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In a market full of gas-­operated autoloaders costing $1,200 and more, Remington’s new V3 delivers a soft-shooting bang for $899. The V3 is a 3-inch-chambered gas semiauto with a definite family resemblance to the 31?2-inch Versa Max, but it’s a brand-new gun that actually shares no common parts with its bigger cousin.

In fact, whereas the Versa Max—the soft-shooting, low-maintenance, high-reliability gun Remington needed to catch up with the competition—was developed at the factory in Ilion, N.Y., the V3 is the brainchild of engineers at Remington’s research facility in Elizabethtown, Ky. “Rather than shrink a Versa Max, we started from the ground up to make the best 3-inch gun on the market,” says shotgun product manager Mike Vrooman.

Details (From left to right) The V3 has a magazine cutoff button on the trigger guard, pressure compensating pistons, and a Modified Rem Choke.

To appeal to a wide market, the V3 is designed to weigh less and cost less than the Versa Max. You can expect to see it in the uplands and duck blinds, on the target field, and in three-gun competitions.

The V3 does share the Versa Port system Remington pioneered for the Versa Max. The gun’s eight gas ports (the Versa Max has seven) are in the chambers. The longer the shell, the more ports it covers, essentially metering the amount of gas that reaches the pistons and allowing it to shoot a range of 23?4- and 3-inch ammunition.

The action spring of the V3 lies inside the receiver, not in the stock. It is easy to inspect and clean, and won’t get wet and rusty when you dunk your stock wading with the gun slung over your shoulder.

It has the light contour barrel of the Model 11-87 (which I am betting the V3 will replace), and that barrel, coupled with an alloy receiver, keeps the weight to 71?4 pounds. It’s surprisingly well balanced and lively to handle and shoot.

A unique magazine cutoff button sits at the front of the trigger guard. Pushing it forward elevates the carrier enough to block the magazine tube, enabling you to remove the shell in the chamber without cycling another. The crisp trigger breaks at 5 pounds 10 ounces.

The gas system of the V3 is, like that of the Versa Max, very simple. A gas block beneath the chamber holds the two short pistons. You can’t get at the ports to clean them, but apparently so much hot gas blasts through them that they stay clear of carbon buildup, similar to the gas tube on an AR-15. You do need a punch or Allen wrench, or even a nail in a pinch, to take the pistons out for cleaning.

I shot clays and hunted pheasants and waterfowl with a V3 last fall. On the range I noticed a slight bit more recoil than I feel with the Versa Max (which is, in my opinion, the softest-shooting gas gun of all). That may be attributable to the V3’s lower weight. In the uplands I found it to be a light-carrying, sure-pointing pheasant gun, and I shot it well in the duck marsh, too. The only problem I had was one failure to cycle with 7?8-ounce reloads—although Remington doesn’t claim it will cycle anything lighter than 1 ounce. And I don’t care for the ugly plastic trigger guard.

The gun will come in black for $899; camo for $999. Unlike the Versa Max, which has a gas block so wide it can’t be made with a wooden fore-end, there will be a walnut-stocked version for $999. A target version is on the way, which may allow Remington to go head-to-head with Beretta for the target semiauto market (the gun would have to be tweaked to handle 7?8- and 3?4-ounce reloads).

I doubt Remington will ever make shotguns as attractive as the 1100s and 870s of the 1970s again, and the V3 doesn’t do much to change my belief. From what I can tell so far, though, the V3 is loaded with inner beauty.