The ATF refers to the Remington V3 TAC-13, Garaysar Fear-118, and Armscor VRF14 as “firearms.” Technically speaking, the Remington, Armscor, and Garaysar are not pistols, nor rifles, nor shotguns. What makes them a firearm and not a rifle, pistol, or shotgun is the overall length. If the overall length of a gun is 26 inches or less, it becomes just a firearm. So humor us and we’ll call them firearms, though in our world, if it shoots shotgun shells, it’s a shotgun.
Our three firearms have barrels that range from 14 to 14.5 inches, are chambered in 12 gauge, and use a gas-piston-driven semi-automatic action. The Garaysar and Remington look like an abbreviated bird gun with the short barrel, bird’s head grip, and tube magazine. In hand, these two firearms are like a big stick, and loaded with 00 Buck, that stick weighs more than 6 pounds. Firing these guns most effectively requires two hands. But because the bird’s head grip is almost parallel with the action, you can fire these guns one handed. However, your follow-up shot may be more skyward than on target. With these firearms, the shooter points rather than aims them with a shooting hand on the grip and pulling in rearward. The front support hand on the fore end curls the thumb over the top of the barrel, pushing forward. This push/pull technique allows recoil to come straight back, and the shooter can easily manage muzzle flip, even with the hot Hornady Critical Defense loads that have 1600 fps muzzle velocity. Because of their linear profile, the V3 and Fear-118 are more concealable than the Armscor and are easier to maneuver in a vehicle or in a narrow hallway and around doors.
In contrast, the VRF14 is designed like an AR pistol with a removable box magazine, AR-style pistol grip, and Picatinny rails. It is heavy — and that’s a good thing for controlling this 12-gauge beast — and less compact, though still concealable. This shotgun also requires more technique to shoot effectively, which we’ll get into.
We wanted to look at these firearms, aka shotguns, through the lens of a home-defense gun and vehicle gun. A 5.11 LV M4 Shorty ($125; 511Tactical.com) was used as a discreet, low-visibility vehicle case. All three shotguns fit in the case, and the case can be worn as a backpack or as a crossbody bag plus. It also has a grab handle, so you can carry it like a typical long-gun bag. A strap attached to MOLLE webbing inside the case keeps the weapon in place. There is a large and small outside pocket to store other EDC go-bag-type gear. The large pocket has MOLLE webbing in it so you can add magazine pouches. This bag can also be used to carry a disassembled AR. We attached two 5.11 five-round shotgun carriers ($39). These two strips attached to the MOLLE inside the case and gave us 10 additional shells for reloading without fumbling for loose rounds in pockets. We found that, with practice, we could draw the Remington and Garaysar from the bag relatively fast. With the Armscor, we had to take off the bag, remove the gun, and insert a magazine. For a less discreet carry, we opted for a 19-inch Tactical Shotgun Scabbard ($32; Amazon.com), which has MOLLE webbing on both sides so you can attach it to the sides or back of a backpack or, with the sling, you can wear it crossbody. It has four shell holders, and it worked with the Garaysar and Remington, but not the Armscor. Slung over the shoulder, the scabbard slid down our backs so the grip was not accessible for an over-the-shoulder draw. We found that if we held the bottom of the scabbard or sling with our support hand, we could pull the shotguns out with our shooting hand over the shoulder. The scabbard is less secure than a holster, but it allows the shooter to easily transport the tube-magazine guns with a reload. Notably, the Fear-118 fit the scabbard, even with its extended charging handle.
Test ammo consisted of all 23⁄4-inch shells with 00 buckshot loads from Hornady Critical Defense, Aguila, and Sellier & Bellot. We also tested bird shot in a high-velocity load with No. 71⁄2 shot from Fiocchi. We wanted to see if a less penetrating load like the bird shot would produce tight patterns in the event of a home invasion. Bird shot offers less penetration than buck shot and that could be a consideration if you have family living with you. Sheetrock acts like tissue paper when buck shot passes through it, and the shot still has power to inflict grave injuries. We also used some light target loads to see if any of the gas system would choke. The Armscor did, but only because we had the high-velocity gas piston and spring installed.
Our first round of tests was fired on a tombstone target set on a stand about five feet off the ground. We fired one and two handed and from the hip with all shotguns. We also shot for speed to see how recoil impacted our ability to control these beasts for follow-up shots. The Remington and Garaysar were easier to shoot. The Armscor took more technique.
The second series of tests looked at shot patterns. As much as it sounds cool to say these shotguns are hallway sweepers, they can surgically deliver loads, and depending on the load and distance, keep that pattern well within an 18-inch-wide target, such as the average width of the human torso. Read on to get more details on these shotshell firearms.
Gun Tests Grade: B+
The Garaysar is about half the cost of the Remington and is less refined, though we wouldn’t say it is only half as refined as the V3. A traditional gas system with a single piston and dual recoil rods is used in the Garaysar. It holds four shells in the magazine tube. The polymer fore end is thin in hand and has plenty of texture and is also grooved for a thumb and fingers. The bird’s head grip is rubber with finger grooves, so it feels a bit sticky in hand, which is helpful during recoil.
|Action Type||Semi-auto, gas operated|
|Chamber Size||3.0 in.|
|Overall Length||28.0 in.|
|Magazine Type||Fixed tube|
|Weight Unloaded||5.5 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded||5.9 lbs.|
|Barrel Length||14.5 in.|
|Choke||3 choke tubes (F, M, IC)|
|Grip||Bird’s head-style, textured rubber|
|Fore End||Textured polymer|
|Trigger Pull Weight||7.4 lbs.|
|Safety||Manual trigger block|
The barrel uses choke tubes, and we found that the tubes did not fit flush. Not aesthetically pleasing, but workable. A front post sight is soldered onto the barrel. We would have liked a night sight or contrasting dot rather than the matte-black post.
Controls consist of a bolt release located on the right side of the receiver below the charging handle and ejection port. The charging handle was oversized and round. The bolt button is located at the back of the loading port. Press it, and the carrier drops down and locks with a click and allows the shooter to lock the bolt back. The action operation was smooth. A manual trigger safety, located directly behind the trigger, blocks the trigger from moving. The top of the receiver is grooved for mounting an optic, but we’d pass on that accessory. All the metal wore a nice matte-black finish.
The Fear-118 in hand is lighter than the Remington. The edges of the ejection port and loading ports were fairly smooth, though we did find some sharper edges that could cut fingers. The carrier is dished out at the end, so the nail on your loading thumb does not get shaved with each shell inserted into the tube.
Starting with the light target load, we found the Garaysar chewed through anything we loaded into it. We shot it upside down and sideways to trip it up, but could not make it choke. We missed the sling mount and nylon strap on the fore end for more solid control. During extended shooting, we seared our thumb when we grasped the barrel to control recoil. Make a note to wear gloves when shooting the Fear-118 for more than a few shots. Because of those missing features, the Fear-118 was more difficult to operate effectively, we thought.
What impressed us was how the Full choke tube squeezed the bird shot pattern to 6 inches, which was much smaller than the other two shotguns. It also produced 3.5-inch 00 buckshot patterns with the Sellier & Bellots and 4.5-inch patterns with the Aguila. The Hornady Critical Defense was disappointing at 8 inches, which was the largest pattern across all three shotguns. We had no other issues at all with the Fear-118.
Our Team Said: We thought of the Turkish-made Garaysar Fear-118 as a stripped-down version of the Remington, and the Turkish gun acted like it. We liked the choke tubes, but we would have preferred they screwed in flush. The cost, however, allows you to get into a firearm like this without having to eat instant ramen noodles for a month.
Range DataAll shotshells were 2.75 inches in length. Patterns were measured at 15 yards.
|Hornady Critical Defense 00 Buckshot||Sellier & Bellot 00 Buckshot||Aguila 00 Buckshot||Fiocchi No. 71⁄2 shot|
|Armscor VRF14||3.0 in.||9.0 in.||7.0 in.||21.0 in.|
|Garaysar Fear-118 (Full Choke)||8.0 in.||3.3 in.||4.5 in.||6.0 in.|
|Remington V3 TAC-13||4.5 in.||9.0 in.||4.0 in.||13.0 in.|
Value Guide: Self Defense Shotgun Rankings
|Mossberg 590 50674 12 Gauge, $568||Oct. 2022||A-||Our Pick. The M-Lok fore end was just a bit too slick. The rest of the shotgun worked perfectly.|
|Tokarev Tx3 12HD 12 Gauge, $250||Oct. 2022||B+||Best Buy. Light and quick to swing. Mimics controls of the Remington 870. Functioned perfectly.|
|Remington 870 Tactical 12 Gauge, ~$500||Oct. 2022||B||Somewhat picky about ammo. Two different factory rounds failed to eject. Most expensive piece tested.|
|EAA AKKAR Churchill 612 111375 12 Gauge, $320||May. 2022||A||Best Buy. Has a comfortable pistol grip stock. The Akkar Model 612 has the smoothest operation.|
|RIA Meriva Chrome MR25-P101-MC 12 Gauge, $230||May. 2022||B||Reliable. The chrome finish and the ability to mount a combat light are good features. Rough pump action.|
|Legacy Sports Citadel PAX FRPAX1220 12 Gauge, $229||May. 2022||C||A heavy trigger action, difficult disassembly, and -1 round capacity put the PAX at the bottom.|
|Black Aces Tactical Pro Series S Max 12 Gauge, $420||Mar. 2021||A||Best Buy. The lightest shotgun tested. Despite this, recoil was not objectionable.|
|Toros Copolla T4 12 Gauge, $895||Mar. 2021||A||Our Pick. Compared to a Benelli M4 recently tested, the T4 comes out ahead.|
|Panzer Arms BP-12 BP12BSSB 12 Gauge, $650||Mar. 2021||C||A robust design. Overall, this is a shotgun we liked less the more we fired it.|
|Benelli M4 H20 Tactical 11794 12 Gauge, $2000||Feb. 2021||A||Our Pick. The Benelli provided excellent results. It is pricey but very good.|
|Remington V3 Tactical 83441 12 Gauge, $850||Feb. 2021||A||Best Buy. We liked the extended controls, fast handling, and reliability. XS sights are a plus.|
|Beretta 1201FP 12 Gauge, $500||Feb. 2021||B||The 1201FP is fast on target and controllable. Semi-auto inertia action makes for less recoil.|
|Rock Island Armory VR80 12 Gauge, $600||Feb. 2021||B||The VR80 may be great for 3-Gun shooters because it will handle the same as the AR-15.|
|Winchester 1200 Speed Pump 12 Gauge, $225||Oct. 2020||A||Best Buy. The Speed Pump is smooth, reliable, and provided good results.|
|Remington 870 12 Gauge, $275||Oct. 2020||A||A classic home defender well worth its price on the used market.|
|Winchester SXP Marine Defender 12 Gauge, $255||Oct. 2020||B||Has many good points, including the chrome finish on major components. Accepts a red-dot sight.|
|TPS M6 M6-100 22 LR/410 Bore, $487||Jan. 2020||A||The M6 follows in the footsteps of the previous M6 design and does it better.|
|Rossi Matched Pair 410/22 22 LR/410 Bore, $182||Jan. 2020||A||This Matched Pair 410/22 is lightweight and simple to operate.|
|Savage Model 42 Takedown 22440 22 LR/410 Bore, $425||Jan. 2020||B+||The Model 42 follows Savage’s tradition of combo guns, and this gun has some fine attributes.|
|Mossberg Retrograde Persuader 50429 12 Ga., $384||Sep. 2019||A||The Mossberg 500 Retrograde is a beautifully finished shotgun. There are no shortcomings.|
|Iver Johnson PAS Copperhead 12 Gauge, $401||Sep. 2019||A||Has good features that were overshadowed by the snake scale-like finish.|