When I was first asked to review the Tri-Star KRX Tactical shotgun, I did a little research on the weapon and kind of scratched my head at the looks of it.
It appeared to me as if an M-16 got wet and grew a little bit, but I figured this could be a rather interesting challenge. I have always enjoyed shooting shotguns and, while I don’t shoot them as much as I used to, I still like getting out onto the range with a variety of ammunition to see if I can still plink like I once could.
I gave this assignment a big thumbs-up and patiently awaited the UPS driver to drop off the KRX Tactical shotgun.
ALL GROWN UP
I grew up shooting a lot of shotguns. Whether it was for clay targets on a myriad of different fields, hunting, or shooting multi-gun matches, steel and poppers, shotguns have always been a part of my life.
That said, I am a bit of a traditionalist with shotguns. Over and unders seem to be my go-to for hunting and shooting clay targets; the Remington 870 seems to be a great fit for patrol; and a Benelli fits right at home in a SWAT environment. Seeing the KRX had me wondering where this would fit in the shooting and tactical world.
After taking a look at what was neatly placed inside the shipping container, I did something that a lot of males do not regularly do: I grabbed the owner’s manual, and I read through it from front to back. I may have to turn in my “Man Card” for a couple of days, but I wanted to see what the factory had to say about this weapon.
Being an armorer instructor for Colt, I tend to want to know how things work, how they are taken apart and how they get put back together correctly. The instruction manual, with the accompanying photos, makes weapon disassembly and reassembly pretty simple. No special tools are needed; a clean workspace and some miscellaneous rags and oils are all you will need to take this apart and put it back together.
Picking this weapon up and taking a look at all of the parts it is shipped with, I am quite satisfied with the controls on the weapon itself. If you are used to the AR-15 or M-16 family of weapons, this shotgun will be very easy for you to pick up and use right away. A few magazines were shipped with this weapon; they look like a traditional M-16 magazine, but the magazine is on steroids compared to a standard M-16 magazine. The magazines hold five rounds of 12-gauge ammunition and can be swapped back and forth rather easily.
With a little more knowledge of the weapon, having taken it apart and put it back together, I decided to grab a few different boxes of ammunition and head out to the range. This semi-automatic, magazine-fed shotgun was new to me, and I decided there was no better way to christen this weapon than with some 00 buck ammunition.
The first set of five rounds were fired with 00 buck from PRIME Ammunition. The silver, plastic shotgun shells looked great in the black magazine, and I was eager to send these rounds toward the targets.
I first used the factory-supplied rear sighting syetem, which sits just like a removable carry handle on the M-16 and the factory-supplied front, which uses a red fiber optic. The combination front and rear sight worked just like most sighting systems we are used to, and the red fiber optic was rather easy to pick up.
Picking up this shotgun, which weighs just shy of 7.50 pounds, I locked the bolt carrier to the rear with the bolt stop on the left side of the weapon, and made sure the safety was set in the “on” position. Just like I do when shooting my M-16, I inserted the magazine by pushing up and pulling down, to make sure the magazine was fully seated. Once this was done, I used the bolt release on the left to send the bolt forward, picking up that first round of 00 buck.
With the range clear, I walked out to the 15-yard line to see how this ammunition would work with this weapon system. With a 20-inch barrel, I was unsure how nine pellets of 00 buck would pattern; so after the first round, I walked forward to see my target. To my surprise, a nice fist-sized group had pierced the target exactly where my front sight was pointing.
With that first round down the tube, I decided to run back to the 15-yard line and see how the semi-automatic capabilities worked out on this weapon. In what seemed like a fraction of a second, the remaining four rounds spewed out of the barrel like clockwork. Each pellet of each round hovered around that first shot that I had taken just a few seconds earlier.
Recoil, even with 00 buck, was very manageable.
BRING IT ON
“ … I fed the shotgun everything from slugs to 00 buck to birdshot, and all performed flawlessly.”
The next magazine was filled with PRIME Ammunition’s coated competition slug, which is also rifled. This slug uses a smooth bore for accuracy, and I was very eager to see how this ammunition worked with the TriStar shotgun.
The slugs weigh in at 400 grains, and a full magazine of these slugs made for a weighty mag. Starting at 15 yards, I decided to work backward toward the 50-yard line to see how these slugs shot with this shotgun and the red fiber-optic front sight.
From 15, I fired, then again at 25 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards and finally at 50. Walking forward, I began to see a pretty decent sized group at the center of the target. Both ammunition and shotgun performed very well, and they were rather accurate together.
With just a handful of rounds through this gun, I decided to amass a larger group of shotgun shells, and I was able to find five or six different rounds from different ammunition manufacturers.
Magazine by magazine, I fed the shotgun everything from slugs to 00 buck to birdshot, and all performed flawlessly. I was even able to find some three-inch magnums that I had used for waterfowl, and they performed very similarly, with no malfunctions or issues whatsoever.
Notes: Patterns measured at 15, 40 and 50 yards
After putting close to 200 rounds through the shotgun with relative ease and with the factory-supplied sights, I ran to my locker and grabbed an Aimpoint T1, and mounted it atop the rail.
The stock on the weapon is pretty much in line with the top portion of the rail, so the T1 is directly in your line of sight when looking down toward the end of the barrel. This is nice because you do not have to “rubberneck\” to search for your sighting system. I am a big fan of the Aimpoint T1, and I think this optic is just about perfect for shotgun shooting.
Not wanting to shoot much more shotgun ammunition on day one, I decided to give my shoulder a break and split up shooting into a couple of days. Once home, I looked into the safe and found a Surefire 3V Scout light that I affixed to the rail underneath the forend. I figured my M-16 has the T1, as well as a Surefire light, and because I had real estate on the TriStar shotgun, I might as well set this up similarly.
Taking on a different look, the factory carry-handle and front sight were now off, and the Aimpoint T1 and Surefire light were now ready to go for round two.
With some more PRIME Ammunition and a bag full of other shotgun shells in different flavors, I headed out to the range for day two of shooting. Surprisingly, my shoulder was not in bad shape—it just had some slight redness and a small bump from the day before. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to roll right into trying to zero the Aimpoint on the KRX.
From the 25-yard line, I threw a few slugs down the barrel and, after a couple of quick adjustments, I was pretty close to being where I wanted to be.
With the TriStar shotgun pretty much set up like my M-16, I decided to run some drills that I shoot on a pretty routine basis. Setting up different sized targets at different yardages, I worked a series of slugs with pretty decent accuracy and within some pretty tight timeframes.
Working with this shotgun, I found it very nice that the controls—the safety, bolt catch and magazine release—were all in the same areas as an AR-15 or an M-16. This is great for somebody who is looking for this type of shotgun, and who already shoots an AR-15; the transition would be very quick. The only thing you need to get used to is the difference in the recoil.
“The trigger reset on the KRX is very quick, which allows for rapid follow-up shots.”
Working with the controls on the weapon during magazine changes is exactly the same with your AR-15. I began to work different drills that locked the bolt to the rear on an empty magazine, and I was able to transition to a new magazine and get the weapon up and running with relative ease.
One of the things I noticed with this shotgun was that if your safety is in the “on” position, you cannot pull the bolt carrier to the rear. This is nice, as when it is locked in place, it cannot be snagged on anything on your person or in and around the area where you are working.
The trigger reset on the KRX is very quick, which allows for rapid follow-up shots. As soon as you fire and reacquire your sights, you can press the trigger and get everything back up and running rather quickly.
As my second day came to an end, my shoulder was definitely feeling a bit rawer. I figured I best put everything away and do a final cleaning before this shotgun got placed back into the box for shipping.
Again, the TriStar shotgun came apart rather easily, and within a matter of minutes, the weapon was cleaner than it had been just an hour or so before. Having the manual nearby just in case you forget a step is nice, as the instructions and photos are very easy to follow.
Looking back and thinking about how this shotgun performed, I am overall very pleased. This particular weapon is made in Turkey, and I am equally impressed with the fit, form and function of the KRX Tactical shotgun. Looking a bit more into Tri-Star, I found that the company is still family owned, which is very nice to see. It has quite a decent following, and the company is just about to celebrate its silver anniversary of being in business.
I would also say that it the KRX would fit into a myriad of roles. Three-gun matches, multi-gun matches, recreational shooting or for use in law enforcement—this shotgun can fill quite a few different roles.
The felt recoil on the shotgun is a bit less than others, and I think that is due to this particular shotgun being gas operated. With a retail price tag of $595, this could fit into a lot of budgets. The only thing I would add to this would be a couple more magazines, which can be picked up from your local dealer or from the company directly.
If you are in the mood for a shotgun that can fill all types of roles, take a look at the KRX Tactical shotgun. I think you will also be impressed.
Tri-Star KRX Tactical Shotgun
Magazine: 5 + 1
Overall Length: 41 inches
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Weight: 7.40 pounds
Sights: Removable front sight
Rails: Picatinny rail along the top; rail on bottom to attach lights and accessories
Chamber: 3 inch
Choke: Removable tactical style
Finish: Matte black finish
Frame Material: Aluminum
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the November-December 2016 print issue of World of Firepower Magazine.