Back in January of 2008, I
reviewed a shotgun from TriStar Sporting Arms. The gun and
the company were new to me at that time, and I gave the shotgun
a pretty harsh test, freezing it in a coat of ice, among other
things, to see if it would function properly under adverse
conditions. It passed with flying colors, proving itself the
equal to or better than shotguns costing three times as much.
Now, TriStar has introduced this new camo model that has a three
and one-half inch chamber, built to function with any and all
twelve gauge shotgun shells, from the lightest target loads to
the big 3 ½ inch magnum. To be more precise, the TriStar
instruction manual specifies that the 3 ½ inch shotgun can
shoot heavy 2 ¾ inch, 3 inch, and 3 ½ inch shells, but I found
that this gun functions well with even the light Remington SPS
Light Target loads as well. While on the subject of the
owner’s manual, the test gun did not have one in the box.
However, you can download the owner’s manual in PDF form at www.tristarsportingarms.com.
Anyway, a gas gun that will function with all three sizes of
twelve gauge shotgun shells is quite a versatile shotgun.
The TSA Camo shotgun has a synthetic stock,
that is finished in a very effective camouflage pattern. Of
course, the effectiveness of any camo pattern depends upon the
environment in which it is presented, but the TriStar camo is a
very versatile design, and blends in very well in the Tennessee
hardwoods and river bottoms, having a good pattern to break up
the lines of the gun against the background of a tree or in a
For a 3 ½ inch gas gun, the TriStar is
pretty light weight, weighing in at only seven pounds, six
ounces on my scale. This is with the twenty-eight inch barrel.
The barrel wears a ventilated rib, and has a fiber optic front
bead. The top of the receiver is grooved for the mounting of an
optical sight. I suggest one that is not too heavy, to prevent
movement of the sight under the recoil of the heavy magnum
shells. The stock is very well designed, with a full pistol
grip, much like those on a sporting clays shotgun. It provides a
good hold for controlling the gun under recoil.
The TSA camo has a couple of features which
are really convenient to the user. First is the design of the
magazine plug. There is no need to remove the magazine tube cap,
like on some shotguns, freeing the magazine spring to fly across
the room. On this TriStar, simply unscrew the magazine outer
cap, and remove the plug, allowing full use of the magazine
tube’s capacity. Of course, the plug should be left in place
when hunting migratory birds. The other feature that is really
thoughtful, is that a storage place is provided in the forearm
to hold the extra gas piston. Two gas pistons are provided; one
for heavy loads and another for light loads. These are easy to
switch, takes about a minute, and cannot be assembled
incorrectly. Very simple design, and having that extra piston on
the gun at all times prevents it from being lost in a parts box.
The internal parts of the action are robust,
and are made out of metal instead of plastic as they are on some
high-dollar gas guns. The trigger pull on the test gun is one of
the best-feeling shotgun triggers that I have ever felt; very
crisp, and measuring four pounds, ten ounces on my scale, but
feeling much lighter. Loading the TSA Camo shotgun is also very
simple. The bolt locks open on the empty magazine. Drop a shell
into the open port, and hit the bolt release. Then load the
magazine tube. The safety is the familiar crossbolt type at the
rear of the trigger. For shooting comfort, the TriStar wears a
very good ventilated recoil pad. Screw in chokes are standard,
and three are provided in full, modified, and improved cylinder
constrictions, labeled for the use of lead shot. TriStar
recommends using the improved cylinder choke for larger sizes of
steel shot. The TriStar uses chokes of the Beretta/Benelli
pattern, and specialty chokes can be had from www.trulockchokes.com
For shooting the TriStar, I gathered a
variety of shotgun shells, including all of the three popular
lengths of twelve gauge shells, from light target loads to the
heaviest lead turkey loads available. The TriStar functioned
well with all of them, balking only on the first super light
target load, but then functioning one hundred percent thereafter
with all of the light, medium, and heavy loads fed to it.
Temperatures hovered around the ninety-five degree mark during
most of the testing, so I couldn’t cover the shotgun in ice as
I did on the earlier TriStar, but I have no doubt that this
shotgun would function every bit as reliably as did that first
gun. The internals are pretty much the same, with the extra
versatility of this newest TriStar being able to handle the big
3 /12 inch shells preferred by some water-fowlers and turkey
hunters. Patterns at forty yards were very good with the heavy
turkey loads using the full choke tube provided, and no special
turkey choke would be needed out to at least fifty yards. The
TriStar also comes with a set of stock shims, to allow a perfect
fit to the shooter by adjusting the pitch and cast of the
buttstock. The length of pull measures 14.25 inches.
The TriStar TSA Camo is an excellent shotgun,
and an excellent value, priced well below the competition. It
feels good, looks good, handles well, and functions perfectly
with all lengths of twelve gauge shotgun shells. It would be an
ideal choice for waterfowl hunters, turkey hunters, and even
handles quickly enough for use on doves and clay targets. It is
a very good, all-around shotgun, and I highly recommend it.
Check out the TriStar shotguns and rifles
online at www.tristarsportingarms.com.
Forty-yard group with full choke and 3-1/2"
Magazine plug is easy to remove and re-install.
Stock shims adjust pitch and cast of buttstock
for a perfect fit.
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