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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.