UTAS UTS-15 Review
Part 6 - Range Test
October 20, 2013

UTAS UTS-15 Review

In this part of my review, I range tested the UTAS UTS-15 Shotgun.  Some of my goals for range testing were to:

  1. Sight in the shotgun sights and laser
  2. Capture some velocity data on the standard barrel length and with the added 7.5" barrel extension
  3. Shoot a variety of 2.75" shells such as slugs, buck shot and bird shot
  4. Shoot some 3" shells
  5. Check the operation of the shotgun in various orientations (i.e. right side down, up side down, right side up)
  6. Cycle several boxes of ammunition to get a feel for reliability


Before I headed to the range, the first thing I needed to do was accumulate the ammunition needed for the review.  Fortunately, between what I was able to find on sale (and in stock) at Cabela's and Midway USA, along with what I had on hand, I feel like I had a pretty good selection of ammunition for the range tests.  The UTAS specifications indicted that the UTS-15 is capable of using 2.5", 2.75" & 3" 12 gauge shells.  I focused my selection on the 2.75" shells since they were the most common, but did want to try out some 3" shells so I got a 15-round pack of 3" Slugs.

Sighting-In and Velocity Data

I first started out shooting some Winchester Super-X 2.75" one ounce rifled slugs (1600 ft/sec) through a chronograph so I could capture some velocity data while sighting in the UTAS upper rail mounted sights at 25 yards.

Figure 1

I chose to use the standard 20.5" barrel configuration (no barrel extension) and the rifled slugs were producing an average velocity of 1550 ft/sec (chronograph was setup about 10 feet from the muzzle).  I was able to get the UTAS sights zeroed, but I did have to adjust the rear sight fully to the right.  When you consider the number of parts that must be in perfect alignment to maintain the top rail perfectly parallel to the barrel, it doesn't surprise me that a correction may be needed for the sights to get a good zero.  I feel the correction amount will vary between each shotgun and some may actually line up very well.

Next I added the 7.5" (actually 7.8") barrel extension and installed a Bushnell First Strike Red Dot Sight.  This style red dot sight is easier on my eyes and is my preferred configuration of sight for this shotgun.  To capture velocity differences with the barrel extension installed, I also zeroed this red dot sight while shooting through a chronograph with the same type of ammunition used  without the extension.  The average velocity of the same 2.75" slugs was 1631 ft/sec with this 28.3" barrel length configuration.  This was a 5.2% increase in velocity which translates into a about a 10.7% increase in muzzle energy.

Figure 2 - UTS-15 with Bushnell First Strike Sight

Shooting 2.75" Shells

After sighting-in the UTS-15, I wanted to check the reliability of the shotgun using 2.75" shells with a couple of different loads.  During my sighting-in sequence I used the 2.75" slugs and had no issues.  Although while sighting-in I didn't have a high cycle rate like you would with repeated fire, I still cycled 20 rounds through the shotgun and made it a point to pump the action similar to that of a higher rate.

Next I switched over to shooting a variety 2.75" birdshot (7.5, 8 and 9).  This variety was mainly due to what I had on hand at the time.  After about 6 boxes of birdshot throughout my range tests, we had only one failure to feed issue which I got on video while my son was shooting the shotgun.  Unfortunately I was taping and turned off the camera to investigate.  The failure to feed round would not allow the bolt to rotate making the bolt seize under the locking lugs.  After applying significant force to the action to extract the round, I was able to extract the round.  I saved the round to make some measurements and later found that the rim thickness was out of spec on this shell.  A normal rim thickness on a 12 gauge shell should be a maximum of 0.0576" according to SAAMI and the round that got stuck was 0.064" thick at it's thickest point.  Clearly this jam was due to the ammunition and not the shotgun.

When I finally switched over to shooting the 2.75" buckshot, I was starting to get a little worn out and had one jam which was caught on video.  Actually this jam was the only real issue I had shooting the 2.75" shells.  It is hard to say who is at fault with this particular jam... me or the shotgun?  I watched the video over several times and I feel that a very slight pause is needed when the action if fully rearward to allow the mouse trap spoon (elevator) to get the shell into place on the loading ramp.  When I say slight pause, I'm only talking about less than 1 second total time per shot which would include the pause.  Is it my fault for not cycling the action correctly for the shotguns preference, or is it the shotguns fault for not being able to withstand any cycle rate possible?  I have tested other pump shotguns and found that some actions are truly slower that others and require a smooth deliberate pumping action.

Anyone interested in purchasing this type of shotgun (or really any other) needs to learn and understand its characteristics and how to make the shotgun perform.  The UTS15 being a 15-shot shotgun seems to inspire fast shooting, but sometimes slow is fast (proper feeding) and fast is slow (clearing jams).

Shooting 3" Shells

For a tactical shotgun, I'm not a big fan of the 3" shells due to the decreased magazine capacity and additional recoil.  Since the UTS-15 is capable of shooting 3" shells, I decided to give it a try with some Winchester Super-X 12 gauge 3" one ounce rifled slugs (1760 ft/sec).  With a the added length of shell and greater muzzle energy (3010 ft-lbs), I thought these slugs might show some different results with the shotgun.  I quickly found that the same cyclic rate used with the 2.75" shells seemed to cause some failure to feed issues.  It seems that the quicker cyclic rate used for the 2.75" shells didn't allow the longer 3" shells time to get into place on the loading ramp before I was trying to push the shell into the chamber.  It also seemed that with a slightly longer pause with the action fully to the rear corrected this issue.  Unfortunately I only had one box of 15 shells and didn't have enough rounds to determine a reliable cyclic rate, but I did have enough to form an opinion that the shotgun would function with these shells provided you trained yourself to cycle the action.

Shooting The Shotgun in Different Orientations

Since UTAS states the UTS-15 will function properly regardless of the "position the gun is held; left side, right side or even upside down,"  I decided to put this to the test. To check this out, I loaded 15 rounds of 2.75" birdshot into the shotgun and then proceeded to fire 4 shots with the right side down, 4 shots upside down, 4 shots right side up and the 3 shots in the normal configuration.  Throughout this sequence there were no issues.

Sighting-In The Laser and Light

Like many red lasers, I found the laser to be underpowered in bright light and the red dot was not visible with the unaided eye at 25 yards on my targets.  Therefore I zeroed the laser later at dusk using my Bushnell First Strike Red Dot Sight as my zero point.  I was able to zero the laser using my other sight without issue.  One thing I noted is that the elevation zeroing screw had very little resistance when making the adjustments and I will need to see if there is any zero shift over time.  It is easy to check because I can always use my other sights to verify zero.  Indoors, at dusk or night, I found the laser produced a bright red dot and would be effective in those situations.

UTAS states that the light can also be used as an aiming device.  Because the light emits a fairly uniform flood (wide) beam, I don't think the light could realistically be used as a sight unless you were in close quarters such as being inside a normal size room.  The beam has a fairly distinctive center hot spot and then gradually decreases in intensity until you get to the outer edge.  Inside your house or room, you can distinguish this center spot fairly easy.  One thing I noticed after range testing is that when the tactical choke is installed, the vents in the choke cause gasses to be vented back and hit the lens on the light.  This causes the light to get a dull film on the surface and will require cleaning on a fairly regular basis to maintain the best light transmission for your light and laser.

I wish it were possible for there to be some position of the switch where both the light and laser could operate simultaneously.


You can see my range test video by watching below.  If for some reason this doesn't work on your browser, you can see the video by going to my YouTube channel at this link.



Throughout my range tests, I put around 200 rounds through the UTS-15.  Clearly this number of rounds is not enough to test the durability of the shotgun, but I feel they were enough to give me a good idea on reliability.  With 2.75" shells, I found the shotgun to be very reliable as long as you cycle the action with a fast deliberate rear stroke all the way to the stop, hesitate or pause for a fraction of a second at the rear action position, and then with a deliberate stroke push the action forward until the bolt locks.  A fraction of a second pause at the rear stop for 2.75" shells and slightly longer for 3" shells seems to be what the shotgun likes to allow the timing of the shells to get into the proper position on the loading ramp.  I wouldn't be too concerned with this pause because if you watch some of the cycle rates in the video, you will see that the shotgun can still feed fast.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 

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