Really, The Versa Max Deserves It

"OK, so American Rifleman gave a Golden Bullseye Award to gun that, if used, could 'result in property damage, serious personal injury or death,'" wrote one NRA member. "Do you guys read your own magazine? See the Versa Max recall on page 94 in the May issue of American Rifleman—it's for the same gun you gave a Golden Bullseye to as Shotgun of the Year on page 63!" Added another: "It looks like you are in Remington's pocket."

Last Friday, I ran about 250 rounds through a Versa Max—everything from 1-oz. target loads through 3 ½" turkey loads. They all worked, and I lived to tell the tale.

The voting for the Golden Bullseye Awards occurred long before the recall was announced but before the awards were presented at the NRA Annual Meetings in Pittsburgh. We seriously considered rescinding the award, but chose to go forward after long discussions between our staff and Remington. The Versa Max's Versa Port gas system is a significant development in shotgun design. As we deliberated, the recall was of such a nature that it did not override the technological innovation of the gun.

Early in production, the first several hundred guns, there was a burr on a "non-critical dimension" on the hammer that could result in the hammer hanging up on the receiver's interior, thus retarding hammer travel. The gun with an "out of specification" hammer would not fire until the weight of the hammer and its spring power overcame the friction between the hammer's burr and the receiver's interior. Then it would fire—not an ideal situation, obviously.

The company implemented a production fix as soon as the potential condition was identified and got almost all of the Versa Max guns back before those with this potential malfunction were sold. But Remington didn't get them all, thus the recall. Remington management assured me that the problem did not occur with a consumer, only in its own internal testing.

We judged the problem to be one that was easily corrected, and Remington got out ahead of the issue quickly enough not to warrant revocation of the award. Remington is an advertiser with American Rifleman, but we will not play monetary games with NRA member safety under any circumstance.

My hat is off to Remington for the manner in which the company addressed the problem and issued a recall. Considering the CNBC "Remington Under Fire" attack on the Model 700 and the issues with firing pin mass on the Bushmaster ACR (another recall), it was prudent and a good step toward restoring consumer confidence in America's oldest gun maker (1816, there will be a test later).

Also, you can ask anyone in the management team at Remington if I am "in their pocket." When Remington succeeds I will be the first to congratulate those involved but, by the same token, I have been one of the Big Green's harshest critics. The Versa Max is the best Remington shotgun design since the Model 1100, and no doubt you will be seeing the Versa Port system again. It is an innovative gun that needs to stand on its own merits, not linger in the shadows of a recall.

Ruger's Mike Fifer once told me that issuing a recall is one of the toughest calls a firearm company CEO can make. In this case it was the right call, and Remington is to be commended, not condemned, for its handling of the Versa Max.

To learn more about the Remington Versa Max, check out the video.

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12 Responses to Really, The Versa Max Deserves It

Matt wrote:
June 11, 2011

I love Remington guns, I just wont buy one that is younger than I am.

Scott wrote:
June 11, 2011

After waiting several months for the new Versa to become available I was sorely dissappointed. After a huge media blitz in NRA and Ducks Unlimited publications and a huge campaign on Remington's Facebook page, after 8 months I was finally able to touch and feel a new Versa in my local dealer's shop. After about 2 attempts to shoulder the firearm I realized the quality had was not there. I was willing to drop coin that day for a long awaited new Remington innovation, but the quality was not there. I own a 870 Wingmaster and Model 700 CDL and have had no complaints in all the years I have owned them. This is the level of quality I have come to take for granted from Remington. The Versa fore-end rattled at least 1/8" left and right of center and it felt like a cheap Argentinian knock off. The finish was scratched right out of the box. Not to mention the recall problems! Remington would have been better served spending some of that media campaign money in R&D to make not only an innovative product but also a quality product. Shame on the NRA awarding the "coveted" Golden Bull's Eye award to a substandard product. You just cheapened the award and tarnished your reputation as a unbiased critics.

Brent Vetter wrote:
June 10, 2011

I am an associate at a sporting goods store and recently purchased a new Versa Max. It came with a poorly fitted fore stock causing a huge gap between the bottom of the reciever and the inside of the stock. The chokes bound when turning any of them out or in and they forgot to include the light tube kit that comes with the gun. After 28 rounds the ejection port was chipping. I am/was a huge Remington fan. I grew up with a 522, 7400, 700, 870 wingmaster and personally own a 597 and 700. They really have cheapened their product and that is evident to me in my 1400 dollar shotgun. I have even noticed their lack of quality in their ammunition now -a-days I hope they get it together and stop relying on their name.

Guido Eschete wrote:
June 10, 2011

The new versa max is a good looking gun, how ever i think the consumer confidence has gone out of the window long before the versa max issues. I agree with dave on this one compare guns made 15 years ago with the ones today. I have an 1187 in the shop now due to the interceptor latch stud sheering off of the side of the reciever. Poor crafstmanship and poor materials being used now a days. Remington, i hope you guys get it together i realy like the 1100 and have for years but wont purchase anymore products until the review start looking better from local consumers.

John wrote:
June 10, 2011

Remington does have a QA-QC problem but the first step is to accept their mistake and correcting it. I hope that they continue to do the right thing when a problem arises but more importantly, look deeply into their manufacturing. I had to return an 887 that was wrong out of the box and after 3 attempts, I ended up with a new 870 which I love like my previous 870s.

Tim wrote:
June 09, 2011

I really have to agree with you Dave! I bought an 870 last year and have had some trouble with certain moving parts sticking/binding a little. I'm not negligent with gun care either; this was right from the day I bought it new. I've always liked Remington products, just think that they should ensure that quality control is never a compromise issue, ...for us loyal customer's sakes. Just for the record, I also have other Remington guns that work flawlessly, shot after shot, ...even when the temps get down to -30*F. That's gotta be impressive to anyone! So far as i've seen, the Versa Max looks like a great product, eg; with features like a more roomy trigger guard for those who wear gloves & no power-level problems with mixed shells. I'd just like to see more field test-data reports from the hunting community before i'm gonna go buy one. Cheers!

John Warren wrote:
June 09, 2011

Always critics out here! I am a member of NRA...l appreciate and enjoy your publication and non bias reporting....I am a Remington owner as well as many other gun brands....Hats Off to you for making this DECISION/CHOICE.....Hats Off to Remington for it's corrections to....what I think is a GREAT SHOTGUN with OUTSTANDING VERSAtility! REMINGTON.....a part of our AMERICAN HERITAGE!

Chris Lazarides wrote:
June 09, 2011

I for one am very disappointed in Rem' quality. I have an 870 that I bought in 2000. Recently I bought my wife an 870 and was rather upset that it only came with one choke tube and the finish on the stock wore out quickly. I for one will never own another Big Green. I was in the market for a turkey and waterfowl gun and I chose a Winchester Model 12 Heavy Duck 12Ga with a 30" barrel. It is by far still a superior gun to an 870. Yes Remington can claim that there have been more 870's sold than any other pump gun, but let me assure you a nearly 100 yr old Model 12 is still a better gun than a brand new 870. They weren't designed to be cheaper, they were designed to be the best!

Allen wrote:
June 09, 2011

now if we can just find out why the 12ga 1100 competition was taken out of production for several months

Dave wrote:
May 13, 2011

Lets not forget the problems with 105CTI and the 887. Big Green has major QC issues. Compare a 870 today to one made 15 years ago. Mark come on you are in the front pocket of Remington jsut like most other gun mags

Lance Shoemaker wrote:
May 12, 2011

I too would like to see proof you being one of Remington's harshest critics. Saying it is easy, prove it. The gauntlet is thrown down. Please don't forget the problems with the .17's. P.S. Why haven't we seen any articles from Ross Seyfried, a man who gets the details right?

David Laden wrote:
May 12, 2011

I'm glad to see that I was not the only one puzzled/troubled by Golden Bullseye/gun recall in the American Rifleman. Maybe I missed it and need a reminder: when were you one of "Big Greens harshest critics?" P.S. I love my 1100!