Dear Readers! This is the second in a series of articles on weapons designed by American designer Robert Hillberg. In the first part, I introduced you to the Liberator shotgun, with which Robert Hillberg, together with the Winchester campaign, tried to arm pro-American guerrillas from Southeast Asia.
Echoes of the Cold War: Colt Defender
The Colt Defender was the logical development of the multi-barrel shotgun concept proposed by Robert Hillberg and the successor to the Winchester Liberator shotgun. The war in Southeast Asia was already gradually dying out, but the “partisan shotgun” never found application in it. And the Winchester Liberator still did not fit the role of a "trench broom" in the hands of the US Army, despite all the upgrades.
But the designer did not despair and continued to look after another large state customer for his ideas. He made a decision: using the accumulated experience, create a new weapon, endow it with additional properties and offer this universal weapon system, first of all, to law enforcement agencies. And there, you see, with a favorable set of circumstances, other customers will appear.
The development of design documentation was completed in 1967. When designing the new shotgun, Hillberg returned to using 20-gauge Magnum cartridges in his weapon. He believed that this cartridge allowed the shooter to better control the withdrawal of the weapon when firing, that is, it made the weapon more controllable. At the same time, the effectiveness of the fire and the lethality remained at a level close to the 12 gauge.
The new weapon looked, to put it mildly, unusual. But what to say: its appearance impressed and amazed the imagination! In short, a real Defender.
8 (EIGHT !!!) barrels were combined around a central axis. The weapon was equipped with a trigger lever borrowed from the Winchester Liberator with an open pistol grip and a pistol grip. As in the Winchester Liberator, the barrel block was fixed to the receiver. As in the Winchester Liberator, the firing sequence was ensured by a cam mechanism that changed the position of the striker and fired from each barrel in turn.
As in the Winchester Liberator, the weapon was loaded by breaking the barrel block.
In addition, the Defender was equipped with an additional pistol grip: it was brought forward and installed under the barrel block, where the tactical grip is usually mounted. The second pistol grip was supposed to facilitate instinctive firing or “activate additional functions”.
Each of the barrels was 12 "(30.48 cm) long, the total length of the weapon was 17.75" (45.08 cm), and it weighed 8.6 pounds (3.9 kg).
The receiver was made of aluminum alloy with steel inserts and was painted with epoxy paint.
In the final version, the weapon was available in four versions.
First performance provided for a place between the barrels to accommodate a container with tear gas. It was assumed that the irritant, which was part of the complex, could be used in the elimination of mass riots as a non-lethal weapon. To use the "non-lethal" properties of this version of the weapon, it was required to pull the trigger located on the additional pistol grip. In other words, it was like using a grenade launcher.
Second execution was equipped with a barrel selector. This allowed the shooter to load the barrels with different types of ammunition and choose any of the eight barrels for the next shot. In this I see a similarity with the ability to scroll the drum in a revolver: after all, different ammunition can be used in one drum, and there is a possibility of choosing them according to the situation.
Third performance was the most "sophisticated" and incorporated both the properties of non-lethal weapons from the first version, and the ability to choose a barrel from the second version. That is, it had both a place for a container with tear gas and a barrel selector.
Fourth performance was the simplest: in it, the drummer simply turned around a group of barrels and stopped in front of the next one. There was no choice of barrel.
Like its predecessor, the Winchester Liberator, the Defender had the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle, but was incomparably simpler in technical terms. The shotgun was extremely easy to operate and very reliable (the presence of a revolving trigger type affected).
Robert Hillberg believed that the dual-action trigger was ideal for use in law enforcement as it minimized the learning curve. Hillberg thoroughly tested his Defender before contacting one of the manufacturers. The design was so clever that only a few minor changes were required to go into pre-production.
When Robert Hillberg proposed his development to Colt Industries, they showed a very keen interest in Defender. However, before starting production, Colt insisted on conducting a study to identify potential customers and sales markets.
Colt representatives began to demonstrate the capabilities of the new weapon to a number of departments of various departments, and everyone who saw it in action was deeply impressed by the Defender's simplicity, compactness and firepower. In addition, many have found its appearance to have an impressive deterrent effect.
Unfortunately, the Defender was born at a time when the United States was in a political and economic crisis. Therefore, the police department sighed, looking with regret at the Defender, but decided to abandon the purchase of new weapons and use what is already in their arsenals.
Despite the interest shown in Defender, marketers from Colt found that given the unfavorable economic and political situation both in the country and in the world, the sales market for the new weapon would be minimal. And in order to recoup the costs of launching Defender into mass production and make a profit, they recommended postponing its production "until better times." But they never came for the Colt Defender.
By 1971, the Winchester Liberator and Colt Defender were no longer even remembered.
The Liberator and Defender shotguns, designed by Robert Hillberg, were undoubtedly some of the most innovative shotguns ever produced. Such a combination of compactness, reliability, firepower and simplicity, which these samples possessed, for a long time could not boast of other, later developments. They certainly deserved a better lot.
There were also attempts to create something multi-barrel stunning specifically for the cinema. For example, a non-existent weapon (props), specially created for the movie Split Second 1992. Stills from the movie “Few seconds”:
Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer) with "Automatic multi barreled shotgun"
Dick Durkin (Neil Duncan) with “Automatic multi barreled shotgun”
Michelle (Kim Cattrall) with “Automatic multi barreled shotgun”