Designer – Robert Hillberg
Produced – 1967
Variants – 4
Weight – 8.6 lbs
Length – 17.75 in
Barrel length – 12 in
Cartridge – 20 gauge 3 inch magnum
Barrels – 8
Action – Double action, striker fired
Sights – Iron
Colt Defender Mark I was an 8-barrel shotgun intended for military and police use, completed in 1967.
Hillberg had simple criteria for the this weapon. It needed to be easy to operate and maintain, have a good first shot hit probability and a good first hit kill probability, and it had to be very inexpensive. The shortened barrel length made this gun suited for cramped situations in buildings but also came with a wire stock to help control recoil while aiming. It was extremely simple to operate and very robust. Hillberg believed that the double action trigger mechanism was ideal for law enforcement applications, as it minimized familiarity and training requirements.
Hillberg thoroughly tested the Defender before seeking out a manufacturer. Only a couple of minor changes were made for manufacturing. When Colt Industries was contacted, they showed considerable interest in producing the weapon, but before committing to full production they insisted on a market survey to see if there was an adequate market for the gun. Colt demonstrated the weapon to a number of departments, and all who saw it were impressed with its compactness, volume of fire and reliability. However, the national recession at that time did not allow any adoption of the weapon and by 1971 the project was over.
The weapon was composed of an aluminum alloy receiver with steel inserts and was covered in an epoxy paint finish. There were 4 variants.
1st variant was a simplified one, with no special features.
2nd variant incorporated a barrel selector on the rotating striker on the hammer. This allowed the shooter to select any one of the eight barrels. This meant that the weapon could be loaded with a variety of ammunition and the shooter could select the most appropriate round for the given situation.
3rd variant contained a receptacle for a canister of tear gas between the barrels. Pressing the trigger on the foregrip allowed the shooter to spray the target with tear gas, giving him a non-lethal option.
4th variant had both the barrel selector and the tear gas canister.