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Gun Test: Remington Versa Max

Big Green looks to the future with an ingenious and versatile 3 1/2-inch autoloader.

The idea behind gas-operated guns is itself quite sound, even elegant. By drilling a hole or holes in the barrel of the firearm, we vent some of the gases created by the burning powder into a mechanism that will cycle the action with the energy we’ve harnessed. With one pull of the trigger, we eject the spent shell, re-cock the action and load a new round from the magazine without the need to manipulate the gun manually.
 
But how much of that gas should we harness? How big a vent does a gun require to operate in this semi-automatic fashion? This is one of the key questions for any gas-operated design, particularly with modern shotguns, which might be firing 3 1⁄2-inch magnum loads in a duck blind one day and 1-ounce target loads at the gun club the next.

The pressures and gases produced by the range of shotshells we use varies so widely that our elegant—in theory—system requires some pretty serious workarounds in order to run reliably. The problem is that, on the one hand, an action tuned for magnum loads might not cycle with the comparatively small amount of gas pressure produced by pip-squeak target shells; on the other, a gun optimized for light loads runs the risk of being shaken to pieces by the bolt speeds generated by heavier shells—to say nothing of the effect on the poor shooter.

Gas-recoil woes
Some guns come with settings that vent different amounts of gas and require the shooter to toggle between light and heavy loads. This works but is hardly convenient, given the need to partially disassemble the gun to make the change.

Other designs rely on complicated mechanisms made up of springs, clutches and rings that use friction to self-adjust—the harder the load pushes, the more the system resists, and this way the gun automatically regulates for the strength of the load. These are prone to be finicky and have parts that wear out—and they’re built with more pieces than a jigsaw puzzle. And there are some systems that combine elements of both. Common to all these solutions is that none qualify as elegant.

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from robisonjacob wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Some models of the Versa Max had hammers that were not up to standard. So they recalled the first ones and put the updated hammer in them. They are supposed to have a "V" stamped on the gun somewhere letting you know that it has the new hammer in it.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I had read that the initial deliveries of the Versa Max were delayed for a mechanical reason. Does anyone know if that is true? This certainly seems to be a simple gas system that will be easy to maintain.It is a fairly heavy shotgun but most of the modern autos are. I know the 11-87 is no light weight.

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from charlie elk wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

The price gives a guy a pause. But I look forward to shooting the Versa Max, being duly impressed and buying one. Sounds like this gun is practical and makes sense.
No store in my area has had for me to look at yet though.
Thanks for the review.
later,
charlie

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from DSMbirddog wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I had read that the initial deliveries of the Versa Max were delayed for a mechanical reason. Does anyone know if that is true? This certainly seems to be a simple gas system that will be easy to maintain.It is a fairly heavy shotgun but most of the modern autos are. I know the 11-87 is no light weight.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

The price gives a guy a pause. But I look forward to shooting the Versa Max, being duly impressed and buying one. Sounds like this gun is practical and makes sense.
No store in my area has had for me to look at yet though.
Thanks for the review.
later,
charlie

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from robisonjacob wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Some models of the Versa Max had hammers that were not up to standard. So they recalled the first ones and put the updated hammer in them. They are supposed to have a "V" stamped on the gun somewhere letting you know that it has the new hammer in it.

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