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GUNS Magazine Digital February 2011 - Page 26
• H O L T B O D I N S O N • reminGton’s versa maX Meets HyperSonic Steel. t times, there is serendipity between the appearance A of a new shotgun and a new shotshell. Hot off the production lines, Remington’s new 12-gauge, Versa Max shotgun wedded to their radical, 1,700 fps, “HyperSonic” shotshell proved to be a scorching combination for an early season waterfowl hunt at Ameri-Cana’s Battle River Lodge in Alberta, Canada. Remington’s gun and shell combination worked together as a steel shot delivery system, that should forever put to bed any doubts about the effectiveness of steel in the field. It’s innovations like these that really keep the shotgunning world on its toes and competitive. Opening up the factory supplied, green hard case, I had my first glimpse of the Versa Max. There has been so much hype about this gun that even the Custom’s officer, who registered it before I left for Canada, urged me to return to his office and tell him how it performed. I haven’t had a chance yet, but I can tell you I’ve never shot as well over decoys in my life. Inside that green hard case was a very technically advanced scattergun. While the Versa Max may look like a conventional autoloader, the design team at Remington has done a remarkable job of developing a new gas-handling system that both softens felt recoil and minimizes routine maintenance, while tweaking its overmolded stock to separate The Versa Max + hyperSonic Steel = a terrific waterfowling combination. Geese were brought down cleanly at 40 yards with hyperSonic Steel at 1,700 fps. flesh from recoil impulse as much as possible. The result is a shotgun that digests every payload, from light 2-3/4" target loads to those heavy 3-1/2" Roman candles interchangeably, while being unusually comfortable to shoot with magnum loads. The key to this versatility is the VersaPort. Located below the chamber is the VersaPort gas block fitted with two pistons which drive the bolt assembly to the rear upon firing. The VersaPort system self-regulates the gas pressure depending upon the length of the shell, by way of seven small ports drilled along the bottom half of the chamber. When a 2-3/4" shell is fired, all seven ports are exposed and feed the resulting gas into the gas block and pistons. Firing a 3" shell results in only four ports being exposed and available for gas transfer and with a 3-1/2" shell, only three ports are open. But there’s more to the system. The VersaPort design also moderates recoil by venting off gas right at the chamber and up through slots on both sides of the handguard. This means excess, high-pressure gas is bled off immediately, reducing recoil and minimizing piston fouling. In fact, if absolutely necessary, it only takes a couple of minutes to pull both pistons and clean them and the gas block cylinders in which they operate. It’s an ultra low maintenance system. Also helping to moderate felt recoil are the Versa Max’s long, 2" forcing cone and generously overbored barrel measuring .735" inside diameter. Remington labels it their “Pro Bore,” and it takes a new, Pro Bore diameter choke tube. Yes, our old RemChokes just won’t fit. Rounding out the recoil reduction package are its padded cheek comb and an extra thick SuperCell recoil pad. The Versa Max stock is interesting and highly functional, as well as being adjustable for length of pull, drop and cast. The LOP can be adjusted from 14-1/4" to 15-1/4" with the use of a spacer kit. Through the use of stockto-receiver inserts and replaceable padded comb inserts, the drop at the heel and comb can be adjusted for any average shooter. Because I have high cheekbones, cast off is critical to me for good shooting. When mounting the Versa Max, I immediately noticed that the middle bead was offset to the right 26 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM•FEBRUARY2011