Utas Defence XTR 12
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- Last updated: 25/08/2017
There has been a relative rash of semi-automatic 12-gauge magazine fed shotguns coming out recently; a lot of them purport to be ‘AR like’. They may look like an AR but the UTAS XTR-12 not only looks like an AR but (and here’s the big BUT) it has the 6-lug rotating bolt working off a short stroke piston, driven by gas operation.
In essence, it is an AR-10 bolt scaled up to shoot shotgun shells. UTAS is not a name I have heard of before but being from Turkey I have no doubts that their manufacturing standards will be up to those I have found in other manufactures from that country, meaning they will be very good. In fact, their designs have been voted ‘Gun of the Year’ by the NRA’s American Rifleman Magazine in 2006 and again in 2007. The XTR-12 semi-automatic shotgun strips down for cleaning as easily and quickly as an AR. For the UK, it has a 24-inch-long 4140 stainless steel barrel; the barrel has been machined back at the pointy end with a recessed choke, a lot of the chokes I have did not fit, however they do supply an improved cylinder choke and a choke key, a full set of chokes will cost you extra. The action is made from lightweight magnesium/aluminium 7075- T6 alloy and they state it is made for 76mm (three inch) Magnum shotgun shell cases.
On getting the gun out of the box, it really is a beast of a gun; I had the OD green model to review but it also comes in Flat Dark Earth, a cool Burnt Bronze, Tungsten and you guessed it – AR black. The finish is Cerakote, so is hard-wearing and longlasting. The 24-inch-long barrel extends 356mm, like a pointy finger from the alloy vented hand guard. The guard has raised Picatinny sections on each side and each end, also under the front. This allows the owner to fit a forward grip, lights, lasers or even shot shell holders. The pistol grip is all AR, with a sliding bottom to reveal a compartment for batteries, Allen keys etc. – very useful. The adjustable butt stock is also pure AR, with five positions and 80mm of movement. The safety catch is in the normal AR position above the trigger and is ambidextrous, the lever on the left is shorter so as not to interfere with the grip for a right-handed shooter. Forward position is for safe; it has a white crossed out bullet detailed on each side of the action to indicate the safe position. The downward position is the fire position and there is a red coloured bullet here. Some owners still take the left-hand paddle off the safety as they don’t use it and still think it interferes with their grip. I had no issues with it personally, so left it on for my testing.
The magazine release again is in the AR position, just in front of the trigger on the right-hand side. There is also an action release button on the left. The action cocks with the normal AR double finger, pull back bolt (T-handle) on the top at the very rear of the action. The single, action release pin being of course at the rear bottom of the action, push this out from the left and the action splits open. The stainlesssteel rotating bolt and cocking handle can then be removed for cleaning. All this should be very familiar to AR owners, as I am also one. What was new to me was the gas piston that sits in a slot on top of the bolt, as long as you get everything lined up okay it goes back together as easy as it comes apart.
The gun comes with just one five-shot short magazine, a bit tight if you ask me. Ten-shot magazines are an extra 48-quid, Hmmm, and you will need at least three. The magazines fit in well but a tip for potential owners here, make sure that you insert then pull back down on the magazine, to ensure it is not over inserted, as this can cause feeding issues, as it did initially with me. Also, you can bend in the feed lips of the magazine to ensure centralised feeding, (thanks Nick for that tip). Another tip, keep the rims of the cartridges from overlapping as you load, as that will cause a jam, i.e. the top round goes too far back over the back on the one already in the magazine.
The first time I shot the ‘El Presedente’ drill with the XTR-12 (three targets, two shots on each, magazine change then two more shots on each) I did it in 4.98-seconds, 12 shots and a mag change in less than five-seconds first time shooting it, it’s a quick gun then!
As with all semi-autos, you need to fine tune it to the ammunition, F3 Fiocchi practical shooting ammunition seems to be what XTR-12s like, they are 67mm long. The box magazine is designed to take up to 76mm long Magnum cartridges, so it does not like the shorter 63mm shells. Also, as with all semi auto shotguns, don’t try using anything under a 28-gram shell; it needs the powerful cartridge to move the bolt backwards. For range testing, I fitted a Vortex SPARCII red dot sight on an AR height base. The massively long MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail on the top of the action will accommodate any range of sight you wish to use. The rail is 465mm long with 190mm of that on the action, the rest on the top of the hand guard. Of course, it does not have any form of bead sight on the gun, this is a purely practical/tactical shotgun. One thing I noticed was not to shorten the butt stock too much, as the rear of the cocking handle caresses the tip of your nose upon recoil.
I tested it with Geco 28-gram solid slug at 25-metres and it proved to be extremely accurate, even when just using a red dot. It shot ragged, one-hole groups once I had zeroed it in- very nice indeed. I would be tempted to fit a muzzle brake as well, as if you are going to use it for practical shotgun then you go straight into open class, so why not take full advantage and fit a brake?
Overall, I was impressed with the UTAS, if you are looking for a mag-fed shotgun that actually is based upon an AR action, then this is the one. The price is real value for money and a black one is only £899. Richard is now even doing a carbon fibre hand guard, which really does make a weight difference to the handling.
Thanks to Richard at Practical Shooting Supplies for help with production of this article.
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