Remington Versa Max Tactical 12 Gauge Semi-Automatic Fighting Shotgun

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn and Boge Quinn

May 18th, 2012




Click pictures for a larger version.





Versa Max Tactical comes with Improved Cylinder choke tube, choke tube wrench, and extended tactical choke tube.





The Versa Max Tactical also comes with Picatinny rail to attach optics atop the receiver.



Oversized bolt release (top), oversized safety button (middle), and oversized trigger guard (bottom).



Large, easy-to-grasp bolt handle.



Magazine tube support has a sling stud and accessory rail.







It has been almost nine months since I reviewed the Remington Versa Max shotgun. After shooting that shotgun, taking it apart, studying the innards, putting it back together, and shooting it a lot more, I was impressed. Very impressed would not be an overstatement at all. The simplicity and ingenuity of the design results in a very reliable shotgun that self-adjusts the gas system to shoot any 2 ¾, 3, or 3 ½ inch twelve gauge shotshell, from light target loads through the big 3 ½ inch magnum goose and turkey loads. I won’t re-plow the same ground here again, so for details on the gas system of the Versa Max, I refer you to that earlier review. However, simply stated, the length of the shell in the chamber regulates the amount of powder gasses that are bled off to cycle the action. Within the magazine tube of the Versa Max, any of those three lengths of shotgun shells can be mixed randomly, as each shell adjusts the gas system. No knobs to turn, no ring seals to flip over, nothing. The shooter has only to point the weapon and pull the trigger. The Versa Max does the rest. I remain impressed.

Besides its versatility of using any standard or magnum twelve gauge load, the Versa Max also excels at reducing the felt recoil of even the heaviest loads. The Versa Max that I tested last year is absolutely the softest-shooting twelve gauge shotgun that I have ever fired. Even the 3 ½ inch magnum turkey loads were not painful to shoot. The combination of the shotgun’s gas system, stock design, and recoil pad really ease the pain of shooting the heavy stuff. Again, I remain impressed.

As soon as Remington introduced the Versa Max, shooters started hollering for a “tactical” version. “Tactical” is a term which is way overused in the gun industry, so I prefer to call this the “fighting” version. Loosely defined, a fighting shotgun is a shorter and handier version of a sporting shotgun, better outfitted for a sustained gunfight in tight quarters. The Versa Max has been so outfitted for that task, wearing a twenty-two inch barrel and having a full-length extended magazine tube. The magazine holds eight 2 ¾ inch shotshells, or seven 3 inch shotshells. The sporting versions of the Versa Max also fire the 3 ½ inch magnum shotshells, but the Versa Max Tactical (VMT) is stamped “12 GA 2 ¾” OR 3”. That requires a bit of an explanation.

The chamber of the VMT is identical to the other Versa Max shotguns; therefore, it will chamber and fire the 3 ½ inch 12 gauge shotshell. The problem comes with inserting six of those long shotshells into the mag tube. They go in perfectly fine, but with some brands of ammo, those long plastic shells can buckle slightly under the pressure of a fully-loaded magazine tube of shells under recoil. Those long shells usually carry a two-ounce payload, and under recoil, the walls of some brands of shell will buckle enough to cause feeding problems. Loading two into the mag tube causes no problem at all, in my experience, and with two in the tube and one in the chamber, this makes for a wonderful, soft-shooting turkey gun. Three shots are more than enough for turkey hunting, and for defensive use, the 2 ¾ and 3 inch shells are better anyway. So, while the VMT will feed and fire 3 ½ inch shells, it is best to not fill the mag tube with those, but use them as a standard-capacity shotgun.

Back to the original purpose of the Versa Max Tactical, and that is for social work. The VMT is a superb fighting shotgun. Reliability is paramount for a fighting gun, and the VMT shown here has been one hundred percent reliable with everything fed to it; from light one-ounce handloads to 3 ½ inch two-ounce turkey loads. Everything offered this shotgun has fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. Recoil is light, compared to any other shotgun which I have ever fired. The test gun weighed in at just slightly over eight pounds, but balances well. For a visual on how well this shotgun handles recoil with various loads, please watch the video.

Many folks prefer a pump action for a fighting shotgun, but I do not. Nothing at all wrong with a pump, and I own several, but a reliable semi-auto is softer on the shoulder, has a faster rate of fire, and can be fired easily with only one hand, if needed. The downside is that a good, reliable semi-auto costs more than does a good pump gun. The Remington Versa Max Tactical is certainly a quality shotgun. It has features that make it better as a fighting shotgun, such as an oversized, easy to use bolt release as well as an oversized safety button. The bolt handle is also large and easy to use, even while wearing gloves. The supplied Picatinny rail allows for easily mounting an optical sight atop the receiver, and the magazine tube support wears a section of Picatinny rail as well, for attaching a light or other accessory. The VMT has screw-in choke tubes, and comes supplied with an improved cylinder choke and an extended ventilated tube for door breaching and such.

The stock on the VMT is adjustable for both pitch and cast, to perfectly fit the shooter. The soft synthetic rubber comb is interchangeable, and the shotgun is supplied with two heights of comb. I prefer the taller of the two, even without an optical sight in place. The mid-bead sight is metal, but the front is a Hi-Viz fiber-optic, and the VMT comes with three different color sights and the tool to change them.

The Remington Versa Max Tactical is one of the best fighting shotguns on the market, and it should certainly excel at the popular three-gun type of competition. Loaded with 2 ¾ inch nine-pellet 00 buck, or the Winchester PDX1 slug and buck combo, the VMT gives the user a very fast, reliable, soft-shooting nine-shot capacity fighting shotgun. That is a lot of power, and for close range work, a shotgun is a formidable weapon in the hands of a man (or woman) who knows how to use it.

Check out the Versa Max Tactical online at

To order a Versa Max shotgun online, go to

To order quality shotgun ammo online, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



This 2 3/4 inch target load has more power than any of these popular defensive handgun cartridges.



Winchester PDX1 load combines a one-ounce lead slug with three 00 buckshot.



Federal nine-pellet 00 buck load.









Shotgun comes with two interchangeable soft comb inserts.



Recoil pad spacers extend the length-of-pull.



Plate to adjust the pitch and cast of the buttstock.