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The Remington V3 Tactical 12 Gauge As though a life depended on it

09/13/2020

My wife and I were working on our home this weekend and came to a decision point most home owners have at one time or another. Should we mow the lawn or sell the house, buy an RV and move to a vegetarian commune in Patagonia? We compromised, deciding the lawn could wait until next weekend.

Instead, we tackled the portable twenty gallon parts cleaner that had been taking up space in the garage. Filled with primordial ooze, and rusting from the inside out, parts came out dirtier than when they went in and the recirculating pump had literally dissolved. The issue turned to salvage. Removing the tank and fabricating a work surface could result in a very nice rolling workbench. Alternatively, a similar approach could be used to make a portable potting table. You know, hoarder projects where nothing is really thrown out.

Mow the lawn? Disassemble the parts cleaner? Salvage? Metaphorically, the walls began to close in and the pressure became overwhelming. So we decided to look at RVs online and spend the weekend catching up on our reading.

Shotguns for defense and security

Firearms serve many roles, some critical, some recreational. Within each application, experience guides firearm selection, manufacturer’s guide firearm selection and firearm publications do their share of the same. Hopefully, when a decision is reached, the firearm will suit the person, or persons, it will serve. What is the consequence of a bad decision?

A poor choice for competitive shooting, and even for non-dangerous big game hunting, typically means no more than a lost match or an unrewarding hunting trip. However, with something as critical as a defensive firearm, where safety and perhaps survival are at stake, selection of a proper firearm is crucial.

Shotguns have played a role in my notion of home security; 12 gauge and 20 gauge, autoloader and pump, utilizing slug and shot loads. The purpose they continue to serve is protection when drawn out of the house to investigate a disturbance at night, where distance to the woodland tree line varies and house form, even under area lights, cast shadows and provide cover.

A shotgun is not used defensively inside my home for a number of reasons; layout of the house, movement and placement of occupants and locations of defensible positions. In my judgement, a shotgun would not provide sufficiently narrow coverage, it would endanger occupants and the shooting distances from defensible positions are too close to warrant a shotgun.

Outdoors at night, chances are that the need to defend would happen more quickly than in the day time and shooting distances would be greater than indoors, but still moderate. In this setting, a shotgun fits. Not a lecture directed at you, just some insight into one person’s perspective.

Remington V3 Tactical Solution

Remington V2 Tactical

Manufacturer Remington Ilion, NY
Order # 83442
Type Gas Operated Autoloader
Gauge 12 (2 ¾” or 3″)
Capacity 6+1
Barrel Length 18.5″
Choke Fixed Cylinder Bore
Weight 7.6 Lbs
Overall Length 39.5″
Stocks Synthetic
Hardware Aluminum – Steel – Matte Black
Length of Pull 14.2
Drop at comb 1 1/2″
Drop at heel 2 7/16″
Sights Vent Rib – Bead
Sight Mounting
D&T For Rail
Trigger Pull 4 Lbs. 3 Oz.
Safety Cross Bolt
MSRP $1,024

My current gun is a short barrel 12 gauge pump, fitted with a pressure switch actuated tactical light that is never used. The pump was my choice because, a few years ago, a preferred Versa Max Tactical proved too unwieldy for my purposes. The V3 Tactical addresses that issue without giving away anything central to my application.

The Remington V3 utilizes the same Versaport gas system design as the Versa Max, but the action is more compact; the Versa Max is a 3.5″ capacity action where the V3 is capped at 3″. Additionally, the V3 Tactical has a shorter barrel; 18.5″ compared to 22″. The result is the V3’s overall length reduction of four and one-half inches and a weight reduction of one-half pound.

Absent on the V3 Tactical are the Versa Max’s interchangeable choke tubes, adjustable stock, one round of magazine capacity and about 30% of the MSRP. Retained are the oversize charging handle, bolt release, and safety. This is not a suggestion that the Versa Max is overpriced. Rather, it is an assessment that the extra cost features useful to a bird hunter, or for clay target shooting, are not particularly useful within a defensive application.

I want to be careful when referencing feature similarities and differences between the V3 and Versa Max products, as these models share no common parts and vary substantially in design. As one example, the Versa Max recoil spring is embedded in the shotguns buttstock. The V3 recoil springs reside on dual guide rods and are contained within the receiver.

As noted previously, the V3 is a maximum 3″ shell design which contributes to the V3’s substantially more compact form. The V3 bolt assembly has a beefed up extractor and ejector. The V3 trigger assembly is simplified, more robust and incorporates elements of Remington target shotguns. The wide trigger feels light and crisp.

Another smart move on Remington’s part, the overall geometry and balance of the V3 was made to match that of the very popular Remington Model 1100. So the V3 would feel familiar to Model 1100 shooters and that trait makes it an easy shotgun to gain shooting proficiency.

The Versaport gas system

The Versaport gas system design is easy to maintain. The gas pistons drop in from the front of the gas block and the plugs go into the block to retain the pistons. Picture left, a substandard image from my borescope that illustrates port appearance.

Within the V3’s barrel, eight ports pass through to the gas block, directing pressurized gas to the pistons when the shotgun is discharged. When a 2 3/4″ shell is chambered, all eight ports are exposed. When a longer 3″ shell is chambered, only four ports are exposed. A simple way to regulate gas volume and pressure to the gas block appropriate for the type of ammo selected.

In addition to the metering of gas from barrel to gas block, the Versaport system dumps excess gas. In the case of the V3, the excess escapes through vents at the rear of the forearm. No, no puffs of smoke or jet streams. The gas volume is small and it expands, slows and dissipates mostly within the forearm. The proof of the quality of the design is that the Remington Versaport guns are highly reliable and digest what they are fed.

“Joe, why are you droning on and on and… over the gas system?”. If you were paying attention at the onset, you’ll note that I said I have a pump shotgun as part of a home defense system. Why a pump? Because of the old adage that gas system guns are not rock solid reliable, which certainly does not apply to the Versaport system.

A sound defense?

What about the sound of a racking pump gun scaring off perpetrators. Are there some criminals who are not cut out for a life of crime and would faint at the presence of a gun? Not likely. Today’s criminals are hardened, violent and want to hurt their victims, as much as they want to take their victims’ possessions.The sound of a racking shotgun may do more to disclose a position by shouting “Look at me! Look at me! I’m over here!”.

At 6 shells, the V3 Tactical holds one less round in its extended magazine than the Versa Max Tactical; a function of magazine length tracking to an 18.5″ barrel rather than a 22″ barrel. For sling users, the V3 Tactical has a swivel mount location on the butt stock and an M-LOK slot on the clamp that holds the barrel and extended magazine together. The subject shotgun is supplied with a ventilated rib and bead sighting system.  The #83441 version, $1,076 MSRP, is supplied with XS Low Profile open sights.

To Remington’s credit in putting together a tactical shotgun, the oversize controls are appreciated. Yes, they may seem like the push buttons on a geriatric telephone, but they are where they should be and as obvious as they should be on a defensive weapon.

The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for sight mounts, which would most appropriately be a Picatinny rail. No, that isn’t British. I believe you are thinking of Piccadilly rails, which are the U.K. trains serving the greater Manchester Piccadilly area.

The “soft shooting 12 gauge” oxymoron… After owning and shooting a good number of heavy African big game caliber firearms, and a good number of pop shooter heavy weight target rimfire rifles, then shooting essentially everything else in between, I’ve become a pretty good judge of degrees of recoil across that spectrum. I do not believe “soft shooting” is an adjective that can precede the term “12 gauge”.

I would say that the gas powered action, stock geometry and excellent Remington SuperCell recoil pad make the V3 Tactical 12 gauge recoil very manageable. The V3 pad fit me much better than the adjustable length of pull pad setup found on the Versa Max.The pad also did not hang on my clothing and it offered excellent lateral stability.

Yes, I did shoot the Remington V3 Tactical

Three types of 12 gauge ammo were fired from the Remington V3 Tactical, from left to right: Federal Premium 3″ #4 Buck 41 pellets of copper plated shot @ 1210 fps (now rated at 1100 fps), Remington Hypersonic Steel 3″ #2 steel shot 156 pellets (1 1/4 oz) @ 1700 fps and Federal Power-Shok 2 3/4″ 1 oz rifled slug in deference to the V3 smooth bore. Why?

Empirical data

The ammunition presented has been used on wildlife of size and weight that would be similar to defense against a human threat and at the distances indicated. After years of shooting holes in blocks of synthetic ballistic gel to create photographic imagery, I fail to see the result correlation between gel and ballistic gel in the broad context often reported.

The Internet is loaded with lots of ballistic gel test results; sometimes just bare gel blocks, sometimes gel dressed in denim, sometimes the gel is fronted with some type of construction material. However, the execution of the test is almost always the same. One guy sits in a chair ten feet from the block, another guy stands to the side with his fingers in his ears, a shot is taken and then they both say in unison, “Hoo boy! Will you look at that?” and then the video is played back in slow motion to show the gel block wiggle and waggle on impact… shot from ten feet away.

I do not know where the ten foot shooting distance comes from, other than a minimum safe distance when shooting into a block of gel and sometimes as a component of the methodology used to qualify the density of gel medium. In any event, I have no picturesque gel block penetration results to offer and, as published results vary to extremes, I have no gel block reference data from others to offer.

The failings of long term relationships

There are shotgunners and shotguns that can cover serious distances. There are slug guns and slug ammunition that can rival typical sporting rifle accuracy at multiple hundreds of yards. For the deer, moose and hog hunter, that is exceptionally good news and an illustration of how far firearms and ammunition has come over even the past twenty five years. However, that is not my application or, I suspect, the intent of the Remington V3 Tactical.

Distances referenced below reflect distances anticipated in service. Important considerations due to shot disbursement varying with distance, the low ballistic coefficient of a full bore slug… the flying barn door syndrome and because of the rapid deceleration of low sectional density shot. My defensive shotgun intent is ten to fifteen yards for shot and twenty five to fifty yards for slugs.

Why not just replace the shotgun with a handgun on the short end and a rifle when going long? Changing circumstances where a shotgun can handle both. What begins very close up and appropriate for shot, can quickly evolve into something longer range. With only shotgun in hand, a transition can be made from shot with broad coverage to slug ammunition for more tightly controlled target acquisition.

.Bang, bang… bang

Fifteen yards on a 12″x18″ target, 33 of 41 #4 Buck pellets on target. Penetration at this distance would shred internal organs and the wound would be massive with 33 0.240″ pellet wound channels.

Fifteen yards on a 12″x18″ target, 91 of 156 #2 steel 0.150″ pellets on target. Less penetration, but certainly discouraging for a perpetrator and, again, the wound would be massive with 91 0.150″ pellet wound channels.

Above, a five shot, 25 yard group utilizing Federal rifles slugs. Could similar results be achieved at 50 yards? Sure, and the Federal slugs would penetrate enough to drop a deer at even at 50 yards and slug expansion would be huge… 1″+ in diameter. If deeper penetration and less expansion were desired, a 12 gauge copper projectile, sabot mounted 0.500″ projectile or solid cast slug rifled slug would work.

Overall, patterns and groups were quite good, especially for cylinder bore. The Remington V3 Tactical functionally did as well with target loads and quick shots yielded shattered clay targets. No, not my first choice for skeet, but that is not the Tactical configuration’s purpose.

Different tests, different testers, different results…

I did want to offer one last test for the Remington V3 Tactical that has been the gold standard for shotgun/shotshell testing for as long as I can remember. It is at least as valid as any other test I have seen conducted on the Internet. The elastomer material thickness standard is 10 mils deflated, charged volume must be 268 cubic inches, and charge pressure is 14.7 PSI. Clusters are arranged in groups of 7 units. The example below was shot at 15 yards with #2 steel shot.

Yes, that is a gratuitous “Hoo Boy! Look at that!” video and exploitation of balloons moment. Sometimes I have to have fun too.

Back to business… a summary

The Remington V3 Tactical is a fast handling shotgun that provides plenty of power and reliable operation.The V3’s light weight, neutral balance and short barrel make it an intuitive shooter.

I have tried a good number of point and sight systems between shot and slug guns; lights, lasers, enclosed red dot, compact open red dot, express sights, scopes, ribs, and bead combinations. Ultimately, my guns always end up with simple rib/bead setups because they are effective and there is little to break or fail. The V3 leaves the factory with the necessary system in place.

The V3 Tactical is a quick clean up. Field stripping is easy and requires no tools. Metal finishes and polymer stock wipe clean of powder residue and defend well against scratches, wear and corrosion. The surfaces are also non-reflective so you won’t find yourself trying to be stealthy while holding a signal mirror.

Time to retire my pump gun.

The Browning Citori 725 Feather Superlight Even I know it's a great shotgun

09/06/2020

I guess my life has changed since the Mesozoic Era when I was a young man. Jeans and t-shirts and not venturing far from home have replaced business suits and constant travel. Now, my wife and I poke around in our vegetable garden hoping to spot the fruits of our labor.

No more pursuits of exotic cars and motorcycles. My wife and I are all set with a little turbo charged Ford Escape in the garage, parked next to a garden tractor. And when we want to travel, it’s for personal enjoyment, not for work or necessity. A lack of ambition? Not at all. Just different directions and priorities.

Living on a parcel of woodland, we can shoot firearms when we choose, hunt turkey and deer, run machinery in the shop without disturbing neighbors and generally remain insulated from people and places we see on the news. No sounds of street traffic or night light pollution and, if my wife and I choose to extend our horizons… universe, we can break out a telescope.

Our children and most of our grandchildren are grown, healthy and safe. Now we can sit on the sofa at night, watch TV or read, plan projects or road trips and hold hands. It took seventy four years to get to this point in life, this peace of mind. I hope you people arrive there sooner..

The shotgun deficiency

Growing up, friends were deer hunters. Most father’s in that group were WW II or Korean War vets, who knew firearms well, did not discourage their use, but did not personally pursue shooting sports. So we learned about firearms by reading, hanging out at gun shops until we were ejected and from shared personal experiences.

My first shotgun looked a lot like this vintage sixty two year old Savage Model 202B 12 gauge single shot with 2 3/4″ chamber. Actually, this is my first shotgun and I so still own it. The case hardened finish is worn away, the stock has been cleaned up and refinished numerous times and the barrel has been stripped and rust blued.

Purchased with part time job earnings in the summer of 1959, it remained my only shotgun for quite some time. One of my buddies had a Browning Auto-5, a gift from parents, that was beautiful. It was always a pleasure to shoot when the opportunity arose, but I could not afford one at that age, so game birds, deer and small game were pursued with the Savage.

As a mature adult, I am not accomplished at skeet and trap. Meaning, I typically stand a better chance of blasting a flying clay target by drawing a 1911 45 Auto, then hitting it with any form of shotgun. Yes, that is the reason shotguns rarely grace the pages of Real Guns. I would say the leading cause of arrested shotgunning development is lack of practice and infrequency of outings.

However, while my shotgunning skills may be well developed, I can still appreciate a shotgun for its mechanical design, fit and finish and performance in my hands and in the privacy of my own… woods. And it does appear that a good shotgun can make me look better with a shotgun than I deserve.

So, Joe, why do you like the Browning Citori 725 Feather Superlight

I have to say I felt an instant affinity for the Feather Superlight, but it took a while for me to figure out why. At the top, there was a sense of nostalgia. Part of it was childhood associations with Browning shotguns, part was the modern company’s namesake and part was an overall European look. I love classic European firearms, not a fan of their modern governments.

There is something very attractive about a dark oil finish, a select grade of walnut, a graceful straight grip and Schnabel forearm, touched with just enough cleanly cut, bordered checkered panels. The care exercised in manufacturing and assembly is reflected in an outstanding wood and metal fit and finish.

The silver nitrided aluminum alloy receiver compliments the oil finished walnut and stainless steel pieces. The laser engraving is cleanly done and the design is appropriately restrained art. Engraving technology, in other brand firearms, has provided some comical scenes; birds apparently flying out of a ill proportioned hippopotamus’s butt, deer with a head the size of its body and what might have been a depiction of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. Not so with the Superlight. Browning put just enough quality game scene and just enough flowing scroll work to give the Superlight an… elegant appearance.

The clean inletting and fit of wood to metal is all over, not just at the receiver. The wrap around the deeply blued barrels and inletted stainless forearm latch are a tight fit.

The black walnut is listed as grade II/III. Unlike my old savage, the forearm and buttstock are a match in grain, finish and color. The wood has nicely figured grain and contrast and just the right amount of stripe to make it interesting.

Center of the universe

Unlike double and single barrel rifles that seem to have a magnetic muzzle to earth attraction, the Citori 725 balances at the hinge pin, giving the barrels a… neutral feel. Not light, not nose heavy, just enough heft to feel steady tracking flying clay targets.

Not heavy handed in weight reduction, the changes compared to the standard models are subtle. The low profile aluminum receiver, straight grip buttstock with narrow wrist, a slightly more narrow forearm, low mass, but very effective and smooth Inflex II recoil pad, and 26″ barrels all contribute to the 20 gauge’s  5 lb 7 oz overall weight.

Like a1963 Ford Galaxy lightweight Super Stocker… only not a car.

In applications where light weight contributes to performance, the trick is to remove parasitic weight, without diminishing strength. In this regard, the lengths Browning went to to achieve that result is obvious to any firearm enthusiast.  The mono-block receives a full width tapered locking bolt and barrels hinge to a full width steel hinge pin. The breech face insert in the aluminum receiver is stainless steel. The action locks up like a bank vault.

The FireLite mechanical trigger has a clean, crisp release, short take up, minimal overtravel and does not use an inertial mechanism to fire the second barrel. Subsequently, the second barrel will discharge even if the first barrel was a misfire… empty chamber, failed primer, etc. in the absence of recoil. The Feather Superlight has a fixed position trigger, where target model Citori 725s are shipped with three trigger types: wide checkered, narrow smooth, and wide smooth canted trigger shoes and they can be adjusted fore and aft to set length of pull.

The safety selector is moved fore and aft for safety on or off position and side to side to select which barrel to fire first. I can say the system works, is reliable and intuitive, but my level of shotgun proficiency has not resulted in a first barrel to discharge preference.

The subject Featherweight Superlight was supplied with three Invector DS chokes: Full, Modified, Improved Cylinder with each marked for choke effect with lead and steel. They are packaged in a poly case with a choke wrench. The brass seal must really work because clean threads made changing chokes easy.

I was tempted to just say, the Superlight has back-bored barrels, but that would be an incomplete description. Browning employs an integrated systems approach they have labeled Total Barrel Dynamics. An attempt to make a boring subject sound interesting? Fortunately, not.

In the case of the Browning Citori 725, the chambers are chrome plated, the forcing cone is extended to more gradually move the shot to the bore. The barrel is back-bored to minimize shot deformation, maximize velocity and reduce bore friction without letting gas slip past a shot cup. The Superlight utilizes the Browning Invector DS (Double Seal) choke system with longer taper that compliments the forcing cone and back-bore design.

In deference to the shotgunning public that would benefit from greater insight, Browning has done an excellent job providing further information. For me, if a clay target is flying away from me or across, and it does not escape, the rest of the detail is mostly a theoretical conversation.

Shotgunning is a lot like golf

It amazes me how well that thin 1/2″ Inflex II recoil pad takes the starch out of 5 1/2 lb gun – 20 gauge recoil. The pads on my rifles always feel like giant gum erasers that grab at my shirt and won’t let go. The Superlight pad is smooth, effective, but never in the way.

Rifle and handgun shooters have an absolute reference for alignment on a target, so it is possible to overcome a poor fitting stock, less than idea trigger and a floating cheek bone to score a hit. Shotguns are pointed, not aimed, and targets are mostly in motion. So stock geometry, drop at heel and comb, cast, and pitch combine to either make a shotgun point naturally or provide a great deal of frustration.

When the Browning stock was shouldered, it always fell into the same position, cheek supported on the stock and the center bead positioned just below the front bead and over the target. I’m not sure what is preferred, but that predictability allowed me to successfully line up and lead clay targets. The Citori 725 never felt like I was dragging the weight of the barrels to keep up with a target.

Live fire

Two types of shotshells were on hand, both lead; Winchester 20 gauge Super Target 2 3/4″ 1200fps 7/8 Oz. #8 and Remington 20 gauge Express Long Range 2 3/4″ 1220 fps 1 Oz #6 shot. Chokes installed were Improved Cylinder and Modified.

Initial use of a hand held clay target thrower resulted in the wind chimes being knocked off the back porch and I put one on the garage roof. So I dragged out a Trius One Step Trap, missed the first two targets, the second was close, then hit on the next 8 in a row. Okay, next 7 in a row, but seriously wounded the 8th.

At that point, I quit. I am typically a terrible shot, so that to me was excellent and I know I would not have done half as well with another shotgun. The Feather Superlight seemed to put the muzzle where it was suppose to be and tracked… (led?) so well, I did not feel rushed taking a shot. It was certainly not a punishing gun to shoot.

There are guns and then there are special guns

I am too old and I have shot too many firearms to get excited over marketing messaging and purported prestigious brands. There are lots of nice guns… lots. But the Browning is something special. You know how relatively young people sometimes seem to be old souls? I think the Browning Citori 725 Feather Superlight is a technologically very modern firearm, but with a very old soul. Maybe as much English tweed as camo. Nice shotgun.

Browning Citori 725 Feather Superlight
Item Number 0180766005
Chamber 20 Gauge 2 3/4″ Chrome Plated
Barrel Length  26″
Overall Length 43 3/4″
Length of Pull 14 1/4″
Drop at Comb 1 1/2″
Drop at Heel 2 1/2″
 Weight  5 lbs 7 oz
Barrel Finish  Polished Blued
Stocks
Black Walnut
Wood Finish
Oil – Grade II/III Checkering 20 LPI
Receiver Silver Nitrided Aluminum
Front / Mid Sight Ivory Bead
Choke System Invector-DS
 Recoil Pad Inflex II, Large
MSRP  $2,669.99
Includes Choke Wrench and Full, Modified, Improved Cylinder chokes

 

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