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Tristar Viper G2 Pro Camo Shotgun: Full Review

There's a lot of value and form packed into Tristar's Viper G2 Pro Camo autoloader — at a price you'll like.

Tristar Viper G2 Pro Camo Shotgun: Full Review

(Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

The last time Guns & Ammo checked in with TriStar, it was to examine the Viper G2 .410 (February 2019). That gun was a piece for the range or preserve hunt, with a beautifully figured Turkish walnut stock finished “Weatherby style.” We revisited the type again with the Viper G2 Pro Camo in 12 gauge, a moderately-­priced gun having a much more utilitarian persona.

The .410 version tested five years back cost $800 at the time. Now, with the title of “Viper G2 Pro Bronze,” it comes in at $1,050. There’s an intermediate range, though, called the “G2 Pro Silver,” and the 28 gauge and .410 will set you back $900.

At $855, the Viper G2 Pro Camo is another option, only available in 12 ­or 20 ­gauge. Traditionalists can specify the G2 Wood version at $745 for both ­gauges, while the 16 and 28 ­gauges and .410 cost $810.

gaad-tri-tristar-viper-g2-pro-camo-autoloader-02-1200x800
Available in 12 or 20 gauge, the Viper G2 Camo is a no-­nonsense hunting shotgun with a thick recoil pad and stippled rubber gripping patches that provide a secure grip, even during the nastiest weather. The for­arm is trim at the muzzle cap, but it thickens toward the receiver and nicely blends with the front of the receiver bottom. The curvaceous line continues across the elevator to the triggerguard. (Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

If you’re seeking the ultimate in economy, there’s a black synthetic range at $685 for 12 and 20 ­gauges, and $745 for .410. The line is filled out with some alternative camo patterns, too, a pistol-­gripped turkey gun, as well as true left-­hand versions in black or camo.

That’s a pretty comprehensive lineup, which demonstrates the versatility of Turkish manufacturer Armsan, emphasizing just how many choices the consumer enjoys.

The Viper G2 Pro Camo has an overall subdued Flat Dark Earth (FDE) finish with contrasting black triggerguard, bolt and bolt release. The synthetic stock is in Mossy Oak Terra Bayou, with black rubber gripping inserts on the forearm and grip. These have oval nubs that approximate 10 lines-per-inch (lpi) of checkering, so they’re plenty grabby.

gaad-tri-tristar-viper-g2-pro-camo-autoloader-03-1200x800
(Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

The comb has a soft rubber cover that’s not going to make you forget the pillowy Comtech of a Benelli, but it certainly improves comfort. The black, solid, rubber recoil pad, too, has a hard insert at the top to improve shouldering the shotgun.

A pumpkin-­orange warning card cautions against exposing the finish and rubber patches to Deet insect repellent, mineral spirits, paint thinner, kerosene, acetone and turpentine. I don’t carry much turpentine in the hunting fields these days, but the Deet warning is certainly on point if you wear it to repel insects.

American shooters seem to have overcome the detestation their grandfathers felt for sling swivels; there’s one at the butt and another at the front of the magazine cap.

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The rubber gripping surfaces have a nubby design that’s the equivalent of 10 lines-per-inch (lpi) checkering. The vent-rib barrel is secured to the tube by the forearm and knurled magazine cap. (Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

Controls once confined to 3-Gun competition have become commonplace on hunting guns. Here, the operating handle is a knurled cylinder protruding an inch from the receiver, and the enlarged bolt-release design is a cantilevered piece that’s an inch long. The safety button is triangular, but still found at the rear of the triggerguard. Any gloves you’re wearing won’t interfere with handling the Viper, either.

The bottom surface of the receiver curves upward at the loading port. Reloads are fast, which is a handy feature when the action gets hot. At the top of the receiver is a half-­inch tip-­off rail that allows easy installation of a red-dot sight or scope for turkey hunting.

The trigger assembly has a matte black plastic housing and is retained in the receiver by a single crosspin. You can drive it out if you want to clean or replace trigger parts but, in practice, you could shoot these guns for years without needing to remove the trigger. (But it’s not a bad idea if you’ve been hunting in a driving rain.)

Recommended


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Enlarged controls are not exclusive to competition shotguns anymore. The Viper G2 Pro includes an operating handle that juts out a full inch for easy use, not to mention the bolt release. (Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

The barrel, typically for Italian-­influenced Turkish shotguns, is chrome-lined for rust resistance, and its bore diameter measured .724 inch. It’s topped by a 6mm ventilated rib that I found a little wan for a 12-­gauge. There’s a .10-inch red fiber-optic front bead, which in this case was mounted a bit off-­line to the rib.

The magazine tube holds five 2¾-­inch or four 3-­inch shells. The supplied plug limits capacity to two, but it can be removed by unscrewing the magazine cap and rocking the gun forward to drop the plug out the front.

Since this is a hunting gun, rather than one for competition, three choke tubes are provided: Full (.685 inch), Modified (.700 inch) and Improved Cylinder (.710 inch). These are in the Beretta MobilChoke configuration, which means an almost infinite supply of aftermarket tubes are available if TriStar’s supplied chokes don’t do it for you.

gaad-tri-tristar-viper-g2-pro-camo-autoloader-06-1200x800
The rubber gripping surfaces have a nubby design that’s the equivalent of 10 lines-per-inch (lpi) checkering. The vent-rib barrel is secured to the tube by the forearm and knurled magazine cap. (Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

The gas operating system is typically Italian, with a separate spool-­shaped piston that drives rearward against dual operating rods (referred to in the instructions as the “action arm”). This mechanically engages a sleeve at the front and the bolt at the rear.

We’ve recently seen shotguns that mount the bolt rigidly to the operating rods, but here they are separate pieces. Reassembling this assembly to replace the barrel in the receiver was a procedure that required a lot of fiddling because tolerances were tight. Everyone loves tight tolerances until they make assembly a pain.

The .410 Viper tested in 2019 had a European-­style magazine cutoff system, but this new model appears to have it deleted; that’ll be no great loss among most U.S. buyers. It also lacks the shim kit for regulating drop and cast, a cost-­saving measure that may be regretted by more users.

I patterned the Viper G2 Camo with results shown in the accompanying table, and then I function-­fired it on clay targets. There were no failures of any kind.

gaad-tri-tristar-viper-g2-pro-camo-autoloader-07-1200x800
The receiver top integrates a half-­inch tip-­off rail for mounting an optic. As it’s aluminum, watch the weight of accessories you’re installing. When naked, the serrated top complements the rib. (Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

The Viper was comfortable with all ammo types, and the contoured receiver bottom made loading easy. The FDE metal finish was pleasantly non-­reflective, and the fiber-­optic bead stood out proudly despite its off-­center mounting.

I find that Turkish-­made guns seem to have a peculiar pistol-grip shape that’s a bit too upright, but others, especially those who’ve cut their teeth on ARs, may prefer it.

The gun shot high, which to me is a great thing in a trap gun, but not so great in a hunting arm. Here’s where the missing shim kit would come in handy.

There’s a prominent bulge at the rear of the forend, but it serves no mechanical purpose except to continue the line of the receiver bottom. It’s comfortable enough, but gives the Viper a slightly pregnant look.

gaad-tri-tristar-viper-g2-pro-camo-autoloader-08-1200x800
(Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

The Viper G2 Pro Camo certainly follows through on the brand’s “value” promise. If $855 retail sounds like a lot, you probably haven’t shopped for shotguns lately. Many of them are $1,000 or more, and $1,500 constitutes a moderate-­priced gun these days. In that environment, the Viper G2 Pro demands a close look from the value-­minded sportsman.

Tristar Viper G2 Pro Camo

  • Type: Semiautomatic, gas operated
  • Gauge: 12, 3 ­in. (tested); 20, 3 ­in.
  • Capacity: 4+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 28 in., steel, chrome lined
  • Chokes: Full (.685 in.), Modified (.700 in.), Improved Cylinder (.710 in.) choke tubes
  • Overall Length: 48.25 in.
  • Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Stock: Polymer, textured rubber inserts
  • Length of Pull: 14.13 in.
  • Drop at Heel: 2.5 in.
  • Drop at Comb: 1.25 in.
  • Finish: FDE (steel); Mossy Oak Terra Bayou (polymer)
  • Sights: Fiber optic, red (front); 6mm rib
  • Trigger pull: 5 lbs. (tested)
  • Safety: Two-position button, manual
  • MSRP: $855
  • Manufacturer:  Armsan Silah Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., Istanbul, Turkey
  • Importer: TriStar Arms, 816-421-1400, tristararms.com



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