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The Hazardous Environment Combat Unit SPAS-12, also referred to as HECU SPAS-12 or simply SPAS-12, is a powerful pump-action shotgun that fires buckshot in a cone-shaped pattern. Primarily used by the HECU and emergency weapon used by Security guards, it is used by all playable characters from the Half-Life games' story arc.



Freeman and his SPAS-12.

The SPAS-12 has two fire modes. The first one fires six pellets with a medium-sized spread, uses one shell, and has a small delay between shots. While the alternate fire mode fires twelve pellets in a larger, less tight spread and uses two shells, but has a longer delay between shots.

The SPAS-12 is reloaded one shell at a time. The reloading process can be interrupted at any time by pressing the fire key. This weapon is commonly used by the HECU, who often have one or two soldiers armed with shotguns mixed with ones wielding MP5s.

In Half-Life, the SPAS-12 is first acquired in the game's fourth chapter, Office Complex, at the end of a hallway. If not found there, it can be found scattered throughout the rest of the chapter. After Freeman is captured, and his weapons confiscated, the SPAS-12 can be obtained by killing a SPAS-12 wielding HECU soldier at the start of the chapter Questionable Ethics.

In Opposing Force, it is first acquired in the chapter Welcome to Black Mesa, found next to a dead HECU marine and a Vortigaunt.

In Blue Shift, it is first acquired in the chapter Duty Calls, next to a dead Scientist.


  • The SPAS-12's primary fire is very effective against weak enemies, such as Headcrabs, Zombies, and Vortigaunts. However, the primary fire mode falters against stronger enemies, such as the Bullsquid, because of the low damage output and the small delay between shots.
  • The SPAS-12's alternate fire is one of the most powerful attacks the player can use. In Normal mode, it can kill any enemy up to a HECU soldier in one hit, as long as around six pellets connect. The alternate fire also does heavy damage against the Alien Grunt, but the long delay between shots makes the player very vulnerable to counter-attacks, especially while being close to the enemy. Due to this, it advised to switch to another weapon to finish off weakened targets.
    • However, in Half-Life: Source, one useful trick is to use quick switch directly after each shot, thus skipping the pump mechanism, which increases the rate of fire. However, this trick also eats up the ammo very quickly, which forces the player to reload when faced against large groups of enemies.
  • The only enemy that the SPAS-12 does poorly against is the Alien Controller. At the various ranges the Alien Controller can be at, most of the SPAS-12's pellets will miss the creature due to its spread, no matter what firing mode is used. However, most players would already have other, much more effective weapons against it such as the Crossbow, the Sniper Rifle, or even a Pistol.
  • Reloading must be made as often as possible, as an empty SPAS-12 magazine takes much longer to reload than other weapons.
  • In Deathmatch game-play, one shot only fires two-thirds bullets, but each bullet causes four times as much damage.

Behind the scenes

  • Early footage showed that the SPAS-12 had a completely different skin that was white. All traces of the old skin were removed except for the shotgun used by the scientist at Sector F Lambda Complex's Level A, which still uses that old skin.


  • Although the standard shotgun weapon model is a SPAS-12, the weapon icon in the HUD depicts a different model of shotgun (an Ithaca 37). The Half-Life High Definition Pack remedies this by replacing the icon and making it look like a real SPAS-12.
  • Although the SPAS-12 can switch between pump-action and semi-automatic modes, only the player uses the pump-action, while the HECU uses the semi-automatic. It is impossible to switch modes in-game.
  • On both the original and the HD version, the playable character erroneously inserts the shells through the heat shield rather than the actual loading port located behind it.
  • When the SPAS-12 is used by NPCs, they will reload all the shells at once.
  • HECU soldiers can fire the SPAS-12 in semi-automatic mode; they fire it even faster in Half-Life: Source.
  • In real life, the SPAS-12 cannot fire two shots simultaneously, as it only has one barrel.
  • In reality, a more appropriate shotgun for a USMC unit would be the Remington 870, since the SPAS-12 is not used in military service in the United States.
  • The ammo box for the SPAS-12 contains 13 shells; however, the player will only get 12 of them. The reasoning behind this may be because one shell appears to have been spent in both the original and HD Pack (though this is much more evident in the HD Pack.)
  • There was previously a bug in Half-Life and its expansion packs (but not in Half-Life: Day One), where the pumping sound would not be played if the player held down the firing button for successive shots; they needed to release the button between shots in order to hear it. This was fixed in 2019 for most games, but the error is still present in Half-Life: Source.




List of appearances


The Half-Life Wiki has more images related to HECU SPAS-12.

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