remington v3

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The Remington’s V3 is finally here, and on dealer’s shelves. Having awarded it “Best of the Best” last year, I am relieved to see that the gun actually made it to market and pleased to report that my own V3, a new production gun, works just as well as the pre-production models I shot the season before last. Should you be joining us late here, the V3 is Remington’s new 3-inch, 12-gauge semiauto. It has an action very much like that of the 3 1/2 –inch Versa Max, it is an entirely new gun. Although the 11-87 won’t go away, I’m told, the V3 will be Remington’s standard-bearing semiauto from now on.

The V3 has been a long time coming. It was announced at the 2015 SHOT and is in stores now. Gunmakers often introduce guns long before they are ready to sell. Some do it to drive interest in the new model, but most do it because they are terrified of introducing a gun that doesn’t work. They announce it, then have second thoughts, hang onto it and tweak it endlessly to make sure it’s right. They know that releasing a gun before it’s ready leaves a blot on its name that remains long after the problems are fixed (see “3 ½-inch Browning Gold”). It’s not quite the kiss of death for a gun, but it hurts sales for a long time. And, the gun buying public views new models with caution. Many don’t want to commit to a new model until they know the bugs are gone. The crowd nears the edge like penguins on an ice floe, jostling until one falls in, then watching what happens to see if it’s safe to take the plunge.

My V3 makes me one of those first penguins to fall in, and so far, I have not been eaten by a metaphorical leopard seal. Mine is not some tweaked-out, cherry-picked gun sent only to writers. It was plucked right off the line. I have some 500 rounds through it by now. First day out of the box it was balky and would only half-load a second shell, but that was nothing that a good cleaning and a couple boxes of stout 3 dram, 1 1/8 ounce target loads couldn’t fix. Now it shoots everything without complaint, right down to my anemic ¾ ounce reloads.

The only problem I had with the gun came when I took it apart for that initial thorough cleaning. Like the Versa Max and the Benelli M4, the V3 has a pair of short pistons in a gas block directly below the chamber. Cleaning those pistons – which you don’t have to do often – requires unscrewing two gas compensation plugs. Mine were screwed in so tightly at the factory that they required a padded vise to remove, but now that I have taken them out once and put them back without cranking them tight, they’re no problem. Otherwise the gun has functioned perfectly, it doesn’t kick much and it’s easy to shoot well.

The V3, as I may have mentioned before, has an excellent trigger, which is the lone holdover from the failed and departed CTi 105 (and yes, I gave that one a “Best of the Best” to my everlasting disgrace. There were only three shotguns entered that year, and it was the best of the bunch). The V3 should make a nice turkey and slug platform. And, the price is still right, listing for $895 in black, $995 in wood or camo. These days, a reliable semiauto under $1000 counts as a bargain, and this gun should give Beretta’s A300 Outlander a run for its money.

I do have to say this about the V3: it is not an attractive gun. I once asked a top sporting clays shooter why he had switched from his sponsor’s semiauto back to an O/U. “I shot it fine, but it wasn’t a gun. It was plumbing,” he said. That’s it. The V3 is plumbing. It works beautifully, points well, but it looks and feels insubstantial and un-gunlike, as if you’re swinging PVC pipe with other pipes inside. Those of you waiting for the walnut stocked versions will be underwhelmed when they come out this summer. I saw them at SHOT.

That said, beauty, although important in shotguns, is only skin deep. The pre-production V3s I shot worked in all weather, all the way down to 8-degree goose hunts. Good looks don’t matter as much as reliability when it’s time to hunt in the mud, ice, and sleet that is the V3’s natural habitat.