Well the results are in on the prototype buffers! I spent my Sunday with over 100 rounds of some hard-hitting high-brass and buckshot loads to see if these buffers were up to the task of protecting your favorite shotgun! Results and pictures after the break!
Before I reassembled my SPAS I took the picture on the left showing the space between back of the receiver and where the bolt actually will stop and recycle. With the buffer being so rigid I felt very confident that my shotgun would be well protected with this buffer, but there's no better (or fun) way to really be sure than to take it out and put it through it's paces for a little while!
I started out the day with some Winchester Super X High Brass 1 1/4oz 5 shot picking off clay pigeons and firing aimlessly at my railroad tie/dirt backstop. I don't have an expansive range on my property to do anything too wild, but the goal of this test was simply to put the SPAS through what I would consider an average outings worth of abuse. My SPAS chomped through 50 rounds of the 5-shot without a single failure. This was great news not only because, well failures suck, but I was almost a little concerned that if the buffer was too tall it might cause it to short-stroke and fail to eject spent shells, however neither were the case here. These buffers are the same dimensions as other aftermarket providers have used in the past so short-stroking really shouldn't be an issue.
After the high-brass was expended I switched to a few makes of 00 buckshot loads, 55 rounds total. I started running more Winchester Super X 2 3/4" 00 buckshot and then moved to comparable Remington 00 buckshot for good measure. After spraying all 50 rounds of buckshot at paper targets (and pumpkins!) I happily had no failures. I still probably wouldn't set my SPAS 12 next to my bed at night over my HD choices, but it's nice to know that if I had to it would be up to the task.
After finishing a successful shoot, we cleaned up and I headed back inside to my workbench to assess the damage...of which there was hopefully none. After disassembling the (now filthy) shotgun I popped out the buffer. With the exception of some carbon it looked exactly like it did when I'd installed it.
I examined the buffer cavity and the back of the receiver closely. I saw no scratches, no peening, no marring, cracking, or damage of any kind. I could figure right when I looked at the buffer and saw it was still in 100% shape that I didn't have anything to worry about.
I mention this in the video, but I felt it needed reiteration here: the mounting stems on these feel stout and sturdy. There have been a few incantations of aftermarket buffers that have screws, some requiring the use of drilling a countersink into your receiver for installation. I'm not going to put those designs down at all, however I do feel these buffers will not have any issues whatsoever staying put utilizing the factory design. They snap in with a very positive "pop" and even after thrashing my bolt against it for a few hours it popped out and back in just as positively.
I feel confident in keeping one of these my SPAS 12. It's not a performance upgrade, it didn't help my accuracy, didn't make me a better shooter, it's not "tactical", it doesn't make the gun cycle better/harder/faster/stronger, it just dampens recoil and it works. That's it.
I'm going to get a small batch of these in initially (25) and see how they work. The prototype buffers were all blue but the actual run of them will be black (UPDATE 2015, now blaze orange for visibility while installed in the gun). If I have some of the prototypes left and someone would rather have a blue one just make a note of it in PayPal and I'll let you know if there are any left. I believe the price will be between $10-$15 each and I should have them on available on the site by this weekend (11/9/2013)
Sadly the only style available right now is the "new-style" buffer. Not for lack of trying, I still have not found a SPAS owner to lend the project an old-style (cone shaped) buffer to study and use to create a new version that will still fit properly. If you can help out here PLEASE email me at email@example.com and I will make sure everything is returned to you undamaged and also give you some great stuff including a few upgraded pieces made from your lent buffer.
Stay tuned, SPAS 12 fans!