Buy one on GunsAmerica: http://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=vepr%2012
Get the scoop on the AK pattern shotguns: http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/5-ass-kicking-ak-shotguns/
Check out the VEPRs at Atlantic Firearms: https://www.atlanticfirearms.com/vepr-12-gauge-shotgun2
AK platform shotguns are nothing new. They have been around for over a decade. Traditionally these shotguns are imported into the United States. Being the land of the free and home of the brave, you would expect more from the guns being imported. Sadly the AK variant shotguns we have traditionally received are neutered, bastardized, and (in my opinion) destroyed before they ever make it into our hands. The industry refers to these abominations as “sporterized.” Think of it like this–some AK shotguns are built, reconfigured, imported, then rebuilt. The more people you have involved in the process, the more likely it is that you will see a screw-up.
They leave a lot to be desired in their import friendly form. Yet these guns have supplied a great base to build upon–if you have the time, talent, and/or money. But the soul of the gun is strong and the potential is there. What do you do if you want a gun, and not a summer project?
The Molot Vepr 12 isn’t like previous AK platform blasters. It hasn’t been neutered. It isn’t bastardized. In my considered opinion, the Vepr is better than the best Saiga 12 or other AK platform shotguns. It packs the same punch, but does it at a much more economical price point. These guns are ready to go out of the box–and in their original configuration.
Specifications and Features
- 12 gauge – 2 ¾” or 3”
- Self regulating gas system
- 5 round box magazine
- 18 inch Barrel
- 38.5′ Overall
- Fixed Tubular Stock
- Railed top cover
- Chrome lined barrel, chamber, receiver shaft and gas chamber
- Last round bolt hold open
- External threading for chokes
- Adjustable front and rear sights
- Rubber check pad/ riser
The Vepr 12 is very similar the standard Kalashnikov shotgun. It uses similar parts but works off of a stronger foundation. Built around an RPK receiver, these guns are more or less an AK on steroids. Beyond the thicker steel, these guns also sport other RPK inspirations–notable the handguard and rear sight; the rest is just classic AK design.
What sets the Vepr 12 above its competition are its 21st century features–things like its last round bolt hold open, competition inspired mag well and straight insert magazines. It also has a railed top cover and an auto adjusting gas system. These features make the gun ergonomic. They make the gun much more efficient. To have these features added to a stock AK platform shotgun could cost more than buying a Vepr 12 and a half.
Shooting the Vepr 12
Shooting the Vepr 12 is a lot like shooting any other semiautomatic shotgun. The recoil is tame. The controls are a bit stretched out and the ammunition never seems to last as long as you think it will. Unlike other autos, loading the Vepr has been greatly simplified.
It feeds from 5, 8, or even 12 round magazines. Reloading is very similar to other AK platform shotguns with the exception of two beautiful features found on the Vepr. Because of the last round bolt hold open and a magazine well, mag changes are fluid and effortless. There is no need for the awkward sequence of locking the bolt back, rocking in a magazine, and then releasing the bolt. It’s as easy as ejecting the empty magazine, inserting the fresh magazine, and pressing the bolt release.
Recoil in the Vepr is mild and, with out a doubt, manageable. The gun incorporates a few things to help manage recoil. A rubber recoil pad is molded onto the stock and there is a rubber check riser to help shield your face from the metal tube. All-in-all, the improvements help make what would be a questionably painful experience some what pleasant.
How well does it pattern?
Accuracy of smooth bore shotguns has never really been anything special. With standard or cylinder bore shotguns, all you can ask for is a decent pattern. The Vepr is no exception to this generalization. It produces a modest 8-inch pattern at 10 yards and a not so impressive 12 inch pattern at 20 yards. If you require tighter groups, or just want a slightly better pattern, it is threaded for chokes.
Slugs, on the other hand, are a more accurate option. Making hits on a human sized steel plate at 20 yards is easy. Moving out past 50 yards, the gun is still capable of producing solid and consistent hits.
Ergonomics and AK platform anything don’t exactly jive. Purists like the AK the way it was originally produced, but everybody can agree that it is outdated. The Vepr attacks the design flaws and brings the gun up to date. Starting at the back, the gun sports a rubber butt pad as well as the 3 position padded check rest we talked about earlier. The last bit of added comfort is a finger-grooved plastic pistol grip.
The rest of the upgrades are focused on function. The Vepr has an upgraded safety lever that allows you to switch the gun off safe with out shifting your hand. It is a bit uncomfortable to use, but is very functional. The gun also has a ribbed handguard that ensures positive traction in all conditions. Remember this is still an AK platform shotgun. Any major upgrades would most likely require a major redesign of the platform.
Wrapping it up
In the end the Vepr 12 is a lot like other AK platform shotguns. Like 1911s and AR-15s, there’s no way around the obvious similarities within the genre. But where the others left off in function, the Vepr picks up. It is the best version of the weapon and truly beats its competition by a mile in value. It retails for less than the cost of a converted or upgraded Saiga shotgun. Molot got it right.
But let’s step back and consider the Vepr and how it compares to other tactical shotguns. Is there a benefit to the design–something that the typical auto-loading tactical shotgun doesn’t offer? I think so. It functions more like a rifle. If you aren’t accustomed to loading a magazine tube, but know how to load a rifle mag, this gun will feel much more intuitive. And it is fast. On top of that, you have unfailing reliability and the ease of maintenance that the AK platform is known for.
One last thing. I’m a realist. I’m not a fear monger. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Vepr’s future isn’t really clear. It’s not clear if these guns will be affected by future government sanctions (like the Saigas). The supply could dry up the next time the President picks up his pen. That’s what happens to kickass imported guns. If you’re on the fence about the Vepr 12, now may be a good time to pounce.
Read a review of the FastFire here: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/burris-fast-fire-iii/