Gear Review: Versa Max Tactical with Mesa Tactical Side Saddle

    Who doesn’t love a nice autoloading 12 gauge? They are versatile, fun, affordable to shoot, and are now invaluable tools to three gun shooters around the world. The Remington Versa Max is no exception, and I must say that it was a really pleasure to be able to test one.

    I like shotguns as much as the next sportsman. They can be used for hunting migratory birds, fowl, turkey, deer, and even larger game with slugs. You can use them for home defense, and they are still in use by armies and police forces everywhere. And of course they are essential for any three gun competitor. For the latter, the Versa Max really could shine bright. It comes with some great accessories including multiple cheek combs, chokes (including the nifty one pictured), fiber optic sights, an extended charging handle, and a large bolt release button that makes operating the Versa Max Tactical a breeze.

    Before I get too far into the review, I would like to state that the first gun I received from Remington had to be sent back. When I tried to mate the receiver and barrel together, there was an excessive amount of play and I deemed the gun unsafe to shoot (I did not want to risk shooting a gun where the bolt may not potentially be able to lock properly). Our policy here at The Firearm Blog is that we give the company a chance to make it right before we review the product. In this case, the test mule I received had already been sent to many other evaluators such as magazines, blogs, etc. so it was very worn and whoever tried to disassemble and reassemble the gun may have stripped something. Regardless I found out that a third party reconditions the guns for Remington and that they had failed to notice. I sent the gun back and got a new one in a week or so that was flawless. Many people assume that manufacturers set aside the best guns for people like us to review in order to stack the odds in their favor, but I assure you that this is simply not true as most of what we receive has been really run through the ringer.

    Anyways, on with the show. The Versa Max Tactical is a very cool looking scattergun, and the Mesa Tactical side saddle is a great accessory that comes in 4, 6, or 8 shell capacity. I opted for the 6 shell model because I thought the 8 shell model made the side of the gun a little too busy. The side saddle also includes a picatinny rail on top so competitive shooters can mount an optic of their choice. The saddle also installed in about 2 minutes and required only a hex key that is included. The plug screws on top of the Versa Max are removed, and the saddle is put on with new screws included with the unit (no removal of trigger pins or anything else is necessary!).


    I hit the range with a few boxes of 00 buck, bird, and even some slugs to see how the Versa Max handles all three loads.


    The shotgun points very naturally, and the fiber optic front sight makes for a great point and shoot aide (I have always been a both eyes open shotgunner unless using slugs).



    Recoil with the versa max is very low compared to my personal Benelli M1, and the trigger is light enough for me to rattle off all 8 shots in the magazine damn near before the first shell hits the ground. As much as I like shotguns, it takes a lot for one to impress me because the market is so saturated with different models in every possible configuration. The Versa Max however has succeeded and I had too much fun obliterating paper and an old wooden pallet with buckshot!



    Sometimes you get lucky when it comes to gun photography. I thought this picture was too cool!


    The gun patterns consistently too. Having never fired this gun, I was able to cover a target with 00 in just the places I wanted it to be:


    My friend Chris also agreed that the Versa Max is one smooth shotgun too, and he had to get in on the action.


    Now I have never tried to speed reload a shotgun using a side saddle so I had to give it a shot with the Mesa Tactical add on. It was fun trying to get faster and faster. I had Chris set the camera to rapid shot to try and get a little time lapse of it:





    I had too much fun doing this and hearing all the pellets strike the gong was very satisfying!

    My only real complaint is that loading the shotgun results in a pinched thumb almost every time. The loading gate is shaped like a two pronged fork, and pushing a new shell in with your thumb gives you a good pinch every time:


    Now for my bullet points:

    The Good:

    • Very easy to shoot
    • Low recoil
    • Tons of accessories to customize
    • No malfunctions to speak of
    • The gun looks mean as can be (burglars beware)
    • Excellent trigger
    • I really like the fiber optic front sight

    The Bad:

    • The first test gun I got had to be sent back, although I am not sure if I can blame Remington
    • Thumb slayer

    The Ugly:

    So if you are looking for a damn good autoloading 12 gauge shotgun and have a good chunk of change in your pocket to spend on one, the Remington Versa Max is a great option. While I am not a three gun shooter and do not rely on a shotgun for everyday life, I probably don’t need such a nice, fancy, expensive shotgun, but that doesn’t mean you don’t!

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.