Shooting The Worst Shotgun – Cobray Terminator

Jim of Burst Review got a Cobray Terminator to shoot from his friend Lee Cap. For those not familiar with the Cobray Terminator, it has been touted as the world’s worst shotgun. At first glance it looks like a modified Sterling SMG. However it is chambered in 12ga.  The Sterling SMG is an open bolt design and so is the Terminator. However they are nothing alike. The Sterling SMG open bolt is a traditional open bolt design. The bolt is locked to the rear and pulling the trigger releases the bolt forward and fixed firing pin at the end of the bolt is what sets off the round. In the Cobray Terminator there is no bolt. The receiver end cap houses the fixed firing pin. So when you chamber a 12 ga shell and pull the trigger, the entire barrel travels rearwards pushing the shell back into the firing pin. This adds additional force to the recoil of the gun making it worse to shoot than standard single shot shotgun.

Just watch the video below to see how much it beats up Jim compared to his Ithaca 37.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • PK

    Theory vs. reality. In theory, it would have been a cheap and easy and user-friendly way to make a simple shotgun in huge numbers. In reality, it really is just an awful, awful system to use for 12ga.

    • gusto

      can you explain more that theory? I don’t get how that is simpler than a regular breakaction? or some other breechloading system?

      • PK

        In even the simplest breechloader, you have quite a few moving parts, and more parts overall. In this system, at the utmost of simplicity, you could have a barrel, spring, receiver, and trigger – and nothing else.

        • Giolli Joker

          You forgot a blunt nail. 🙂

    • Lyman Hall

      It’s basically a slam fire. If I had to arm a bunch of third world farmers to defend themselves from genocide, I’d buy as many as I could get my hands on. Other than that scenario, it’s awful.

      • PK

        Exactly – it’s a spring-powered slam-bang shotgun. Brutally simple, cheap, easy to use.

        Except, somehow, Cobray managed to make it worse. Go figure!

  • Sulaco

    Boy Cobray over time came up with some really weird strange guns…

  • Auslander Raus

    Hard to watch.
    This guy is irritating.

    • Bucho4Prez

      Purty sure Ian did a video on that bizarre implement.

    • Edeco

      He’s charismatic but long-winded. My Writing-for-Knuckle-Draggers prof would rip him apart.

    • Juggernaut

      Am I the only person creeped out by that photo?

      • Auslander Raus

        That pic too.

        • Swarf

          “Yew jus keep takin them britches off or imma shoot your little one right in the face.”

  • CharlesH

    I want one

  • MSG1000

    So nobody told them moving barrels are for reducing recoil?

    All they had to do was make it open bolt and let the barrel slam back, would’ve reduced recoil by a good margin.

    • Giolli Joker

      I don’t get what you’re trying to say here…

      • MSG1000

        Open bolt would have kept it cheap but a moving barrel would absorb the recoil since more mass = lower acceleration thus lowering the speed of the momentum impulse. Since felt recoil is an integral of the momentum with respect to the time it takes for the momentum to act, it would have reduced recoil instead of increasing it.

        • Paul Epstein

          It has an open bolt, it has a moving barrel (that slams back exactly as you describe). You are describing the gun in terms identical to what it already is while saying that would change it in a positive way, and that makes no sense.

          Are you talking about creating a more conventional open bolt design, with the bolt slamming forward? Because it kind of needs to have a fixed barrel if you’re doing that, otherwise it won’t reliably fire.

          Otherwise you need to be much, much more detailed.

          • MSG1000

            You’re right, I wasn’t being detailed enough.

            The bolt slams forward then fires, but moving back the entire unit (barrel + bolt) moves as one. This amount of mass will slow down the recoil impulse instead of amplifying it.

            Lots of firearms have partially moving barrels at least, the original Barrett immediately comes to mind.

            The Neostead 2000 is pump action but it pumps in reverse by moving its barrel forward then back. If should be possible to make that semi auto, the major concern would be balacong so that it doesn’t try to rip itself out of your hands.

            Look up Long Recoil Operation on wikipedia. The Browning Auto-5 shotgun did what i just described. The M2 also the Short Recoil version where the barrel moves just a bit to start the bolt carrier moving back.

          • Paul Epstein

            I know what long recoil operation is. Almost everyone reading this blog is familiar with long recoil operation. Shockingly, I’m reasonably certain Cobray knew what long recoil operation is. If you had actually used the widely accepted term instead of trying to describe it and failing to catch the particulars (like, it has a locking mechanism) that would have been sufficient to end the conversation.

            Long recoil operated guns, open bolt ones included, are NOT cheap to develop or manufacture. They require solid engineering and competent gunsmiths. That’s not what Cobray is known for. They are known for being a cautionary tale about hubris and a source of fascinating ‘this is not how it’s done’ firearms.

          • MSG1000

            Dude, I brain farted on the term. You never tried to make a quick comment but instead left out too many details?

            All I tried to do was a make a crack about how moving barrels should be about reducing recoil, that’s all.

            I very well realize now that key word was indeed a very key word.

          • Giolli Joker

            Problem is that the bastard son of an AA-12 and a Browning Auto 5 that you describe would be far from simple and cheap to engineer and manufacture. And considered machine gun if it had a magazine.

          • MSG1000

            IIRC anything with an open bolt is considered one anyway because of easy conversion.

            Anyways I wasn’t focusing on the cost so much as picking on them for misusing a moving barrel action.

            IMO, if you’re gonna do that you need to do it right.

  • The Dude

    The ak of shotguns.

  • that looks like a kaboom waiting to happen

  • Nathan Alred

    I’m confused. (OK, happens a lot, but bear with me.) SO this is a single shot 12 gauge shotgun. What problem does this massive abortion solve that couldn’t have been handled with a Stevens break action?

    • int19h

      Super easy to manufacture. Therefore, in theory, super cheap at scale.

    • Sam P

      Another item, from the YouTube comments:

      The gun is actually under 26 when the barrel is rearward – but since it can’t fire in that condition, the BATFE had to measure it with the barrel protruding forward.

      So with the stock retracted and the barrel in the rear position, it’s pretty darn short, maybe around 20″ long

  • USMC03Vet

    Super offensive names?
    Best names!

    • LGonDISQUS

      You and Kestrelbike think too similarly to me!

  • Grey Beard

    The Cobray Terminator, an idea whose time will never come.

  • Hellbilly

    Handled one at a gun shop recently and couldn’t believe how heavy it was for a crude single-shot shotgun. The price tag was steep. Definitely only good as a conversation/collector piece.

    • Nicholas C

      What shop and how much?

  • schizuki

    You keep using that word “breechloader.” I do not think it means what you think it means.


    If “Streetsweeper” and “Terminator” are offensive firearm names, you’re a mother zonking pansie.

  • El Duderino

    Recoil Enhancing Kinetic Technology. REKT.

  • codfilet

    That’s like something Royal Nonesuch would come up with.

    • Swarf

      He wishes.

    • Rick O’Shay

      He’ll just let Mark Serbu do it now.

    • mazkact

      I would rather have one of His slamfire shotguns than this Cobray abomination.

  • Shaun Connery Oliver II

    And I thought the AA-12 was the most horrible abomination ever! All is forgiven! The 2A razzy goes to the junkyard 12 gauge! Wahoo! Let’s give’em a hand!

    Hello. . .anybody? Alright that was a tasteless joke and I should have gone with a broomstick for a defensive weapon than this poor, sorry excuse for a whackjob, right?

    • The Brigadier

      What makes you say that about the AA-12? Its very loud, but its a one man riot stopper.

  • Cal S.

    If Royal Nonesuch got a manufacturer’s license…

    • SGT Fish

      why would he need one? more like if he got a lathe or mill

      • Cal S.

        To go to market, of course.

        Yes, that works too. Instead of a hacksaw and a $20 vise, lol.

  • DanGoodShot

    My shoulder hurts just reading about this thing!

  • Calavera

    Looks like something cooked up by the CIA’s “skunk works” shop. A cheaply made weapon to be dropped behind the lines, for use by insurgents. A shotgun version of the old “Liberator” pistol concept.

    • Nergyl

      There actually was a shotgun sibling to the Liberator–the Colt Defender Mark I, designed by Robert Hillberg. It had the same idea behind it: arm the masses with a cheap, easily produced weapon that didn’t require much skill.

  • Nergyl

    So basically, they created a gun that was more useful as a bludgeon than an actual firearm?

    I know the idea was to make a low-cost, easily manufactured weapon, but is it really that hard to just build a break-open single shot 12 gauge? It would be easier to reload, too.

  • d s

    Use 4-0 buck in it would clear out the Muslims terrorist real quick, but wou would have to be a real man. Not good for Snowflakes that read these articles. Just saying.

  • Mystick

    Sometimes I wonder how some engineers get work and get products green-lit into production with such profound misunderstanding of basic physics and how it pertains to the operation of said products.

  • jonp

    Good God

  • Rogertc1

    I still have one. Used to sell a few when I had my FFL in the 1980’s. Only cost me $70 back them if I bought a few SOG. They are kind of cool to look at. Painfull to shoot.

  • The Brigadier

    Does anyone have any good things to say about any Cobray weapons?

    • Rogertc1

      Cool looking. Would make a good club too after the one shot. (I have one)