Wilkinson Tactical CR-12 Shotgun: Major Multi-Tasker


Wilkinson Tactical CR-12 Shotgun: Major Multi-Tasker

They say things are bigger in Texas, but after attending the Blue August Gun & Outdoor Writers’ Conference this month, I’m convinced Wyoming is the secret hatching ground of Big Things when it comes to guns. First, we learned about Big Horn Armory and their new 50 Auto Max load and rifles to match. Then, Jim Wilkinson, owner of Wilkinson Tactical of Laramie, strode in with a big gun case. Inside was the biggest tactical 12 gauge shotgun I’ve ever seen – along with two uppers. Intriguing! Jim had flown in to give us a look at his riff off the AR10. It’s called the CR12 Tactical Shotgun. But the name doesn’t adequately describe the versatility of the design. An engineer at heart, Wilkinson has developed not just one shotgun but a shooting system designed around one lower.

The CR12 is, according to Wilkinson, the first direct gas impingement 12 gauge on the market. What’s more, the CR12 will run any other caliber that the AR10 lower can accommodate. With a change of upper, a body can choose to shoot the usual .308 or even .243 or 6mm Creedmoor in the same gun. Its springs and other internals are compatible across these calibers so the change is as simple as a field strip. Wilkinson demonstrated it in six seconds for the writers’ group.

CR12 Long Range upper

New CR12 owners can elect to buy a Wilkinson tactical and/or long range rifle upper to pair with the lower. The tactical model has a 16-inch barrel, Pic rail, and plenty of M-LOK handguard for accessories. Jim Wilkinson says it has the recoil of a .223/5.56 despite being chambered in .308 Winchester. The long range upper has a 24-inch Criterion Precision barrel, a choice of free-floating M-LOK or Keymod handguard, and a muzzle brake. Wilkinson claims the .308 long range upper achieves a six-inch group at 1,000 yards, and with custom-loaded ammunition and an expert on the trigger, the 6.5 Creedmoor upper places rounds in an inch-size group at 1,000.

Wilkinson tac upper
CR12 Tactical Rifle upper

It’s not just caliber/ammo type flexibility that the CR12 delivers. It has a specialized buffer spring that softens recoil. The barrel is 18 inches. It’s that long for a reason—it’s the length that offered sufficient gas pressure for reliable function. The bolt carrier group is nickel boron plated. Magazines for the CR12 are proprietary, and still being perfected. Today’s buyers will receive two box mags, and will be shipped a third of the final design when it is in production. When the design is finalized, buyers will receive two mags. Each holds five 12 gauge shells.

I had the opportunity to fire the CR12 with 2.75-inch 12 gauge buckshot loads. This is the shell length Wilkinson says works best. At 6.2 pounds, I found the CR12 easy-to-wield, with a weight that still absorbs recoil well. As promised, recoil was very manageable and rapid fire was easy. In fact, Wilkinson’s favorite party trick with this gun is to hold it in one hand, at arm’s length, and fire multiple rounds quickly. Even held in this manner, it ran well.

The CR12 is a one-gun solution for multiple tasks, from hunting large and medium game to home defense. While its length makes it slightly less handy than ideal for in-home or in-vehicle use, it holds great potential as a partner for the person who wants to do a lot with one investment. At $1,995 its price is less than that of three new, quality entry-level long guns. If you want one gun that can do it all and that no one else on the block has, check out the CR12.

CR-12 Specifications
Base Model:

  • 12 ga 2 3/4 ”
  • Standard 308/7.62 lower
  • Semi automatic direct impingement, gas operated
  • 18” smooth bore barrel with Winchester choke tube threads
  • Nickel Boron plated bolt carrier group (BCG)
  • Black anodize standard. Color options available
  • M4 style adjustable stock
  • Uses all standard M16/M4 armorer tools


  • Full ambidextrous controls
  • 20% let off open cylinder muzzle break, modified cylinder and full choke included
  • Fail Zero trigger group
  • Free floating hand guard with M-Lock or Keymod
  • Kyntec hydraulic buffer
Avatar Author ID 288 - 485869217

Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and armed security practitioner/instructor who lives in the American Southwest. She is the author of "Ready to Defend: Tips for Living the Armed Lifestyle," and is a contributor to numerous gun-related blogs and print publications.

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