SWD (Cobray) Terminator spotted in the wild…

Just in case you’ve never seen one of these, here it is. It’s the Terminator, manufactured by SWD in the 1980’s. It’s a single-shot shotgun that slam fires from an open bolt and has a telescoping “stock”. The rumor is that only 18 were ever made. It is 22 inches overall with the stock retracted and 35 inches overall, extended. Believe it or not, the barrel is 18.5 inches long.

A round is inserted into the open chamber and when the trigger is depressed, the chamber/barrel slam rearward onto the firing pin, which is fixed at the back of the receiver tube. This accounts for why the barrel appears longer when the bolt is open.

Clearly plans were made for a 20 gauge option.

The Terminator supposedly retailed for $100.00 in the 1980’s. After seeing this in person, that seems high. Recently at various auctions, these guns have gone from $500.00 to $3000.00, but I have no way of determining if they were selling at the higher prices.

The barrel shroud/receiver looks like that of a British Sten.

I DID NOT fire this gun so I cannot attest to the (what I assume would be punishing) recoil. It certainly has an interesting design, but I cannot imagine a scenario where I would want to use it, unless I had nothing else. Still, I couldn’t help but want one, just because of how rare they are.

Is it?

My friend who told me about it approached it this way: if you had four hours to design and make a 12 gauge shotgun from scratch, what would you do? In a few hours, this is probably better than what I could do, but you get the point.

There was also a rumor that BATFE shut down production because someone had attached a magazine and made one full auto. I do not see how that would be possible, but I’m no engineer. I’ve seen more done with less, so I guess it’s possible.


I’m not advocating for the design or for pursuing ownership of the Terminator. However, it was cool seeing one and getting to handle it. Many thanks to my friend for letting me, and now you, see it.



GD Crocker is a proud Southerner who has been shooting for decades. He is a competitive shooter, armorer, instructor and collector. He recently passed the bar exam and deals primarily with securities law. GD’s proudest moments are seeing his kids shoot and get excited about their 2nd Amendment rights. He’s no Rick Taylor, but then again, who is?


  • Red

    I have a Cobray Terminator shotgun that I received from my father. I have heard conflicting stories regarding the value and the amount manufactured. Anyone shed some more light for me?

    • Are you talking about the Cobray Terminator or the Striker below?

      • Leigh Rich

        SWD made the Street Sweeper. I had one of thoes too. Not a real good desigh. The 2 stage trigger pull is wicked. I had to give mine up after the ATF via AWS 1994 made it a destructive device which I can NOT own in my state.

        • gunsandrockets

          I had a chance to dry fire one of those POS before the ban. And you are absolutely right about that horrible DAO trigger and clunky slow action. After handling it I wondered what all the fuss was about. Any pump shotgun was superior.

        • Leigh Rich

          Editied my last post with more Info.

    • The value varies wildly. GD gave a range of values above. Cobray made the Terminator.

      • Red

        Like John has said, I have heard many conflicting stories regarding its history. Thanks though, I appreciate it.

    • john

      I personally paid $450 for mine, in very good shape. I’ve seen Terminators in worse shape sell for the same or slightly more, so I probably got a good deal, but the ones I see all the time on Gunbroker for $750-$100 NEVER sell. I wouldn’t expect to get more than $500 for one.

  • Samuel Suggs

    ammo bask in the glory

  • Samuel Suggs

    you could a springless ammo hopper to the top and see what happened

    • Raven

      I say you set up something like a “harmonica gun” feed (or like the Bastard, if you’re familiar with Metro 2033) and see what you can do.

      • Samuel Suggs

        that was based on feed strip fed guns like this pernino double stack like whats seen in the bastard is impossible sadly ):

        • Raven

          Yeah. I mean, strip-feed is a terrible idea for machine guns (look at the Japanese Type 93, even though that was partially an ammunition flaw), but for a gun with no practical use whatsoever…

          • Bubba

            Well, the 1914 Hotchkiss guns used feed strips, and those worked fairly well, even in the horrific trenches of WWI.
            So I wouldn’t say that feed strips is a bad idea, it’s just that belt feed is better.

        • Bubba

          I wouldn’t say that a double stack strip-feed is impossible.
          Just make a bolt head slim enough to fit withing the walls of the feedstrip/clip.
          The whole bolt doesn’t need to be that slim either.
          It can just be the front end, like on a Thompson

  • Kyle

    I want one because it has that certain “Fallout”/Post Apocalyptic look to it. Like something some wastelander would make to hunt for food or defend himself with a simple weapon

    • Juice

      I’m always quite a fan of improvised weaponry, especially Syria articles provide a lot of those,

      • Paul Epstein

        I’m always impressed by the ingenuity of firearm manufacturers when deprived of modern engineering and construction techniques. While Khyber Pass, Philippines, and Syrian replicas might lack the finer points of first world factories, they’re still impressive simply for existing.

  • Samuel Suggs

    It’s based on the blowback slam fire pipe guns used in revolutions
    in the eastern block its blow forward design is new though. The images below
    demonstrate Philippine manual versions made during the Japanese occupation;
    they are fired by simply driving the barrel into the breach slamming the primer
    of a cartridge onto a fixed firing pin the Richardson Industries “M-4
    Guerrilla Gun” Slam Fire 12 gauge Shotgun replicated this concept for the
    novelty of it. Mr. Richardson participated in the liberation of the Philippine
    islands where he developed affection for such firearms. A discussion of both
    firearms can be seen here http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2013/03/praxis-philippine-guerrilla-slam-fire.html and a video demonstrating its use can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt3NuCbxSQQ

  • gunsandrockets

    Huh. Does this shotgun require manual cocking for each shot? Or does the barrel blow forward when firing to recock? I presume there is some sort of case extractor and ejector?

    • A single shot only—- so I imagine it is a cock it for each shot. GD can probably tell you more.

      • Al

        You are correct, the shotgun must be manually cocked for each shot by pushing the charging handle forward until the sear catches the barrel. If there is an expended shell in the chamber, it is extracted from the barrel, but you must tilt the gun to the right to allow the expended shell to fall out. There is nothing “semi-automatic” in this design that would make the barrel go back forward and cock itself, nor does it eject the shell automatically.

        • gunsandrockets


    • Bubba

      It automatically re-cocks between each shot, AND ejects the previous shell.

      There is a little spring loaded extractor/ejector that pulls the spent shell out when the recoil forces push the barrel back forward after the shot.

      • Bubba

        Here’s a photo showing the ejector.

        • gunsandrockets

          I dunno. That image could be showing an extractor instead of an ejector. And the manual Samuel Suggs posted supports the claim the shotgun is purely manually operated, and doesn’t even have an ejector.

      • John

        Having personally fired one, the one I own, it does not re-cock automatically.

  • gunsandrockets

    Because of the spacing of the cocking handle slot, pistol grip and feed/ejection port I don’t think a magazine feed version would be possible. Which of course would be necessary step for some kind of full-auto conversion, so I don’t think that rumor is true.

  • GD just send me the four boxes of ammo:-)

  • Another picture of the Terminator.

    • Samuel Suggs

      a gallery of images can be seen here http://www.gunauction.com/buy/11502006/shotguns-for-sale/single-shot/swd-cobray-terminator-12-gauge ask and you shall recieve. any idea what the hell they where thinking with “the dealiest weapon” claim

      • Ron Fox

        it’s the deadliest weapon because every time it is fired it could kill, not only the intended target but also the operator. Not too many firearms can lay claim to that.

        • Captain_Red

          I used to have an FFL in the 80s. I bought a used Terminator at a gun show. It is actually better made than you think. I asked the guy who sold it me what the heck you’d use it for. He that you keep it in the back of your pick-up truck and when the end of the world comes, and you are going down, you take that last guy with you. Needless to say, with that story, I had to have it. Fired it once. Punishing. Sold it to a guy who sliced his face open from the sharp edge of the shoulder stock the first time he fired it. Bought three or four new from Cobray for $90 each. Sold them all for $180 each, which made me very happy. I still have one. I am saving it for the end of the world. πŸ™‚

      • gunsandrockets

        How awful. Doesn’t even have an ejector.

        • Samuel Suggs

          yeah if your going to do a novelty gun with your left over barrel its best to go all the way

  • From what I could find they were made between 1986-1988. Only 20 were made so it’s a rare one. I did find one that sold for $450.00.

  • Blake

    “when the trigger is depressed, the chamber/barrel slam rearward onto the firing pin”

    I’m guessing this design does not exactly make this weapon the pinnacle of accuracy… Probably also a good idea to keep your fingers away from the ejection port!

  • john

    I own a Terminator, and have done extensive research on this firearm and its history, and can elaborate a bit as I have had personal contact with Cobray (or, what’s left of it) about this unique weapon.

    In the mid-19802, Cobray won a bid to manufacture the AA-12 assault shotgun. In the pre-production phase, however, the government pulled the contract for unknown reasons. Cobray had already made a bunch of 18.5″ 12ga barrels, and now they had these already paid for 12ga barrels sitting around doing nothing, so they built them into the Terminator. There is no real evidence that only 18 were made and frankly I don’t believe it is that few. My research has led me to believe that the number is more than that (I have also seen 14 floating around), but that it was still fewer than 100.

    The ATF shut down production on the principle that it was an open-bolt design, which they had previously ruled with the Interdynamic KG-9. Nevermind the fact that due to the design of the Terminator itself (specifically the position of the bolt), it’s actually harder to convert it to full-auto than it would be to just build your own full-auto shotgun, the ATF chose to enforce the letter of the law if not the spirit. Just like with the KG-9, all previously-manufactured Terminators remained legal. I personally paid $450 for mine in February 2013, and in researching the gun before I bought it I saw one had sold in December (in worse condition than the one I own, which is in very good shape) on an auction site for $415 + $35 shipping. The Terminator in this article is VERY rough.

    If anybody wants any more information about this unique and interesting collector’s piece, let me know with a reply to this comment! I will intermittently be checking up on this page because the Terminator is the most unique firearm in my collection and I have a soft spot for scary-looking, questionably legal guns.

    • Nielsen

      Seeing that you have quite a lot of mass going towards you added to the recoil of firing a 12 gauge, how much of a bruiser is this? With the somewhat flimsy looking metal stock, I take it that it’s not something you would want to shoot extensively.

      • john

        It really sucks to fire this. It’s really not that heavy to begin with, 7.5 pounds or around that ballpark, made entirely of metal, and the stock I’m fairly sure is just directly taken off of one of the MAC clones Cobray made around that time. It’s probably the reason you can always find a few for sale on auction sites at any given time; it’s just not that great of a shooter. I’d say this gun beats you up significantly more than a Mosin-Nagant.

        I do enjoy giving it to my friends to shoot, though. They always underestimate the recoil, much to my amusement.

        • Kyle

          I won’t lie, I’m about 140 pounds and I found that the mosin nagant doesn’t actually punch as hard as most people give it credit for.

      • Kyle

        Just stick a limbsaver on it. No worries.

    • John

      Doing some cursory research, I believe the Terminator is compatible with Cobray forward grips, the ones that attached to the barrel shrouds of their MAC clones, and all Cobray SMG collapsible stocks (as the stock on the Terminator is identical to one interchangeable with a standard MAC-10 collapsing stock that Cobray made), meaning I could theoretically remove the standard stock and put on a proper MAC-10-style collapsing stock, with the butt that folds upwards. I might just try that in the future…

      But not anytime soon, because one of those stocks is $289 from Cobray’s website.

      • John

        Looks like I jumped the gun. Upon further inspection, the stock on the Terminator is taken off of a Cobray M10 (I am unsure if it’s an M10/9 or an M10/45 as there is a slight difference), and the standard MAC stock that Cobray sells is for the M11. Oh well.

        • Leigh Rich

          Not the same stock. The M11 stocks were only on machine guns. They did have a SA carbine version. The Terminator stock is tube and on the outside. The FA M-11’s were flat and slipped inside the gun, I have a M11 SA pistol.

  • Cymond

    As john says, it’s doubtful that only 18 were made. Heck, there’s 4 on this page, presumably different ones (GD’s pictured above, john has one, Phil White has some pictures, and Suggs provided a gallery).
    Also, there’s one on Gunbroker right now with a Buy-it-Now price of $1100.

  • GinAZ

    what an ugly beast of a “rifle”, I want one…

  • j

    Yes….. i want one so bad.

  • Al

    SWD manufactured 1452 of the Terminator shotguns from 1987 through 1990. ATF did not shut down the production, poor sales did that job. It was designed by John Foote, a former MAC employee. The original retail price was advertised as $109, but could be found for less than msrp. I shot the first example that Wayne Daniel of SWD produced in 1987 and was underwhelmed. I still recall the harsh recoil due to the stock and general poor ergonomics.

    • John

      Strange, because through my talking with Cobray, they expressly told me that production was halted by the ATF and that they don’t know exactly how many they produced.

      • Al

        SWD was the manufacturer of the Terminator, as well as the M11-9, Cobray was the registered trademark.for SWD, not the company name.

        Here’s the breakdown:

        Production began 26 March 1987 serial number prefix “F00” with 202 manufactured. The next serial number block prefix “TF00” with 77 manufactured. The following block is prefix “F100” with 290 manufactured. The last block is prefix “AF” with 883 manufactured. Total 1452 manufactured at close of production 22 August 1990.

        Can your sources cite any specific ATF ruling?

        • macmechanic

          Thanks for the additional details Al. Foote supposedly still has unsold examples. I have had 3 units & still have one. Many more in older shops around Atlanta.

        • John

          Hmm, this is very interesting. I relayed that information with the man from Cobray I talked with while initially researching the Terminator, and when he responds I’ll paste what he said here. Hopefully he can verify what you said is true or he knows someone who can.

          I must say, the ATF shutting down production makes for a much better story, all things considered.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Interestingly, Al mentioned about an hour ago that the Terminator was designed by John Foote. John Foote designed and built a prototype light GPMG ( LGPMG ), the MG-69, chambered in 5.56mm x 45 caliber, in 1969. It was offered to a number of existing manufacturers but none were willing to produce it, probably due to that ever-present gremlin that bedevils all firearms manufacturers, “market timing”. It was a very clean, simple, attractive design that was gas-operated with a rotating bolt locking system, and was belt-fed and air-cooled. It was a concept ahead of its time, as the Foote MG-69 preceded the SAW requirement by a decade and even pre-dated the original ( pre-SAW ) FN Minimi LGPMG ( which eventually morphed into the M249 ) by some years. I believe there was a similar parallel regarding the Stoner 63 modular LMG system, which emerged during roughly the same time period. An interesting design aspect of the Foote gun was that the left side of the receiver had a forward hinged feed cover that fed the belt in vertically rather than horizontally ; opening this side cover also exposed the internal mechanism within the receiver for inspection or servicing.

  • Nomortem

    So it’s basically a glorified four winds gun?

    • Bubba

      Basically it’s a four winds deluxe.
      It has a spring and a trigger in it, as well as an ejector.
      So it ejects and self cocks, and can be fired fairly accurately.

  • Leigh Rich

    I have one i got way back in 1989 when i had a FFL.. Was $75.00 . The single shot hard kicking 12GA looks meaner than it is. Mine sr nr..AF109XX
    Just a toy. Not practicale.


    • John

      Cool! Mine is AF10987! Our guns are pretty close!

  • bsnighteye

    Russian ammo boxes with inventory numbers! In total: 2×880 7.62x54R ammo with light LPS bullets and steel core in bimetal case, 2×2160 5.45×39 ammo with common bullets and steel core in varnished steel case. You can’t simply have enough ammo. πŸ™‚

  • Leigh Rich

    Also. The Terminator does not eject the shot shell after it is fired.It remains closed. Thre is a spting loaded lock device on the barrel that keeps it closed. You have to press it in to move the barrel forward. There is an extractor that will remove the spent shell from the barrel. It will not eject it but you can turn the gun on its side so it falls out. It is not easy to cock the shot gun. the spring is stiff.

  • Adam Kadir

    I want one…. For no other reason than the intimidation factor.
    It doesn’t appear to be all that practical, but damn does it look mean.

  • Mike

    Saw one for sale in 1988 at a gun show at the Miami Beach Convention Center. I passed because it was a poorly made zip-gun with a trigger.

  • nobody

    that gun would be nice if it had a picattiny rail for a scope and was chambered for .410 instead of 12 gauge