Testfire by Gary Girvan
Make & Model:
REMINGTON V3 FIELD SPORT GAS-OPERATED AUTOLOADING SHOTGUN
28”, multi-choke. Matt black finish. 0.735” bore diameter
Ribs & Sights
7mm ventilated. Twin beads: steel centre bead, white at muzzle
Matt black aluminium alloy
5 ½ lb let-off. Plastic trigger guard
Cross bolt at rear of trigger guard
Black synthetic with lightly stippled gripping areas
Length of Pull:
Drop at comb
1½”; drop at heel: 27/16”.
25mm Super Cell
3.36kg (7lb 6oz)
3 choke tubes, handbook
Black synthetic: $1799; camo: $1999; walnut: $1999
Outdoor Brands Ltd, Penrose, Auckland
Reviewed by Gary Girvan
A Brief Encounter with Remington’s Exciting New Autoloader
It’s been a tantalising wait to get our hands on a V3 for testfire. The gun has been three years in development. Rumours about it have abounded. Early-production previews have been posted on the net.
But now it’s here, just in time for the current game bird season. The downside? The time between delivery of the V3 and our copy deadline for publishing in this issue was so short that we couldn’t give this Remington the thorough workout it deserves. However, even after only a brief encounter with the V3 we couldn’t help feeling that this autoloader is going to be a winner.
Remington’s latest gas-operated autoloader is designed as a lightweight shotgun intended for use by any shooter who does not need to employ 3½” cartridges. The V3 Field Sport is chambered for 3” shells and is claimed to reliably cycle any 2¾” and 3” loading. It will be offered with a choice of two barrel lengths – 26” and 28”, and with three choices of stock: black synthetic, camouflage synthetic, and walnut. Our testfire gun was the black synthetic model with a matt black stock, stippled gripping surfaces, and all metal surfaces featuring a durable matt black finish.
As a lightweight autoloader, it weighs only 3.36kg (7lb 6oz), about a pound lighter than the Model 11-87. This weight reduction has been achieved by the use of an aluminium alloy receiver, a light-contour barrel, and the use of plastic in non-stress areas such as the trigger guard. However, strength has not been sacrificed in the quest for lightness: the ventilated top rib, for example, is a very robust item, better designed to take the knocks of heavy field work than those on some of its rival brands.
This new shotgun is firmly based on the successful technology pioneered by Remington’s super-magnum heavyweight, the Versa Max 3.5”. Remington’s unique gas regulating system, VersaPort, has no self-regulating gas valve as used by most other modern gas-powered semis. Instead, the amount of gas released into the cylinders to operate the action is determined by the length of the shell; the longer the shell, generally the more gas is generated. Inside the chamber there are 8 gas ports – with a 2¾” shell, all these ports are exposed so that most of the gas is used to power the action. With a 3”, which generates so much more pressure, the length of the case covers half the holes so that much less of the pressure is used. It’s an ingeniously simple system that begs the question: “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?”
Instead of a conventional single gas cylinder the V3 has two, so that twin pistons act on the bolt, one on each side of the body. The bolt itself, Benelli-style, has a rotating head to achieve lock-up. And as a final refinement, there are two return springs that are mounted, not in the butt-stock, but inside the receiver on each side of the bolt.
The V3 incorporates some truly thoughtful features. Its receiver top is drilled and tapped to accept scope mounts; and sling swivel studs are incorporated into the butt stock and the magazine cap. Best of all though is a very useful magazine cut-off lever located just in front of the trigger guard. It’s a most convenient safety feature when you’re crossing fences and the like: engage the cut-off, eject the shell in the chamber into your hand and the bolt is locked back over an empty chamber. Very safe.
The lightweight 12-gauge autoloader market is a very competitive one with names like Benelli, Beretta, Browning and Winchester already figuring prominently. With this V3, Remington plan to take them on with the quality of the gun, but also to have an edge when it comes to price. To keep the price down, the V3 comes in a cardboard carton, not an ABS case. Three choke tubes will be provided, but the stock-fit shim kit will be an optional extra – although I don’t think that this last matter will be a serious issue for most shooters. In the past, the dimensions of Remington’s Models 1100 and 11-87 have suited most shooters (except for the most extreme of builds) right out of the box, and the dimensions of the V3 are very similar to those of the classic earlier models.
The short time we had to test the gun was complicated by the lack of any gun club activities in the period, and by the fact that in early February there are very few game shooting opportunities in the district. We would have to improvise. Gathering up 200 rounds of assorted ammunition, three of us spent an hour function-testing the gun on a farm north of Plimmerton. We took it in turns to load the magazine and chamber and fire four shots in quick succession. We began with high velocity 3” steel, including Remington’s Hypersonic 1700fps magnum load, then worked our way down through 2¾” steel and magnum lead field loads. Finally we fired a selection of target loads including 24g and low-velocity shells. That done, we then fired off the remainder of the cartridges, loading the gun with a mixture of loads and lengths. We didn’t have a single malfunction in the whole of this process, which says much for the VersaPort system.
To shoot so many shells in such a short spell could have been a punishing process, but we were impressed with the way the V3 smoothed out the effects of recoil, despite being a relatively light gun. The gas operating system, in combination with the 25mm Super Cell recoil pad, made the whole experience a comfortable one.
I had intended to conduct a thorough patterning session, but Wellington’s weather was against me. A stiff nor’ wester kept ripping the patterning sheets off the board so that I was able to successfully shoot only two patterns – hardly a definitive test! However analysis of these did indicate that using 3” steel #3’s, the Modified choke would produce good patterns out to 40 yards. At this distance nearly 70% of the pellets fell in a 30 inch circle – a pretty impressive performance, close to that of Full Choke. The V3’s over-bored barrel diameter of 0.735” and lengthened forcing cone combine to produce effective patterns. If the photograph seems to show a degree of patchiness, it’s because there are only about 170 #3 pellets in a 1⅛ oz load. If you want a denser pattern, shoot a 1¼ oz load.
To assess the gun’s handling qualities, a couple of days later I packed the V3 and a clay bird thrower into the wagon and headed north for an afternoon’s popping away at clay targets. The V3’s predecessors had established a reputation for being natural pointers and despite the fact that this new model is lighter than, say, the 1100, it has those same qualities of fast pointing and steady handling. It’s a pleasure to shoot.
At the end of all this shooting, I stripped the V3 down for cleaning. The gun is easy to strip down and access all the parts that need cleaning – but I was surprised at how clean-burning the Remington proved to be. After all that shooting of heavy field loads, which are notorious for producing plenty of gas and powder fouling, the V3 was actually quite clean inside. Unfortunately a previous user must have over-tightened the gas chambers so that I couldn’t remove one of them, although the other unscrewed with some difficulty, and revealed that the piston had surprisingly little fouling. Minimal cleaning was required.
M‘MADE IN THE USA’ is a powerfully patriotic marketing tool in the United States, but it also resonates here. The Remington models 1100 and 11-87 have built up a large and enthusiastic following over the years. I don’t think that those Remington enthusiasts will be disappointed with the successor to these two iconic autoloaders. The V3 is a fine-handling shotgun which gives every indication of being thoroughly reliable – although only time will confirm this initial impression. And it has the added attraction of being very competitively priced.
If the V3 Field fulfils its promise of being a very successful shotgun, this first version is readily adaptable to other purposes. Fit different barrels and butt-stocks on it and you can see competition versions for Sporting, Skeet and Trap being available and this shotgun taking its place as a multi-purpose classic alongside its predecessors. Copyright 2016 Real Creative Media Ltd