February 01, 2013
The Eight-Barreled Colt Defender: An Interesting Footnote in Shotgun History
By Phil Bourjaily
Seeing the Chiappa Triple Crown at SHOT made me think about multiple-barreled shotguns. Besides the hunting model which I really want to try for waterfowl, the Chiappa also comes in a cut down home defense version because, well, that’s where the money is these days. There is no denying the intimidation factor of looking down three shotgun barrels if you are an intruder. Of course, three barrels wouldn’t be anywhere near as scary as eight, which brings us to Robert Hillberg’s Colt Defender shotgun, of which prototype versions were produced in the 60s.
Hillberg, who designed prototypes of the Winchester Liberator, a four-barreled, 16 gauge update on the WWII Liberator single shot pistol, went on to design another multi-barrel gun that never caught on: the Defender.
The Defender had eight (8!) 3-inch 20 gauge barrels that fired on a double-action trigger pull. Later versions also included a center barrel tear-gas launcher. Colt built a few guns and shopped them around to law enforcement agencies, but while many were interested in the design, there were not enough orders for Colt to justity production, so the Defender became an interesting footnote in shotgun history.