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Since the Obama administration’s de facto ban on Russian imports, AK pattern shotguns have been popping up from various manufacturers worldwide. The Citadel RSS1 is one of many, but it’s found a way to stand out. It’s impressive how well the simplistic AK design scales up to accommodate various calibers, and AK-based shotguns have always been insanely fun guns.

Simple and robust (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The RSS1 is seemingly a typical AK-based shotgun. It has a long-stroke gas piston, a 20-inch barrel, it feeds from box magazines, and generally reeks of AKness. The chamber and magazines will accommodate shells up to 3 inches. The gun is rather long at 40 inches overall and it fits just perfectly in a 5.11 AR-15 case.

What sets the RSS1 apart is that they didn’t just settle for your average AK design scaled up to accommodate 12 gauge shells. The ergonomics are improved quite a bit through some simple additions to the controls.

The Citadel RSS1 Shotgun Deep Dive

First, the magazine doesn’t rock in like a standard AK. The big mag well on the RSS1 allows you to slam a magazine home more like an AR. That tends to be more accommodating when it comes to big 12 gauge box magazines.

Straight in load and massive magazine release
(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Slamming one home in the midst of reloading is a bit easier to do than rocking one in. The lever to release the magazine, located behind the magazine well, is still AK-like, but massive and very easy to engage and reach. It’s appropriately beefed up for the bigger magazines.

Excellent safety for an AK (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The RSS1 has a last round bolt hold-open device, and that’s not a common AK feature. It’s a pleasant surprise here. The only way to release the bolt is to tug the charging handle, but it’s still faster than your normal AK reload. This is super handy because loading a full magazine on a closed bolt requires some force.

Bolt locks to the rear (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Next, the safety lever is huge and has an added tab about halfway up to allow the safety to be quickly switched off with the swipe of a thumb. You do not need to break your grip with your firing hand to turn the safety off. That’s a huge improvement ergonomically. It’s not AR 15 lower, but it’s better than most.

Lastly, the railed dust cover is a nice touch, and best of all, it’s a hinged design that’s very rigid. I have no doubts it will hold zero with your red dot of choice. The beefy scope rail is a nice touch for the modern red dot world we live in.

It’s all AK (Travis Pike for TTAG)

There is an added pic rail, but it is placed a good deal down the road, just in front of the fore grip. Mounting a light would require a long reach or a taped pressure switch.


Most of the downsides are related to our ridiculous import laws. The first is you only get 5-round magazines., but they are VEPR compatible. I’m not a big AK shotgun expert, but I do know VEPR magazines are robust, and are available in various capacities (including a 25-round drum). The second downside is the silly thumbhole stock. It’s lame, but it’s still comfortable and ergonomic. The LOP is 14 inches, which some may find a little on the long side.

Stupid import laws (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Range Time

The bad news is the gun feels over-gassed. The good news is the gun is over-gassed. The good part of being over gassed is that the gun will eat everything you put through it. This includes cheap sporting loads, reduced recoil buckshot, and every crappy lead chunking load I have on hand. The gun doesn’t seem to mind. It really did eat every round I could pump through it.

This is a fast cycling beast (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Overgassing, though, isn’t great for a soft recoil impulse. The RSS1 recoil is better than a pump-action shotgun, but nowhere near as soft as my Benelli M4. Holy hell, there is some serious trigger slap to the gun. It gives you a good pop. I rarely wear gloves to shoot, but I made an exception here.

Patterning was okay with normal 00 Buck. The gun has a modified cylinder bore, so it didn’t work great with Flitecontrol. I found the sights to be set a little on the low side. Sadly I don’t have an AK sight adjustment tool, so I Kentucky windaged it. It’s a shotgun, so even when you miss a little, you don’t miss a lot.

My gorilla like size makes the LOP look shorter, buts its a full 14 inches (Travis Pike for TTAG)

AK sights on a shotgun feel like a bit much and make the gun handle more like a rifle than a shotgun. A red dot is a better option here and allows for fast, more reactive shooting than rifle sights. The Citadel RSS1’s irons are teeny tiny too, and shotguns work better with something more eye-catching.

One thing I adored was how fast-cycling the RSS1 is. The gun barely moves as you squeeze the trigger as fast as you possibly can. The fast-cycling design is outstanding and addictive for fast mag dumps. I almost got to the point where I could fire all five rounds before the first shell the dirt. Almost.

Buckshot pattern at 10 yards (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The polymer handguards do an amazing job of mitigating heat, better than most AK wood handguards. I never noticed how hot the gun was getting until I brushed the barrel by accident. It’s a fun gun if you want to go for a high volume shooting day.

Unload, Show Clear

The RSS1 is a fun shooting shotgun, but then again, most shotguns are to me. The RSS1 is reliable, packs a punch, and cycles like a wild animal. It’s a neat gun, and the VEPR compatibility really opens up your magazine options.

If you have a Saiga craving, the RSS1 could very well satisfy it.

Specifications: Citadel RSS1 Shotgun

Caliber: 12 Gauge 3-inch chamber
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Overall Length: 40 inches
Weight: 8 pounds
Capacity: 5 rounds
MSRP: $799

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ergonomics * * *
The controls are great, and I appreciate that they went beyond your normal AK controls to produce a more comfortable gun. The downsides relate to the 14-inch LOP and the 8-pound weight.

Reliability * * * * *
It ate everything. I was impressed by how the gun kept going and going, regardless of what load I tossed into it. The RSS1 is not a picky eater, and thats a huge plus when it comes to semi-auto shotguns.

Accuracy * * * *
Accuracy loses a point because AK rifle sights aren’t great for shotguns. They work, but they take the reactive and speed-based nature of shotgun shooting to a slower, more precise rifleman’s speed. Get a red dot…you’ll be much happier.

Overall * * * *
The Citadel RSS1 is an impressive shotgun with lots of potential. It’s reliable, fast cycling, and a lot of fun to shoot. It’s not perfect, but a very worthy entry for those partial to an AK pattern shotgun.

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    • It’s not “legal” to use anything except a thumbhole or Monte Carlo-style hunting stock on certain imported shotguns – unfortunately.

    • I would think twice before buying from Black Ace. Having been bitten by startup-fly-by-night companies in the past, I always check the BBB of a company before doing business with them. Black Ace’s record.. well.
      It’s not pretty.
      I’m fairly certain the bullpup you’re describing is available from multiple sources, as it is (iirc) just a branded Turkish shotgun that they tweak depending on who the retailer will be.

      For all that I love bullpups, the AK style action and layout is straightforward and reliable. I’d buy the Citadel RSS1 before I’d buy one of the lesser known Turkish shotguns.

      Maybe I’d buy the bullpup mag fed shotgun as a fun gun when I have money to burn.

        • Perhaps you’re right, and perhaps you can pay to make bad reviews go away. However when a company has a long list of complaints that it has both failed to resolve AND is unwilling to pay to make go away, that’s not exactly a good sign, is it? Everyone conducts their affairs as they see fit. Personally, I don’t do business with small companies unless their reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Every time I have strayed from this rule I have regretted it.

    • I got a Black aces pump shotgun a couple years ago. It was awful to rack. Sent it back. I would never trust a company that put out such a bad product

  1. Another to the list of neat things to check out if the SAFE act is ever done away with or I move.

  2. By the way, why hasn’t Donald reversed Obama’s EO on Russian imports? For that matter why didn’t Donald or G. Bush II, ever reverse Clinton’s EO on Chinese SKS imports? Might it be that they are part of a big club, and we aren’t in it? Is it the Washington Generals vs the Harlem Globetrotters?

        • How many new sub $150 Norinco SKS’s do you have Geoff? (1992 price of $80 inflation adjusted). I wouldn’t mind a few extra. the Republican presidents really should have reversed the nonsense executive orders.

        • “How many new sub $150 Norinco SKS’s do you have Geoff?”


          One at $75 around 1987 or so at the gun store I was working for at the time. I personally cracked open the big-assed crate. I’ll never forget the smell that wafted out.

          Sold it in 1998… *sob*

    • You have a point, but your tunnel vision is fuckey.

      choosing sides? Why do those things exist, period? Why do any gun laws exist?

      hmmmmm indeed.

  3. As a shotgun enthusiast, I think this is a great addition to the combat shotgun lineup, & anyone that knows anything about the A K design knows they work, myself I’ll be getting one sometime.
    Big believer of shotties,
    Every country except America use’s their design…, good shit…

    • I have two original RAAC Saiga 12’s that I bought 20-ish years ago. Both are great, but I don’t want to convert them to a thumbhole or true pistol grip (due to collector value). I wouldn’t mind picking up one of these to play around with at the range. For rifles, I actually prefer AR-style, but for shotguns – AK all the way!

    • I got a chance to screw around with the someone else’s Citadel AK Shotgun and bust some clays back in June. I thought I wouldn’t like it because AR style shotguns are stupid, but this was actually pretty good. the sights were terrible for breaking clays but I still managed to hit 5 for 5. I’ll probably pick one up if the prices ever go back down to under 500.

  4. Arean’t all of these coming out of one factory in Turkey and people are just putting various brand names on them?

    Won’t matter when Kamala bans the importation of all firearms worldwide.

      • So what happened to ‘buy American’?

        Why buy firearms from workers all over the world when American workers are needing jobs right here at home?

        Why is everyone upset they can’t buy guns from Russia or China, why do you want to support their economies?

        Is it because a good deal is more important than patriotism and supporting your neighbors?

        Why not save $100, put an American worker on the street, and subsidize the Russian and Chinese military arms manufacturers!

        Yep, that seems really ‘patriotic’…

        • Many of us would “buy American” if American gun manufacturers were interested in innovating. There are no magazine fed bullpup shotguns from American manufacturers at this time. American manufacturers make AR’s and not much else. Why are we upset we can’t buy guns from Russia and China? Because American AK’s have historically been garbage or horrifically overpriced (PSA seems to be changing that, thank goodness), because we’re already engaging in trade with China for literally everything else, so preventing import of weapons and ammunition is just another way for the antigunners to stick it to gun owners.

          I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure where you’re going with this comment.

  5. A FB friend just got a TriStar Raptor bullpup. Really cool with 10rd mags. I did a search of Turkish shot gun factories and there’s a LOT of them. Not all the same. I wish I didn’t boycott Turkey(😏).

    • Whoops! It was a Panzer Arms BP-12 bullpup. Really cool with good reviews. They do all look pretty similar…

      • What’s the recoil like?

        I’ve heard that any bullpup shotty is a bit rough unless you reload soft.

        That’s the other thing, finding a bullpup or any mag fed shotty that will run fast. I want a mag fed but hear to many story’s and read reviews.

  6. Just had a look at the Panzer. Looks interesting. Would be nice to see one with a full length foregrip, for a more stable c-clamp style of hold. Since you don’t need to activate a pump action it seems that the ability to hold the gun closer to the muzzle would be great for control…

  7. A few words from the owner, of one of these shotguns, it comes with a free plastic case, so no need to buy one , it is indeed very accurate, it accepts standard ak47 grip (probably stock too, but I did not have one to try), magazines are not easy to get and they are no cheap, magazine reloading is not as fast and easy as you might expect. finish inside the receiver seems to be spray painted or something like this but not sure if it matters. Everything else mentioned by OP is true. The price I paid was 400 shipped that included case, and two 5 rd magazines. Recoil is not hard on the shoulder but hard on the thumb finger. I would probably consider changing stock and grip, as the one included kind push recoil on thumb finger but it might be just me

    • Overall the biggest downside is the size and weight along with the low capacity. Carrying so much iron with you just to make 10 shots is too much. A Light pump shotgun can be a better choice unless you are planning to carry a lot of magazines with you. Keep in mind that magazines are large the way they are. 10rd mags will not let you shot prone, In my experience reloading standard magazines are slower than reloading pump shotgun tube. It might be a matter of practice. As a benefit it sure is more accurate then a pump on follow up shots. So it is a a trade, and I own both pump and this one

  8. I just wanted to say thank you for the review, looking forward to trying one of these someday. 👍

  9. Looks like a Russian, gobbles like a Turkey. As in, Made in Turkey. As in, I will never buy this thing, or any other Turkish thing, until their government gets a complete makeover.

    I will make an exception for Turkish coffee, as long as the coffee does not actually come from Turkey. Addictions are great productivity boosters.

  10. I have a Brand new colt pocket nine with box papers two original a magazines with pinky
    extension . $2100.00 firm.
    This is the only one I know of,

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