Smith & Wesson M&P12: Juiced Up and Ready to Rock!

October 5, 2021
Kevin "KJ" Jarnagin

Here we go. Smith & Wesson entered the shotgun market…again. Their previous venture featured a side-by-side, over-under, and semi-auto. However, this time they’ve focused their attention on the home defense side rather than the hunting side. The M&P12 is a far cry from those shotguns, and this one has the look and feel of a Smith & Wesson. 

Let’s start out with some specs on the M&P12. The bullpup-designed shotgun is nothing new to gun fanatics. Still, Smith & Wesson, they've expanded the thought process and manufacturing capabilities. If you're like me, this should excite you about what Smith & Wesson can produce and what they are willing to do to boost our home defense solutions. 

Smith & Wesson M&P12

Caliber: 12 gauge

Weight Unloaded: 8.3lbs

Optics Ready: Yes

Safety: Ambidextrous safety selector

Grip: M&P with four interchangeable palmswell grip inserts

Magazine Capacity: 7+7 (2 ¾” Shells) or 6+6 (3” Shells)

Overall Length: 27.8 inches

Barrel Length: 19 inches

Price: $1,165

Nothing shocking with the specs on this gun. If you look at similar guns of this ilk, you do see a slight increase in weight. For me, that is a bonus. When mitigating recoil, a little weight goes a long way. I’ll take all I can get. 

From the start, when I held the shotgun, I felt the familiar feel of a Smith & Wesson M2.0. The grips included with the M&P12 have the same grip texture as the M2.0, which provides a solid surface to grip. 

With two independent tubes, you select between the two. One tube can be housed with buckshot and the other slugs. I look at this feature as a choose your own adventure type of situation. Smith & Wesson gives shooters options from a wide variety of shells the M&P12 eats. 

Did you know you can fit an entire box of mini shells into the M&P12? That means you can fit 20 mini-shells in the M&P12. It takes a while to load, but it is totally worth it. This is one of the small things that make a significant impact. The ammo situation does need to be addressed while we are here. The M&P12 eats anything, aside from 3 1/2 -inch shells. 

I believe we all have those boxes of shells leftover from hunting seasons past that accumulates over time. My goal was to stop the M&P12 dead in its tracks. Not happening. The M&P12 devoured a steady offering of old shot, new shot, mini shells, number 4s, duplex loads, and I threw in home defense loads for good measure. It's a reliability thing with this bullpup shotgun. If I can run through any shotgun shell out there and it runs steadily, that's the gun I can trust when the manure hits the ventilator. I so wish I had come up with that quote, but I must attribute that to our editor, Michael. 

It’s not exactly shocking that Smith & Wesson entered the tactical shotgun market. I think the shocking thing for me is where they started. A bullpup shotgun is nothing new. The M&P12 is a far cry from the import, sporting shotguns produced years ago. 

I spoke with Corey Beaudreau of Smith & Wesson to give a little insight into why the bullpup before traditional style tactical shotguns.

"When development first started for the M&P12, we needed to establish the why behind the what? For us, self-defense and home protection were at the forefront. The engineers and production team at Smith & Wesson looked at what a home defense shotgun would look like. Therefore, we decided to go with the bullpup design. Bullpup shotguns run a wide variety of ammo, are short, ergonomic, and run reliably."

This short statement answered a bunch of questions for me, personally. A great introduction could have been a pump or a semi-auto shotgun, but going with a bullpup design when Smith & Wesson knew it would draw comparisons to others on the market? That's a bold move, but when it runs as good as this one, it's no wonder they launched the M&P12. 

Most naysayers of the M&P12 point towards the KSG, but most fall off when asked if they've shot the home-defense shotgun from Smith & Wesson. Is the M&P12 on the higher end of the price range? Yes, but what is protecting your family worth? For me, I'm looking at the function, feel, and reliability of the firearm when it comes to the defense of my family's lives. We fixate on the price when that is a minor factor when determining if a gun is worth the investment.

When it comes to the M&P12 and whether it is worth it? Purchase with confidence. ~ KJ


Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a bass boat. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, KJ always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind.

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