TriStar Viper G2 T/W (Turkey/Waterfowl) Shotgun Review
Part 5 - Range Testing
May 5, 2011

TriStar Viper G2 Review

To range test the TriStar Viper G2 Turkey/Waterfowl Shotgun, I wanted to check some basic functionality and "out of the box" reliability of the shotgun as well as point of aim.  My plan was to cycle a couple of hundred rounds through the gun and then check the basic point of aim with both barrel lengths and potential choke/shot combinations that one may use when hunting. 

I ended up taking the shotgun to a shooting event I have every year with guys at work.  During the event, I allowed them to use the shotgun as much as they wanted so I could cycle some ammo through the shotgun.  Before I handed it over to them, I first had to try it out myself.  My first three shots were with Federal Classic Hi-Brass 2.75" 1.25 oz. 5 shot which is a "heavy load" for 2.75" shells.  If you remember from Part 2 of the review, the box the gun came in actually had a sticker stating it may require a "break in" period of 20 rounds with "heavy loads".

Figure 1
TriStar Viper G2 Review

After these initial three shots (not 20 rounds), I decided to see what it would do with with light load shells so I loaded it up with Federal Multi-Purpose 2.75" 1.125 oz. 7.5 shot.  When I shot the first shell of this lighter load, it didn't cycle the action fully and got hung up in the ejection port.  I cleared the shell and the other two rounds fired without any issue.  Based on this, I decided that I should go ahead and continue breaking in the shotgun with the heavy loads and put a total of 20 rounds through it as recommended.  Afterwards, there were no other issues with shooting the shotgun and I don't consider that single round not ejecting an issue with the shotgun because I clearly didn't follow the manufacturer's recommendations.  Honestly, I'm not sure of the exact number of shells that were shot through the gun because it was shot all weekend by various people.  Just with what I did see, there were over 200 rounds fired without a single issue.  In my opinion, the shotgun felt light and was easy to point and I had no problem busting clay birds with the TriStar Viper G2.  I failed to get a photo shooting clay birds with the shotgun, but I will do better in the future.  One thing was certain, everyone was impressed with the look, performance and value of the shotgun.

 

Next I checked out the point of aim of the shotgun by taking two patterns at 40 yards.  My goal was not to fully pattern the shotgun/chokes with different shells, but evaluate where the shotgun shoots when looking directly down the sight plane with the front sight in front of the target.  Each person may have a slightly different preference in sight picture, but this picture gave me a very definable aiming scheme.  For the 28" barrel configuration, I installed the Modified choke and used Federal Target Load 2.75" 1 oz. 8 shot.  For the 24" barrel configuration, I installed the Full choke and used the Winchester Supreme Double X Magnum Turkey Loads 2.75"  1.625 oz. 4 shot.

Figure 2
TriStar Viper G2 Review

Since I wanted to be dead on target when I pulled the trigger, I shot from a X7 Bulls Bag.

Figure 3
TriStar Viper G2 Review

I had a cardboard target covered with paper at a distance of 40 yards with a bright orange aiming point.

Figure 4
TriStar Viper G2 Review

The photo below shows the results after the shot with the 28" barrel configuration, modified choke and 2.75" 8 shot.  You can click on the photo to bring up a higher resolution photo. 

Figure 5
TriStar Viper G2 Review

Since the above photo is hard to see, I circled each shot penetration with a red ink pen.  I made my best guestimate on determining the center of maximum density of the shot and feel the center of the pattern is actually about 1" low and 5" left for this 40 yard pattern.  Out of a possible 410 pieces of shot, 285 were inside a 30" diameter circle.  This represents 70% of the shot inside the circle with the 28" barrel and Modified choke.  I personally feel these are acceptable results and in reality you should make at least three shots and then take the average before coming to a final conclusion.

Figure 6
TriStar Viper G2 Review

Next I removed the 4" barrel extension and installed the Full choke in the end of the 24" barrel and again made my shot from a bag at 40 yards.

Figure 7
TriStar Viper G2 Review

The photo below shows the results after the shot with the 24" barrel configuration, full choke and Magnum 2.75" 4 shot.  The larger size 4 shot penetrations stand out better in this photo than the 8 shot above.

Figure 8
TriStar Viper G2 Review

In the 24" barrel configuration with a Full choke, I found the pattern center to be about 3" left and 2" high.  There were 179 shots out of a possible 219 that fell within a 30" circle which is about 82%.  Just like I said before, you should take more than one shot when evaluating your pattern and then take an average.  From the pattern below, I still find this point of aim acceptable and the percentage of shot inside the pattern is more along the lines of a turkey choke.  For a good article on chokes, see this link.

Figure 9
TriStar Viper G2 Review

 

Range Test Results

I'm pleased with how the shotgun performed with 200+ rounds.  I got many complements on the look and feel of the shotgun and people were very impressed with the price.  I find the slight difference in point of aim acceptable and much more data is really needed to make a firm statement on where the average point of aim is located for any shotgun.  I was able to give several novice people very basic instructions on how to shoot a shotgun and they were busting clay birds in no time.  As another data point, I also had a buddy take his shotgun (costing 3 times the price of the TriStar) and shoot once at 40 yards and there were no significant differences in the point of aim results.

You can view the other parts of this review by using the links below.


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