By Eric Christensen
The growing popularity of bird hunting has created an ever growing need for shotguns. Western hunters in particular are looking for ways to still go hunting when having no success at drawing big game tags. Manufacturers are following suit and have produced an abundance of choices for the consumer to choose from. A majority of hunters still use the tried and true pump action models that our fathers and grandfathers used back in the day. However, more and more hunters and sportsmen and women are looking for a semi-automatic shotgun that will serve as a multi-purpose firearm.
Remington’s VERSA MAX has been one of the most popular semi-autos on the market since its inception and its operating system is unchanged in the economical Sportsmans’ model. The twin piston, gas operated 12-gauge will handle all lengths and size of loads. Cycling pressure is regulated based on the length of the shell. The Sportsman model is the workhorse of the VERSA MAX line. Shooters can still get all of the performance without paying for a full featured VERSA MAX shotgun. Having an autoloader that can handle all lengths of shells gives plenty of options for shooters to go out and play. I feel right at home taking the Sportsman out for a day of shooting clay targets or hunkering down in a goose blind in frigid temperatures.
The VERSA MAX Sportsman is a workhorse shotgun designed for today’s American sportsman who wants the ultimate in auto-loading technology and performance, but doesn’t require a full-featured gun like the groundbreaking original. Obviously, some of the bells and whistles of the full-priced VERSA MAX have been left by the wayside in offering the Sportsman version. So, what are they? Well, you don’t get the adjustable drop-and-cast feature, the over-molded grips, the hard carrying case or the length-of-pull shim kit. Plus, with the Sportsman, you don’t get the Hi-Viz sights (just a straight front bead/mid-bead setup) or the five-pack of various Pro-Bore choke tubes (just one mod choke).
One option Remington left on the Sportsman is the Supercell recoil pad which really mitigates the bulk of the recoil. I really noticed this with light target loads and big magnum loads. When shooting clays, it was pleasant to be focused on the orange dome and not having to flinch because I’m waiting to be punched in the shoulder.
The trigger guard is enlarged like its big brother and can be used with gloves for cold weather shooting. The Sportsman felt really good to throw up and get on target. I’m not a shotgun expert by any means, but we never had a shell jam and it seemed to cycle the shells very fast. We tested a couple hundred target rounds and then tried a box of magnum loads with no problem. The VERSA MAX port system is self-cleaning to handle your continuous shooting requirements. With the VERSA MAX port system built into the Sportsman model, you can shoot worry-free from clay targets and leisure shooting to turkey and goose hunting with magnum loads. It is designed to shoot consistently over and over, no matter what the shell length or hunting conditions.