in the early to mid 1980s under the name of “cobra”.

        looking for a picture, there appear to have been at least 2 versions, one with a round tube receiver, like the Czech guns, and a square receiver version patterned after the Uzi.

        I got to fire a couple of examples of the round receiver guns, they were pretty crappily made, with moulded plastic lowers, and still with open bolt firing, they grouped ok compared to other carbines from a rest, but the flimsy stock wasn’t conducive to good offhand shooting.

        There were also one or two Sterling “police Carbines” advertized, which had made it back from Africa. They were open bolt and differed from the SMG in having an interchangeable semi auto only trigger group.

        There were also other bits and pieces of “Rhodesiana” which showed up in Britain. I got a well used copy of the Frankford Arsenal report on silencers.

        Unfortunately the British cops had stolen the best books from that batch before I got there:

        “You don’t really want this sort of stuff do you sir?”

        unfortunately the guy who was selling the books either didn’t know or didn’t dare to tell the cops to either pay for them, get a warrant or bugger off.

        • According to Small Arms of the World (9th ed.), the Sterling Police Carbine originated during the Mau Mau guerrilla campaign in Kenya in the 1950s. They were sold to “planters” (white property owners) as defense weapons against the terrorists, whose main activities apparently consisted of random murders and robberies, plus cattle rustling. All without respect to the victim’s ethnicity; the Mau Mau were mainly from the Kikuyu tribe, and most of their victims were themselves Kikuyu.

          A good book on the subject is Man-Hunt In Kenya, by Ian Henderson and Philip Goodhart.



          • 32 White settlers in the Kikuyu ‘European highlands’ slain.
            Something like 11,000 “Mau mau” Kenya Land and Freedom army rebels and Kenyans killed…

            David Anderson, _Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire_ (NY: WW Norton, 2005).
            Donald L. Barnett and Karari Njama, _Mau Mau from Within: An Analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt_ (London: Monthly Review Press, 1966).
            Robert B. Edgerton, _Mau Mau: An African Crucible_ (NY: Ballantine, 1989).
            Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, _A Grain of Wheat_.

        • You are right… It is all coming back. The “Rhuzi” was the square-stamped version, no? There were other oddities like the Northwood R76 and other similar weapons.

          The Rhodesian/S. African VZ25 knock-off was the Sanna 77:

          So these are “de-wats” over in the UK?

          • Back in the eighties, the live semi autos were coming into Britain. There was a wonderful period when there was a fashion for semi auto pistol calibre carbines.

            some were like the Rhodesian Cobra and LDP, and the original Sterling Police Carbine, manufactured semi auto and firing from an open bolt, there were also a few open bolt guns converted to semi auto only. There were also the long barrelled closed bolt look alikes which had been designed for the US market.

            They were banned and all the licensed ones either had to be de-activated or were confiscated, after a mass shooting in 1987.

          • Well spotted for the similarities to the Star Z62

            The twin recoil springs, captive on their guide rods, the absence of the inertia bolt lock and the screw rather than spline barrel fixing are notable deviations from the Star (as a teenager, I was fascinate by Star’s carbines)

            The 1970s and 80s in southern Africa seems to have been a golden era for simplified carbines.

            I wonder how many have survived intact? with hindsight, when I was working over there I should have made enquiries to see whether there were any reference collections that I could have gone and seen.

            200 Rhodie dollars for a carbine! I’ve had getting on for $200,000,000,000 (200 billion) in zim dollar notes in my shirt pocket – the guy who loaned them to me, got out of Zim before the $100,000,000,000,000 (one hundred trillion) notes were issued. by the time they came out, they wouldn’t even buy you a couple of squares of toilet paper. I guess Paul Krugman might have approved of uncle Bob’s quantitative easing policies.

      • @ David Carlson

        If you take a close enough look at the Dogs of War, you’ll notice some of these ‘Uzis’ are in fact Austrian MPi-69, a much more interesting and almost completely forgotten weapon.

        • I’ll be darned! I’ll have to check that out sometime.

          There is a hoary old story that some hapless victim of the 1975 OPEC terrorist attack in Vienna by Ilich Ramirez Sanchez aka “Carlos the Jackal” the PFLP and some members of the German 2nd of June movement got his hands on a Steyr MPi-69 but couldn’t figure out how to cock the weapon [pulling the receiver against the carrying strap], and thus wasn’t able to get a shot off against the terrorist gunmen… Like many hoary old stories, it is probably a myth, but who knows?

          Thanks for the observation.

  4. And don’t forget about the Cobray version that was re-machined to accept 45-70 ammo, and it was affectionately called “The Lady’s Home Companion”. It’s quite a LOT of “handgun,” with a 30-something pound pull single-action trigger.

  5. nice video
    let’s say i got more money than common sense , how difficult would it be to make the cylinder swing out like a normal revolver to make reloading easier and to incorporate a gas seal

    • IIRC (I handled a Streetsweeper a long time ago) it’s built on a solid frame like a Colt Peacemaker. So to make it a swing-out cylinder you’d probably have to machine an entirely new frame with a proper cylinder arbor from scratch.

      As for a gas-seal, that would require either tracking the cylinder forward to insert the case mouth into the barrel’s “forcing cone” (like a Russian Nagant 1895 7.62mm revolver), or else rebuilding it so the barrel could be moved forward and back, probably by the forward handgrip; forward for cylinder rotation, back for sealing.

      I could see a “pump-action” version of this monster that used a ratchet like the Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver or the older Mauser “Zig-Zag” revolver, to rotate the cylinder with a stud tracking back and forth in the topstrap.

      Combine that with a barrel mechanism that moved the barrel back and forth about 1/4″ at the beginning and end of a pumping stroke, and you’d have your “gas-seal” barrel and probably a more reliable mechanism overall.

      I think the Pancor “Jackhammer” auto shotgun used a setup like this to rotate its cylinder. But I don’t recall if it was gas or recoil-operated. At least it wasn’t a “hybrid” like the magnificently complex and confusing Franchi SPAS-12.

      I used to own one, and got rid of it when I realized that its dual safety systems made its use as a defensive shotgun pretty much a moot case. By the time you got both safeties “off”, an assailant would probably have taken the gun away from you and proceeded to beat the ever-loving you-know-what out of you with it. It’s one good point was that it was big and heavy enough to make a decent club.

      I sold it for about twice what I had in it. Worked for me.



      • The Jackhammer is one of the most gloriously stupid designs ever made. It’s a gas-operated, blow-forward-ish (The barrel is the piston and goes forward), Webley-Fosbery-like revolver that was originally designed to use non-reloadable “cassettes” as the cylinders that could double as land mines, and also required trigger to be pulled to remove the cylinder. It is also important to note that it is a cylinder, and as such has to index perfectly every time despite being a removable magazine.

        Needless to say, it was an abject failure, but one of my personal favorites, like the Gewehr 41(M).

        • Jeremy, at least the Gewehr 41 (M) was easier to load than the Jackhammer or the Streetsweeper. And it was probably not as cumbersome, save for its weight distribution. I would rather have the 41 (M) in a firefight, even though it’s hell to maintain.

  6. Watching the Streetsweeper in action was a walk down memory lane. I never bought one, but remember them well. There was also a .45/70 pistol version made, though I only saw one example. A poor shotgun design it may be, but it is an extremely poor pistol design.

    For the time, it had some good ideas that just didn’t quite make it. I have no regrets for not purchasing one back then.

  7. The Cobray Ladies Home Companion, the “mini-street-sweeper” in .45LC/.410 and listed as a pistol isn’t a Class III weapon

  8. about 10 years ago TSKIB SOO design bureau in Tula, Russia, designed and manufactured (in very limited numbers) an revolver-type shotgun with 5-shot swing-out cylinder, the MTs-255:
    it was available in 12 and 20 gauge, but sales were poor and I’m not sure if they still make it
    They also designed a 12Ga “combat” version with pistol grip and side-folding stock, but it never went past prototype stage, not surprisingly

    • There is also gun called Taurus/Rossi Circuit Judge chambered in .45 Long Colt/.410. The revolving shotgun is poor concept due to 2 reasons:
      1.Gas-leak between cylinder & barrel, you must note that in long-gun revolver cylinder is nearer face that in handgun-revolver.
      2.Big cylinder diameter due to caliber (remember that 12ga is equal to .729″ and “small” 28ga is equal to .550″).

  9. The design is bad but needs to be seen in context. When this gun was designed Rhodesia was a country under heavy sanctions and under pressure from a guerilla war that would eventually destroy it. It had to develop an arms industry fast and in such desperate times all things are considered and similarities to the last ditch weapons of the third Reich can be drawn except there was no real manufacturing base or tradition of firearm design in Rhodesia. The design could be made and got out to rhodesian farmer’s quickly and yes its not pretty but still offers a lot of firepower for a small investment

  10. Incidently anyone remember i think something called the spider a vehical roof mounted circular array of 12 gauge barrels (12 i think) that was developed in Rhodesia at this time. You couldn’t aim it I think you just fired it off when your truck was ambushed and prayed it scared someone off. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Actually looks more like the stuff seen in Libya during their revolution than third Reich.

    • That’s a pretty good way to put it. People in desperation will do some strange things. I suppose then that the Rhodesian guns were the stopgap solution to a problem compounded by lack of intellectual resources (no arms industry means no expert gun smith). Assuming that I had no experience in firearms making but plenty of machining expertise and materials (steel pipes, plates, and bars, and ammo too), I could try improvising a crude gun. In this perspective, the Streetsweeper is better than nothing. Of course, you need to get better guns when you get the chance. Stopgap solutions will not solve the problem completely.

  11. @ Keith and David Caelson :

    Fascinating and insightful information on relatively obscure weapons designed and built under duress at a time of great political turmoil. These would definitely make for real collector’s items today.

    @ Max Popenker :

    Very interesting link, Max. Great information!

    @ Daweo :

    Excellent link concerning the Becker. BTW, the Taurus Circuit Judge is very popular among gun owners here in the United States, and actually works quite well for its intended purpose, so much so that ammunition manufacturers have come out with matched ammunition kits ( featuring specialized .45LC and .410 loads ) specifically for this gun. Also, since it is configured as a revolving cylinder short carbine, complete with substantial buttstock, the larger cylinder diameter required to accommodate the .410 shot shells is not really an issue at all.

    To all, many thanks for sharing such intriguing and valuable information!

  12. Since this is new and quite broad subject, I’d recommend as a source well written book by D.Long “Streetsweepers” (Paladin Press; soft cover) as a reference. This is well researched and based material including ballistics, types, history and tactics.

    The author examines types of uses with even military potential. This is where I was involved one time and developed my own views. The major problem here is limited range capabilities of buck type of ammunition. Yet, it is an attractive area of thought, since some sort of hybrid shots still wait to be developed. If that happened a whole new field of versatility in shotgun based weapon can be found.

    • Thanks, Denny. I agree.

      Not long ago, Ian reviewed Timothy J. Mullin’s _The Fighting Submachine Gun, Machine Pistol, and Shotgun: A Hands-On Evaluation_ (Boulder: Paladin Press, 1999) that concluded the “best” SMGs were the MP5 for accuracy, the Australian Owen for reliability, and the “Sten gun test” where if a given SMG design cannot surpass the 9mm Sten gun and costs more to produce, it is not worth the effort… Similarly, he noted that shotguns have consistently been civilian sporting arms modified for fighting use. Thus, the Winchester M1897 is not appreciably different from the WInchester M12, which is not appreciably different from the Mossberg 590a1…

      Duncan Long, _Streetsweepers: The Complete Book of Combat Shotguns_ (Boulder: Paladin Press, 2004).
      Thomas F. Swearengen, _The World’s Fighting Shotguns, V. IV_ (Alexandria, VA: T.B.N. Enterprises, 1978).

      • And to fill it up:
        “The combat shotgun and sub-machinegun” (Special weapon analysis) by Chuck Taylor (Paladin).

        There is no substitute for shotgun’s short range capability. SMG second best and handgun distant third.

        • Aha! It *can be done!* 😉

          I’m thinking the Finn 9mm 1944 version of the PPS43, the Polish PPS43/52, and maybe the German volkssturmmaschinepistole 3008 “last ditch” Mk.III copy–none of which were evaluated in the Mullin’s book–might be usefully compared to both the Sten and the PPS-43. Thanks.

  13. Regarding the Brady Bunch getting involved, it looks like it back fired on them. When the ATF reclassified it as a destructive devise, it meant it was harder to use it for the poster boy for across the board bans. Recall an episode of CNN’s Crossfire back in the early nineties where some guy was trying to debate Pat Buchanan that this particular gun and all like it (the key phrase) ought to be banned. They liked to bring the evil guns on the show back then. Recall another time when someone brought an M-11 looking gun, complete with fake suppressor. I remember thinking, well, most cops would appreciate it if crooks would put a big honking piece of useless pipe on the front of their 9mm semi-automatic pistols, and make the pistols as boxy as possible. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the problem was “saturday night specials” that were cheap and easy to conceal–then suddenly it was these expensive, bulky non-concealable things that were the problem. It was the age of trying to scare people with how something looked, not with what it was capable of doing.

    Jo Jo’s comments do a good job of explaining why it was made. From a manufacturing point of view it would be easier to tool up for this than for a Remington 870. Simpler machining, no forgings, simpler timing/tuning, etc. The appeal to people in the US was purely the appearance of it. In any sort of practical competition it would be hard to see it beating any Remington or Mossberg pump gun, even without an extended magazine.

    • Sorry that this is so late Jacob, but the Brady bunch was just following the 1934 playbook–wave the evil looking Tommy gun around while working to ban the real “evil gun”–revolvers! It backfired in 1934–handguns were off the table, the 12 round magazine limit was off the table, semiautomatic firearms were off the table. Ghosts of that handgun ban are present today in the ban on short barrel rifles and sawed off shotguns, often used as handgun substitutes when real handguns are unavailable.

      Thank you, Homer Styles Cummings! If you had taken the victory of registering every legal handgun and licensing every legal handgun owner at the federal level with the original annual renewal process, the Second Amendment would have been buried with a stake in its heart, garlic in its mouth, sealed in a lead coffin somewhere below Hoover Dam! All with the blessing and support of the National Rifle Association, too–they wrote the original bans.

  14. While living in Arizona the ban on the Streetsweeper was being considered. I wrote my US Senators. Senator Dennis Deconcini (or his staffer) replied with such gems as “your definition of semiautomatic isn’t my definition” and telling me how terrible this weapon of mass destruction was, that it had no sporting purpose what-so-ever…

    My complaints were three: first and foremost squandering political capitol on a ban that at best would be symbolic, banning this “semiautomatic” when it wasn’t semiautomatic at all set a bad precedent (and made the lawmakers supporting the ban look mechanically incompetent), and I’d much rather see street gangs disarm themselves with this rare and expensive shotgun than upgun by getting single-shot shotguns!

    Ian’s video on the loading, firing and unloading procedure demonstrate how much potential there is for error. Fail to wind the shotgun up enough and it won’t work. Reviews of the Streetsweeper mentioned a high malfunction rate, sometimes tying up the gun until it could be dismantled. Pulling the trigger to advance the cylinder for unloading is asking for an unintended discharge. The Streetsweeper 12 is much less accurate than a conventional “sporting” shotgun (accuracy is hitting the intended target) and the heavy two-stage trigger doesn’t help any. As for rate of fire, if everything is set up correctly firing 12 shots in six to twelve seconds is possible. A good pump shotgunner can fire five or six shots in three seconds (depending on magazine capacity–ten shot pump guns can fire ten shots faster than the Streetsweeper and will have a higher hit probability) and then rapidly reload. A single shot “farmer’s friend” shotgun has more accuracy, can shoot more rounds in sixty seconds, and even though those bargain bin shotguns are lightweight and have heavy recoil, are more comfortable to shoot than the Streetsweeper.

    Let’s get into real world considerations. Johnny Lee Wicks walked a full-sized Mossberg 500 shotgun through downtown Las Vegas without being detected until, short of courthouse metal detectors, he whipped out his shotgun and started shooting.

    World War One trench combat demonstrated how devastating the pump shotgun could be–and the loading port on the bottom permits a skilled shotgunner to keep up a high volume of fire–high enough that the plastic shotgun hulls become a liability.

    No, I suggested that banning the Streetsweeper was going to force street gangs to buy cheaper, easier to use and more effective “sporting shotguns” while discrediting the gun control movement.

    Good thing that Senator Deconcini’s staff didn’t listen to me.

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