Tristar Viper G2 PRO Review: The Value Viper
Tristar’s Viper G2 is a reliable and affordable option for shotgun fans, but is it all fangs and no venom? Let's find out!
Precision Rifle Expert
Licensed Concealed Carry Holder
Products are selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases from a link. How we select gear.
Possibly the only thing Americans love more than their firearms is a good bargain. That’s where our subject today enters the conversation. Tristar is a manufacturer and importer of firearms, and its motto is; The Value Experts. Today we will be reviewing the Tristar Viper G2 PRO 12 gauge shotgun.
While I love a good deal as much as the next guy, I get as uncertain as a $25 pistol when someone’s business approach focuses solely on affordability. I am lucky to have been somewhat spoiled over my career with some very nice firearms, so I find myself more motivated by overall quality than price alone.
We all know, however, that there are some excellent products out there that are quite affordable. So when I first approached this Tristar project, I was concerned about which end of the spectrum this gun would fall. The best case I anticipated would be that its performance was more than adequate for the modest price. The worst would have been for it to be cheap and unreliable, and with its price reflected in poor performance.
Like many other Turkish-made shotguns, the Viper features a handsome walnut stock. Something that even the finest shotguns also feature. While the Tristar brand claims to be affordable, they also stand behind their product with a five-year warranty. This inspires confidence that their value comes with more than just a good price tag.
Let’s see if this Viper is more slither than strike., shall we?
In This Article
The Viper line of shotguns is Tristar’s more popular product line and one they’ve been working on for some time. The reason Tristar stands behind their designs is that they are tested thoroughly and run through over five thousand rounds to test their functionality and durability.
The Viper series seems to have an incredible diversity of models; there seems to be one for every activity. Whether you plan on chasing waterfowl through the marsh, turkeys in the woods, or a round of sporting clays, there is a Viper model that will fit your purpose.
The Viper is a gas operated semi-auto, there is a ringed gas piston that sits inside the barrel boss. The magazine tube goes through the piston and boss, the end of which is threaded for the magazine cap to secure the whole assembly.
When the gun is fired, a portion of gas goes through a port in the bottom of the barrel and pushes the piston to the rear. The operating rod is connected to the bolt carrier at the rear, and at the front, it is yoked to a cylindrical ring that sits flush with the piston.
The return spring is coiled around the magazine tube and pushes the assembly forward after being kicked back by the piston under gas pressure. It’s a simple and effective design that has worked for countless shotguns.
The stock of the Viper is a beautiful Turkish walnut, both pieces of walnut are significantly lighter than I expected them to be. The receiver is Cerakoted in a handsome bronze color that contrasts nicely with the wood and the high-gloss blued twenty-eight-inch barrel.
The controls of the shotgun are very standard, and if you’ve shot any other semi-auto shotgun you will find them very familiar. The trigger and safety are located traditionally, with the triangular-shaped safety button at the rear of the trigger guard.
The slightly oversized charging handle has a knurled finish for a better grasp. And just underneath it, on the right side of the receiver, is the bolt release to send the bolt forward.
The Viper came with a set of chokes and a wrench to change the choke for whatever purpose you might have in store for it. Full, Modified, and Improved Cylinder are included. It also comes with a set of different shims to allow the user to adjust the angle of the buttstock to fit the shooter better.
At the end of the barrel, you will find a small orange fiber optic bead; these are very handy for lowlight conditions, as you might find around sunrise or in the poor weather when ducks are frequently hunted.
To review the Tristar Viper G2, I decided that spending the afternoon in the mountains with my family would be a great opportunity to get a feel for the Viper and compare it against a few other shotguns.
Both my wife and brother came along to help, we brought several boxes of shells and clays to make a good time out of it. We always prefer hand-thrown clays as compared to an automatic trap thrower, it adds a level of difficulty and fun to the game.
Throwing clay targets from various directions and angles gave quite the challenge. It better represents in my opinion real-world wing-shooting.
We brought a few boxes of Fiocchi and Remington sporting loads, all featuring No. 7.5 shot with both one-ounce and ounce-and-an-eighth loads.
For several hours we would swap positions between shooter and thrower, adjusting throwing positions all along. It took me a minute to figure out the lead with the Viper, but once I did there was a surprising amount of black dust in the air.
At some point during the shooting, I did swap out the choke to see how much difference it would make, that only seemed to increase the hit ratio of the Viper.
Shotgun accuracy is sort of a weird term. I guess the easiest way of looking at it is, does the pattern hit where you aim? Having shot the Viper quite a bit now, I would say that yes it does. Having an interchangeable choke system allows the user to adjust the pattern for the best performance for their application. This is very common on modern shotguns but deserves to be mentioned.
The Turkey model of the Viper also includes a Picatinny rail on top of the receiver so you can add your favorite sight options, like a red dot or ghost ring. The standard Vipers all appear to come with a cut in the top of the receiver to add sight accessories as well.
The Tristar Viper was perfectly comfortable to shoot, the controls and grip surfaces were all very familiar. The ability to shim the buttstock to adjust the angle is certainly nice for someone far pickier than myself. I suppose it could also benefit from an adjustable comb, but again that would be for someone with a degree of fit much greater than my own.
The texturing on the grip areas gives great purchase for the hand, and should you wear gloves while shooting it it would be quite helpful. The rest of the Viper’s exterior is pretty slick, so the texturing is appreciated.
The rib of the gun was easy to line up on, making the aiming process quite simple. While I didn’t get to play with more than one version of the Viper, some models feature a pistol grip which certainly can make shooting it more ergonomic for certain shooting positions.
The controls of the Tristar Viper are pretty standard, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Perhaps the feature that most immediately caught my attention was the light weight. I will also add that the incredible selection of colors, calibers, finishes, barrel lengths, configurations, and left-handed models is worth mentioning.
The Viper family seems to be a full-service line of shotguns that can certainly fill most any shotgunning need.
Fit and Finish
The Viper appeared to be very well put together, everything matched nicely and fit snugly. The Cerakote finish on the receiver is a nice touch, but the beautiful wood pattern showing deep through the glossy shine gives it a touch of class that Cerakote can’t do. The textured rib keeps a nice dull surface for aiming, while the bright fiber-optic bead allows for rapid target acquisition and aiming.
Everything from the metal finishes to the engraving looks very high quality, and with a finished product that looks this good, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by its performance. This certainly helps assuage my fears of being a “value shotgun”.
Even though I didn’t follow the recommended break-in procedure that Tristar outlined in the user manual, we never experienced any issues while shooting. Using three-inch shells as suggested would have provided a longer and/or higher gas pressure curve during the initial shooting of the Viper, but it seemed to work just fine using the regular two-and-three-quarters loads that we burned through all day.
Granted, a half-dozen boxes of shells aren’t going to make the gun terribly dirty, but I was surprised at how clean it was after disassembling it post-session. The appraisal of this shotgun seemed to continue to stack up, running reliably and cleanly are perhaps some of the best features a shotgun could have.
The Tristar value certainly shows through with the Viper G2, the higher-end versions of the gun are pretty comparable to competitors’ shotguns. Whereas the less expensive versions of the Viper seem to be an excellent value. With a performance like the one I have experienced, I would for sure recommend it, particularly with the Viper’s price point.
The Tristar Viper G2 certainly has some stiff competition from the likes of companies like Beretta and Weatherby. Something like the Beretta A300 Ultima is similarly priced and comes with many of the same features. The Weatherby Element comes in a bit more affordable still, both of these two shotguns are quite comparable to the Viper and come with perhaps a little more notoriety as they carry a famous name.
The value proposition that Tristar offers is certainly a good one, in my opinion, other brands are cheaper still. They too offer autoloading shotguns that may fit your needs.
Citadel shotguns are cheaper still. While I have no experience with them, it’s good to know what else is out there.
The Shooter's Score
How does the Tristar Viper G2 PRO stack up? Here’s the scores:
The Viper consistently hit targets where aimed, aided by the interchangeable choke system and optional sight accessories.
The grip surfaces are plenty comfortable, and I like the adjustable buttstock angle, well-placed controls, and oversized charging handle. The stock texturing provides a secure hold, but the absence of an adjustable comb could limit customization for some.
Fit and Finish: 8/10
You get a well-constructed design, matching components, and attractive details with the Viper G2. The Cerakote finish and glossy wood pattern added a touch of class, while the overall high-quality appearance exceeded my expectations.
The standard yet functional controls, lightweight design, and a wide range of options, including colors, calibers, finishes, barrel lengths, configurations, and left-handed models, give you a ton of versatility and selection, which I found impressive.
It performed flawlessly in testing without any issues. It ran reliably with various loads, stayed surprisingly clean after a day smashing clays, and felt like a truly dependable shotgun.
It’s affordable and compares favorably to higher-priced competitors. While other brands may undercut the price point, the Viper’s performance, features, and overall quality make it a worthwhile choice for those who want top-end performance without the top-end price.
Pros & Cons
- Affordable price without compromising quality
- Beautiful Turkish walnut stock and Cerakote finish
- Wide variety of models for different shooting activities
- Gas-operated semi-auto design with a proven track record
- Interchangeable chokes for customizable patterns
- Lack of adjustable comb for a more personalized fit
- Some competitors may carry more brand recognition
- Cheaper alternatives, such as Citadel shotguns, are available
My time with the Tristar Viper G2 has come to an end, unfortunately, and I do mean that. I would be happy to keep it in my safe next to the rest of my collection, but I have limited use for shotguns as I am more of a rifleman. The fact that I already have the shotgun bases covered only partially prevents me from keeping the Viper, as it seems to have all the attributes I’d like in a shotgun.
The Viper G2 is reliable as it is handsome, while it may not draw the respect of the old boys at the club that shoot fine Italian doubles, it perfectly suits my “meat and potatoes” needs for a shotgun. I would happily use the Viper for any of the various bird hunting applications that I need to do, and it’s my opinion that if you find yourself looking for a relatively inexpensive shotgun you would do well to look at one of the Viper models.
To my great satisfaction, I found the Viper to be every bit the value that its makers claim. I found nothing about its performance, feel, or looks to be cheaply made or cut-rate. What do you think about the Viper G2 Pro?