The SGM Tactical Vepr Drum: 25 Rounds of 12 Gauge On Tap

Shotguns are so much fun. They are big, beastly weapons that throw a literal handful of lead at a time. One of the big problems that purportedly exist with shotguns is their limited capacity. Big shells make it tough to hold a ton of ammo. The SGM Tactical Vepr drum aims to change that.

Vepr Drum front view
The Vepr drum adds some bulk to your shotty.

SGM produces and imports a variety of different magazines, but the Vepr drum is a made-in-America design. Why is that important? Well, a little regulation called 922R exists, and compliance requires American-made parts. American-made magazines and drums account for three of those parts with the body, spring, and follower. That’s a nice touch for you imported Vepr owners.

The SGM Tactical Vepr drum gives you 25 rounds of 12 gauge on tap. To be clear, that’s 25 2.75-inch shells. You can’t toss 3-inchers in this thing. That’s fairly common with shotgun drums. Their design makes it tough to accommodate different size shells since smaller shells would slide back and forth inside a larger drum. How well does it handle those 25 rounds of 12 gauge? Great question. Let’s find out.

Shotguns and Drums

Drums are finicky by their nature. Military forces and gun companies have tried to produce them for well over a century and to get them to work. Until recently, they were maintenance-heavy with reliability issues. Magpul figured out how to make them work, and since then, they have steadily gotten better.

Vepr drum in shotgun
The drum works really well, at least for fun purposes. I wouldn’t drop into Fallujah with it.

Drums like the SGM Tactical Vepr drum make a lot of sense for shotguns. Shotgun shells in magazines can be finicky. They can’t be left loaded forever because they will begin to deform. Soft plastic eventually succumbs to the pressure placed on it, and this causes deformation, which causes failures galore. A drum can be left loaded, and the shells won’t deform. Some drums can’t be left loaded, though, so what about the SGM Tactical drum?

I consulted the manual, and there is nothing that says it can’t. I searched online, and it said the same. So I loaded mine and left it loaded for a month to see if it caused an issue. More on that later.

SGM Tactical Vepr Drum — First Impressions

Holy crap is this thing is comically large, and I love it! It’s the size of a medium pizza, at the least, and it does pack an entire box of shotgun shells. It’s made from polymer and is fairly lightweight with a clear backing so you can sneak a peak. A series of dummy rounds act as a follower, which seems to be part of a successful drum design.

Drum laid down
It feels like it’s the size of a medium pizza.

The polymer design does limit some of your uses. The manual clearly states that you should not do a combat reload and let the magazine hit the ground. That could be bad, but after throwing 25 rounds of 12 gauge at something, I doubt you’ll need to reload! Plus, this isn’t aimed at the tactical community or duty users. It’s aimed at enthusiasts.

Loading the magazine wasn’t tough, surprisingly. The manual says it gets easier after you load the drum four or five times. They weren’t wrong, it does get easier, but it’s pretty easy from the beginning. You can pop 25 rounds in the gun without much issue or too much effort. The last round is a little tight, but that’s it.

Once it’s fully loaded, the drum cannot be loaded into the weapon with a closed bolt. Sadly, my Turkish AK shotgun doesn’t have a bolt lock, so loading the drum into my specific gun takes three arms. It’s not easy or fast, but that’s on the gun, not the drum.

To the Range With the SGM Tactical Vepr Shotgun

With the Vepr drum loaded to the max and a box of clay pigeons, I headed to the range. A lot of people talk about self-defense and the tactical or competitive use of firearms. People get into collecting old guns, but at the end of the day, most of us enjoy firearms because they are fun to shoot. And an AK shotgun loaded with a drum is a lot of fun to shoot.

Clear polymer back of the vepr drum while firing
It’s easy to glance at and have an idea of how much ammo you have left.

It’s a dose of insane fun to do a long mag dump with a semi-auto shotgun. I had this stupid smile across my face every time I pulled the trigger in quick succession. It was truly brilliant.

The manual states you should only use ammunition that runs at 1,300 feet per second or faster. I used some cheap birdshot that runs at 1,200 feet per second or so. I imagine the requirement for 1,300 feet per second is to ensure the bolt of the gun can overcome the pressure the tight-fitting drum places on the bolt. I’m not sure of any other reason.

However, I fired 100 rounds of cheap 1200 FPS birdshot and had one failure to eject. That’s it. The SGM Tactical Vepr Drum is still useable for plinking purposes with the cheapest ammo out there. I fired a box of Federal buckshot at 1325 FPS through the drum without issues and even a handful of 1145 FPS Federal low recoil ammo without issue.

muzzle flash from shotgun while firing drum
It’s just so much fun to shoot with.

Loading and Going

After shooting, I went to the SGM Tactical website and watched the video on taking it apart and cleaning it. I didn’t dive deep into it, but I did remove the cover and clean the inside. It’s easy to do that. Taking the drum down to its core pieces didn’t look tough, but I didn’t see a reason to do so. After cleaning it, I fully loaded it with that same El Cheapo 1,200 FPS birdshot and left it loaded for the next month.

The Vepr Drum in shotgun
You cannot load the drum into a shotgun without the bolt being held open.

After 30 days of keeping the drum loaded, I tossed it in my gun and went shooting. The SGM Tactical Vepr Drum ran like a clock and without issue. I’ve since reloaded it and plan to leave it loaded for a few months and see what happens. If there are any big changes, you’ll be the first to know.

I am pleasantly impressed by this Vepr Drum. It’s massive but holds a ton of ammo in a way that it won’t deform. For home defense, it might be a bit too big, and reliability is only seemingly guaranteed with ammo above 1,300 FPS. I think a smaller 15-round drum would be the ticket. However, for fun at the range, I can’t suggest the SGM Tactical Vepr drum enough. I had a blast with it!

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's 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 probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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