I found these two photos a while back, but haven't posted them because I wanted to find more information on them so that I would sound smarter. This is the Colt Defender Mark I, an eight barrel, 20 gauge shotgun, chambered for 3 inch magnums. Now, I shall copy paste that last sentence so the awesomeness can fully soak into you.
This is the Colt Defender Mark I, an eight barrel, 20 gauge shotgun, chambered for 3 inch magnums.
The Colt Defender was designed by a man named Robert Hillberg in 1967 and was an outgrowth of an earlier weapon called the Liberator. They were both intended as weapons to arm a resistance, guerrilla, or insurgent force. As this was the Cold War era, the enemies these people would be fighting are assumed to be the forces of World Communism. There were some simple criteria for the weapons. They needed to be very inexpensive, easy to operate and maintain, and have a good first shot hit probability and a good first hit kill probability. Hillberg felt that a shotgun was good for all of these criteria. They are relatively simple and cheap to manufacture, when using a load like buckshot, they are both easy to use and very lethal at short range. Both the Liberator and Defender were intended to be used by forces with little or no training and so long range shots were not a part of its design. An interesting feature of the design is that the weapon is able to fire like a semi-automatic manner, without having the mechanically complexity (and inherent occasional failures) of most semi auto designs. Like the Liberator before it, the Defender possessed semi-automatic like fire without the complexity of the semi-automatic gun. It was extremely simple to operate and very robust. Hillberg believe that the double action trigger mechanism was ideal for law enforcement applications, as it minimized familiarity and training requirements.
While he believed the initial concept was good, Hillberg tried to increase its appeal with some modifications. The chambering was reduced from 12 gauge to 20 gauge 3 inch magnum so that the weapon could be more easily controlled and smaller. The design was finalized to have eight 12 inch barrels around a central axis. The trigger is of a double action design. It was slightly less than 18 inches overall and weighed over 8 pounds. It was coated with an epoxy finish and was mainly constructed of aluminum with steel parts for high stress areas.
The Defender Mark I was offered in four configurations: The first was a simplified one, with no special features. The second version had a barrel selector that allowed the operator to choose any one of the eight barrels to fire. In theory, this would allow the user to have the weapon loaded with different types of ammunition like less lethal rounds and to choose the most appropriate loading. The third version had a canister of tear gas mounted in the space between the barrels, activated by a trigger in the foregrip. The final version had both the barrel selector and the tear gas canister.
When Hillberg brought the weapon to Colt, they were fairly impressed by the design, but decided to perform some marketing survey of some police departments. It received pretty positive reviews, especially for its volume of fire. One can certainly understand that the amazingly ferocious appearance of the weapon was appreciated as well. Unfortunately, the weapon was shelved by Colt around 1971 as the national recession and end of US involvement in the Vietnam made made Colt think that there would not be a sufficient market for the weapon.
The Defender was maybe the most "different" shotgun designs ever invented. In many ways, Robert Hillberg deserves praise for simply "thinking out of the box". It is compact, mechanically simple, very cheap to produce, extremely powerful and they had a pretty good reputation for reliability.