Smith & Wesson M&P 12 Review

by Travis Pike

February 28, 2022

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Smith and Wesson have returned to the shotgun world after a hiatus that spans decades. They didn’t return with a mere ripple in the pond but with a hearty wave and a bullpup, dual tube blaster known as the M&P 12. Today we plan to dive deep into this bullpup and see if it’s got some bite. 

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S&W M&P 12 Specs

  • Barrel Length 19 inches 
  • Overall Length 27.8 inches
  • Weight 8.3 pounds 
  • Width 3.7 inches 
  • Height 8.7 inches 
  • Caliber 12 gauge 3-inch chamber 
  • Capacity 14 rounds 

S&W M&P Background 

Smith and Wesson is an American classic in the arms-making world. They’ve been crafting firearms since 1856 and, as such, have their hands in a little bit of everything. Over time they experimented with various firearm types, including rifles, revolvers, and heck, even sub-machine guns for Vietnam. 

In terms of shotguns, they’ve never been a huge concern to S&W. In the 70s, they produced the Model 916, but it had problems. In the 1980s, they worked with Howa out of Japan to produce the Model 3000 and Model 1000, but in the mid-1980s, they climbed out of the shotgun pool until the mid-2000s, where they imported Turkish sporting guns for a short period. 

Smith and Wesson and shotguns have never really been a thing. It was quite surprising to see them swing for the fences with the release of the M&P 12. Sure, it’s a pump-action shotgun, but that’s about the only thing normal about it.

Deep Breath: The M&P 12 is a pump-action, bullpup, twin tube-fed, 12 gauge shotgun capable of holding up to 14 rounds of 2.75-inch shotgun shells. It’s a behemoth in some ways but quite compact in others. Bullpup shotguns keep things short, and since shotguns work best at close range, it’s good to keep things short. 

At only 27.8 inches long, it’s a fairly short little gun. That’s a hair bigger than the Mossberg Shockwave, which is a pistol grip-only firearm with a 14-inch barrel. The M&P 12 is a stocked shotgun with a 19-inch barrel. If it dipped below 26 inches, it would be an NFA item regardless of the barrel length. You’re also getting 14 rounds rather than 5! 

S&W M&P 12 Features 

S&W M&P 12 Features
1 Ambidextrous controls 
2 Twin Magazine Tubes 
3 M-LOK handguard and top rail 
4 Loaded Chamber Indicator 
5 Rem Choke Compatible 

Reviewing the M&P 12 Gauge – Our Take

There will and should be immediate comparisons made to the KSG. The KSG, from KelTec, pioneered the bullpup, twin magazine tube shotgun. While the two guns do have a lot in common, there are some very distinct differences. Off the bat, I think the M&P 12 is a better gun, especially for use in home defense scenarios. Along with that higher quality, we get a higher price point. The MSRP is $1,165, which puts it into the realm of professional fighting shotgun. 

Ergonomically Inclined 

The M&P 12 features a mix of ergonomics that range from amazing to meh. What’s meh? Well, like any bullpup weapon, reloading will be slow and difficult, especially when you have to get big hulkin 12 gauge rounds into an ejection port that sits so far back. Tactical reloads are near impossible, and it’s better to empty the gun and switch to a sidearm than try the classic shoot 2, load 2. 

That being said, 14 rounds of twelve gauge is a lot of punishment to disburse. The other downside to the ergonomics to me is the length of pull. It’s in excess of 14 inches and feels cumbersome to me. The good news is that the rest of the ergonomics are fantastic. 

We have ambidextrous AR-like safety that’s easy to reach, ambi pump release, ambi assist buttons for loading/unloading, an awesome rear and forward grip. Both grips are highly textured, and the rear grip makes use of palm swells that allows the user to adjust the size of the grip to fit their hand. The front grip allows you to easily cycle the pump and works as a safety device to keep your hand from slipping off the pump and in front of the barrel. 

What might be the best feature is the ability to swap tubes by just hitting a button on the pump. It takes no time at all and can be done on the fly to switch tubes. It’s quite nice. Those assist buttons allow you to unload without working the pump, and they simply put a little pressure off when loading. They aren’t necessary for loading, but nice to have. 

Shucking Rounds 

The front pistol grip makes recoil mitigation easy by allowing you to press against the gun with your offhand and pull the gun in with your dominant hand. Combine that with the 8.3 pounds of weight, and the gun doesn’t beat you up. Poor form will affect everything, but the gun’s reasonably easy to shoot and shoot fast. 

Having a bullpup platform also helps you control the gun, especially when it comes to muzzle climb. I found it easy to keep my gun down and on target through rapid-fire strings of buckshot without much issue. Also, as a bullpup, I can swing the M&P 12 from target to target with ease. A quick turn of my torso or good pivot brings the gun to bear quickly and easily. 

The short and sweet design makes it easy to manhandle and utilize indoors, and that makes it a pretty rock-solid choice for home defense. As does the ton of ammo the gun holds. Fourteen rounds of 2.75-inch buckshot are no joke. 

Round After Round 

In terms of accuracy, it’s a shotgun! I tossed a red dot on, zeroed it to buck, and boom, it lands where I want it. The trigger isn’t garbage for a bullpup, so that’s rather nice. It’s not particularly great as a trigger, and average would best describe it. Average for a bullpup trigger could be considered above average in context. 

I used buckshot and birdshot from a wide variety of companies. This includes your typical Federal and Hornady brands, but I also used some cheap stuff from Wolf, Monarch, and S&B, and the gun chewed through it all. Never did it find a way to fail. If it had, S&W came up with an interesting solution to a complex problem. 

The ejection/loading port has a top cover that can open up to release any rounds stuck in that area and grant you extra room to work the issue. I won’t say it’s sad I never got to use it, but it’s a good idea. 

Overall I appreciate what S&W did with the M&P 12. They took an interesting idea and refined it into a competent shotgun. It’s one heckuva choice for home defense and gives you an advantage in ammo and size compared to most shotguns. 

S&W M&P 12 Pros and Cons 

  • 14 Round Capacity 
  • Awesome Controls 
  • Easy to Shoot 
  • M-LOK Compatible Barrel Shroud 
  • Reliable 
  • Heavy 
  • Long Length of Pull 
  • Slow to Reload

Report Card

Shootability

For a pump-action, the degree of control and recoil reduction is fantastic. It’s easy to shoot and easy to shoot fast.

B
Reliability

It never failed to fire, extract, eject or load. Heck, the vertical grip helps make short stroking a thing of the past! It’s super reliable, as any pump-action shotgun should be. 

A+
Ergonomics

It’s a passing grade. The controls are mostly fantastic and well placed, I like the pistol grips, but the long LOP is tough for most shooters. 

C
Accuracy

It’s a shotgun! Point and bang, you’ll put buckshot right where you want it to go.

A
Value

At 1,165 bucks, we are getting into serious defensive shotguns. In fact, this is Beretta 1301 tactical prices, and I would suggest the 1301 before the M&P 12. 

C
S&W M&P 12 Grade

Our Grade

B

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

C-

Based on 4 Reviews

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The S&W 12 was a nice surprise, and it’s a well-built gun. As a bullpup, it’s short and sweet, and twin tubes provide more than enough capacity for serious shooting. 

S&W M&P 12 Gun Deals

S&W M&P 12 Ammo

Federal – Speed-Shok 12 GAUGE 3″

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Brownells $0.82
FEDERAL - TOP GUN SPORTING 12 GAUGE 2-34 AMMO

Federal – Top Gun 12 GAUGE 2-3/4″

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Brownells $0.42

S&W M&P 12 Starter Pack

If you’ve decided to pick up a M&P 12, or found another firearm suits your needs, there are some bare essentials you’re going to need to pick up in order to maximize its potential and your safety regardless of if it’s your first firearm or not.

Accessories & Upgrades

Safariland 2 Shell Holder
  • Easy to carry spare ammo
  • Cheap
  • Awesome accessories for shotgun owners
Amazon
Holosun 510C
  • Easy to use
  • Solar Backup
  • Three different reticles
Amazon
Barska Biometric Safe
  • Finger Print Opening
  • 3-Point Dead Bolt Locking System
  • DOJ Approved
Amazon

Caring for your S&W M&P 12

For a more in-depth look at this shotgun, check out Smith & Wesson’s video on this bullpup below.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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