Shotguns are practical weapons and the Verney-Carron Veloce Tactical 12-gauge is one of the most practical of the lot thanks to its super-efficient lever-release operation and its 10-round magazine.
This is a gun that can shoot clay targets or game birds one day, foxes the next and mobs of pigs on the third.
Notably, its specification, including its unique side-mounted lever-release that can be set either left or right, was commissioned by Verney-Carron’s local importer, Australian Sporting Agencies, specifically for our market; the conversion parts are made here in Australia. It’s a Cat A firearm in most states but check with your local gunshop to confirm the situation where you live.
It has a 28-inch (71cm) barrel, giving it better reach and accuracy; it can be used with a five-shot or a 10-shot magazine tube; it comes with a full set of five choke tubes to handle any kind of 12ga ammunition; and it has one of the best lever-release designs of any bolt-action firearm.
That lever-release setup puts the lever immediately above your shooting hand’s thumb, and can be positioned on either side to suit left- or right-handers. Coupled with the pistol-grip stock, it enables you to keep a firm grip on the gun with both hands all the time, and all you have to do is set up a simple rhythm between trigger finger and thumb to shoot, release, shoot, release, shoot and so on until the magazine is empty or the game is out of range.
It gives you excellent control of the gun and a superior ability to get rapidly from target to target without upsetting your hold.
Let’s get one thing clear, though: the Verney-Carron is not a semi-auto, never can be and doesn’t shoot as quickly.
It is lovely to shoot, even with slugs. The gas-operated action — which forces the bolt back after firing, ejecting the spent cartridge and leaving the action locked open — absorbs some of the recoil. In addition, the stock design has a pitch that places the recoil pad in full contact with your shoulder when you’re aiming on a horizontal plane; with the softness of the pad, it significantly reduces the effects of recoil, so you can shoot a decent session and come away without a tender cheek or shoulder.
The gas system works by bleeding off some of the expanding gases from the barrel, through two small holes about a third of the way down the barrel. They direct this gas into a short cylinder attached to the bottom of the barrel and containing a free-floating piston. The piston is pushed to the rear, in turn forcing an action bar backwards.
The bar is attached to the bolt. The first millimetres of rearward movement unlock the bolt by camming its locking lug out of engagement with a slot in the top of the hard steel barrel extension. Once unlocked, the bolt is pushed backwards until caught and held open.
During this process, the next cartridge in the magazine is pushed onto the feed ramp, which then brings it up, poised to be fed into the chamber when the lever-release is activated and the bolt slams closed under spring pressure.
As soon as it does, the gun is cocked and ready to fire. Squeezing the trigger releases a hammer to strike the firing pin — and the whole process starts again.
Some gas-operated guns won’t cycle light targets loads. The Veloce shot with 100% reliability using Fiocchi TT-1 7½ loads, though I didn’t try anything lighter.
The Verney-Carron didn’t suffer a single stoppage using any load I used, in fact, and with the field-length barrel and its various chokes the gun shot good patterns with everything from numbered shot through SGs to slugs.
I hunted rabbits and foxes with the success you’d expect of any shotgun but where the Veloce Tactical shines is in scrub at close range against mobs of feral animals. My review coincided with the arrival of drought-like conditions and huge mobs of goats here — time to cull.
The receiver is dovetailed to accept 11mm mounts so I whacked on a red-dot sight and got it sighted in. I loaded the Verney-Carron so I had two or three slugs up first, followed by nine-pellet buckshot. The results were brilliant. I never quite needed all the rounds in the magazine but it came close a couple of times and I can see situations when they’d all be used.
With the tube extension in place, the long magazine creates a bulky, front-heavy appearance but it’s not that bad, especially in the conditions you’d most want it, walking in the bush and shooting targets within about 40 metres.
Removing the extension, which takes a minute, leaves you with a five-plus-one capacity and a lighter front end, better for shooting birds on the wing or scampering rabbits because it swings a bit more responsively.
The Veloce comes with butt-pad spacers to extend the length of pull, and it has a series of spacers that fit between buttstock and receiver to adjust both cast and pitch. All this helps you get the gun to fit that little bit closer to perfectly so your shooting can be as instinctively accurate as possible.
It’s worth taking the time to get the fit right — the Verney-Carron certainly worked better for me when I gave it a bit of cast-off and centred the pitch.
The pistol grip is rubberised for improved grip and the forend’s soft-touch finish has chequering that gives plenty of traction.
Takedown and reassembly are easy if you just do the basics, which is plenty for cleaning and essential maintenance such as occasionally cleaning the gas piston. However, further stripping is best done by a gunsmith or at least someone with a bit of nous and a knack for not losing small pieces and knowing how to fit them back together again.
The Verney-Carron is made in France (except the locally made conversion parts mentioned above) and is of reassuringly good quality. The only gripe I have is that the barrel finish is more susceptible to marking than it should be but everything else is very good.
Some great details include the magazine cut-off button that locks rounds in the tube — good for emptying the chamber but not the gun. The front sight is a hi-viz red fibre-optic that’s very visible. The trigger is smooth and, for this type of shotgun, quite light at just under 2.8kg let-off.
Overall, it’s a great gun that functioned flawlessly throughout this test.
The criticism most often levelled at the Veloce Tactical — usually by conservative shooters — is that it’s just a big, black novelty. However, the truth is that this Verney-Carron is one of the most practical and versatile shotguns on the Australian market, one that can be put to any kind of scatter-gun hunting task as well as a bit of clay-target fun; and don’t forget it’s got its place in some forms of modern shooting competition.
A NOTE ABOUT THE MAGAZINE EXTENSION
When installing the Veloce Tactical’s magazine extension tube, slightly unscrew the tube from its retaining nut so that the other end of the nut can be screwed down solidly onto the main part of the magazine. If you don’t, the forend may not be held on properly and you’ll create a headspace problem.
Once the nut is tightened down (just finger tight is absolutely all you need) then you can screw the tube extension down as far as it will go.
After that, slip the figure-8 clamp over both tube and barrel and gently tighten it.
With the magazine extension, you lose the sling swivel stud that comes with the original nut but there are other ways to solve that problem if it matters to you. As much as I prefer to run a sling, I was happy to go without one for this gun because most of the use I put it through was in thick scrub where a sling becomes a hindrance.
- Manufacturer: Verney-Carron, France
- Action: Gas-operated lever-release bolt action
- Gauge: 12 with 76mm (3”) chambers
- Barrel: 71cm (28”) with screw-in chokes
- Rib: 8mm non-tapered, ventilated
- Safety: Cross-trigger block
- Magazine capacity: 5 or 10 with extension
- Sights: Front bead; receiver dovetailed for optic
- Stock: Black polymer with soft-touch forend finish and rubber pistol grip
- Overall length: 1125mm
- Length of pull: Adjustable with spacers from 360mm
- Drop at comb/heel: Adjustable with spacers from 38mm/60mm (also alters pitch)
- Cast: Adjustable on or off with spacers
- Weight: 3.4kg
- Trigger weight: 2.8kg
- RRP: $3700
- Distributor: Australian Sporting Agencies