The BTS 12 – The Ukrainians Adopted What Shotgun?

Ukraine MOD

It’s recently been revealed that The Ukrainian military has adopted a new shotgun. It is not just any average shotgun but a mediocre Turkish mag-fed bullpup shotgun. They picked the Escort BTS-12. I’ll give James Reeves all the credit for breaking the story in my world. Apparently, a few military and defense-oriented websites had reported it prior, but James brought it to the forefront. 

The Ukrainian military has received billions of dollars in aid and weapons but apparently didn’t receive any decent shotguns. The Escort BTS-12 is just one of a glut of bullpup mag-fed shotguns being produced by factories out of Turkey. These guns are exported around the world, and they occupy the shelves of a great many American gun stores under several brand names with slight differences in configurations. 

These are cheap money pits and certainly aren’t suited for a modern war. Admittedly, the Ukrainians weren’t looking for fighting shotguns. The 68th Jaeger brigade adopted these shotguns to deal with FOV drones. That’s an important role, but not a direct close-quarter battle shotgun. 

What’s the Problem With the BTS-12 

The Escort BTS-12 shotgun is a gas-operated bullpup shotgun that’s magazine-fed. The included magazines hold five rounds of ammo, and the gun can chamber up to a 3-inch cartridge. There are a few models of the BTS-12, and it seems like the Ukrainians have an older model with carry handle fixed sights. 

Ukraine MOD

Hatsan states the gun has a self-regulating gas system, which isn’t unique but fairly typical. The gun likely uses a Remington 1100-style gas system, and Hatsan crams it into a plastic bullpup shell. 

That description is about as generic as it gets for bullpup shotguns these days. These Turkish guns are everywhere and follow that exact description. The American gun-buying public must be hungry for them. 

After briefly looking around online, I found they are available for as little as 300 dollars. That’s a fairly typical price for a cheap Turkish shotgun. The folks buying these tend to be low-information gun owners who think they’ve found some futuristic option for a semi-auto shotgun. You won’t see any professional trainer pick one up and declare it the new hotness. 

Ukraine MOD

What’s the problem with these guns? It comes down to long-term reliability. The variant James Reeves reviewed didn’t make it through five hundred rounds without an issue. These guns tend to fall apart and are perfect for the low-information crowd that doesn’t tend to shoot that much anyway. I imagine these durability problems will become hyper-evident on the battlefield, where they’ll be knocked around and beaten up. 

Why The BTS-12? 

If the gun is such a piece of crap, then why would the 68th Jaeger brigade adopt it? There are plenty of quality shotguns for around the same price point that could do the job. I’d hazard to guess that Ukrainian soldiers can’t go to Cabelas and grab Mossberg 500s. They have a limited selection, and Hatsan likely had plenty to sell and sell on the cheap. 

They are an armored brigade, and bullpups work well in and around the tight quarters of armored vehicles. That’s a small benefit to the gun; it’s easily stored in an armored vehicle. A semi-auto action makes it easy to try and follow up with a second shot on a fast-moving mini drone. 

Ukraine MOD

The BTS-12 seen in photos from Ukraine shows a long barrel model. This must be some form of export model that might have a longer barrel to meet minimum length requirements. If I were shooting drones, I’d be using some heavy birdshot, the heavy types of shot designed for geese. These heavier birdshot loads function better with longer barrels and the velocity they offer. 

Sadly, due to the carry handle style sights, the sight radius isn’t extended. The sights on the BTS-12 shotguns are AR-like peep sights, which make it tricky to hit moving air-based targets. For a military force used to using magazine-fed rifles, the magazine-fed shotgun makes a lot of sense. These soldiers are used to using similar platforms, and this cuts down on training. Hopefully, these soldiers will be cycling their shotgun ammo to keep the plastic hulls from deforming under spring pressure. 

Not For Me

The BTS-12 would not be my first, second, or third choice. In fact, it’s pretty far down there. I can see the need and understand that I live in the United States and can pick any shotgun I want. These guys gotta use whatever they can get. I hope they blast a great many drones out of the sky and that their guns remain reliable. However, my hopes aren’t high. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.