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Shotgun Review: TriStar Viper G2

A .410 semi-auto that packs a punch on upland game

Shotgun Review: TriStar Viper G2

TriStar is a well-known name in shotgun circles. Founded in 1994 in Kansas City, Missouri, TriStar offers a wide variety of pumps, over/unders, and semi-autos, so the customer can select a scattergun with the features they want with ease, and at an affordable price.

But this array of different products doesn’t come about by chance; the tail doesn’t wag the dog here. Rather than browse overseas companies to see what they have to offer, TriStar marketers do research to figure out what American consumers want, so that their engineers can draw up a set of detailed product specifications. Then they visit the manufacturing plant, present the product specs, and the desired product is produced. TriStar says that they’re founded on the principles of value and quality. In fact, they proudly state that they’re the “value experts,” and it shows in their product line.

Most TriStar shotguns are made by Kayman Armsan Company in Istanbul, Turkey, which has modern, high-tech CNC machines that turn out top-notch products.

The G2

TriStar offers shotgun models for the field, sporting clays, waterfowl, turkey hunting, and youth hunters, as well as 3½" monster-magnums and left-handed versions of many models. But the top-of-the-line semi-auto from TriStar is called the Viper G2, and it is offered in a multitude of configurations in 12, 20, 28, and a .410 bore.

I recently received a Viper G2 Wood in .410 for review, and a spiffy little gun it is. We’ll get to the shooting results in a minute, but first let me tell you about this .410.

The Viper G2 in .410 is available in four different versions: Bronze, Camo, Synthetic, and Wood. Depending on gauge, barrels range from 26" to 28" in length, and have a ventilated rib with a red fiber-optic front sight.

All Vipers are gas-operated, and the gas system is best described as “self-regulating.” All of the .410s have 3" chambers, and the Viper .410 will shoot 3" and 2½" shells without adjustment. Remember when the only choke found on a .410 was Full? Well, the Viper .410s come with a set of three Beretta Mobile choke tubes in Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full, along with a handy tube wrench and a case. Better yet, the Viper’s receiver has two 11mm metric grooves for mounting optical sights, if desired.

The Viper’s trigger pull is very serviceable, breaking cleanly at 7 lbs., 4 oz. The pushbutton safety is right behind the trigger. The bolt release is a fat, chrome-plated button on the right side of the receiver.

Field Test

I got to check out the new Viper .410 in two ways: First on clays, and later in Texas on white-winged doves. My first try with the G2 came after TriStar Vice President Ryan Bader thrust the slim little semi-auto into my outstretched paw at the trap range. “This is our new Viper in .410” he said. My ardor cooled, as I was sure that (A) I wouldn’t like it, and (B) I couldn’t hit anything with it. Boy was I wrong on both counts.

“It’s pretty dirty, as it’s been fired over 500 times already today,” Ryan continued. “Oh, and it has the modified tube in it,” he said. My disdain contained, I took my position on the firing line.

Here came the clays. I fired, and the target shattered! Lucky shot, I thought. Then there were more. I shot at everything; near, far, and in between. Pretty soon it dawned on me that not only was I hitting most of the streaking clays with the Viper G2, the modified tube was breaking them way past what I thought was “.410 range.” I began to view this .410 with less skepticism.

Ryan was right; the gun was dirty— really dirty. After the number of rounds it had fired, this was to be expected, as it is well known that .410 ammo is the dirtiest ammo around. In fact, TriStar includes a note with every .410 recommending that users shoot a bunch of ammo through a new gun, and to keep the receiver and piston on the magazine tube clean. Fortunately, this is easy, as the trigger group pops out by pushing out a single pin, and removing the barrel exposes the gas piston for cleaning.

I also took the Viper G2 .410 to South Texas for the opening day of dove season. Most of the birds were white-winged doves, along with the occasional mourning dove. Here I used Remington 3" factory loads with 11⁄16 oz. of #7½ shot. I carefully picked my shots, and I have to tell you this .410 dropped doves like a rock out to about 35 yards, as long as I pointed it right.

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