Remington accomplishes this by means of its VersaPort gas piston system, which uses seven gas ports in the area of the chamber and two self-cleaning gas pistons to cycle the action. The length of the chambered shell determines how many of the ports are operational at any given time. The shortest shell, the 2 3/4 inch, exposes all seven ports and allows escaping gas to cycle the action in spite of the fact that the 2 3/4-inch shotshell produces the least amount of energy. When a 3-inch shell is chambered, four gas ports are left uncovered. And with the 3 1/2-inch shell only three ports are exposed to provide the gas for reliable function in the shotgun. For that reason, you can load any of the three shell lengths into the VersaMax’s magazine in any given order and the action will cycle them, bleeding off just enough gas from each to handle that particular length and power level.
Right in line with the design of the VersaMax gas system was Remington’s desire for the gun to have soft recoil for more pleasant shooting, quicker target acquisition, and more comfort for the shooter. Remington folks tell me that their testing indicates that the VersaMax is the softest shooting autoloading shotgun in its class. And, although felt recoil is subjective, I have to say that I found the shotgun very comfortable to shoot.
Remington also designed the VersaMax so that it could be taken down into five major parts. And best of all, this can be done without tools. In order to disassemble the bolt, there are only a couple of pins that have to be pushed out. Waterfowl hunters know that this is not just a marketing ploy because shotguns can get awfully wet during a good day in the duck marshes. Once back at the lodge, it takes only moments to break this shotgun down for a thorough cleaning and lubrication.
To further protect the VersaMax shotgun for long life, all internal parts are nickel-Teflon coated. The barrel is TriNyte coated, and the aluminum receiver is anodized. That keeps it out of the shop and in the field, where all good shotguns belong.
The VersaMax is currently being shipped with a 28-inch barrel featuring a ventilated rib, with the 26-inch version to come in January. The barrel features an extended forcing cone for more uniform patterns and a replaceable Hi-Viz front sight. ProBore screw-in choke tubes are standard-issue with this shotgun. I have to say, however, that the choke installation tool is too small and flimsy, just like those shipped with most of today’s shotguns. A guy wearing heavy gloves in a duck blind is going to have a time trying to quickly switch out his chokes. Remington should, and probably will, give some thought to solving this problem.
The VersaMax comes with a synthetic stock in three different color designs. The first is a black synthetic with gray panels in the pistol grip area and along the fore-end. The second is Mossy Oak Duck Blind Camo with black panels. And the third, available in January, is in Realtree AP-HD, also with black panels. All three stock designs feature a soft rubber insert at the top of the pistol grip that cushions the shooting hand.
Interestingly enough, the VersaMax stocks all feature a replaceable comb. Three different combs, in various sizes, come with each gun. The combs can be easily and quickly removed and installed by hand. Prior to hunting with the VersaMax, all one has to do is just spend a little time on the clays range, shooting with each comb installed, until he finds the one that best suits him. But the VersaMax stock innovations don’t stop there.
When the comb is removed, a compartment in the buttstock is exposed. Attached in that compartment is a nifty little plate that controls the amount of the stock’s drop and cast. The VersaMax owner’s manual describes how to position the plate in order to set the amount of drop or to adjust the stock for right- or left-handed shooters.
Most American shotgunners don’t know much about stock cast, since most American shotguns have a straight stock. But proper stock cast, cast-off for right-handed shooters and cast-on for lefties, will allow the shooter to be looking right down the top of the receiver when the gun butt hits the shoulder pocket.
The VersaMax buttstock is fitted with a black SuperCell recoil pad. In addition to that, each gun comes with three stock shims that can be installed to make the length-of-pull fit the individual shooter. Included are two quarter-inch shims and one half-inch shim. So length of pull can be adjusted from 14¼ inches out to 15¼ inches.