The Penn Arms Striker is one of the most interesting tactical shotguns on the market.

Holding 12 rounds in a drum magazine, the Striker is considered a clockwork revolver. This type of action uses a spring-advanced magazine that rotates with each press of the trigger.

Striker shotguns are classified under the National Firearms Act as “destructive devices” and thus require federal registration, even for police use. The Striker is part of the Launchers product line of Penn Arms, which is owned by Combined Systems, Inc. Penn Arms also makes 37mm, 38mm and 40mm launchers as well as less-lethal munitions.

Breaching Beast

Penn Arms Striker gun
A bomb technician with the Flagstaff, Arizona, Police Department arms an Andros F6A robot with a Penn Arms Striker during a training exercise.

The Striker is a specialty shotgun best suited to breaching, mounting on robotic platforms or riot control using less-lethal loads and volley fire. Ballistic breaching involves destroying doors at the hinge or lockset area, often via specialty loads that fragment after impact. The idea is to immediately compromise the area in which the hinge or lockset is placed in the door, then attempt entry. Breaching guns are best when compact and short-barreled. A short-barreled gun is easy to sling over the back, allowing operators to use their primary weapons. Shorter guns also allow the user to accurately put the muzzle exactly where he or she wants on a door in a cramped hallway. The 12-gauge Striker’s forward grip aids in muzzle control for just this purpose.

The Austin, Texas, Police Department, the Jefferson County, Colorado, SWAT team and others use short-barreled Strikers for breaching. With a 7-inch barrel, a vented muzzle brake and the stock folded over the top, the Striker is only 18 inches long, yet it holds 12 rounds. In contrast, a 7-inch barrel on a tube-fed shotgun may only provide three shots. Because breaching is usually not a single-shot exercise—especially if have multiple hinges or locksets to defeat—the Striker’s 12-round capacity is a real advantage. No one wants to reload when the pressure is on and the criminals know that you are at their doorstep.

The Striker is also well suited for use on robotic platforms to discharge unexploded ordnance. The advantage is that the robot needs only to activate the trigger (no pumping of the action) and has 12 rounds to do the job, as opposed to the seven that come with most semi-auto shotguns.

The Striker is highly capable for riot-control duties. Rounds used for dispersing crowds are not powerful enough to cycle semi-automatics, and with 12 rounds at the ready, putting a large quantity of crowd dispersion rounds quickly on an area target (i.e., a prison yard) is easy to accomplish with only a few officers equipped with Strikers.

Running The Gun

Penn Arms Striker loaded
To load the gun, turn the winder at the front of the mag (shown), open the loading gate on the right side, drop a shell into the chamber and press the lever behind the grip to advance the next chamber.

The Striker is made for 2¾-inch or shorter 12-gauge shells. The magazine rotates with each trigger pull by spring tension. Loading the Striker is similar to loading a single-action revolver. Slide the loading gate downward, then rotate the spring-loaded magazine by pressing the magazine advance button at the rear of the grip or using the winder key. This allows shells in the loading port to drop into each chamber. With the gun fully loaded, close the loading gate and wind the drum fully to apply the spring tension necessary to rotate the drum when firing. Attempting to change loads from buckshot to ball is impractical because of the time needed and probability of a mistake. The Striker’s magazine cover has several small openings that allow the operator to see if a shell is in 10 of the 12 chambers.

For more information on the Penn Arms Striker, please visit

Like what you’re reading? Check out the rest of this article in the October/November 2016 issue of ‘Guns & Weapons For Law Enforcement’. For information on how to subscribe, please email [email protected] or call 1-800-284-5668.

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