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I just got my hands on the not-yet-announced Remington Versa Max Competition Tactical shotgun, just in time for the Crimson Trace Nighttime 3-gun match that starts tonight.

The Versa Max has an outstanding action that is as tough as they come. Before this design was introduced, I shot a Versa Max during a trial-by-fire trip to Argentina for high-volume doves and waterfowl. The gun did a great job bringing down birds during a grueling four-day endurance test. I knew the 3 ½-inch shotgun would be a winner when mine literally caught fire–courtesy of the nasty locally-made ammo I was shooting–yet kept on running.

This newest Versa Max is designed for 3-gun. It has a 3-inch chamber (as opposed to the 3 ½-inch chamber on the original hunting models) but operates on the same short-stroke gas piston design.

The shotgun cuts a slick figure with its Remington green anodized receiver and carbon fiber sleeve that wraps around the extended magazine tube.

The stock is the same as on previous Versa Max models with one exception–it has two flush-mounted cups for attaching a sling, one on the left side of the forend and the other on the right side of the buttstock. Smart additions. The stock’s other features–the replaceable comb inserts, the easily adjustable dimensions (length of pull, cast and drop), and positive tacky grip panels–are carried over from earlier models.

As befitting a 3-gun shotgun, the raised rib includes a bright fiber optic front bead and a shallow rear express sight, which is needed for precise slug shots on distant knockdown plates and spinner targets.

My favorite modification to this shotgun, though, is on the shell lifter. The lifter no longer has the forked prong on the end, which has torn my thumb to shreds in the past when I’ve gone to reload the Versa Max Tactical shotgun. The flush mounted design on this one is, blessedly, finger friendly.

The bolt release, safety, and bolt handle are all oversized to help the gun handle better under pressure.

The only issue I had with this gun after putting it together is that it doesn’t come with a Picatinny rail for mounting a light. (It does have a Picatinny rail for mounting an optic to the top of the receiver, but that wasn’t what I needed.)

The Crimson Trace match I’m bringing this gun to is a nighttime match where every stage is taking place in the dark. A shotgun without a light as useful as car without tires.

Given that I got hold of the shotgun the day before I needed to ship it to Bend, Oregon, where the match is being held, I had to engage in some hasty gunsmithing.
I took a two-inch length of Picatinny rail off one of my Colt ARs and after some quick and dirty work with a drill, some chisels and a tube of epoxy, modified the Versa Max Competition Tactical before even putting a shot through it.

Well, this third-generation Versa Max is going to experience a trial by fire the same way the first one did.

When the buzzer goes on my first stage this evening, we’ll see how this gun really handles.

The MSRP on this shotgun is going to be $1,699, according to the folks at Remington.