The Rock Island Armory VR60 – Affordable Firepower


The world of the magazine fed semi-automatic shotgun has does nothing but grow in the last few years. Once upon a time, we had Saigas and some custom, expensive shotguns. These days guns like the Rock Island Armory VR60 has brought both the price of box fed semi-autos and made them much more common and ergonomics. The Rock Island Armory VR60 and I have gotten to become good friends in the last few weeks, and after a few hundred rounds down range, I’m ready to give some thoughts on the gun.


Caliber – 12 Gauge

Capacity – 5 Round box magazine

Barrel Length – 20 inches

Action – Semi-Automatic gas operated

Chokes – Full, modified, and improved cylinder.

MSRP – $499.00

Whats in the Box

You, of course, get the Rock Island Armory VR60 shotgun, two 5 round magazines a choke wrench and three chokes with a carrying case. The shotgun is packaged in a protective cardboard box and bubble wrapped to an extreme.

Rock Island VR60

Somewhere a drill instructor is losing his mind….

The Rock Island Armory VR60 looks and feels like a bulked up M16. It’s a big gun with a bulky handguard and plenty of Picatinny rails. The added carry handle and front detach with ease, and there are lots and lots of room for optics of all kinds. The handguard has a full-length bottom rail, and two short side mounted rails. There is plenty of room for all sorts of accessories.

On the Range with the Rock Island Armory VR 60

I’ve taken the Rock Island Armory to the range a few times now and have had the pleasure of putting a variety of buckshot and birdshot downrange. The first thing I noticed was recoil. This gun recoils harder than most semi-auto shotguns. Typically the gas systems help reduce recoil, but the VR60 hits more than I expected. I’d hate to use the term over gassed though.

Trying to look cool

The reason I hate that term for this gun is the fact that it seemingly cycles everything. It runs on the light and cheap Wal Mart Federal birdshot with ease, even the light Fioochi birdshot loads I had run in this gun. I tossed in some reduced recoil buckshot, and it still ran. This ammo has refused to operate in other semi-auto shotguns. I’m honestly impressed by how reliable it was with all types of ammo.

Positive Ejection is consistent

Failure wise I only ran into one failure to eject with the Fioochi light loads, and this was in the first 100 rounds of a brand new semi-auto shotgun. It’s been very reliable, and I have neither applied lube or cleaned the gun since I received it.


The Rock Island Armory VR60 is built as a mock-up M16 and features most of the M16/AR15 controls. This includes the safety, magazine release, and bolt release. The most significant difference is, of course, the right side charging handle.

The gun has a substantial length of pull and a comfortable stock with a raised portion that’s perfect for a cheek rest. It has a sturdy recoil pad, and the gun itself weighs just a bit over 7 pounds. It’s a comfortable gun when it comes to handling it. It looks bulkier and more cumbersome than it is.

Not heavy at all….

Unfortunately, you can’t swap out the handguard, stock, or rails with AR 15 parts. The magazines do not drop free and have to be removed with a little force.

AR style mag release

The safety moves smoothly and is easy to reach, but it doesn’t give you that same tactile click when its moved into place.

AR style safety and bolt release

Loading the magazine is a bit of a hassle. You have to try and avoid the rims of the shells catching each other and preventing the round from going entirely rearward. It gets old after a few magazines, and I got to the point where I was loading 4 to a magazine cause the 5 was a pain. The mags are made of metal and have functioned flawlessly when it comes to hitting the range.

Shells catching at the lip

The sights feature a flip up peep sight and an open sight. I stuck to the open sight, I mean it’s a shotgun, c’mon.

Familiar rear sights

Bang Bang

The gun is a blast to shoot. It throws shells with force and goes as fast as you can pull the trigger. I love the power of a semi-auto shotgun, and it’s an absolute blast to run through boxes of shells when shooting this bad boy. It runs reliably and is a real workhorse of a gun. For the price, it’s a great semi-auto shotgun. They can be found for under 400 bucks, and at that price, I was taken back by this gun’s reliability and ease of use. The Rock Island Armory VR60 is a great fun gun for any collection.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.

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  • Rick

    You can or can’t use ar-15 handguards, stocks and rails? This article could’ve used a little proofreading.


      I second that.

    • Chris S.

      No, you cannot. Look at the picture and yes, it must have been a misprint.

    • David Higginbotham

      Sorry folks. My bad. The article was published on the fly, while I was traveling to a shoot.

  • fireball1322

    Are 15 , 20 or 30 rd magazines availavble for this VR 60?

    • David Higginbotham

      It looks like there’s a 9 round out there. These mags aren’t easy to come by, but the platform is gaining traction, so that will change.

    • Scott Williams

      Ive only seen 5 and 9 round mags for the 12 gauge.

    • Andy Kiefer

      I just got a 19 rnd it works.

      • fireball1322

        Cool, that makes it a deal for me. So please tell us where can one buy a 19 rd mag for the RI Armory VR60 12 ga. I’ll buy a couple and the semi auto shotgun

        • Andy Kiefer

          I got a 19 rnd mag, now I another, can’t find.

          • Rick Rodriguez

            any luck finding 19 rd mags?

  • stormwindow

    An excellent article, Mr. Pike.

  • Joseph Mitchell

    I enjoyed the article and appreciate your advice. I have been looking for the right kind of semi-auto shotgun to purchase so this is helpful. Do you have any thought about the TRISTAR SPORTING ARMS COMPACT TACTICAL BULLPUP 12 GAUGE?

    • David Higginbotham

      I’ve run several Tristars, and the brand typically provides solid performance for the price. If you are looking at value, alone, Tristar is a solid option. Resale value sucks, and they aren’t as customizable, though.

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  • percyval jenkins

    Thanks for the review. Did you purchase the shotgun direct from the RIA or from dealer?

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