TriStar Tactical Shotgun is an interesting addition to the gun world. I know many will reject it immediately for being a bullpup, and that is fine, but having had a chance to play with a 12 gauge bullpup was a welcomed exit from the gun world standard. Every time I took this shotgun to the range, people approached me asking about it, wanting to fire it.
A coworker told me “it looks like a gun from Halo”, but a toy, it is not! It is a bullpup version of the AKM 12 gauge. The TriStar Tactical Shotgun is a 30″ shotgun sporting a 20″ barrel! A 12 gauge with a 3″ chamber, adjustable gas block, adjustable choke on top of being magazine fed. This cool little shotgun comes in at 8 pounds. All of these features covered in a thick polymer shell.
The standard stamped receiver is coated both inside and out. It was good to see a thoroughness in production. The receiver was standard in width and had good welds and all rivets where even. The trigger, when removed from the shell, is standard.
The TriStar Tactical Shotgun has an adjustable gas block. Regulating the gas allows you to adjust the recoil. The downside is this limits the ammunition you can run. Different ammo, different gas pressures. For this review, I tuned it for Federal 00 buck. It was comfortable, not the recoil of standard 12 gauge. As expected, following the adjustment it would not cycle with lighter birdshot loads. A warning, with the now comfortable recoil, you will go through MUCH, much more ammo. More on the gas block in the conclusion.
The trigger is not the horrific mess that you hear about when people discuss bullpups. The lower of the bullpup case has a heavy gauge wire that links the actual trigger to the trigger on the receiver. It allows an acceptable trigger break and a little rough reset. The real problem in reassembly. No words that my editors would allow can describe correctly reassembling the lower trigger assembly. If you get one, do not take the receiver out of the lower shell. The good news is that cleaning and maintenance will not require ever doing this hellish task.
The TriStar Compact comes with two magazines. The magazines that arrived with the shotgun are made of heavy polymer, single stack with metal feed lips. Although the TriStar site does not address it, the magazines look identical to some Saiga magazines. I reached out to our contact and confirmed it is compatible with Saiga magazines.
One issue I had was seating the magazine. Finding the initial seat is difficult. Many who fired it thought so as well. The outer shell appears to make it harder to find the seat. Also, the large external shell calls for an extended magazine release. The metal used for the mag release does appear to be a bit on the thin side, therefore may cause a problem.
The entire package
This is certainly a unique shotgun. Esthetically it is very different but brings a certain modern appeal. Built on the AKM platform yet, looks nothing like it, but functions just as well. I am impressed by how such an old platform can be transformed into such a modern look, and still be completely functional. It is functional, and with understanding proper gas block adjustment, it runs comfortably.
The is a magazine fed, semi-automatic 12 gauge with a 20″ barrel in a 30″ package. That is a whole lot of maneuverable firepower. So much so, it sits in my bedroom.
A few lesser findings should be noted. Most revolve around the shell. Disassembly of the shell requires removing a number of pretty small hex head screws. Just not to be easily removed, but easily lost. The height of the shell requires the longer mag release which is made of metal too thin to not be bent over time. It should be mentioned I did not have that problem.
Getting to the gas block requires some disassembly. As I said this can be rather laborious. Although an adjustable gas block can make the gun much more comfortable to fire, it also limits the variety of ammo you can run through it with the expectation of it cycling correctly.
A very new twist on an old gun, I enjoy shooting this shotgun. This interesting 12 gauge is pretty cool, and comfortable to fire more than one magazine through it.
I liked it enough to keep in my bedroom. If you get a chance check out the TriStar Tactical Shotgun.