Bourjaily: Remington Versa Max Test, Part 2

Here's another installment in my ongoing Remington Versa Max review: When I wrote about the gun earlier, I mentioned that it functioned with loads as light as 1200 fps, 7/8 ounce reloads, which is very good for a 3-1/2 inch semiauto.

In Alberta I got a chance to try the other end of the load spectrum with the Versa Max. I shot lots of 3-inch Remington Hypersonic ammunition through the gun and felt manageable recoil thanks to the combination of a very soft pad and comb, a recoil-absorbing gas system, and a weight of around 8 pounds. Limits are high in Alberta and the first morning I got solidly into a second box of shells yet felt no ill-effect from cumulative recoil when the shoot ended. As you can see in the picture, I am unfazed and my eyes still focus.*

Although it goes against my grain (and usually above my pain threshold) to shoot 3-inch magnums at anything, one morning I ran half a box of 3-inch high velocity Winchester Xperts through the Versa Max before going back to the Hypersonics. Recoil was surprisingly light--it really is as soft-shooting a semiauto as I have ever tried. At one point I emptied the gun quickly at an escaping snow goose, finally bringing it down with the third shot, and I never felt as if I was getting my head kicked off the stock as I often have with 3-1/2s.

A couple of other points about the Versa Max: it not only has stock shims to adjust the fit, the shims offer a much wider range of adjustment than do other manufacturer's shim kits. It also has the Benelli-style bolt lock button which I have come to prefer--opening the bolt without pushing the button lets you clear the chamber without loading another shell which is great for making the gun safe for crossing ditches or fences. Push the button, and the bolt locks open.

Although I have some minor quibbles with the gun, the ones I have been shooting are preproduction models, so it's possible my objections may not apply to the production guns. We will see when I trade mine for a production gun taken at random off the line as soon as they're available late this month. Then the real test starts.

*I was able to hit more than just these two specklebellies with a box and a half of shells, in case any of you were readying smart-aleck comments.