Remington’s Versa Max Autoloading Shotgun


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 26th, 2011


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Remington's Versa Max autoloading shotgun.





The Versa Max comes packed in a sturdy hard plastic case.



Fiber optic HiViz front sight (top), silver mid-barrel bead (center & bottom).



Pro-Bore extended choke tubes.



Recoil pad spacers allow buttstock to be custom-tailored to the shooter.



Stock adjustment system plate.





Safety button is huge and easy to use.



Bolt lock (top), bolt release (bottom).









When I first heard of the Remington Versa Max shotgun, I really did not give it a second look. I had heard the hype and promotion, but the truth is, when any gun maker introduces a new shotgun, it is touted as the greatest thing to happen to shotguns in the history of the world, so I did not pay much attention, at first. Remington advertises the Versa Max as a game-changer; a new standard in autoloading reliability and versatility, the best thing to happen to autoloading shotgun technology since shooters have searched for better ways to get a shell from the magazine into the chamber. Remington has the gun to back up that claim in the new Versa Max shotgun.

Since the inception of autoloading shotguns, shooters and hunters have looked for versatility, needing the ability to shoot light target loads and magnum loads in the same weapon. Years ago, the answer was to buy a magnum gun, then buy another barrel for light loads. Then other shotgun designs used an adjustment of some kind to regulate the amount of gas used to cycle the action, or even changing the ring position on recoil-operated shotguns. These systems worked pretty well, until the advent of the three and one-half inch magnum twelve gauge shotgun shell. Since the longer shell was introduced, searching for an autoloading shotgun that would function reliably with everything from light target loads for clay shooting, to heavy field loads, to three inch magnums, and even the big three and one half inch shells has been the Holy Grail of both shooters and manufacturers. Remington has the solution in the new Versa Max shotgun.

The heart of the system is the VersaPort chamber. The VersaPort seems like such a simple idea, it is amazing that no one has successfully done that years ago. The VersaPort is a series of ports from which is bled the gas to cycle the action, just as gas-operated shotguns have used for decades. With the VersaPort chamber, instead of the gas being bled off about half way down the barrel, the gas is ported from the chamber to operate the action, by impinging that gas upon two gas pistons located just below the chamber. The ingenious system uses the shotgun hull to cover ports to regulate the amount of gas used to operate the action. With the short 2 ¾ inch shells, seven gas ports are exposed, bleeding off more gas to operate the action than is needed with a longer, more powerful shell. When a three inch shell is used, the longer shell covers three of the gas ports, using enough gas to operate the action, without bleeding off too much gas, damaging the weapon. Likewise, when a three and one-half inch shell is used, only three ports are exposed to operate the action. Each shotgun shell regulates the amount of gas used to operate the action, so shells of various lengths, any length, can be mixed or matched in the magazine. There are no adjustments to make, no barrels to switch, no rings to turn, nor anything else to be done by the operator. Just load it and shoot it, using any length twelve gauge shell available. I have tried a wide variety of shotguns shells in the Versa Max, including light target handloads, Remington Gun Club light factory loads, Winchester AA target loads, Remington, Federal, and Winchester 2 ¾ inch field loads, Remington and Winchester 3 inch magnum turkey and waterfowl loads, Winchester PDX1 fighting loads, Winchester and Remington buckshot and slugs, and Remington, Federal, and Winchester 3 ½ inch turkey and waterfowl loads. I have not tried any of the super-short imported stuff, but I have no use for those anyway. Any standard length 2 ¾, 3, or 3 ½ inch 12 gauge shell will run this Remington Versa Max, interchangeably, without adjustment.

Also of importance is the simplicity of the gas system. There are fewer parts, with no O-rings, gaskets, or seals to keep lubricated. The weapon operates much cleaner than any other gas gun with which I have experience. There is no black gunk running out from under the fore arm, and no baked-on soot on the magazine tube. The gun runs and keeps running, without cleaning. The Versa Max is also very corrosion resistant. The mag tube is stainless steel, the receiver hard-anodized aluminum, as is the action tube. The barrel and springs are nickel plated, and the gas system has some kind of a Teflon coating. The stock is synthetic, with soft inserts in the gripping areas. The buttstock wears a very soft and compliant recoil pad, and stock spacers can adjust the length of pull. Also, the cheek piece is soft, and interchangeable to adjust the comb height. The sample gun I have here has a high comb for use with optics, and has a Picatinny rail atop the receiver, both of which are optional from Remington. The one that I have here is set up for turkey hunting, and is equipped with an optional turkey choke.

The Versa Max has several features to accommodate any shooter’s needs, such as the aforementioned butt pad spacers and different comb heights. In addition, there is a stock shim system, to change the cast of the buttstock. The crossbolt safety button is huge, for easy use when wearing gloves. As far as I can tell by taking it apart and looking, the safety is not reversible for left-handed shooters. Likewise, the trigger guard is large enough to accommodate a gloved finger. The tapered ventilated rib has a silver mid-bead, and a HiViz fiber optic front bead, and comes with several different light pipes for the front. The shotgun featured here wears a RealTree camouflaged finish, but matte black is offered as well. The Versa Max comes supplied with four interchangeable Pro-Bore choke tubes in constrictions of improved cylinder, modified, full, and extra full, all packed in a really nice hard plastic case.

As stated above, I fired the Versa Max with every type of 12 gauge shell available, including reloads, and the weapon functioned perfectly, feeding, firing, and ejecting every shell without a problem. Remington claims that the Versa Max reduces the felt recoil to that of a twenty gauge, and I believe them. I remember back when the 3 ½ inch magnum 12 gauge shell was first introduced, I fired some through a Mossberg 835 pump gun. Upon firing the first shell, it knocked off my glasses, and I lost my grip on the fore arm. Firing this Versa Max was nothing like that first 3 ½ inch experience. The Versa Max is very controllable, and there is no pain involved at all. With that long shell throwing two full ounces of lead shot, the Versa Max gives the shooter a shove, but it is not a sharp, painful kick. The light target loads are powder-puffs in the Versa Max.

The Versa Max is the softest-shooting, easiest -to-clean, most versatile semi-auto shotgun that I have ever fired. At a suggested retail price starting at $1399 US as of the date of this writing, the Versa Max is not cheap, but it replaces a closet full of shotguns. You can use the Versa Max one day with light target loads at the shooting range, and use it for long-range waterfowl the next. Change the comb and add an optical sight and it is perfect for turkey hunting. The Versa Max costs more than an 1187, but it is more versatile, and is a better gun. The Versa Max costs less than some famous imported autoloading shotguns, and it runs better, stays cleaner, shoots softer, and is a lot more versatile. The Versa Max is made completely in the USA, and comes with Remington’s two-year warranty and Platinum Service Plan.

Check out the Versa Max and other Remington products online at

To order the Versa Max online, go to

For good prices on quality 12 gauge ammunition, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.




The heart of the Versa Max: the VersaPort gas system (illustration courtesy of Remington).



Gas system is simple, reliable, and self-cleaning.



Optional Picatinny optics rail.



3-1/2" Magnum 2-ounce load @ 25 yards.