Tristar Raptor Youth Shotgun–Pink Gun Review

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When the Guns America editor handed me a youth shotgun in Muddy Girl, that’s the pink camo stuff that girls are supposed to like, and asked me if I would review it, I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. So I turned in my man card and put this little scatter gun through the paces. Have you seen the Muddy Girl Camo? It’s mostly pink. But other than looking like something a Disney Princess threw up on, the TriStar was a surprisingly nice shotgun. I mentioned it was pink, right?

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If woodland pink is you thing, the Raptor is ideal. If not, it comes in other colors.

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If only Disney would give a princess a shotgun.

TriStar

After getting over—well I didn’t really get over it—the pink camo, the next part that puzzled me was the brand name. TriStar. This is the first TriStar I’ve reviewed. I’d heard something about them once at a big box sporting goods retailer. As I recall the guy behind the counter was showing one to another customer and commented that they were nice gas operated shotguns that were made in Turkey. He was showing him a Turkey gun, as in one for killing Turkey birds. I remember laughing in my head at the dumb joke. Other than that, I knew nothing about this company until I found myself holding on to a pink shotgun and saying some off color remarks to the editor. It is ok, we are friends, and I got to reclaim my man card later on a big 45-70 lever action for another review.

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The butt pad is squishy, which helps convince more sensitive shooters to pull the trigger a second time.

Anyways, think pink.

TriStar makes/imports a wide variety of shotguns. They have some very nice looking over under with gloss blued steel and walnut stocks. They also make some more utilitarian pump guns. And lots of in-betweens. I can’t vouch for their other guns, but if the Raptor model is any indication of the quality of their other lines, then these are some very well built and reliable shotguns.

The Raptor

The review shotgun is a Raptor model. The Raptors are gas operated semi auto shotguns. They make them in 20 and 12 gauge and with different barrel lengths. They also use the Berretta/ Bennilli style choke tubes so getting new tubes shouldn’t be a problem. The Raptor ships with the 3 most common chokes: improved cylinder, modified and full. They are chambered for 3 inch shells. Like most shotguns, the Raptor comes with a magazine plug for waterfowl hunting.

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The charging handle is generously sized, and the receiver is aesthetically clean.

The pink shotgun in this review is one of the youth model Raptors. It is offered in a regular camo pattern, black and the Muddy Girl like this one. They are only made in 20 gauge. The stock on the youth model (at 13 inches) is just over an inch shorter than the standard ones. This is not a huge difference in size–I’d assume it would be appropriate for teenagers who are growing into full sized guns, or smaller framed men and women. And it only weighs 6.5 pounds.

I could shoot it comfortably, although I was a little cramped and had to make sure to get my head down more than normal to keep from “peeking” over the barrel. But I am 6 feet tall. This is a youth shotgun and would fit a smaller person a lot better than me. It would be a bit big for most kids under 10, but then again–most 20 and 12 gauges are. It is a good middle ground, though, between the .410 and the 12, and much more effective for kids who will actually be hunting.

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The fit, as described, isn’t up to the standards of Holland & Holland, but it isn’t bad either. Almost all of edges join precisely.

Fit and Finish

The fit and finish on the TriStar Raptor is good. It is not great but it is good. That is a price point thing. This shotgun has an MSRP of around $450 and the street price looks to be around the $300-350 mark. The Muddy Girl is a 40-50 buck up-charge. There are a few tool marks and small blemishes in the finish but nothing too bad. The stock and forend fit nice and tight with no wobble or rattle. There isn’t much else to say about this, it is a heck of a lot of shotgun for $300-350. And remember the market. If something catastrophic happens to the gun, or if lessons of car and maintenance are slow to sink in, you aren’t going to mourn its loss the way you would with a gun with better fit and finish.

I have a distinct philosophy on this matter, and it begs a simple comparison. I’m a guitar player. The instruments I play aren’t the most expensive guitars made, but all of them are American made. They’re great working class guitars. I wouldn’t necessarily give one of these to a kids who was just learning how to play a guitar. For that there are much cheaper guitars made in Japan, Korea, and Mexico that are fully functional–functionally identical, and (thanks to CNC machines and good skilled workers) great guitars.

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The gas system is very easy to disassemble and clean, and even easier to understand–which is great for teaching new shooters how things work.

That middle ground is now made up of amazing instruments. Hard to believe, sometimes, but true. I’m not talking about the press board crap you can buy for $100 in a big box retailer that also sells groceries and tires. Sadly, that’s where a lot of people think they are supposed to start. So they pay $100 for a guitar and more for lessons, and the kids give up because it hurts to play the pieces of crap and they can’t figure out how to tune a guitar that won’t stay in tune, and all of that money is flushed down the proverbial drain. The kids get discouraged because they think what they had was a guitar. It wasn’t. It was crap.

TriStar is making that middle ground. This gun works incredibly well, and it doesn’t break the bank. The fit and finish may be in-line with what you’d expect form this price range, but the gun shoots as well as a lot of shotguns that cost four or five times as much.

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For being a youth model, it isn’t ridiculously small.

Shooting

I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how this shotgun ran. The recoil is very mild for a 20 gauge and a shotgun that only weighs 6.5 lbs. But that is what a gas operated shotgun is supposed to shoot like. However, a lot of gas guns have some trouble with different loads. This TriStar fed, cycled and ejected everything I fed it without troubles. From cheap light target loads to 3 inch Winchester buckshot it kept on chugging. This is what I’m talking about above. If a youthful shooter has any talent for shooting, this gun will meet those abilities.

I used the Raptor youth to shoot some clays. Once I adjusted to the stock being shorter than I am used to, I was able to dust clays without fail. If I did my part, the Raptor did its. That is all I ask for in a shotgun like this. I mean other than being a youth model, this is not a special purpose shotgun. In this set up it is very utilitarian. I would have no problem using this gun to shoot clays, ducks, squirrels, doves or any other critter that was laughing at the fat bearded man with a little pink shotgun. And the wide variety of chokes available mean that new shooters can really hone their abilities and begin working on more advanced skills and hunting.

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The reduced length of pull is noticeable for taller shooters.

The Wife

I happened to have the Raptor Youth with me when my wife and I took a trip down to our cabin. When I pulled it out of the truck, she was confused. At first she thought I had bought her a pink shotgun. My wife doesn’t hate pink, but it is far from her favorite. She is a blued steel and walnut girl—yet another reason why I love her . But after her relief that I hadn’t lost my mind, and after she pulled herself off the floor from laughing at the thought of me reviewing a pink shotgun, we took it out and ran a couple of boxes of shells through it.

I asked her what she thought of it. “Ehhh, other than the stupid camo that no self-respecting girl will actually like, it is a shotgun.” I asked for clarification. “It shoots well, fells pretty good and it works,” she said. There you have it folks–the whole review in 9 words.

I think she summed it up perfectly. This is not a fancy shotgun. But it works very well. I want to check out some of the other shotguns from TriStar now. If they work as well as this one, they are a great bargain gas operated shotgun.

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“Hey Sam. How do you like that fancy pink scattergun?”

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“You know. For kids!”

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The plug is accessible just under the retaining cap.

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This plug is easy to remove, and allows for three more shells to be inserted.

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Such a simple device. Hard to believe it works so reliably well.

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The gas ring inside the gas block.

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The action bar.

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The gas seal on rides over the magazine tube and is easy to clean and maintain.

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The sight rail is matte, and made of small checkered lines.

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The deep inset lines lead the way to the front fiber optic bead.

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The available chokes make the Raptor even more versatile.

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Made in Turkey. Good for turkey.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Neal Cooper November 11, 2016, 10:33 am

    I have two of the Tristar shotguns the first being a pump riot type and the most recent the Semi-auto VIPER!
    1. Neither has ever failed to perform.
    2. The Viper in dark shadow grass camo is mostly impervious to my Kodiak Alaska weather.
    3. Both out of the box are absolutely flawless in function- But I have to say that the riot gun shoots
    what it was intended to shoot. The Viper semi-auto is designed and used to take game and larger
    birds so I use 3″ Mag 000 thru # 4 shot for taking dinner.
    4. I just happened to be in a friends gun shop when the first VIPER showed on the rack. When I put it to my shoulder
    it fit like it was made for me. The ducks have been falling out of the skies on a very regular basis since.

  • prudence dorsey September 9, 2015, 10:02 am

    That still don’t answer my question can it kill a deer and what kind of slugs can I use in it

  • prudence dorsey September 9, 2015, 10:02 am

    That still don’t answer my question can it kill a deer and what kind of slugs can I use in it

  • courtney March 29, 2015, 5:23 pm

    Just bought my daughter,age ten, the raptor in flat black. We weren’t aware that it came in any other colors as true to my form I read reviews after I purchase something. But we were searching for her a shotgun for the coming spring turkey hunt and this one fit her better than any other we found. So now in reading this I find the author be berated for not offering a more diverse test in whether girls like the muddy girl camo. In the interest of helping defray the argument I took a pole in my mostly female household. Me being the only male. Females were girlfriend,age 42. daughters age 16 and 10. two daughters friends age 15 and 11. so we have a pretty good cross section of femal opinion. The girlfriend was the only one who liked the muddy girl camo. The others liked the flat black. I would just as soon paint the gun myself but daughter says no.

  • Gary November 17, 2014, 9:00 pm

    Trisler reviews Tristar?
    Tris**r reviews Tris**r
    I see why your editor wanted you to review this gun.
    That being said
    .
    This is exactly what a gun review should be.
    You put the gun through its paces and verified that we get a reliable fully functioning and versatile shotgun with no major flaws or shortcomings for $300. Thats what I need to know. If anyone spends more for a shotgun they need to have a good reason.

    • Sam Trisler November 20, 2014, 8:15 am

      Ha! I didn’t notice how my last name and Tristar lined up. That is funny.
      Thank you for the kind words.

  • Jim Freeman November 17, 2014, 7:05 pm

    Does it come in left hand model?

  • Richard November 17, 2014, 3:17 pm

    I like the looks and the review. What is not discussed, unless I missed in article is what to do or return if shotgun does not work as promised. I have a over under (over $700) provided by Tri-Star, I nor any other better shooters than me could hit anything after the barrels heated up. I asked at a gun store early this year, 2014, that sells TRi-Star and was informed there is no warranty or return policy or program for Tri-Star firearms. They may have one now.

    • Adam November 23, 2014, 8:00 pm

      Rich, when did you buy your o/u and which one is it? TriStar’s warranty is five years. You’re saying a gun store clerk told you the gun comes with no warranty??????

  • Bill November 17, 2014, 12:50 pm

    I have a Tristar 20 gage automatic shotgun that has NEVER worked with “light target loads.” If I use high brass, the action cycles. But low-brass, inexpensive Winchester or Federal #8 shot? Forget it. The empties don’t eject and the new shells don’t feed. And yes, this gun is CLEAN. I am scrupulous when it comes to gun cleaning. This is my first and last automatic shotgun. I’ll stick to pumps, which I KNOW will work.

    • Scott Nelson November 17, 2014, 6:53 pm

      Bill, have you given Tristar’s customer service (816-421-1400) a call about this yet? There is a possibility they can do something for you to make you happier. I’ve called and/or emailed the customer service departments of many companies; ammo, firearm, reloading and accessories, stores and others who deal with the shooting public, and been very pleased by how well they treated me. I don’t work for any firearm manufacturer or importer but if you give Tristar a chance to help you out, you might be very surprised.

  • Doug November 17, 2014, 11:20 am

    Adults speaking for the likes and dislikes of the little girls or young ladies this gun was made to appeal to is ridiculous. It’s a kid’s gun. Did you ask any young ladies what they thought of the pink camo? No, and that means your review fell short of being complete. The girls this gun is designed to appeal to won’t understand a single word of what you have written. They will understand whether it is visually appealing to them, and whether it gives them a unique connection to their shotgun.
    A good review for the adult who might be looking for a youth shotgun though.

    • Dirk November 17, 2014, 4:02 pm

      He did say he let his wife review the gun, and she said the pink needed to go, but the gun was good. So there was a little female input and review.

    • Sam Trisler November 20, 2014, 8:21 am

      My 11 year old daughter is not ready to move up to a shotgun this size or I would have let her review it. However, I should have quoted her in this article but I failed to make the connection. Here is what she has to say about pink guns in general:”why would I want a pink gun? That makes them look like a toy, guns are not toys”. A small sample size to be sure, but a very mature opinion from an 11 year old girl.

  • Jesse November 17, 2014, 9:43 am

    I’ve got a 20g youth raptor in all black. It’s a great gun for the money, and a perfect way to introduce younger and smaller humans to the sport of shotgunning without the fear of a lot of recoil.

    Try shooting with both eyes open for better luck hitting moving targets with a scattergun.

  • John L November 17, 2014, 9:05 am

    Turned in your man card? I think shooting a pink shotgun gives you extra man card points! A man carrying a pink shotgun out to the range is telling the world he ain’t afraid of nothing. 🙂 Thanks for a good review.

  • Steve November 17, 2014, 8:40 am

    I would like to see a Tri Star Viper Sporting review with a high shell count 5 or 6 K

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