The VR80: An AR-Patterned Shotgun Under $700 – SHOT Show 2019

The Rock Island Armory VR80 Semi-Automatic Shotgun.

While Armscor and Rock Island Armory are known for a lot of firearms, including some semi-automatic shotguns such as the VR60, this year they showcased something new.  Out at the 2019 SHOT Show Range Day, I had the opportunity to check out the highly-anticipated VR80.

So let’s start with what it is, it is a 12 gauge (3” chamber) shotgun.  But while the VR60 shares the lines and design elements of the old M16-A2, the VR80 takes its cues from the modern, more modular evolution of the AR platform.

To that end, the entire upper/lower receiver and forend are constructed of 7075 T6 aluminum.  Additionally, the forend features M-LOK compatible cuts at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions for mounting any accessories.  Not to mention sections of 1913 Pic rail at the very end of the forend for even more bells and whistles. 

The gas piston system can be seen through the M-LOK compatible sections cut into the forend.

The VR80 comes with folding iron sights, giving you the option to zero it and fire it straight out of the box, or simply lay the sights flat so that an optic can be used.

Something interesting with the VR80 is the incorporation of a fluted barrel shroud.  By design, the shroud helps dissipate heat and protect the user from a hot barrel.  As a byproduct of this, it makes the shotgun look, at first blush, like a suppressed AR-10.

The VR80 comes with flip up iron sights and a fluted barrel shroud to help dissipate heat.

While the stock and grip look pretty unconventional, this was done to allow the purchase of this rifle in states that aren’t the most gun friendly.  Talking about you California…  But, the beauty of the AR style of rifles is modularity.  The stock and grip can be removed and replaced with any standard AR compatible grip as well as any stock compatible with a Commercial Buffer Tube.

With respect to capacity, the shotgun ships with (2) 5-round magazines.  Nine round and 19 round magazines can be purchased as well.  Spoiler, the 19 round magazine is crazy long, but if you need all those round, it is a solution.

Pictured are the 5- and 9-round magazines on top of the 19-round magazines. The 19 rounders are looong!

Depending on your intended use, you can choke the VR80’s 20” barrel.  The shotgun comes with cylinder, modified and full choke tubes.  All the chokes are compatible with Benelli mobile chokes, should you be looking for other options.

The VR80 features ambidextrous fire controls.  Users can move the reciprocating charging handle can to the left or right side of the gun, depending on their preference.  

At the range I was able to put some rounds through the gun.  My first impressions, it is a pretty handy shotgun.  Shotguns can be difficult weapon systems to run.  For me, having cut my teeth on a M16-A2, the entire manual of arms on most shotguns is totally foreign.  But the VR80 capitalizes on the proven ergonomics of AR-patterned rifles.  This, for me at least, made it very easy to manipulate, as the controls largely mirror those rifles, save the side charging handle.

If you are familiar with AR-patterned rifles, the VR80 is very easy to operate.

So who is the market for this gun?  I can see it doing well for someone in the 3-Gun world, someone in the market for a home defense solution, or even someone just looking to have fun at the range.  The VR80 brings you all the power of a 12 gauge into a familiar and easily modifiable platform with a modest MSRP of $699.

Visit for more information on the RIA VR80 Shotgun.

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About the author: Ivan Loomis has spent a lot of time outdoors, backpacking and camping as well as extensive international travel. Eventually, he landed in the Marine Corps in the late 90’s. After a hiatus from the service to race the Baja 1000 a couple times, he reenlisted with the Air Force. Departing that he wound up in a large metropolitan Police Department for a spell before landing in the Security Contracting world.One constant through these experiences was gear and weapons. Having spent time in a lot of environments and with the opportunity to field a lot of equipment, he’s grown fond of well-made gear.He now shares those experiences, adventures, and knowledge through contributing articles and videos to various publications, including his own site:

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Cameron Stump June 28, 2019, 11:41 am

    I just bought the vr-80, as an AR fab I love the ar-15 ergonomics on this shot gun. Definitely will be getting the 9-19 round clips and a different stock and grip. But nothing bad to say about it what so ever. Shot about 60 3 inch shells out of it the 1st time didn’t jam once. Beautiful gun, rock island rocks, now I’ll go buy a rock island pistol!

  • Errasa April 26, 2019, 6:42 am

    Are you sure these are legal in California i.e. the bottom feed system?

  • Neil April 12, 2019, 2:05 pm

    Just got the VR 80 , when shooting 2 3/4 1 oz 7 shot shells it jams Everytime . Anybody know what’s going on. Winchester shells

    • Wes Sartain April 23, 2019, 11:01 pm

      You need to shoot a minimum of 1250 FPS shells and will run like a champ.

    • Lonnie C May 18, 2019, 3:14 pm

      I’ve had mine for a week. It jamed a couple of times during the 1st 10 – 15 round ( mix of 2 3/4″ and 3″ I havnt had any issues 20 – 25 rounds. I’ve gone through 150+ slug rounds and no issues.
      The vr80 is a Beast !!! Wainting on my 19 rnd. Mags.

  • Michael February 5, 2019, 9:24 am

    Looks like a viable option for 3Gun. My AR is also side-charging so great match-up. Rail makes it easy for red dot.

    Have to try one to see if it can take the beating of 3Gun!

    Jim, honest opinions are welcome. Being a jerk… not so much.

  • Alan Westphal January 28, 2019, 4:11 pm

    I wish they would shoot it with the 19 round magazines. If it is truly jam free in 2 3/4″ and 3″ shells when set for the right load, it would really be a great shotgun. The 5 round proves nothing. All semi autos work with their 5 round magazine tubes. Now, there is no way to find out about reliability with the 19 round magazine.

    • Greg February 6, 2019, 3:32 pm

      It will not shoot 3″ out of the 19 round mag, only 2-3/4. 3″ WILL shoot out of the 9 round mags. I recently bought one, and have been doing workups for my first 3 gun match with it. So far-so good I have one 19 round mag, 2 9 round mags and the 2-5 round mags that came with it. Only fault–the 5 round mags will not drop free without a real good shake.

  • AJ January 24, 2019, 7:27 pm

    Hmm.. bump stock compatible? Oh wait…

  • Robert Masten Jr. January 23, 2019, 3:29 pm

    forget that last comment, I need to learn to read.

  • Robert Masten Jr. January 23, 2019, 3:27 pm

    One thing no mention of adjustable choke, Rem interchangeable choke??

  • John cusano January 23, 2019, 10:42 am

    We’re clay martin

  • Trapper John January 23, 2019, 9:49 am

    I have a VR60. Any idea if my magazines will fit into the VR80 and vice-versa?

    • Mike Flippin January 24, 2019, 5:50 pm

      Yes the magazines are interchangeable.

    • G May 19, 2019, 2:25 am

      Yes they interchange

  • Trapper John January 23, 2019, 9:43 am

    Hey Jim. What they probably want are people who speak in civil terms. You sound too angry to own a shotgun, or any gun for that matter.

  • Cory Potts January 23, 2019, 7:54 am

    Someone should mention that any shotgun holding more than 3 rounds in the magazine makes it illegal to hunt dove, quail, chuckar, pheasant, etc. in most states.

    • Ed January 23, 2019, 10:19 am

      It would be an easy fix for Armscor to build a 3 round follower that could be changed out in the magazine to make it hunting legal.

      • Greg February 6, 2019, 3:33 pm

        They actually have a two round mag on the website

      • Scott April 14, 2019, 10:04 pm

        You can remove the magazine stop from the 9 round magazine and insert it in the 5 round and you lose 2 shell spots without having to buy another magazine

    • Sam Barnes March 24, 2019, 5:59 pm

      It comes with a magazine limiter so you can shoot three rounds.

  • Curtis Johnson January 23, 2019, 7:47 am

    Ordered one a week ago! Can’t wait to get it. Great review

    • Adam March 5, 2019, 11:48 pm

      Where did you order yours? Everywhere I look, they are out of stock.

  • Ryan K Blackmon January 23, 2019, 6:11 am

    What is up with dudes pants?!?! He had to loose a bet. LOL

  • Jim January 23, 2019, 5:51 am

    BORING! What an ugly gun! And a reciprocating side charger is REAL SAFE(hope you got that scarcasm!). Same stuff that everyone makes now except it’s piston operated. Other than that it’s a bare entry level gun at best! And FU to whom ever AALWAYS blocks my messages as if I can’t make up a new email!!!!!!!!!!! CENSORSHIP PUKES!!!!!! Guess you only want the FLUFFY posts where people ONLY LOVE the JUNK YOU CHOOSE to write about POORLY!

    • DIYinSTL January 23, 2019, 11:18 am

      The operating handle, what you call a reciprocating side charger, is and always has been a common part to semi-auto shotguns and non-AR platform rifles. It is perfectly safe.

      • gdogs January 23, 2019, 12:29 pm

        I suppose Jim has never spent any time behind a Remington 1100, or even a Benelli M4 LOL. Hell, even a 10/22 has a operating handle moving back and forth. If you can’t manage to run any of these safely, then you probably shouldn’t be operating any gun.

    • st15rexxx January 23, 2019, 11:43 am

      hey “Jim”, you sound quite angry (probably a common occurrence, since yer messages keep getting “blocked”); might I suggest decaf? or, a nice, hot, steaming cup of STFU? moron…

    • jarvisinak January 23, 2019, 1:03 pm

      Jim – STFU and go troll somewhere else!

    • Neil April 12, 2019, 2:13 pm

      Wtf gun are you looking at?? The VR 80 is a beast

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