By J David Truby
You’re a cop about to kick in some drug lord’s door not knowing who or what’s on the other side and your gut feels like there’s an angry rattlesnake coiled inside. That’s when the Entry Team shotgun would be the best companion to shove ahead of you inside that bad guy’s den.
Built and sold in the late 1980s, the Entry Team was the law enforcement model of the Striker shotgun of South African fame. Specifically, the Entry Team was a compact version of the larger Striker having a pistol grip instead of a stock, while the barrel is only 6 inches long.
The Entry Team shotgun was both designed and named by Greg Souchik, who was marketing manager of Law Enforcement Ordnance Corporation (LEO) at that time. He based his modifications of the full-sized Striker on his experience as a law enforcement officer.
“Police use either a handgun or a shotgun on raids and in clearing buildings. When you go through the door or are going room to room that shotgun power and shot dispersion is better than any handgun. Yet, shotguns have long barrels, which are awkward inside rooms, plus the bad guys can always deflect or grab the weapon’s barrel,” Souchik told me recently as we recalled the day of the Entry Team.
“Combine handgun mobility with the shotgun’s power and load, and that was my design idea. It has a good center of gravity, and is a real point-and-shoot weapon when held close to your body in the assault position.”
The Striker originally had its combat genesis in Rhodesia, where it was a field-improvised weapon for police, military and home protection use. Hilton Walker, a Rhodesian farmer, designed the original Striker and had a small production run made locally.
When Rhodesia fell to the bad guys, Walker took his design to South Africa, where it went into production with ARMSEL in Johannesburg. They created an improved version for that nation’s military, police and civilian sale. However, its importation to the U.S. was banned by our government due to the trade embargo with South Africa at that time.
There was expensive, lengthy and unsuccessful litigation to get the weapon into the U.S. Finally, it was decided that the only answer was to manufacture the weapon totally in the United States.
Those Strikers, including the Entry Team model, were produced in the small, scenic town of Ridgway, located in the verdant hills of Northwestern Pennsylvania. They were produced by Sentinel Arms Corporation for exclusive distribution by LEO. Later, Pioneer Distributing was added to the sales mix. Principals in those early days included Grant Stapleton, Hans Kornberger, Jack Mizerock and Souchik.
Built to match, or exceed, military specifications, the Entry Team combat shotgun has awesome firepower. It’s basically a revolver action, 12-gauge shotgun capable of firing its twelve-round load in three seconds. That sort of firepower has to be comforting to an officer who has to crash into some bad guy’s room.
The Entry Team is 14 1/2 inches long overall with a 6-inch barrel. It weighs just 8 1/2 pounds loaded. The Entry Team is exceptionally simple and safe to operate. It fires double-action-only and accidental discharge is almost impossible given the design of the weapon, e.g., the heavy trigger pull.
As easy to load as a revolver, the Entry Team can handle any combination of 23/4-inch plastic 12 gauge shells, lethal and nonlethal. Plus, the operator can pre-select the rounds he will fire by checking the back of the magazine where a cutout allows visual identification of the round loaded in each chamber. Range and penetration of the weapon is determined by the type of rounds loaded.
Souchik adds, “For its specific purpose it was a perfect design. You could load the drum chambers with any combination of .12 gauge round the situation demanded, from slugs to buckshot to #6 shot to chemical rounds.”
During a visit to the plant in 1988, I checked out the prototype Entry Team weapon for a series of tests by a team comprised of two law enforcement people, a Marine combat vet, a former U.S. Special Forces A-Team commander, and myself.
We loaded a variety of rounds in the prototype and took turns firing and otherwise field-testing the weapon for reliability, range, accuracy, power, safety and comfort.
Right now, I bet you’re shaking your head. You’ve seen the photos of the Entry Team so the horror of the muzzle blast and recoil come to mind. I admit to some early trepidation about firing the weapon. One shot ended that. The recoil is surprisingly mild and the muzzle blast is easily tolerable. With ear protection it’s totally tamed.
“But, to the bad guys, that muzzle blast and noise is going to be a major deterrent to their armed resistance to police officers with Entry Team firepower,” Ed Lewis, a state law enforcement member of our team, noted after our 1988 field tests.
“The weapon performed excellently. There were no misfires during our 500 rounds of testing and all ammunition worked as planned, considering that we shot all the various loads common to law enforcement use,” the late Don Steffey, Gng Sgt, USMC added.
We were able to empty the entire twelve-round magazines in just over three seconds during speed firing tests. In aimed, controlled fire we were able to hit our targets within the 20-foot combat range.
The only major disadvantage to the weapon was that it had no application for anything other than close-range interior assault or defense, plus the rotary drum made it quite bulky. Because of its muzzle blast and heavy trigger pull it would require extensive training by the officers certified in its use.
In the conclusion of our report, former SF Captain, Peder C. Lund, publisher of Paladin Press, noted, “This Entry Team shotgun of Mr. Souchik’s is a compact handful of great firepower for law enforcement personnel. It will provide a strong sense of armed superiority and personal security.”
With these endorsements, and an early sales spike, you would have thought that by now Entry Team would be an icon in the Counter Terror and Anti-Drug Weapons Hall of Fame, rather than the collectible rarity it is today. In 1988, the basic Striker-12 with an 18-inch barrel sold for $725, while the smaller Entry Team model sold for $850.
The Entry Team was not a success for several reasons, according to Souchik. “It was an unusual design, and there is always resistance to something different. Also, it was an expensive weapon; two or three times the cost of a regular shotgun. It was tough for us to break that budget ceiling that police agencies always face.
“Also, the timing was bad, as it was the 1980s and there was not much federal funding to help law enforcement agencies. Plus, there were some bad marketing decisions made by the Striker Company in South Africa that also impacted on us here in the U.S.”
Eventually, the company became Penn Arms, moved to Punxsutawney, PA, and modified its Striker product line into 37mm and 40mm grenade launcher non-lethal weapons for police and military units. Its products are currently with police departments in all 50 states, as well as military in the U. S. and abroad.
Today, Souchik is the CEO of Allegheny Arsenal, Inc, a major import/export/sales dealer in automatic weapons, both classic and modern; replica non-guns; parts and accessories; plus full repair facilities for beginners and advanced collectors. They are located in Northwestern Pennsylvania, not too far from the old Striker facility.
When I asked him about the availability and price of an Entry Team today, the personable Souchik shrugged, shook his head, and said, “I have no idea. I still have legal ownership of that prototype we tested back in ’88, and it’s not for sale. Beyond that? Check the ads in SAR, I guess.”
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N7 (April 2003)