Gun Review: TriStar Folding Survival Shotgun

Travis Pike for TTAG

I have a love-hate relationship with Armslist. I love the idea, but I hate the scammers, the guys trying to trade tattoos for guns, and the fellas who can’t seem to ever meet at the time and place agreed upon. Occasionally, though, you find a deal or an oddity you can’t say no to and the TriStar Survival Shotgun was one of them.

I love shotguns of all types and didn’t own a single shot. The guy wanted only 60 bucks for it. Add on the fact it folded into a compact package and I was hooked. The seller turned out to be a nice guy, we swapped stories and he even tossed in some buckshot he had lying around.

Nothing Simpler than a Single Shot 12 Gauge (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Of course, prior to purchasing I Googled the gun but couldn’t find any real info. The gentleman told me he actually won it at a National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet years ago and never had a use for it.

The gun has very few markings, one being TriStar and the other says made by Artemis. Artemis is another brand name under Khan, a Turkish firm who produces tons of different shotguns. This appears to be an earlier variant of the Stylox shotguns they make now. This gun was produced well before the NOMAD by ATI, but is a similar idea.

Breaking Down an Oddball

The gun folds in half and is designed to be as lightweight and compact as possible. It sports a 20-inch barrel and weighs only about 4.5 pounds. It’s ultra-light and very compact.

When folded it’s too big for a standard backpack, but will fit in a hiking style pack. It fits perfectly in a large ALICE pack as well as my London Bridge Trading Company pack.

Nestled in my LBTC Pack (Travis Pike for TTAG)

This gun does not have the awesome external hammer of the Nomad. Instead, it’s a relatively snag-free design. It has a simple bead front sight, a tough matte black finish, and plastic furniture. The rear stock is hollow and the gun will even float. You can also take the recoil pad off and shove some survival supplies in there, or even a few shotgun shells.

Unfortunately, to access any of these goods you’ll need a screwdriver. I wish there was a way to make the top portion a quick release model to access any stored goods.

To open the chamber and fold the gun, you press a lever in front of the trigger guard. The gun has an extractor and not an ejector, which makes sense for simplicity and cost-saving sake. There is a push-button safety behind the trigger that clicks quite loudly.

Travis Pike for TTAG

The barrel and receiver seem to be overly thick compared to other models. The gun remains very lightweight, but both the receiver and barrel are tanks. The joint at which the gun folds is also quite beefy and well reinforced.

Minimalist Shotgun, Minimal Fun

The thing about a shotgun that weighs 4.5 pounds is that it flipping hurts when it goes bang. I’m not a recoil sensitive shooter, but full-powered 3-inch shells are brutal in this gun.

I’ve put plenty of 3-inch shells through pump-action and semi-auto shotguns and while stout, I’d never call it painful. Through this gun they were rough. Standard 2 3/4 loads are quite stout as well.

A little ouch (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Remington slugs were another shoulder pounder. The Federal LE 00 Flight Control loads were much more comfortable and did offer a bit more range. I’d hazard to guess that this is a cylinder bore.

With standard loads, you’re getting quite the spread at 20 yards. With the Flight Control buckshot, I kept the pellets in a respectable group at 20 yards. Seven out of 9 hit the lungs and heart of a torso target.

3 Slugs and 1 Rounds of Buckshot (Travis Pike for TTAG)

I fired three slugs at 35 yards and admittedly I threw the first shot wide. The next two were surprisingly accurate and both hit in the heart of a standard human torso target. As a survival game getter, it’s an awesome tool. I’d imagine if you paired with various ammo types you can take any North American game.

A mixture of low recoil slugs and buckshot would be a good start. I’d even toss in some of those adorable little Mini Shells, specifically birdshot. These single shots are perfect since they have zero issues in the ejection extraction department.

Some of the mini slugs would be suitable for hogs and deer since they are traveling about the same speed as a .44 Magnum with similar projectile weight.

Variety is the spice of life (Travis Pike for TTAG)

As a single-shot shotgun, you can also use adapters to convert it to various calibers. I’ve had luck with the .410 adapters, and imagine a 20 and .410 adapter would add a good deal of versatility to the gun.

The length of pull is a little short, especially for my gorilla arms. It’s not terrible and since I’m not exactly using this for trap and skeet it’s not going to be an issue with typical, low volume use.

The Rest of It

The shells eject and extract with ease and the extractor has never failed to push the round high enough to easily remove it. The opening lever works smoothly and when you fold the shotgun it doesn’t lock per se but it clicks into place and stays folded. The trigger is somewhat stiff, but the pull is very short and you can easily control the trigger pull.

Perfect for the Trunk? (Travis Pike for TTAG)

All it really needs, in my opinion, is some sling swivels and a recoil pad. A slip-on shell holder for the stock would be a nice touch as well. It’s a simple gun and best left to be simple. As someone who very much appreciates shotguns, I can see the utility in such a compact, lightweight, folding 12 gauge for survival purposes.

Never fails to extract (Travis Pike for TTAG)

If you happen to run across any of these guns hanging on pawnshop shelves, I’d grab one, especially for a hundred bucks or less. It’s not a fun gun, but it succeeds in what it sets out to be; simple, compact, and perfect for backpacking and survival.

Specifications – TriStar Survival Shotgun

Caliber: 12 Gauge
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Overall Length: 37 Inches
Barrel: Fixed Cylinder Bore
Weight: 4.5 Pounds
Capacity: 1
MSRP: Unknown

Ratings (out of five stars)

Fit and Finish: * * * * * 
The matte black finish is pretty damn tough, it’s yet to scratch around 99% of the guns. However, near the hinge area, it is becoming slightly worn. Fit wise everything moves, clicks, and glides as it should without issue.

Reliability: * * * * *
When it comes to a single shot shotgun as far as I’m concerned if it’s not a 5 it’s a failure. Guns this simple should fire and extract reliably every time. There is nothing complicated here and it either succeeds or fails spectacularly.

Ergonomics: * * *
As I mentioned the LOP is slightly short, but it is trying to be compact and light. As far as the controls go everything is laid out and easy to reach and use. The light nature of the gun makes it awesome for toting through the woods, but not so awesome for shooting full-powered loads.

Customize it? : *
Not a lot to do here. Toss a sling, a shell holder, and a recoil pad on it and call it a day.

Overall: * * *
Admittedly this is probably the best gun $60 can buy. It doesn’t do anything impressive other than fold, but a number of single shots are doing that now anyway. It’s basic and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s outclassed by any modern pump gun.

 

comments

  1. avatar Nate in CA says:

    “Back in the day” I had NEF put a 22” 12 gauge barrel on my .45-70 Handi-rifle – still not sure which one hurts more! Extended sessions with even cheap dove loads can wear on you fast; 3” buck loosens teeth. Next time I’m aiming for a .357 or .44 Henry single-shot for good times.

    I really wish more people would appreciate these single-shot format guns for what they are: perfect toting/woods bumming guns.

  2. avatar jwm says:

    To fulfill the purpose of a true survival gun and not some hollywood fantasy zombie event the single shot smoothbore has a lot going for it. I’m a hunter and I see a lot more small furred and feathered critters to fill the pot with than I do large game.

    My choice for a dedicated survival gun was a youth model 20 ga single shot.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      JWM,

      My choice for a dedicated survival gun was a youth model 20 ga single shot.

      Exactly! In a survival situation, 20 gauge is the ideal shotgun gauge. It packs plenty of punch for big game and of course is totally adequate for small game. Best of all, recoil is a bit more mild and the shells are more compact and weigh less than 12 gauge shells. Remember, space and weight are important factors in a survival situation.

      Also of consideration in a survival situation, you should be able to find a nice selection of 20 gauge shells just about everywhere.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      jwm,

      By the way I keep going back and forth whether a single-shot shotgun would be better than a single-shot rifle chambered in .22 LR for survival.

      The advantage of a shotgun is that you can carry some shells for big game, some shells for birds/ducks, and some shells for small game. The major down side: those shells are huge. A box of 25 shotshells is about the same size and weight as a 500 round box of .22 LR cartridges.

      Looking at it another way, four boxes of shotshells (100 total) are the about the same size and weight as 2,000 rounds of .22 LR cartridges. I would much rather have 2,000 rounds on hand for survival. However, I give up the ability to shoot birds in flight or even small game on the run.

      What to do?

      1. avatar "keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

        That’s a tuff one for sure. Even though I take a shooty with me I’d probably go with a .22 if it was” you only get one”. With some sneaky thrown in most fowl can be taken with a .22, and to Gadsden Flags dismay I have taken deer with a .22.., so Okay you can have only one gunm, what will it be? My pick a Ruger Mark2 stainless steel with a 10 inch barrel

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Possum, I’m not dismayed. .22 LR is the caliber of choice for bottom feeding, belly crawling, pedophile poachers everywhere.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Possum. My thinking on the .22 pistol, or any pistol for that matter, is how practical is it in a real survival situation. You’re weak, hungry, cold, maybe with some injuries and now your only hope of a meal is precisely placing a handgun round on a rabbit 20 yards away.

          A load of 6 shot out of a shotgun is more of a sure thing.

        3. avatar Art out West says:

          There is no need to choose between a single shot shotgun and a single shot .22lr. Semiautomatic .22 rifles are light and cheap enough. Plus they are semiautomatic.😁

          A used pawnshop Marlin 60/795, Rossi RS22, or Mossberg Plinkster, should be available for under $100. I’ve seen the Rossi brand new for $99, and they are pretty decent guns, weighing only about 4 pounds.

        4. avatar "keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

          To GF, hey I can handle all but the paedophile comment. That thar wernt to nice. Peace out to yah Gadsden Flag, it’s a good day to be alive

        5. avatar daveinwyo says:

          @GF; Not sure where you got your opinion, but it mostly stinks.
          Poaching for trophy is bad. Poaching to feed oneself and maybe family as a necessity is not a hanging offense, as were the laws of poaching the “king’s deer”.
          @JWM, A .22lr is the most useful round ever invented. So far, nothing can beat a .22 for it’s ability to feed and protect. Not bad for a round invented in about 1854.
          And you can wing shoot a largish bird, geese, grouse and some larger ducks with a .22, if you are good enough.
          Just my opinion.

      2. avatar jwm says:

        If I could find a wire stocked lightweight combo gun .22 rimfire on top and 20 ga on bottom I would be happy. Yes, the 20 ga shells are heavier and bulkier than an all rimfire loadout. But for a true life or death the versatility of the shotgun shines.

        Remember. Its not sport hunting based on fair chase and a gentleman’s rules. Its subsistence hunting. And any missed chance can lessen your chances of living.

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          jwm, somebody built something like that years ago. I think it was Springfield Armory. If I remember correctly it was .22 LR over .410 bore. The comb of the stock hinged up to expose storage for spare ammunition.

      3. avatar SGT Preston says:

        I have and like a Savage .22cal/20 ga. over and under. Bought mine from a friend a couple of years back and have used it for skunk and possum extermination, when they visit my chickens. Did take out one rabid skunk who had slaughtered 6 of my laying hens. Worked well.

      4. avatar No one of consequence says:

        Why choose? Go for the shotgun, and get a 20-gauge-to-22LR adapter.

        A quick web search turned up these folks, for instance: https://www.gunadapters.com/

  3. avatar FedUp says:

    It was a NWTF banquet prize and it wasn’t choked extra full?

  4. avatar skoon says:

    Sooooo nothing about arson a 33 dead… nothing about antifa terrorist vs ICE. Youre dropping the ball here ttag

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      A fire in Japan should be on a US gun blog? You don’t think people here have any other news sources and will miss it if TTAG doesn’t cover it?

      1. avatar skoon says:

        seems to me its proof of what alot of us say thats its the indian not the arrow.

        33 ppl burnt no one carez. 33 ppl shot and it would be a tradgedy. Lets ban gas cans and sue exon mobile.

        But yes everone loves an article about a defunct pos single barrel shor gun. Oh it kicks hard omg im so surprised.! Who woulda thunk

        1. avatar enuf says:

          Wrong. Everyone does not care about this particular shotgun story. Some do, but no way that all do.

          But lots of people do care about gun related stuff on a website named for being just about gun stuff.

          Which is why this place is not called “THE TRUTH ABOUT ALL SORTS OF UNRELATED SHIT”.

    2. avatar enuf says:

      I don’t see your point either. Those non-gun related events are all over the news elsewhere. Why fill up TTAG with non-gun related news? Start down that path and pretty soon this place could be over-run with unrelated miscellaneous crapola. Like all the non-gun crap we see at gun shows these days.

      1. avatar Casey says:

        Or pocket dumps from internet randos, for instance.

  5. avatar "keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

    We used to check the chokes with a dime. If it didn’t drop it was full choke, if it did it wasn’t. I like break opens, when camping out I normally take a .410 with a cut back barrel, only one shiot but it’s good for just about anything, and I’ve found this one will shootz .45LC as well as .44 mag.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Oh the dime check is for twelve gauge. Not 20

  6. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Opinions on survival firearms are like assholes. Everybody has at least one. For me it’s a takedown .22 LR. The round count to weight ratio being the number one reason, but there are others. A Marlin 39 TDS 16″ is my favorite. They are very dear today though.

    1. avatar "keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

      In a previous post you mentioned squirrel hunting. Have you ever cleaned a male squirrel that was castrated? Found out how they get that way when I watched two fighting and the loser got its testes chewed off.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Hundreds of them possum. Never seen what you described, but I don’t doubt it. Bars are usually castrated shortly after birth by their sow. All except one. He’s allowed to remain a boar. A game biologist explained to me it was nature’s form of population control.

        1. avatar Art out West says:

          Castration males doesn’t control the population. Ten percent or less of the males can easily keep all the females reproducing. Males produce millions of sperm cells every day. It isn’t a limiting factor. Castrating weaker males may possibly improve herd genetics.

          Stop the females from reproducing and the population (or society) crashes. Why do you think the cultural elites encourage women to pursue higher education, and career development?

        2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Art, I wondered about that very thing myself. All I know is that if you hunt grey squirrels, and I shot my first one circa 1965, almost every male you shoot has been castrated. That and what that wildlife biologist told me years ago.

        3. avatar possum says:

          Red squirrels here. I figured it was all about, “there can be only one out here doing the breeding and I’m the one”. : weird that a squirrel would know to castrate the ones he don’t want messing with his weman. Wonder how they figured that out?

  7. avatar Manny A says:

    Savage stopped making the model 24 years ago. Was a nice over / under with a rifled barrel on top with a shotgun on the lower. They were made in a variety of caliber and gauge combos. Mine breaks down into 3 pieces, fits nicely into a backpack. Can still find used at websites. Mine is .357 over 20 gauge.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Savage did a new version. I think the model 42? I looked at one. It was cheap and flimsy feeling and kind of over priced.

      My only complaint about the 24 was they tended to weigh a bit.

    2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Manny, I always liked the idea of the Savage 24. .22 LR over 20. .223 or 30-30 over 12. Sort of a poor man’s drilling.

  8. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    I’ve wanted a Tristar Rapter ATAC for the longest to replace my house 870.

  9. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    My research tells me the Midland 12 gage folding stock survival is the one for me. It has many more features than this 12 gage folder. And its around $170. And it made in Turkey as well.

  10. avatar Nanashi says:

    I wish I got that and that price on my single shot shotgun. Spent a bit more after tax, and it doesn’t hold as nicely.

  11. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    I’ll stick with my M-6 Scout. When I bought it the only one I could find was .22 LR rather than the .22 Hornet I would have preferred. I removed the trigger guard which helps it to fold tighter and actually gives better trigger control.

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