I recently toured the Remington Arms factory in Ilion, New York. It opened in 1816, making it America’s oldest gun factory.
While browsing through archive rooms filled from floor to ceiling with vintage firearms and parts, we discovered a beautiful Remington 12-gauge shotgun with a weathered walnut stock and perforated barrel shroud.
My guide Mark R. Eddy, informed me that it was a Remington 7188 fully automatic shotgun manufactured in the 1960’s for use by American soldiers in Vietnam. Other than the missing trigger group, it was complete. Serial number was 0004. Little else was known about this handsome firearm.
I photographed it and upon returning home, did some investigating. Fortunately, there is a fair amount of information about this unique firearm on the internet.
From the m14forum, a member wrote in 2011:
First developed specifically for use by US Navy SEALs in Vietnam, the first example of the Remington 7188, the Mk 1, appeared in 1967, and was perhaps the most destructive close combat weapon produced to that date. Developed from the Remington 1100, the Model 7188 was a fully-automatic version of that weapon, with some other modifications requested by the SEALs. Though these weapons were never large in number, the Mk 1 version was the most common of them; it had a perforated barrel shroud, extended tubular magazine, bayonet mount, and adjustable rifle sights. The Mk 2 was identical, but used a ventilated barrel rib and front bead sight of a standard shotgun. The Mk 3 was also identical to the Mk 1 but did not have the perforated barrel shroud. The Mk 4 was a Mk 3 with standard shotgun-style sights. The Mk 5 was also similar to the Mk 1, but did not have an extended magazine, and also did not have the perforated barrel shroud. The Mk 6 was identical to the Mk 5, but had standard shotgun-style sights.
While the SEALs liked the fantastic destructive power of the Model 7188 (especially with the custom loads they tended to use), they found the Model 7188 had one big problem: it was highly-sensitive to dirt and fouling, and this made it quite unsuited for general use in Vietnam. In addition, the enormous recoil of a full-auto burst (even at the low cyclic rate of the Model 7188) was difficult to control, and even with an extended magazine, the ammunition supply was thought to be too small by many SEALs. There were never more than a couple of dozen of each Mark of the Model 7188 made, and they were withdrawn from service within a few years, a weapon experiment that ultimately failed. Some were converted back to semiautomatic fire; though this essentially turned them back into Remington 1100s (albeit, with unique markings and an unusual selector lever), they were designated Model 7180s.
A follow-up post on the same site by Bulletman, who seems to have worked on the development of the Remington 1788, added the following information:
The Remington 7188 was developed at Frankford Arsenal in the 60’s under a project called “Unconventional Warfare Devices and Techniques” that provided special weapons, ammo, demo devices, etc. for the Special Forces and the Seals. At the time, I was the team leader on the project, which visited the users, got their ideas, made samples and let them evaluate them in the field. The first fully auto shotgun was made by C. O. Greenwood, (Shotgun Charlie) a member of the team out of a Remington 1100. He just modified the sear and extended the magazine to hold 8 rounds. Studies we ran showed #4 buck to be the best load, although we also developed flechette rounds. It had quite a kick, if you weren’t used to it, but I recall that Moose Boitnott of ST-2 could spray it like a hose. A number were made by Remington on contract and given to the Seals and SF units, but it never was type classified.
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