Copyright © Eugene Nielsen

Product EvaluationClandestine 12:
Sound-Suppressed Shotgun from Tac Ops

by Eugene Nielson

SWAT ArticleWhile the 12-gauge shotgun can be one of the most versatile and effective tools in the tactical arsenal, its muzzle blast and muzzle flash can be a serious liability in many tactical scenarios. The sound of the shotgun’s discharge can lead to "they shot first" scenarios when the shotgun is employed as a breaching tool. The muzzle flash of a shotgun can significantly impair night vision and give away the operator's position. When operating in explosive or combustible environments, such as is often the case when raiding clan labs, the muzzle flash obviously poses additional and potentially life-threatening problems.

The obvious answer to these drawbacks is the development of an effective sound suppressor for shotguns. This is easier said than done. The large bore diameter of the 12 gauge shotgun has been the major impediment to the development of an effective round suppressor. Conventional sound suppressor designs of a practical size have allowed 100 much gas to escape to effectively silence the weapon.

In the late l960s, the U.S. Navy, recognizing the difficulties in developing a conventional suppressor for the shotgun, developed a silent shotgun cartridge in conjunction with AAI Corp. Unfortunately, the silent shotgun cartridge, although technically a success, proved impractical due to its high cost of manufacture and low-lethality.

Now, over 20 years later and after four years of research and development, Tactical Operations Inc., of Beverly Hills, Calif, has developed the Clandestine 12. The suppressor utilizes an advanced, patent-pending design with proprietary artificial environment technology to provide performance that was previously unattainable with earlier designs.

According to Tac Ops, the suppressor will safely handle all commercially loaded 12-gauge ammunition - shot, slugs and special purpose. It took a special baffle design to allow this.

The Clandestine 12 package is built around the customized Remington Model 870 shotgun. The 870 was selected since it is the most widely used police shotgun. As with all of Tac Ops weapon systems that I have tested or examined, the attention to detail and workmanship on the Clandestine 12 is excellent.

The receiver is equipped with adjustable MMC ghost-ring sights with a tritium bar, Tac Star SideSaddle shotshell carrier, and a high-visibility fluorescent follower. All of the metal parts, except for the bore and chamber, are finished in Walter Birdsong's proprietary matte NATO Green-T and Black-T finish. Birdsong's finish was developed specifically for use on weapons. The finish has excellent corrosion resistance and lubricity. It’s also is highly wear resistant.

The shotgun has a Speedfeed I polymer buttstock with Tac Ops' special non-slip texturing on the grip. A Speedfeed III Tactical Stock is available as an option. The Speedfeed III is my choice over the Speedfeed I, as the Speedfeed III’s pistol grip design gives true one-hand control. The fore-end on the Clandestine 12 is a Sure-Fire Responder weapon light system. Both the buttstock and the fore-end are finished in green epoxy.

The Special Weapons Team of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is one of the tac­tical teams fielding the Clandestine 12 which was designed for use as a tactical entry shot­gun. Shown in photo are SEB Special Weapons Team members Bruce Chase, Cal Gallegos and Ralph Garay.

The suppressor was permanently affixed to the barrel on the prototype Clandestine 12. Production models have a removable, screw-on suppressor and a 14-inch barrel that is threaded for the suppressor.

Additional barrels can be supplied at additional cost. The second barrel consists of a standard Remington 18-inch cylinder bore barrel with a Wilson Combat Scattergun Technologies front sight with a tritium dot. A Wilson Combat Scattergun Technologies magazine extension tube is also supplied with the 18-inch barrel.

The suppressor has a stainless steel body and heat-treated aircraft-grade aluminum internal parts. Taking into consideration the fact that it’s designed to suppress a 12-gauge shotgun, the suppressor is exceptionally compact. The suppressor measures 10 inches long and has an outside diameter of 2.75 inches. There’s a tritium dot sight on the top of the rear end-cap.

The suppressor is a sealed unit and is designed to be maintained by user. All maintenance requirements are performed without disassembly. Cleaning is by immersion. Petroleum naphtha (safety solvent) is recommended for this purpose.

The suppressor does add a significant amount of weight to the muzzle. The Clandestine 12 suppressor weighs approximately 3.75 pounds, making the shotgun quite muzzle heavy. It’s certainly not a weapon that one would want to lug around all day.

Tac Ops is working on a prototype for a lighter and smaller suppressor for the Clandestine 12 which should significantly improve the handling characteristics of the weapon. The new suppressor will improve the balance of the Clandestine 12 and should eliminate any complaints about the Clandestine 12 being "too muzzle heavy."

Remington 870 Shotgut
Clandestine 12

The Clandestine 12 package is built around a
highly customized Remington 870 shotgun.

Close-up of Clandestine 12 muzzle stand-off. The
muzzle stand-off screws onto the muzzle end-ca
of the sound suppressor.

The shotgun is an extremely effective breaching tool that can offer a number of advantages over other methods of breaching during dynamic entries. It can do double duty, providing safer and faster tactical forced entries (with the appropriate frangible breaching ammo and proper training), while remaining effective as a defensive weapon.

Shotgun breaching is by no means limited to doors. Shotguns can also be employed to breach iron-barred windows, take out sliding glass doors, dislodge the shackles of padlocks, and defeat vehicle door mechanisms with little, if any, collateral damage.

Max Maven, Tac Ops gunsmith, developed a special 2-inch OD stainless steel stand-off for the Clandestine 12 suppressor. The muzzle cap of the Clandestine 12 suppressor has a threaded extension on the front for the stand-of The stand-off can be unscrewed and removed when not needed, reducing the overall length of the Clandestine 12. The muzzle of the stand-off is serrated to reduce the likelihood of slippage during door contact.

Because of the suppressor, there isn't any need for the stand-off to also serve as compensator. The Tac Ops stand-off is ported 180 degrees on the bottom. The ports are quite large and serve only to vent the gasses. The lack of ports on the top of the stand-off is intended to reduce the likelihood of debris being blown upwards towards the operator during breaching operations.

I met with Tac Ops' President, Mike Rescigno, at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Special Enforcement Bureau Special Weapons Team range for a demonstration of the capabilities of the Clandestine 12 and an opportunity to test and evaluate it. The LASD SEB Special Weapons Team is one of the tactical teams now using the Clandestine 12.

While at the range, an assortment of rounds were fired, both standard (supersonic) and subsonic. The muzzle sound signature with subsonic ammunition was reduced to a level that was the same as that produced by a .22 short fired from a rifle. Others that were present likened the sound signature to that of a .177 caliber RWS pellet rifle. Put another way, the manual cycling of the 870’s pump action was actually louder than the sound of a subsonic 12-gaugt round being fired from the Clandestine 12.

Close to 30 rounds were fired through the Clandestine 12 while at the range. The suppressor wasn't cleaned during the duration of the testing. No additional artificial environment fluid was added during the testing. There wasn't any noticeable increase in the sound signature as the tests progressed. The Clandestine 12 was as quiet at the end of the testing as it was at the beginning. The performance of the suppressor throughout the testing speaks highly of the design.

While I haven't had the opportunity to test the Clandestine 12 in low light conditions, Tac Ops assures me that muzzle flash has been eliminated with the loads that they have tested. Given the design of the suppressor, I have no reason to doubt this.
There wasn't any noticeable recoil or muzzle climb at all with any of the loads, even the heavy loads that would be real kickers in a standard 870. This actually wasn't all that surprising given the overall weight of the Clandestine 12 and the reduction of muzzle gas volume and pressure by the suppressor. The use of a sound suppressor can substantially reduce the recoil velocity and recoil energy of any firearm. Gas volume and gas pressure at the muzzle are major factors in free recoil energy.

Tactical Operations, Inc.
433 North Camden Dr. 4th Fl. #239
Beverly Hills, Ca 90210
Phone 310 275-8797
Fax   323 933-3521