The Story

 

There is a real story, one you haven’t heard, behind the near-mythical fully automatic AA-12 "Sledgehammer" shotgun you've come to know and love; but have never had a chance to shoot. Who invented it and how it came to be is a much more engaging twisted, gnarled mystery of a story which is about to be unwound, so you can see it in its unadulterated version. Oh, and there’s a civilian version you can buy now. If you want to hear the real story or find out where you can buy one now, KEEP READING. When you take all of the ego out of the origin of this great weapon, and add in the hurdles the original Atchisson Assault Shotgun (now known as the Auto Assault 12) had to overcome, you get a mind blowing, way more interesting, “can’t make this stuff up”, true life story about the cult weapon that is about to make a strategic comeback. Robots, drones, multiple design patents, three-star generals, BATF raids and the pentagon are all part of the intriguing history of the AA-12.

Where Have I Seen the AA-12?

Where have you seen this somewhat ugly duckling version of a shotgun that changes your mind immediately when the trigger is depressed? EVERYWHERE. No, really, it’s been everywhere. It is in over fifteen video games, Combat Arms, Killing Floor; Grand Theft Auto; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 & 3; Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Splinter Cell: Blacklist to name some of them. It has been in several movies: G.I. Joe, The Expendables and the Predator franchise to name a few. It has also been on TV, Season 7 of "24", Season 5 of "Breaking Bad" and season 5 of "Justified", but there are many more TV shows who have featured it; it has even been used in Anime. Countless other media references and hundreds of blog posts, magazine reviews and newspaper articles round out the press on the AA-12. You can bet it has been the subject of plenty of people's dreams, and one would imagine, a few nightmares. Seeing is believing - anything you thought about this gun wasn’t nearly as valuable, or enjoyable, as watching it shoot, on video or in person, or shooting it yourself.

The Truth Behind the Myth

Everything you've seen the AA-12 do on YouTube, IT DOES, the videos don’t lie. Everything you have heard about it or what it's supposed to be, all that stuff you heard about the AA-12 being mounted on robots and drones for the U.S. Military and changing the way the military fights, well... maybe not so much. While the military was, and still is, interested in this weapon, they are not interested in being told how to fight wars, most assuredly they do not appreciate being called "brain dead" in an article read by hundreds of thousands.

(http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/03/robert-farago/aa-12-developer-the-u-s-military-isbrain- dead/)

 

What is painfully obvious in the whole story of the AA-12 is, since its original purchase in 1987 from Max Atchisson, Jerry Baber has credited himself fully; discounted most others involved and ridden to the top of a high, ultimately amounting to nothing much of a commercial success, for a gun which should have been hugely viable and successful.

Bringing Atchisson's Invention to Life

Making the AA-12 commercially viable in the form that it was purchased in 1987, was a bit more work than perhaps it should have been. But the gun was a “one off” at that point; hardly able to be produced commercially, and a long way off from being something fun to shoot. Enter Bill Stiles and Boje (pronounced Boy-Yay) Cornils (Corn-eels). Mr. Stiles had a background in materials and had a short-lived relationship with Jerry Baber. Boje and Bill tried to work together, debating over different materials, with Bill making poor choices about what to use, trying to make something work which really wasn't producible. The project stagnated for eight years, at which point Stiles and Baber had split. At this point Mr. Baber was willing to, at least in a sense, listen to Boje’s opinions in order to bring the gun to fruition. Mr. Cornils came to the United States from Hamburg Germany, 59 years ago to head the engineering and machining department of a heater manufacturer. He was never brought up with guns, at least not from an engineering perspective. His exposure to guns was primarily negative, steeped culturally, for better or worse, in the Germany of the 1930's and 40's. He was an unlikely person to be involved with the design and manufacture of the AA-12. Nevertheless, Mr. Baber trusted Mr. Cornils with this job. He was so trusting, in fact, Boje Cornils is actually the true architect of what we know as the AA-12 today and co-owner of the weapon; taking nothing away from the contributions of Max Atchisson and others. Mr. Cornils is the only person who really knows how the parts interact with each other. Some of his original troubleshooting was accomplished using high speed frame capturing video, which proved to be valuable in the evolution of the design. A design which underwent in excess 100 mechanical and functional component part changes over an 18 year period, includes several patents owned by Mr. Cornils . So, the full-auto, open bolt design of the AA-12 was built, and built well; it was reliant upon a heavily redesigned gas block design (Mr. Cornils owns a patent for it) and other engineering feats. The whole process involved overcoming design flaws which proved to be insurmountable without Boje, but, finally, the AA-12 WAS READY FOR PRIME TIME. The point is, while they were vocal proponents for the firearm, everyone else involved with the original development did very little in the actual mechanics and engineering of the gun to bring it to the public. Simply put, they may not even know how to put one together from the parts sitting unarranged on the table. Whenever they’ve been asked to comment on the mechanics of the gun, where the metal on metal contact happens, they’ve always deferred to the real designer of the AA-12, Boje Cornils.

 

When Jerry Baber was introducing the AA-12 to the world, all of the long shot, underdog storytelling quickly turns cocky when you look at it in hindsight; kind of a David and Goliath story. Sure, you can question the motivation behind puff pieces about the AA-12; particularly a February 23,2009 New Yorker article "Shoot!" Many of these articles seemed to portray Jerry as a nutty old man obsessed with robots and Pentagon scheming. While he seems quite eccentric, the problem with Jerry isn't he lacks talent - he is very talented. The problem with him wasn't the AA-12 wasn't amazing - it was, and is. The author speculates the problem was, he didn't know when to pull his ego out of the way and just make the sales. He wasted decades of potential consumer viability in the AA-12 because he had an ever-evolving grand vision for the AA-12 which never came to fruition because he ignored the vocal civilians who wanted it in a semi-auto version, and tried to tell the Pentagon how to fight their wars. He wanted so badly to micromanage the distribution and storyline of the AA-12 that he let it become a grand exercise in “getting ready to get ready” to sell to people who ultimately had very little use for the gun. It has to this point been relegated to the gun safe as a safe queen. It’s become a sort of novelty that people liked once upon a time that starred in some videos made by YouTube stars and major Hollywood producers, but it has been a whole lot of nothing on the market. Nobody just wants to use the AA-12 in a video game. We want to hold it. We want to self-verify the absence of recoil. We want to feel what unloading 20 rounds of 12 gauge specialty ammunition feels like over the course of 5 seconds. You just don’t get a proper sense of how absolutely astonishing the AA-12 is until you shoot it. Sure, those all-night Call of duty: Modern Warfare 2/3 or Medal of Honor: Warfighter raids are fun, but they’re nothing like dropping a few hundred dollars of cheap range ammo on a bunch of tannerite laden 2 liter bottles and feeling the AA-12 soldier on like a mythical weapon ready to take over the world. With the AA-12 there's no hype needed, the marketing hype IS the gun itself. No one needed to be told how awesome it was or what it was going to do to armed combat in war zones. We could see it. But no one cared about using it in combat either: this was a gun that needed to be in hands everywhere, to shoot at watermelons and beer bottles on the south forty, or on the range with shooters giddy with excitement. It’s been relegated to a novelty because of bad marketing, disguised as appropriate marketing. Years of languishing on the vine, waiting for the perfect storm of interest, war politics, congressional funding and robotic revolutions, ultimately killed the working model of the 2000’s era version of the AA-12. Jerry Baber was so tied to the outcome of the AA-12, and it to him, that it anchored him firmly to the fate of that version of the AA-12, which has largely been historical footnotes and commercial failure with regards to sales figures. Mr. Baber should absolutely be respected for essentially handmaking molded parts for hundreds AA-12’s over the years and for championing the firearm, but he should be questioned for never taking a viral beast like the Atchisson Assault Shotgun to the community that made it viral in the first place. At least when Glock produced the G-18 (their full-auto pistol) they got their R&D paid for in the form of FREE marketing by enthusiasts, who eventually bought the readily available semi auto G17 and countless millions of other models across the Glock line. Compare to the AA-12, 15 shotguns here and there for dealer samples or weapons for some second world government so they could test theories with it: it just wasn’t what a proud father would want for their child.

 

It seems Jerry was given the option, in a sense, to come along for the ride, but he declined when the commercial owners of the patent for the operation of the AA-12 decided to take it live again and to make it a legitimate weapon, properly marketed to the proper community. A community who would love it for what it was and had been waiting for this moment (some of them) for decades. Evidently, Jerry Baber has left the building. Enter the AA-12. A shotgun a father would be proud to call his own. What Changed? Mr. Cornils, after all, only held a small interest in the total company producing the firearm one by one. It’s fate up until 2018 was governed almost completely outside of the person who made it viable in the first place. Mr. Cornils, now 84, was ready to see it come to the market, and with a bevy of half-hearted offers from dreamers and big companies alike, a manufacturer able to see the gun into production was found. And like all great ideas, things moved swiftly. It wasn’t but a few months from the time, Boje Cornils (a name

that had been camouflaged in press pieces about the AA-12 in the past), came into contact (via his no- nonsense wife Dotti Cornils), with Tactical Superiority in Florida, and its subsidiary Sol Invictus Arms, and

the deal was done. The crew at Tactical Superiority and Sol Invictus Arms, will now take a nearly complete, roll off the line concept and actually bring it to full production. In a few hours on the phone, the author feels almost like a part of the Cornils family out there in Tennessee. These are real salt of the earth people who are at heart, genuine and hard working. They are ready to see some value from years of contributions that no one has ever been aware of. Boje and his wife Dotti made a living in a place that’s just a tiny part of these United States. When you meet humble people who have accomplished great things through hard work and sacrifice, you kind of root for them to receive their due. It’s a match made in heaven because the owners of Tactical Superiority are similarly no-nonsense and ready to see something actually move forward with this great firearm. For once, everyone involved is on the same page and ready to make it happen.

What's New with the AA-12?

For starters, the producer of this firearm is a legitimate player in the industry, and they have taken the semi automatic civilian legal version and made it available at a reasonable price so that many people can now use one. It provides a legal, interesting and proven design to this market, in a way that they have never seen before. It costs a quarter of the price that it has been sold to law enforcement and military groups all around the world on a per unit price. It’s made on high tolerance machines by a manufacturer that knows what they are doing and which has found a way to produce it using science, machinery and ingenuity instead of relegating it to a handmade, one off firearm. It’s ridiculously reliable, easy to maintain, built like a Brick House, and so much fun you’ll be grinning ear to ear for hours after shooting it. 

 

• It’s no longer some Frankenstein project that’s being assembled in a garage where Model Ts were repaired, in the metropolitan city of Russelville, TN; population: less than 10,000.

• The AA-12 has a semi auto variant, that civilians can own. It can also still be produced as a full auto open bolt firearm. 

• It’s now being manufactured on high end machines used for automation and with a history of producing many thousands of parts for the military clone market - notably the AR platform.

• The engineer responsible for the actual working model of the firearm, that the world fell in love with, has partnered with a strategic producer (Tactical Superiority of Melbourne, Florida). 

• There is no figurehead responsible for marketing the firearm that would let ego come in the way of bringing it to market. 

• It’s every bit as reliable as it ever was but now it can be built in mass production, not by hand. 

• The cost of it is less than a quarter of the original cost of the last batch of AA-12’s. 

• It is streamlined, redesigned for production on CNC machines and made to last. 

• There are two variants, one which has the original style sighting system, with the tall sights, and a second which features a rail for customization of optics or sights. 

• The company producing it has a long history of providing marketable, sustainable products in the gun industry.

 

Here's Why You Care and A Little Bit About the Company 

It’s the same thing you’ve always seen online or in historical footage from the 1990’s. It evoked feelings of coolness and power and capability unlike other shotguns. You remember it. If you have anything to do with guns and you’ve ever seen the AA-12, you remember it. It’s a piece of American history, and it’s about to have a second chance, thanks to Tactical Superiority/Sol Invictus Arms. But it's already proven to be reliable, fun, powerful and cool. 

A contract supplier to the biggest brand names in AR’s, itself a massive segment of the firearms industry, Tactical Superiority is a real company, making real money, producing high quality parts at a good value to shooters around the world. And through Sol Invictus Arms, they will be bringing innovative complete firearms to the world. The road map is shaping up nicely. Side Note When originally approached by the Florida company, the original buyer of the Max Atchisson's 1987 design quickly dismissed the opportunity to work with this company. But now, the AA-12 will not only be produced as the full-auto AA-12 as originally envisioned, but a 2000’s era semi-auto version,

 

designed on its own by Boje Cornils, is going to be produced as well. Tactical Superiority is itself a proven revenue producing entity in the gun industry – something previous champions of the AA-12 always aspired to, but never quite mastered. So, in the end, it seems, Jerry made the waves in the headlines, rode them solo, and then single-handedly removed himself from the equation for one reason or another. We can’t speculate if it was ego, or money, or vision or something else. The long story short is this: the AA-12 will have its day in the sun. it will be produced by a powerhouse in the gun industry, and it will finally make its way into the hands of the people who coveted it the most: the civilian shooting population. Boje Cornils, a humble German, living in Tennessee who made a life as a tool and die maker, an engineer, and ultimately as the legacy holder for the working design of the AA-12 in production will be tied to the gun that finally makes it to the market. The man who has been able to take a vision into production alongside partners of Sol Invictus and Tactical Superiority will be smiling as the consumer market eats up the opportunity to play with a cult icon, now turned mainstream reality. That must be satisfying for the guy who has always had to stay behind the curtain.

The AA-12 is available NOW Pre-ordering an AA-12 means you are securing your reservation to receive one when they come off the line, ordinarily that would pose a risk, but this isn’t a Kickstarter. This is a proven thing. You’ve seen it work. It’s on camera time and time again. It’s something of a god-mode item in video games. It’s seen legitimate commercialization on the silver screen. Yes, you are putting your money out there before you receive the item, but the company itself is a proven producer working with huge firearms manufacturers that you know and trust. The maker of the only version that ever worked is consulting on the rollout; the patents are granted and have been proven. The dies, and molds and parts are being made (by the time you read this, they’ll likely be finished). The gun has been tested in real world scenarios all over the place. You have little to lose. Tactical Superiority will be selling the limited edition “Boje Signature” models beginning on Armslist.com and following on Gunbroker.com. There will be 1000 of each model up for sale and Tactical Superiority will take each individual that places a preorder through the month of September 2018 and perform a drawing to determine who gets the serial numbers #1-#10. The balance of the orders will be fulfilled in the order in which they placed their order, assigning a serial number based on that place in line. The beautiful thing about the AA-12 is that it’s organically viral. It just screams to be passed along to friends, played with, watched, over and over. It’s just fun. Powerful. Innovative. Awkwardly beautiful and stunningly reliable. This is a gun that the civilian market always coveted but never got to have. Like an awkward supermodel that you lust after. A supermodel for sure. 360 rounds a minute super. If you want to know more about the production version of the AA-12, an iconic shotgun, you can contact:

info@tacticalsuperiority.com

- Benjamin Worthen is a former Gunsmith of more than 20 years. He now works as a writer in the firearms industry and as a marketing consultant for several industries including the Political and Firearms arenas. He has worked in consulting capacities and as a contract vendor for the military and law enforcement agencies and as a firearms designer and engineer for proof of concept pieces and custom firearms. He is a vocal supporter of Second Amendment rights.