The HK CAWS was Heckler & Koch's initial entry into the United States military's elite Close Assault Weapon System program.
The HK CAWS was a prototype shotgun initially co-created and co-produced by Heckler & Koch and Winchester/Olin during and the throughout the 1980s. The shotgun is a 12-gauge, 10-round, bull-pup shotgun with three ambidextrous firing modes: safe, full-auto, and semi-auto.
The HK CAWS or Close Assault Weapon System - program first began in the early 1980s within the United States. The main goal of this elite program was to develop a new and improved generation personal shotgun, capable of firing multiple projectiles at a high-impulse with an effective range of 100-150 meters. Using multiple types of projectiles should increase the opportunities of hitting the target during combat. One of the teams in the competition entered in the HK CAWS race was Heckler & Koch Germany, combined with Winchester Corp. USA. Heckler & Koch was solely and fully responsible for developing a weapon, while Winchester of the United States was responsible for the production and development of new types of ammunition. Although tested by the United States military, the CAWS was fully cancelled, and production, both civilian and military has halted.
The HK CAWS shotgun is a smoothbore, select fire weapon, created to discharge special high pressure shotshells, that are specifically loaded with flechettes or tungsten buckshot. The HK CAWS utilizes a researched and patented recoil operated action along with a distinct moving barrel. Additionally, the weapon has a self regulated gas assist system. This system helps unlock the breechblock from the barrel when the lower power ammo is used. The system effectively reduces recoil to a suitable level on the firearm.
The HK CAWS looks very similar to the HK G11 which as an advanced assault rifle. It is built with the bull pup configuration and an integral carrying handle. The weapons charging handle is positioned under the carrying handle. This is done at the top of the receiver and is easily ambidextrous. The initial HK style fire selector/safety switch comes with three positions: Full auto, semi-auto and safe mode. The weapon can fire nearly 240 shots each minute.