First Impressions: Armscor / Rock Island Armory VR80 Semi-Auto Shotgun

Three days ago I found myself at The Range At Austin with Dan and Jeremy. Jon heard there were donuts and made a cameo. Towards the end of our range session I noticed a plain white cardboard box had appeared. Good things typically come in cardboard boxes of that size and shape. The brand new VR80 semi-auto shotgun from Rock Island Armory Imports (RIA Imports) came in this box.


Basically, it’s a magazine-fed, gas-operated, semi-automatic shotgun that uses a short stroke piston and kinda looks and feels like an AR. Before you ask, yes, those trigger pins look an awful lot like AR trigger pins. And, no, an AR trigger will not work in it. I’ll go into more detail in the full review to follow.

The VR80 ships with a set of choke tubes and, as near as I can tell, they’re Benelli/Beretta compatible. The fluted barrel shroud (that’s not the shoulder thing that goes up) gives it a cool look.

It uses a unique BufferBolt system that puts somewhat of a shock absorber on the rear of the bolt carrier. More testing is needed, of course, but initial impressions are of a very smooth recoil impulse. A fixed, reciprocating charging handle is mounted directly to the bolt and can be switched between right and left sides.

Controls are extremely AR-like. From the location of the bolt catch to the ambidextrous safety to the magazine release and all of the ergonomics, the VR80 is instantly familiar.

I couldn’t tell you if it hurt to shoot the thing. A mag dump of 00 buck as fast as you can pull the trigger is about the most fun you can have with a shotgun. I fired 15 rounds of Federal 00 through the VR80’s three, 5-round mags as fast as possible. I shot a few boxes of Winchester’s 3″, 15-pellet 00 through the VR80 as well. Holy cow the fireball, bark, and whump of those rounds was impressive, but I was having way too much fun to notice any shoulder pain.

The next day my built-in recoil pad was a little tender but I didn’t care. I like recoil sometimes. I like distinctive bruises.

In short this thing is awesome. Full review should be ready before SHOT Show. For more information on this $699 MSRP shotty, visit the VR80 on Armscor’s website here or click the image below to expand it:

comments

  1. avatar Geoff "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!" PR says:

    …and I’m sure 10, 20, 30 or more round magazines are in the pipeline?

    Something tells me this is gonna get the ‘Street Sweeper’ legal ‘treatment’.

    Get it while you can…

    1. avatar Marc says:

      Why do you say that? This thing is longer than a Mississippi cane pole.

      1. avatar Geoff "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!" PR says:

        “Why do you say that?

        It’s what leftists do.

        IT’S ALL THEY DO!!!

      2. avatar Mark Suckerbong says:

        As usual, RIA goes half way, and then disappears. A 19 round stick mag- totally useless. A 25 round drum mag? Gee, never thought of it. Test the gun to see how badly the folding sights flop around under recoil- sorry, didn’t have time to “proof” the gun. Put a functional compon a modified cylinder choke tube, like a Witt Machine adjustable comp? Fantastic idea! What’s a compensator? And who’s Witt Machine? RIA has a nasty habit of zero customer service. A sales staff without a clue, and a standard answer of “not at this time, sucker!” Obviously, it will cost twice the original cost of the gun to get it to minimum useful standard.

        1. avatar Matthew Drobnick says:

          I must respectfully disagree regarding their customer service.

          I bought my first 1911, Commander size, from a pawn shop in Denver some 8 years ago. I was new to firearms. I reinstalled the recoil spring retainer maybe a mm off. Just enough not to seat properly but not enough for me to notice at the time (excited, stupid newbie). We’re talking exactly the right tolerance to break but still function for a few rounds. I’m still puzzled about that.

          Called RIA. They shipped out two separate recoil spring retainers for full size and Commander, free of charge. Got a hold of them immediately and i received it within 2 weeks.

          I’ve bought three other 1911’s and have never had one side FTF or FTE. nothing. Flawless.
          Same goes for my good friends RIA 1911.

          These are rugged, reliable, high value firearms and their service was the best I’ve encountered so far.

          That’s a bummer of they have poor customer service reviews. That’s what made me a loyal customer. That and life depending reliability.
          But what do I know? I’m a millennial Pennsyltuckey yinzer

    2. avatar Shotgunner says:

      Really? What about the Saiga 12, the Vepr, or the new Typhoon Defense F12? There are lots of semi-auto 12 ga options with 10+ round capacity.

  2. avatar former water walker says:

    I like it…10-20 round mags would be the icing on the cake. Wonder what street price it’ll settle at?

  3. avatar tdiinva says:

    Recoil shouldn’t be worse than any other 12 gauge semiauto.

    1. avatar MouseGun says:

      I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that the stock stock is cheap, hollow molded plastic, and the gun doesn’t have a lot of mass to soak up the recoil.

      1. avatar Craig in IA says:

        Ever shoot 3″ deer slugs out of a Benelli SBE??? Watch your eyeglasses…

        It isn’t just the “cheap guns”.

      2. avatar Fred says:

        This thing uses an AR style buffer system that reduces recoil significantly. Still it is a 12 Gauge so there is going to be recoil. I am more interested in the country in which it is manufactured. There seems to be great effort in concealing this information

        1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

          Knowing RIA as I have 4 of their 1911s. I’d bet it’s made in Turkey. As are their CZ clones.

        2. avatar CB says:

          Made in the Philippines.

        3. avatar Chris says:

          Manufactured by Derya Arms in Turkey. At least according to the side of the one I’m looking at atm.

  4. avatar soggy bottoms says:

    Wait till the guys in the blind get a load of this,

  5. avatar GS650G says:

    Nice and scary looking. The left will hate it.
    How dirty did it get after a few boxes? Is cleaning it a hassle?

    1. avatar Becky says:

      I love it and want one. BTW, I’m a lefty who can shoot and likes guns!

      1. avatar Matthew Drobnick says:

        Awesome! Glad to hear it! Check out Tim Pool. About the only honest lefty on YouTube

  6. avatar GS650G says:

    Comparable with 9 round mags. Whoo hoo!

  7. avatar Craig in IA says:

    Cheap, too. For giggles I may get one just to take it to a couple trap/skeet ranges where I shoot. It’d shake up a couple doctors and lawyers…

  8. avatar MouseGun says:

    What is up with the influx of auto shotties that look like popular MSRs as of late? I know the Saiga 12 has been a thing for a long time now, but now we’re gettting AR and even Tavor lookalikes.

    1. avatar Draven says:

      most of those are based on the same mechanism.

    2. avatar TheBruteSquad says:

      Lots have been made in Turkey for a few years now. They just slip a different logo and sometimes furniture on them before they ship them.

      Personally I’d rather have their x4 12 gauge that still uses tube magazines but I don’t trust box magazines with plastic shotgun shells.

      1. avatar CB says:

        Made in the Philippines by ATI for RIA.

        1. avatar Chris says:

          Not in the Philippines. That’s where their 1911’s are made though. The VR80 and VR60 are made in Turkey.

  9. avatar Vicrattlehead says:

    I have absolutely no need for this thing but man, I kinda want one!

    Even though I’m sure it’s just playing off the popularity of the AR, aesthetically, it does look positively evil and I just can’t help but like it. The thought of a 9+rd mag hanging out the bottom just makes me want to do an evil laugh and rub my hands together minalically! Bwaa Haa Haaaaa!

    699msrp makes me believe the street price on it will be in the low 500 range wich sounds pretty darn appealing so long as the quality is there.

    1. avatar Matthew Drobnick says:

      Just held one today. I agree. The poser on me is dying to grab this but with a baby due and a few new suppressors, I’ve pushed the limits the wife can accept.
      $20 here and there for a few months. She’ll be mine… If this reliability is anything like my 1911’s by Rock

  10. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Very cool.
    I’m wanting one.

  11. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    apintl, pahrump, derya and turkey all on the same line.
    even if it is a hurrp derya this looks to be an effective food resource eliminator.
    cash for clunkers created a lot of cherokee targets.
    msrp suggests a reasonable outlay. i don’t mind some turkish tool marks if the action smooths out.

  12. avatar Cory C. says:

    I have an UTAS XTR-12. Mine has been reliable for me, but everyone else seems to hate them. If this thing is reliable, it could be a big hit.

  13. avatar AFGus says:

    I’ll stick with my KelTec KSG Bullpup. It’s compact, works flawlessly, and holds 15 rounds….plus I can have two different types of shells loaded and easily switch between them.

  14. avatar Yves says:

    The “Panzer” is half the price and comes with 5 and 10 magazines.. Good reviews, I’ll buy one someday

    1. avatar Ozzallos says:

      Yeah, take a closer look at those panzer reviews. Prone to lots of jamming.

  15. avatar Bt justice says:

    I like the XTR12 because the lower (and any trigger components) are standard AR10. Sounds like this is AR shaped, but not quite. Cory C., What do you think about a binary trigger in the UTAS?

  16. avatar rudukai13 says:

    This is a re-branded Derya Mk12. Which is good, cause the Mk12 is a good shotgun. It also means 10-round magazines will be available from the start.

    If an American AR manufacturer actually put the time into developing a true AR10 shotgun that was reliable (unlike the UTAS XTR-12) and compatible with 308 lowers, it’d sell splendidly. I don’t understand why we haven’t seen one yet…

    1. avatar Tim U says:

      I suspect it’s a matter of cost to develop and then bring to market with a profit.

      It’s a niche product that’d be very expensive. Most of these are significantly cheaper.

  17. avatar Enuf says:

    Well sure it looks cool and maybe it is even a good design. But my Mossberg 500 and 590A1 left me with no actual remaining needs shotgun-wise …. so it’d take something even more interesting and it’d have to be MADE IN USA to put another scattergun in my budget-limited boomstick collection.

    The full length KSG looks even more awesome, talk about a load of Zombie killing power, you can supposedly fit a box of 25 shells in that beast.

    Not that I believe in Zombies you understand … not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  18. avatar Scott says:

    I recently bought one . Now I like shooting it but I would like to run some slugs through it. The problem is it has a flush mounted choke and it did not come with a cylinder choke and finding parts specifically for this are hard. What kind of chokes do you think are compatible? I was thinking Beretta looks the same so do the Carlson flush mount.725 what do you think?

    1. avatar Sam Barnes says:

      I bought one . You can take the factory stock and grip off and replace with a hogue grip works best and a commercial AR stock will slip right on. They are shipped with fixed stocks because of regulations. Buffer tube is just like AR 15 or AR10. That way it’s adjustable. Comes with 3 five rd mags. RIA VR 6 nine rd mags are compatible. Benellie and Beretta choke tubes work. Well made, slightly heavy. Shoots very well . Light recoil. Fires as fast as you can pull the trigger. When you empty a mag , drop it , slam another in and hit bolt release and keep on running.

      1. avatar Sam Barnes says:

        I bought 4 benellie or beretta choke tube kit from Primary Arms in a kit. Choke tube pouch has 6 plastic bottles in it and a choke tube tool to insert and remove them. Hope this helps.

      2. avatar Sam Barnes says:

        You can also purchase 19 rd magazines.

  19. avatar Doc Copeland says:

    I was excited to get my hands on one. The downfall of shotguns in “tactical ” situations is that they are slow to reload. The box magazine is a game changer. I paid $600 for mine. Unfortunately, mine is giving me light primer strikes about 50% of the time which means it jams as often as it shoots. Ive tried a variety of shells from their recommended breakin load up to 3″ mag buckshot loads with no difference in performance. The manual doesn’t offer any instuctions on cleaning or areas that need lube after cleaning. Overall, I like the ergonomics, but that doesn’t matter if I cant get it to run.

    1. avatar J. Judge says:

      I bought the V 60 in October. As others have mentioned, the gun fails to eject spent shells more times than it fires. Contacted RIA and was already using the recommended loads for break in. Fired heavier loads with the same lousy results. Sent the shotgun to Armscor to check it out. It was returned to me a month later with the same poor results. I’d like this gun if it worked. I’ll try another return to mfgr. hopefully seeking better results than the first time. Retailer refuses return of defective product. Wonder why?

  20. avatar Bob H says:

    I was lucky to pick one up at a local show for $599. Mine had the “Thumbhole Stock” that was quickly switched out for a commercial Magpul and I haven’t looked back.

    The 9 round mags area becoming more available and work well The 19 round mag, to me, falls into the “You’ve got to be kidding me!” category given it’s size and radical banana curve. I’

    I’ve seen one brief reference on a modification to the 9 round mag to make it 10 or 11 rounds but haven’t found a source.

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