Tristar Viper G2 28 Gauge—Perfect for Field and Hunting

By Ace Luciano published on in Firearms

I fell in love at the 2014 shooting hunting and outdoor trade show media day at the range. The object of my affection is highly attractive, trim, slim and dainty little thing, has beautiful curves, and sends a charge through me the moment after she brushes my cheek, but don’t worry—my wife is already well aware of my affair.

TriStar-Logo-Gradient_small

You see, I have an affinity for beautiful shotguns. I also have a particular affinity for the 28 gauge. Normally, that means something with two barrels, a fancy stock, and the departing of several thousand dollars from my bank account. Thanks to Tristar, that may no longer be the case.

The 28 gauge has a rabid and loyal following, mainly due to its unique combination of light weight, extreme pointability, almost no recoil, and superb patterning for both the field and the range. Introduced by Parker Brothers in 1903 in one of its venerable side-by-sides, it has a bore size of .550 inches. Compare that to the bore of a 12 gauge at .729 (and some even larger), and the 20 gauge at .615, and you may feel a bit under-gunned.

While the .410 is often used as a youth gun due to it’s lack of recoil, it is actually a shooter’s gun that takes dedicated practice to be proficient due to the low pattern density and tendency to “string out” a bit—not so with the 28. As a matter of fact, there are those that would argue the 28 gauge is the best blend of shot amount, mild recoil, and pattern density. I fall into that camp.

There are many different options available in 28 gauge, but many are simply guns built on a 20 gauge platform and chambered for 28 gauge. The best 28 gauges are built “true to frame.” That means they are built on a platform designed specifically for the 28 gauge. As one can imagine, this can add significantly to the cost of a gun as machinery has to be calibrated specifically for that new frame and caliber.

Tristar Viper-G2-Silver-28ga


TriStar has stepped up once again to prove their motto of “The Value Experts” in making a semi-automatic 28 gauge that is built on a true 28 gauge frame.

TriStar has stepped up once again to prove their motto of “The Value Experts” in making a semi-automatic 28 gauge that is built on a true 28 gauge frame. On a test range where I was able to shoot literally hundreds of different shotguns over the course of the day, the TriStar Viper G2 was the one I kept returning to because I enjoyed it that much. Several boxes of ammo, and many crushed clay targets, convinced me that this will be one of my next purchases. (Plus, at an average price of 14.99 per box of range ammunition, it was nice to have someone foot the ammo bill for a while!)

Tri-Star more than makes up for this by bringing the price of this new entry to the 28 gauge market at an MSRP of $689. Realistically, you should be able to pick one up for under $600. That alone is tremendous. It’s also hard enough these days to find a bargain-priced firearm that looks and performs well that can also hold up to years of shooting in a 12 or 20 gauge configuration, let alone a 28 gauge. Tristar has certainly accomplished that. Couple that with the company’s standard five-year unlimited warranty, and you have all the excuses you could ever need to add another gun to the cabinet.

What do you think of the 28 gauge as an upland and clay target gun? Let us know in the comment section.

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Comments (11)

  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas

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    I don’t know, Ace. I’ve never had, or fired one, but the concept seems like it would be very much, like you indicate. I don’t shoot much at all anymore, and that’s a shame, but most of my life, had a secret love affair for the 16ga, so I can sympathize with you. I acquired an Iver Johnson Champion at around twenty two years old or so, and still have it forty years later. With a full choke, and two shells between my teeth, I taught myself how to Quail hunt, without a dog. The .410 has always been a favorite for me, as well. At fifteen, I’d take my Winchester model 42 down to the creek on my bike, and shoot at floating cans and bottles, and once, one in our neighborhood gang came up with a case of clay pigions. We had no thrower, but we didn’t let that stop our fun. We took turns, throwing them up like frizbies for each other, and I remember smoking my 12 and 20ga toting friends with my model 42. Wish I still had that one, I let it get away from me twice, but that’s another story. Over the years, I have owned a Winchester Super X Model 1, and a Remington 1100 Waterfowler, I guess it was, both 12ga, both long bbl, both full choked heavy guns, with beautiful wood and bluing, but I let those get away as well. Nowadays, if I were invited to shoot shotguns, two in the closet that come to mind are both 870s. One is a 20ga Light Weight, with 28″ modified, and the other is a 26″ improved cylinder .410, both with vent rib barrels, and the beautiful old style wood and bluing we grew up with. Would I want to use them to push down the top strand of barbed wire, as I straddled a fence? Absolutely not! But while these aren’t highly prestigious and expensive guns, I would feel comfortable and well equipt on any sporting exercise I ever expect to encounter. I’m not a Duck hunter, but do have a desire to own an H&R Ultra Slug Hunter, and hope to fulfil that desire soon. Most of my 12ga guns are now relegated to tactical defense. Would I like to try your 28ga to see if you could convert me? Absolutely. But, for my infrequent sporting opportunnities, the .410 and 20ga are a blast to shoot. I’ve always heard that the .410 is for beginners, and experts. I agree. (No pun intended. Maybe I should have said: a hoot to shoot.)

    Reply

  • Richard from AZ

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    Bill I agree with you in that the 28 gauge just doesn’t interest me. However, I’m very glad that the article was written, because I didn’t even know what a 28 gauge was.
    Bill, your comments about the 16 gauge are very intriguing to me. Can you reply and give any technical, ballistic, or comfort level reasons on why you like the 16 gauge? The shoulder kick on the 12 gauge sometimes can be annoying to me, so it makes me wonder if maybe the 16 gauge may be the best overall?
    Richard

    Reply

    • GRA

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      In my opinion the 16 gauge is the best field gun. I have both a single-shot Winchester with a 28″ modified choke barrel and a Gorasabel 27″ SXS double choked modified and “improved modified” and I can bag doves all day with 7.5, 8, and 9 shot. Moderate recoil with plenty of shot capacity per shell. Excellent for birds or skeet. I am curious about the 28 guage. Sounds iinteresting enough. Might need to try one out.

      Reply

  • AM

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    I have shot a Ruger Red Label o/u 28 ga. for years and it is my favorite upland game gun. Typically I hunt my Red Label 28 ga. on day one of a hunt, and go to the Citori 12 ga. on day two. The first day is often a little rough to get dialed in, but by the end of the day, I am bringing birds down that others have missed. Look out on day two. Nothing gets away. I have a long affinity for my 28 ga, and invariably hunting partners ask to shoot it. It is a dream to carry and to swing. I wholeheartedly concur with the article and author’s assessment.

    Reply

  • JohnnyFM

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    Nice to see a new specifically designed 28!
    I hunted many years with a Franchi Falconette O/U in 28 ga and killed more birds and rabbits with that gun than any other. The 28 will kill just as effectively as the bigger bores within it’s useful range. That useful range being a 24 inch pattern out to 30 yards. I have mod and full chokes on that double (28 inch bbls) although the late and great author Don Zutz preferred IC and Full chokes on his two barrel 28s. From my experience, using #6 shot and a 3/4 oz load, the 28 knocks pheasants just as dead as a 12 ga.
    When properly designed to scale for its gauge, the 28 is THE gun for youth and smaller framed adults. It is such a light and naturally pointable gun that endears it to those who give it an honest try.
    Regards.

    Reply

  • John

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    I bought this thing last year for shooting skeet and sporting clays. I got mine after all was said and done for $605. The fit and finish is great. The functioning is flawless. I crush clays with it. It’s sharp looking and it throws a superb pattern. Being a gas gun you have to clean it (especially if you handload with unique like I do). I must have 4000 rounds through it and it’s held up very very well. This shotgun truly punches above its weight class. The other 12 shotguns in my safe have gathered a lot of dust since I bought this. Oh yeah it’s great for squirrels doves rabbits and anything else that needs a lead sandwich.

    Reply

  • Gimparoo

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    I grew up shooting a 28 and a 32 Gauge Shotguns, well I had a 16 Remington, but loved shooting my GrandFathers 28 Gauge and 32 Gauge. They were perfect for Dove and Quail. Not the overkill of a 12 Gauge. I had a few of those, but preferred the smaller gauges because it was more skill involved than blast and pick up your kill. Shooting Clay was more of a skill than a 12 gauge. Just enough kick to let you know it was still a shotgun, just not an over gauged blaster.
    Like my GrandFather would tell me, use the right tool for the job. 12 gauge has its place, but not needed if you have the skill for shooting a smaller, tighter pattern and less shot count….

    Reply

  • Randall Thompson

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    I totally agree with the author on the 28 gauge. I have carried a Benelli Legacy 28 semi-auto for the last several years and it has gotten to be my favorite upland bird gun. It crushes pheasants and at 4.5 lbs, an older hunter like my self can carry it all day with no discomfort. And with minimal recoil, shooting clays all day are no problem.

    Reply

  • Ace

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    I was actually first introduced to a 28 gauge in college by none other than the great Phil Borjaily, the shooting editor for Field & Stream magazine.
    Phil was a member at the trap club where my college club team practice, and patiently tolerated our hundreds of questions that pestered him each time we saw him there.
    We saw them testing an over and under 28 gauge, I believe it may have been a Beretta, and he let us try it.
    Back in those days, I didn’t have a lot of extra cash around, and was shooting two different pump guns at everything,both 12 gauge. I still have both of those guns, but remember being extremely envious of that Beretta.
    Ironically, in my entire arsenal I now have only one over under.
    A 20 gauge CZ.
    I have always been of the persuasion that you can’t shoot a triple with only two barrels!
    I have a 20 gauge use Viper that my 11-year-old daughter shoots, and she loves it.
    We are going to have to make some room in the safe, I think.

    Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    I AM A 28 GA AND MY PRESENT PROJECT ARE ANY OLD IVER JOHNSON CHAMPION SINGLES.
    THEY WERE ALSO SOLD AS “EXCEL” AND “MONITOR.
    IT is increasingly hard to find parts but luckily one can hand make all innards and woods..
    As youth had both a 28 champion old original and it served duty for snowshoes grouse jumping ducks and my favorite hounds and I upon cotton taols on the run.
    My presnt was going to be special gift but found weak spot in brl, good process at new machine manufacturing cost 5$. At plant.
    My deer guns were J.C. Higgins bolt and single 16 ga with full chokes..
    Once had Cha.pion single in 410 and 28 ga and while I never measured barrel length that 410 had lo gest brl of any shotgun except for market guns over 10 ga.that old 410 was a tight choke and a gunners gun for sure.
    A 28 double is what I want but my personal single is perfect for Washington States large Blue and Spruse grouse..
    yup a spare shell between fingers and one in mouth waiti g in freezing cold Maine as ducks set; surprisingly fast to down a triple.
    A 28 is not just odd toy it is a damn great all around shotgun.
    Might be interested in this auto but only after those “gottahaves” get tired and they sell cheap..

    Reply

  • google.com

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    What’s up, for all time i used to check website posts here
    in the early hours in the dawn, as i love to learn more and more.

    Reply

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