Review: Rock Island VRBP-100
Two trends have taken hold in the tactical shotgun market over the past few years—bullpup layouts and box-fed magazine systems. While neither idea is particularly new, the recent innovation of combining both features into one firearm has led to some interesting shotguns. Case in point: Rock Island’s VRBP-100.
The VRBP-100 is made by Turkish manufacturer Derya Arms and imported by Rock Island Armory Imports. A gas-operated, semi-automatic design, the action of the VRBP is based on the Rock Island VR series, which includes the AR-styled VR60 and VR80.
These models use a steel barrel and 7075 aluminum receiver housed in a polymer chassis. The gas system runs below the barrel with a piston, bolt carrier and return spring positioned around a support tube.
The bullpup design of the VRBP-100 results in an overall length of 31″ with a 20″ barrel. To put this into perspective, a traditional semi-automatic or pump shotgun with a 20″ barrel typically stretches past 40″ long. Also, despite its barrel length and the fact it can be fired from the shoulder, the VRBP-100 is less than 5″ longer than the 14″-barreled pistol-grip-only “Shockwave”-type firearms.
The shotgun feeds from steel, detachable box magazines, and two five-rounders are supplied with the shotgun. A magazine block is also included to limit capacity for those who want to use the shotgun for hunting purposes.
Rock Island also makes a nine-round and 19-round magazine for the VR series. With a fully loaded 19-rounder in place, the shotgun is surprisingly well-balanced, despite its over-the-top appearance, with the magazine’s extreme curvature placing the weight under the pistol grip. Its capacity places the VRBP on par with drum-fed and dual-magazine-tube shotguns.
Bullpups tend to have a rear weight bias, and to this end the VRBP’s recoil pad is cut at an angle and serrated to hold the stock into the shoulder pocket. With even the largest magazine installed, it is possible to comfortably hold the VRBP-100 on target with only the shooting hand. The length of pull is adjustable with the three supplied stock spacers, yielding a 1.25″ range of adjustment.
Both the safeties and magazine release buttons are bilateral. The thumb safety is a 90-degree lever above the grip on both sides. Located to the rear of the magazine well, the magazine release buttons are easily reached by the thumb of either the shooting or support hand while grasping the non-drop-free magazines for removal.
Despite these bilateral controls, the factory recommends that the VRBP-100 be used right-handed only, as the ejection port is on the right side. Despite successfully shooting the VRBP left-handed with the loads we tested (the ejection port dustcover acts as a nice hull deflector), we recommend following the factory guidelines.
The non-reciprocating charging handle is on the front left side of the fore-end, and the bolt is held open after the magazine’s last round is fired. An AR-15-type “paddle” bolt release is positioned above the magazine on the left side.
The VRBP-100 comes from the factory with folding front and rear backup sights mounted on a 13″ aluminum section of Picatinny rail, and the stock has an adjustable cheekpiece to accommodate the use of an optic. The shotgun also comes with a 5″ polymer rail section on the right side of the fore-end. There are no other provisions on the shotgun for mounting rails. Two quick-disconnect sling mounts are molded into the left side of the chassis.
In order to accommodate the wide variance in 12-ga. loads, the VRBP-100 comes supplied with two gas pistons, “heavy” for 3″ shells and “light” for 23/4″ shells. To change the pistons out the shotgun must be partially disassembled to remove the barrel and access the gas system. With a little practice the process takes about two minutes. There is storage in the stock under the recoil pad to carry the takedown tool and spare piston. To add to its versatility, the shotgun has a screw-in choke system that uses Beretta/Benelli Mobil threads, and it comes supplied with full, modified and cylinder chokes.
Rock Island recommends an initial 500-round break-in, with the first 50 rounds being standard-velocity loads before lighter loads are used. During our testing, the shotgun was reliably cycling light target loads before reaching that mark. Following the break-in period, the light piston functioned with all the 2 3/4″ shells we fed it, from light birdshot to slugs. With the heavy piston installed, the VRBP was flawless with all 3″ magnum loads. Trigger pull is a hefty 12 lbs., but had little take-up and a positive reset. It is easily managed with a shotgun “pull” instead of a rifle “squeeze.”
The VRBP-100 is marketed as “ideal for home defenders, hunters and competition shooters alike” and it fits all three categories. Competitive shooters have already embraced Derya shotguns throughout the world. For the hunter, the bullpup design makes for an easy-to-handle package when climbing into a deer blind or tree stand, combined with the VRBP’s flexibility to handle everything from birdshot to slugs. For home defense, the shotgun provides a handy overall length with no legal restrictions, backed-up by quick and simple reloading. In the Rock Island VRBP-100 a bullpup layout and box-fed magazine system have combined to form a potent pairing in an affordable and reliable package.