Possibly the most common classification of an AOW is the smooth bore handgun. According to the legal description of a concealable weapon, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives (BATFE) considers a weapon to be an AOW if it is a smoothbore, fires conventional ammunition (both cased ammunition and shotgun shells), is fitted with a pistol grip as original equipment, is less than 26 inches in overall length and has never had a shoulder stock. These firearms differ from a short-barreled shotgun (SBS) in that the SBS is made from a shotgun that was manufactured with a shoulder stock, has a barrel less than 18 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches.
Recently we tested a newcomer to the AOW field–the Typhoon 12. Manufactured in China by Hurricane Butterfly Research, a Type 7 manufacturer located in Washington State, the Typhoon 12 is based on the Remington 870-type action. However, it is configured to take a five-round box magazine. Caliber is 12-gauge, and the plastic magazine is limited to 2-3/4-inch shells due to space limitations in the action. With one in the chamber, the Typhoon 12 has a total six-round capacity. There is no ammunition in the former ammo tube. This AOW is manufactured at the same company that builds the Harrington and Richardson Partner Protector 12-gauge pump shotgun.
Overall length is 20.5 inches. It has a barrel length of 8.75 inches, not including the muzzle brake, and is configured similarly to a door breacher, which brings the total barrel length to 11.75 inches. Empty weight scales right at 5.8 pounds, and the plastic magazine adds two-tenths of a pound. Other barrels are available without the muzzle brake/door breacher.
The breaching barrel is purposely made to solve the need of law enforcement and military to take a door with speed and precision. The muzzle has large teeth to bite into the door and hold hard. Royal Arms International in Oxnard, CA, builds the breaching barrel. The barrel material is 4140 chromoly steel RC 48-52. The breaching section of the barrel is 1.225 inches in diameter. The rest of the barrel is .895 inch in diameter. The barrels can be built with either four, six or 12 teeth. They are heat treated and given a durable black nitride finish. The breaching barrels are direct drop-in replacements for the standard Typhoon 12 barrel; no machining or fitting required.
The mag has a plastic follower, steel floorplate and spring. When the last round is fired, the follower rises up into the action and holds the bolt open. The magazine release latch is between the rear of the magazine well and the front of the trigger guard. Full and empty magazines drop freely. A lip on the magazine stops it from seating too deeply. There are two holes in the side of the magazine, which allow a shell count.
During development, hundreds of rounds were cycled through the magazine with only one failure to fire. The chief engineer at the factory inspected the firearm and stated the problem was with the ammunition. A different batch was sourced, and no further problems were encountered. Some problems arose when steel shot was run through the Typhoon 12. Additional testing discovered that the wad/shot collar was causing some small malfunctions.
The forearm doesn’t have a fixed grip. Instead there is a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail fastened to the action bars which allows a number of grips to be used. The firearm tested has a Magpul Rail Vertical Grip (RVG) in place, but any foregrip configured for a rail can be easily interchanged.
The Typhoon 12 is imported unassembled, without a shoulder stock, so it qualifies as an AOW instead of an SBS, which requires a $200 tax stamp. It’s assembled with a synthetic pistol grip to follow BATFE requirements. There is an attachment point on the upper rear to take a single-point sling. A double-point sling can be attached by using the hole in the tube nut on the forward end of the tube barrel. If the potential buyer wanted an SBS, any butt stock for a Remington 870 would fit. It would have to be registered, and the $200 transfer tax stamp procured.
The Typhoon 12 should be available just about when you are reading this. There are 300 currently being shipped to the USA, and as this Small Arms Defense Journal issue goes to press (September/October), the distributors are cataloging them for sales. Hurricane Butterfly’s CEO told me that the price will be set in the $575–$600 range, but as this is being written, no final price has been determined. For comparison’s sake, the Serbu Super Shorty is priced at $1,050 with a Mossberg action, and an additional $175 if the Remington Breacher is selected. The Vanguard Sub Compact retails for $1,025. It’s built on a Remington 870 action with a 10-inch barrel, but without the door breacher. The Typhoon 12 looks to be a very good investment for buyers who want a 12-gauge pump AOW.
The Typhoon was shot at Green Valley Range in Henderson, NV. All testing was done at the 3-yard range. Federal 2-3/4-inch, 12-gauge OO buckshot with nine pellets at 1,325 feet per second filled the magazine. The first five rounds went into one large hole. The one shaky photograph caught the moment the fifth shot was fired. It’s admittedly a bad photo, but it does show the one jagged hole that 45 .33 caliber pellets will create out of a short barrel.
Your humble writer was a tad leery about touching off the Typhoon. 12-gauge pump firearms aren’t known for their gentle push of recoil. Add in a barrel less than a foot in length, and the results could be interesting.
In reality, it was fairly easy to shoot. Recoil was there, but no worse than an S&W 500 or a hot .44 Magnum. It was controllable, and three shots went into the same hole. A bit more practice would gain a lot more accuracy.
AOW Transfer Requirements
For the transfer of a National Firearms Act (NFA) weapon, such as the Typhoon 12, from a person, or entity entitled to transfer it (FFL Class III dealer) to yourself or a Gun Trust or LLC, a BATFE Form 5320-4 (Form 4) must be submitted to the ATF. An AOW weapon transfer requires a $5 tax stamp. Any violation of the NFA carries a heavy penalty. Fines can be as high as $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison. Also, any firearm involved is forfeited and destroyed. Other than the $5 transfer stamp, in lieu of the $200 stamp required with other Class III transfers, all NFA rules apply to an AOW. Law Enforcement and Military do not have to pay the transfer tax, Transfers are done on a Form 5 Tax Exempt form.
What it comes down to is this: For a potential buyer to purchase an AOW, the first step is to make sure the AOW is legal in the state of residence. Contact the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) and ask what the procedure for an AOW purchase is. Then, the buyer and the Class III dealer would have to fill out a Form 4, supply two sets of fingerprints on the FBI FD-258 fingerprint cards which will have to be done by the local law enforcement agency, provide two 2-inch x 2-inch photographs and do other related paperwork. All forms then go to the NFA in West Virginia. Expect a wait of 90 to 120 days.