I have been looking for a starter shotgun for 13 yr old daughter to begin clay shooting. During the search she shot a Benelli Cordoba, Mossberg Silver Reserve, Beretta 391, and a Ruger Red Label.
Most were too heavy excerpt the Cordoba. I'm sure there were lighter versions of all models but price was a factor. I just could not afford to spend $1150 and upwards at this time on a starter gun.
Through persuading from a local gun dealer I began to research the Tristar Viper. He had meet the owner at a gun convention and was impressed with the product. I did a search and could find very little except the usual you get what you pay for post ( and I understand that completely) but I decided to take a chance.
I had my daughter go with me to the gun shop and we looked at a $1200 Winchester and the $400 Tristar. She held them both and I ask her which she liked better. She said she liked this one OK (the Winchester) but liked the black one (Tristar) better but she knew it (the Tristar) was too expensive. Well I know looks does not have anything to do with how a gun shoots but the shotgun looks a cross between a Bennelli and the Beretta 391. It looks pretty pleasing to the eye, at least to me (but I am just a meat hunter and mostly owned Remington's and a solitaire Browning that stays in the box). But I like it and so does she!
Since I could not find many post about the gun I decided to call the company. I was turned over to a guy in Tristar customer services. I chatted with the guy @ customer services for about 15 min and was impressed with his demeanor and willingness to help and most of all candidness! I know they are there to sell their product but I liked the way he handled the call. I tried reaching Beretta forever, never even an e-mail.
I asked if he thought the Viper would handle the repetitiveness of shooting clays. He mentioned some upgrades that had been made on the new model, the Viper G2, and said it was built to be a lifetime gun. The upgrades include some manufacturing changes and something I was looking for a better recoil pad. The original Viper had a solid butt plate on the stock.
There was only about 3/10's of a pound difference in weight between the 20 ga. and the 12 ga.. My daughter is of average to small frame for a 13 yr old and we decided to go with the 12 ga and shoot lighter loads.The instructor said he would want to move her to a 12 ga as soon as possible if shooting a 20 ga. She has shot some in the dove field and does not seem to be recoil sensitive (actually on our first shoot this year she said " Dad I love the sound of the pump and the smell of gunpowder." My kind of gal!).The gun pull is a little long but this summer should be her growing spurt. I think it (the 12 ga.) turned out to be the right decision.
My 17 yr old son was the first to assemble the shotgun to take a look. When I talked to him he made reference to having a little trouble with the forearm piece. He dissembled it and put it back in the box for me to clean before shooting. When assembling it I saw what he was talking about. The forearm has little lips around the edge of the forearm piece to slid down and lock next to the receiver. This is unlike the Remington's we are used to dealing with and a little catchy at first but no problem. One other thing, I know they are proud of their product and want to get their name out, but I am not too fond of the embossed Tristar on the receiver. I would not like it if it were an embossed Beretta insignia or whatever. I would have preferred the company name on the receiver to blend in with the receiver
We cleaned the gun (which it was very clean except lube of course) and carried it too the clay range for practice. She had only shot at clays twice before this outing other than a few on a thrower @ home. She had shot a 870 pump (20 ga) in the past but they are not allowed to shoot pumps.
She fired the Viper G2 with ease. She feel in love with it (mind you it is her first gun)! She busted clays she had missed with the Ruger Red Label 20 ga (26 inch) the week before. Probably nothing to do with the gun but we were excited. It is recommended to shot a box of heavy loads through the gun first to loosen the recoil springs a little to help it cycle lighter loads. We cycled 75 heavy field loads 1 1/8 with no problems at all. I ask her was her shoulder sore, she said not at all. She had complained with soreness with the Ruger. I also ask the next day, she said no soreness.
We left the range all smiles with her proudly toting her Viper G2 safely against her shoulder with the action open for everyone to see as she had been taught.
A great day for DAD and Daughter!!!
We will keep you posted on the Viper G2! I will post pics of the Viper G2 later if you wish.