A Pair of Competition Shotguns

  • Purpose-modified for Multigun competition
  • Magazine-fed shotguns
  • Chambered for 12 ga.

If we had to use a single word to describe the guys at Titan Ballistics, the word would most certainly be “competitive.” If we had the chance to add a second word, that word would undoubtedly be “meticulous.” Based in Irvine, California, Titan Ballistics is staffed by shooters who live and breathe competition shooting. The company produces its own line of firearms, including pistol-caliber carbines as well as small- and large-frame ARs. 

As impressive as their guns may be, their real bread and butter is their line of fine-tuned ammunition. The team believes that matches are won and lost based on the quality of ammunition the competitor is fielding. Without their unrelenting attention to detail, creating the perfect loads for their top-ranked clientele wouldn’t be possible. 

Considering that even after loading tens of thousands of rounds before a major match, each individual round is still measured, weighed, and triple-checked to ensure that it is perfectly made. They say in the split-second world of competitive shooting, any ammo-related malfunction could be the determining factor between winning and losing a match. Split seconds spent on ammo trouble can’t be made up.

We recently visited Titan to check out their shop and learn about their competition exploits. It was during this visit that we came across a pair of semi-auto competition shotguns that piqued our interest. Just one look, and we knew that further investigation was in order.

These shotguns, one based loosely on an AR and the other on an AK, are used for Multigun competitions and have been groomed to be quick, smooth, and reliable shooters. The AR-style shotgun started out as a Rock Island Armory VR80. Described as a “Lean, Mean, Customizable Machine,” by its manufacturer, in the hands of Titan the VR80 certainly lives up to that description—and then some.

The Titan Ballistics version of the VR80 was purpose-built and outfitted to compete in Open Division Multigun matches. Although the semi-auto 12 gauge VR80 may resemble an AR, Tim Pak of Titan Ballistics found that its looks are only skin deep. “This gun was a brand new platform, so a lot of the parts had to be prototyped to allow for it to run to our standards,” he says of the build. “Additionally, the gun takes all proprietary hardware, meaning even something as simple as trigger pins had to be constructed from scratch.”

To get the VR80 to perform at competitive levels, the team at Titan improved it in a few key areas. The first of which was modifying its recoil management system. Titan tuned the system to allow it to run low-velocity shotgun ammo reliably. They also added an offset timed compensator to allow gases to escape in a balanced manner when shooting slugs. 

A big difference-maker was also the modification of the trigger, reducing it from a eight-pound pull to a three-and-a-half-pound pull. The trigger pull reduction makes steadier rapid fire and double taps possible. “After the Titan tuning package is installed, the VR80 becomes a very serious game-changing contender in the Open Division for Multigun because of its fast cyclical rate as well as its magazine capacity,” Pak reveals.

The 18-inch-barreled VR80 was topped-off with an EOTech EXPS2 holographic sight for quick target acquisition. At the rear, a Magpul UBR stock was installed for stability. To give the shotgun a bit of personality, a Titan Ballistics Cerakote job was applied in-house.

As handsome as the Titan Ballistics version of the VR80 looks, it had heavy competition for our attention from its brother from another mother, the AK-style shotgun lying right beside it. Built for the same competitive purpose as the VR80, the AK-style 12-gauge is similar, yet different in many aspects. Based on a Dissident Arms KL-12, the semi-auto shotgun is in turn based on a VEPR-12, but is heavily modified for competitive use. VEPR-12 is a detachable-magazine shotgun produced in Russia by Molot-Oruzhie Ltd. The shotgun features an AK-pattern operating system and is built on the heavier RPK receiver.

The upgraded Dissident Arms KL-12 comes in a variety of variations, each of which could be the star of its own UN12 feature story. The Titan Ballistics guys modified their KL-12 to suit their shooting style and to increase its reliability when running their ammo. They’ve named it Sputnik

Of the KL-12, the Titan team says, “Dissident Arms does a fantastic job of taking a VEPR and pushing it to the max. We really only had to fine-tune the piston system to get it to run with low-velocity ammunition, which allows us to achieve faster follow-up shots.” The one complaint we’ve heard about the platform was its rough-around-the-edges nature, common with Russian-built firearms. The Titan guys had to hand-tune all its moving parts to allow for match-grade repeatability. Once that was done, however, they had themselves one high-performance machine.

Sputnik features a 14-inch barrel and features low-recoil, low-velocity tuning performed by Titan that allows for lower-velocity, softer-shooting 12-gauge shells to cycle. This allows for quick shots, which is critical for timed competition shooting. Like the VR80, the KL-12 also sports a custom Cerakote job done at Titan in a brand-appropriate scheme.

Neither the VR80 nor the KL-12 are small guns. Remember, they aren’t firing rifle rounds, but 12-gauge shells. We’ve handled and fired our fair share of magazine-fed 12-gauge shotguns, including Saiga 12s and the like, and it’s safe to say that we were delighted to find out that both shotguns are surprisingly lightweight for what they are. 

As configured, the VR80 weighs 7 pounds and the KL-12 only seven and a half. Some of Sputnik’s weight savings are thanks to ultra-lightweight accessories such as a diminutive Leupold Delta Point red dot optic. It is also fitted with an XLR stock, which we’re sure also helped shave a few ounces. 

Both shotguns look as though they perform like beasts on the competition circuit. With meticulous fine-tuning and competition-based custom parts created by Titan Ballistics to suit their shooters, both these customized VR80 and KL-12 shotguns are sure to be forces to be reckoned with. Which of the pair would you choose to shoot a stage? 

Text by Martin Anders and images by Jerry Tsai

Build Sheet

Titan Ballistics RIA VR80

Caliber: 12 ga.
Overall Length: TK
Barrel: 18 in.
Weight Unloaded: 7 lbs.
Coating: Cerakote by Titan Ballistics

Featured Accessories
Optic: EOTech EXPS2
Buttstock: Magpul UBR
Magazine: Rock Island Armory (modified)

Build Sheet

Titan Ballistics Dissident Arms KL-12

Caliber: 12 ga.
Overall Length: TK
Barrel: 14 in.
Weight Unloaded: 7 lbs. 8 oz.
Coating: Cerakote by Titan Ballistics

Featured Accessories
Optic: Leupold Delta Point
Optic Mount: Titan Ballistics Custom Height Riser
Buttstock: XLR Stock
Magazine: VEPR-12 (modified)

About the Owner:
Name: Titan Ballistics
IG: @TitanBallistics
FB: @TitanBallistics
Occupation: World-class manufacturer of firearms and ammunition.
Special Thanks: Rock Island Armory for creating such a great platform for us competition shooters to excel with. Dissident Arms for creating such a fantastic platform for us to use in the Open Division at Multigun.

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