The 21st Century U.S. military is transforming to a lighter, more agile force using technology to reduce the soldierís load while increasing his lethality and field sustainability.
Part of that effort is the Lightweight Shotgun System (LSS) (aka XM-26 Modular Assault Shotgun System) a 12 gauge weapon designed to provide the benefits of a shotgun for door-breaching and lethal or non-lethal munitions while keeping weight and logistics to a minimum.
10th Mountain Division soldier fires Lightweight Shotgun System LSS at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, February 2004.
10th Mountain Division soldier with the LSS (Lightweight Shotgun System).
Development of LSS began in 1999 by Coltís Manufacturing Co. Inc. and continued with C-More of Manassas, VA. The LSS was 100 percent designed from the bottom up to military requirements, using no off-the-shelf components. The system was fielded by a team from PM Soldier Weapons and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ.
The LSS proved very reliable during test firing of 15,000 rounds. Several hundred of the LSS were first deployed in 2004 to the 10th Mountain Division (18th Airborne Corps) in Afghanistan. They were initially issued one per squad, although the plan was to get one in every fire team.
Three Configurations of the Lightweight Shotgun System (LSS)
The first configuration of the LSS is an attachment that fastens beneath the barrel of an M16A2 rifle or M4A1 carbine, eliminating the need for a second complete weapon. LSS fires 2.75 and 3 inch shells of all types of lethal, non-lethal and door breaching rounds. The main application for a shotgun is MOUT, military operations in urban settings. Soldiers can use it to breach doors by shooting off hinges or door locks. Experience shows that breaching rounds are most effective when fired three inches or less away from the target. LSS is equipped with a standoff device so it can be put directly on the target and fired.
Also, with the rifle attached version, soldiers in a civil disturbance or crowd control situation can easily transition from nonlethal fire with the shotgun, to lethal fire with the rifle, without having to sling and unsling a separate weapon.
In addition to the configuration mounted under a rifle or carbine, a stand-alone version is available with its own collapsible buttstock, detachable pistol grip and handguards,. That version weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces, and is 24 inches long (with the stock collapsed).
A third configuration eliminates the buttstock entirely leaving a highly flexible and maneuverable weapon with great firepower suitable for MOUT or jungle combat.
Characteristics of the Lightweight Shotgun System (LSS)
The Lightweight Shotgun System weighs l2 pounds, 11 ounces with a five round box magazine (less than the M203 grenade launcher). It is 16.5 inches long and can be operated right or left handed.
The 12 gauge rounds can be loaded in the magazine in any mix of sizes as well as including anything from 00 buckshot to tear gas shells, non-lethal rubber loads or high-tech crowd control rounds.
LSS is manually operated with a straight pull bolt action with a reversible charging handle that can be switched for right or left handed soldiers. No sights are needed when mounted under another weapon, but the Picatinny rail on top of the receiver can be used to mount sights in the stand-alone mode.
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