submitted by: Dick Jones,Lewis Creek Shooting School
I admit it. Remington’s new Versa Max shotgun is starting to get on my nerves. I don’t normally become irritated with a gun and I realize it’s my own fault; I’m the one who made the decision not to clean it until it malfunctioned. At this point, it has 675 rounds through it from 3 ½” duck loads to 2 ½” RST super light 7/8 ounce shells meant for use in old vintage guns that might be damaged by modern high pressure loads. I even shot some 1,050 fps 7/8 ounce reloads and still… not so much as a hiccup. Every time I shoot it, it goes back into the safe dirty. I want to clean it but a promise is a promise.
Firing loads like this in a semi-auto is unheard of. I know of no other semi-auto that will even function with these low pressure shells, much less have the capability to shoot them and handle 3 ½” magnums in the same magazine without so much as an adjustment. By putting the gas ports in the chamber and allowing longer shells to block off some of the ports to manage the pressure levels, Remington Arms has come up with the most innovative shotgun in the last 50 years, if not more.
The Versa Max operates with seven gas ports and two gas pistons located just under the chamber. Apparently, since the chamber pressures are higher at the chamber than further down the barrel, the system is more forgiving than a regular gas or recoil operated system. Most three inch guns won’t cycle with a one ounce standard shell much less a light 7/8. My son in law didn’t even know you could buy 2 ½” shells much less get a semi-auto to feed them. As I explained that they even made two inch shells for super lightweight loads in super light British guns, I got an idea. Maybe I should get some two inch shells; surely the Versa Max wouldn’t feed them. Then I could clean the dang thing and quit worrying about it.
Now, Remington has brought out a tactical version of the VersaMax. With 8 + 1 capacity, a top picatinny rail and two side accessory picatinny rails, this gun promises to be a winner. Load this baby up with 3 ½” slugs and you have a package that can put out enough foot pounds of energy to stop a small herd of pachyderms, much less a home invader. It’s just a matter of time before this gun is chewing up the three gun circuit. At $1,399 the Versa Max is well under the price of the competition and promises to be a major contender in the shotgun market.
The VersaMax is a well constructed piece of equipment meant to effectively turn game into dinner. It doesn’t have the trigger pull of a Krieghoff trap gun or the stock finish of a Perazzi. It is a functional tool mass produced for no nonsense hunting. The quality is adequate to allow it to perform but it isn’t going to produce oohs and ahhs at the gun club. In its defense, it does have options that allow the purchaser the ability to fit the gun to them and their style of shooting, something few mass produced guns offer.
This is where the VersaMax promises to shine. With a lot of rounds through this gun, I’ve yet to experience one hiccup. It has performed flawlessly with ammunition no other semi auto I know of will handle. This is the strong suit for the VersaMax.
Priced at about a quarter less than its direct competitors, the VersaMax offers real value. For shooters who don’t need the versatility, there are guns that cost less and are quite serviceable but the wide range of ammunition this gun handles makes it a great choice for the guy who wants a versatile working gun that can do almost everything and not a closet full of specialized shotguns.
Which company makes the best semi auto is not an argument I wish to get into but I realistically believe that anyone who’s buying a semi-auto shotgun would be making a mistake not to consider this gun.