A Smoothbore AR Dozen-Gauge
By Holt Bodinson
Americans love their tactical shotguns. I think there’s a whiff of buckshot embedded in our collective DNA. As a country, we’ve carried them in every battle and police action over the last two-and-a-half centuries. They ride in our squad cars and guard our hearths and home. When the fighting gets close in, there’s still nothing more devastating and demoralizing than a fast volley of 00 or No. 4.
But something new is in the air. This year is turning out to be the year of the detachable-magazine, tactical shotgun. Mossberg and Remington modified their existing pumpguns, but not Armscor USA, which just unveiled a serious looking 12-bore AR.
Meet the Armscor VR-60, made in Turkey and imported by Rock Island Armory.
To three generations who’ve grown up with AR variants, the black VR-60 will prove to be a familiar beast. The stylized look is familiar. The controls are familiar. The feel is familiar. But it’s a 12-gauge with a 20″ barrel, a 3″ chamber and dressed out with removable choke tubes — IC, M and F to be exact. With a modest MSRP of $499, it’s a very appealing “big-bore AR.”
The VR-60 looks massive, like an AR10 on steroids, but don’t let the look fool you. The one-piece buttstock, lower receiver and sights are polymer. The deep forend is polymer, sporting not one, not two, not three, but four Picatinny rails for any mix of accessories. A red-dot and a flashlight would fit nicely.
What’s not plastic? Well, the receiver, bolt and fire control system. The bolt, by the way, features a vertically operating lug locking into the steel barrel extension plus a generous buffer pad mounted at its rear.
The VR-60 functioned flawlessly, kicking those empties up into the Arizona skyline.
Holt described it as great fun to shoot!
Carried with its A2 handle, the VR-60 balances perfectly. Holt would recommend replacing the
plastic A2 sights with metal ones, plus an XS CSAT aperture for close-range accuracy.
A Loading Tip
The big surprise to me was the 5-shot magazine is real honest-to-god, magnet-attracting steel. The Turks who build these guns know where to put steel. The magazine, accepting 3″ as well as 2-¾” shells — is fitted with a very stiff follower spring and is somewhat of a thumb-buster when it comes to seating the fifth round. The trick to loading the magazine is to place the base plate against an immovable object and inset the rounds so the rim of the next round presses down against the brass base of the proceeding one. If the engaging rim presses down against the plastic body, not the brass base, of the proceeding round, the rim digs into the plastic, making it darn difficult to seat the round to the rear of the magazine.
What’s nice about a shotgun accepting detachable mags is the reload is snappy-fast, and you can mix your loads — buckshot in one mag, slugs in another. The downside to the current VR-60 magazine design is its limited 5-shot capacity. Stock tactical shotguns already on the market come with magazine tubes holding 8–10 shells, but then again, their reload time is much slower. I’ll bet it evens out, with the added feature of the ammo selection when using the VR-60.
With all the polymer and a little bit of steel, the VR 60, with an overall length of 39″, weighs a svelte 7.4 lbs. (unloaded) and 8.5 lbs. with five rounds stuffed in the magazine. With a fully loaded magazine, the balance point of the gun is right at the magazine well, so when you slip your hand through the Picatinny mounted, A2-styled carry handle/rear sight, the gun handles as nicely as an AR.
While the VR-60 sports a 3″ chamber, you do have to change out the gas piston when going from 2-3/4″ to a steady diet of 3″ magnums. If you’ve ever broken down a pump or semi-auto, the procedure is the same. Once the barrel is pulled, the gas piston is a finger-quick switch-out. The clear photographs in the owner’s manual illustrate just how simple it is.
Just one 41 pellet, No. 4 buck load on a target at 25 yards. Perhaps the VR-60 has “home defense” written all over it?
The all-steel magazines hold five 2-¾” or 3″ shells, offering quick load changes from buck to slug, shot, less-lethal, etc.
Fitted with the high A2 front sight, the VR-60 has an offset of 2.5″. In short, the line-of-sight is 2.5″ above the centerline of the bore, so at close ranges the center of your pattern will be slightly low. Not a big deal with shot, but with slugs it could be.
Solutions? If I were keeping the VR-60, I would scrap the plastic A2 sights and carry handle with metal ones and replace the rear aperture with XS Sight Systems’ CSAT, which carries a sighting notch that can be zeroed for a close-in seven yards.
While Rock Island recommends a 100-round break-in, the VR-60 fed, fired, extracted and ejected without a hiccup from the get-go. Recoil is straight back, moderate and fully controllable. Although I wish the Turks would add a soft, over-molded cheekpiece to the stock.
Hey, it’s a real fun gun with all the familiar AR controls at your fingertips. I don’t think I’ll be carrying it behind my Golden Retriever hunting quail, but as a tactical shogun it’s pretty neat and well priced. The rails allow you to put two flashlights on it (one is none/two is one, eh?), and the No. 4 buck pattern at 25 yards is impressive. Sounds like a home defense sleeper to me.
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