The SPAS 12 Project was contacted by a visitor from Italy informing us they had contact with Franchi's Technical Manager, Enrico Alberti, responsible for the production of the SPAS 12. We asked if he'd be willing to pass along a short list of questions, to which he obliged and these were the answers we received. As a disclaimer: none of the information given is verifiable by any documentation. That said, absolutely no-one involved with the SPAS 12 Project has any reason to believe the information presented is deceptive or false.
Franchi Technical Manager
Q: How many SPAS 12's were produced in total? (Is the 37,000 number often cited accurate?)
A: "The number is close to 45000-50000 because 18000 were made for Egypt's police and army"
Q: How many SPAS 11's were made before switching to the SPAS 12, and/or why was the SPAS 11 abandoned?
A: "SPAS-11 was nothing more than a prototype of the 12, they made very few SPAS-11 for Italian police forces just to test it. They changed the design and the stock(to make it folding) as requested by special forces and testers but the mechanics are the same."
Q: What happened to the tooling equipment for the SPAS 12? Does it still exist?
A: "The Franchi PG80 was derived from SPAS-12 not the opposite. The tooling of PG80 were a modified version of SPAS's tooling. He told me that when Beretta "absorbed" Franchi, it took also the toolings and probably they have been scrapped."
Q: Who designed the SPAS 12?
A: "It was designed by a group of 10 people, the only name he remember (that was probably the team leader) is TOROSANI. Now works for Bernardelli" (SEE NOTE BELOW)
Q: Why was the grip safety abandoned from final production?
A: "The grip safety was abandoned because many police officers/special forces members and testers didn't like it that much, they preferred a lever/cross-bolt safety."
Q: Do you have any photographs or production materials from your time with Franchi?
A: "Unfortunately he told me that when Beretta bought Franchi, everything regarding SPAS-12 (from spare parts to schematics and catalogs) were taken by Beretta and then destroyed/scrapped, because Beretta refuse to continue the SPAS-12 production"
Q: What was the reasoning behind the 19 7/8" barrel length and why is it so uncommon?
A: "About the barrels he told me that so many different length exist due to firearms laws changing from nation to nation where it was exported"
This is a particularly interesting answer. There currently is a Piero Torosani at Bernandelli shotguns. If you're not terribly familiar with Bernardelli's firearms, a quick search will turn up a line of firearms including this one (click to enlarge the image to the right).
Familiar looking stock and receiver?
We've reached out to Bernardelli and will report back when any answers are received to update this page.