RIA VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto Firearm Review

Rock Island Armory VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto Firearm

As a firearms coach with Force Solutions, I am always looking for new firearms to try out, so I have a basic knowledge of them if a client or friend has a question. I was intrigued when I discovered I would do the RIA VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto Firearm Review. This looked to be a neat and fun little semi-automatic short-barrel firearm and a good choice for anyone who wants a reliable firearm to handle various situations. In this review, I’ll share my thoughts on the RIA VRF14, including its features, specifications, and overall performance.

About the RlA VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto

The Rock Island Armory (RIA) VRF14 is a 12-gauge semi-automatic firearm manufactured by Armscor, the parent company of Rock Island Armory. The VRF14 is designed for home defense, sporting, and tactical applications.

Rock Island Armory VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto

The history of the RIA VRF14 began when Armscor USA entered the shotgun market by introducing the VR60 and VR80 series of semi-automatic shotguns.

Building on the success of the VR series, Armscor developed the VRF14 to provide

customers with a reliable and affordable semi-automatic shotgun specifically designed for home defense and tactical applications. The VRF14 features a 5+1 capacity, a 3-inch chamber, and a 20-inch barrel. It also has a black synthetic stock and forend and a Picatinny rail for mounting accessories.

Shotgun, Pistol, SBR, or Firearm?

The inclination would be to call the “VRF14” a shotgun; it’s not.

Well, it has a 14″ barrel, then it must be a pistol. It’s not.

Ok, then it must be a Short Barreled Shotgun (SBR). It’s not.

Technically and legally, the RIA VRF14 is a firearm. Or for those with Federal Firearms Licenses, it is an “other.”

Going back to 1934, The National Firearms Act defines what a “Short Barreled Shotgun (SBR)” is. Later in 1968, the Gun Control Act defined what a “firearm” is. The VRF14 is classified as a firearm according to the definition supplied in the law. It is very important to note that you may desire to put a stock on your VRF14 to improve performance. Not having a stock and the firearm’s length makes it legal to buy in many gun stores (federally, but state laws also affect this) as a firearm. Changing either of those things or adding a vertical grip could be a very serious crime if not done to the letter of the law.

Unboxing RIA VRF14

The RIA VRF14 comes well-packaged and sturdy foam-padded hard case. Inside the box, you’ll find:

  • Semi-automatic short barrel firearm
  • a user manual,
  • gun lock,
  • 3” shotgun shell piston, 2 3/4 shotgun shell piston (already in the firearm)
  • front and rear pop-up sights
  • 5-round magazine. The rifle is secured in a black padded carrying case.
Rock Island Armory VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto Shotgun hard case

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the semi-automatic short-barrel firearm arrived in a black carry case, which is usual for most shotguns or rifles. The RIA VRF14 looked like a well-made semi-automatic short-barrel firearm with a solid feel and sturdy construction. The RIA VRF14 seemed to be designed after an AR platform, which was cool to me because of my years of training with one. I was skeptical about the placement of the Picatinny rails, but I will talk more about that after my initial testing.

The RIA VRF14 was very easy to assemble. I had to attach the charging handle to the buffer system, and it only took me a minute to assemble it.

VR14 Specifications

  • SKU: VRF14


VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto action

The RIA VRF14 uses a gas-fed system like many modern semi-automatic shotguns, known for its reliability. The action on this semi-automatic short-barrel firearm was smooth and consistent in my initial testing. The RIA VRF14 ships with a 5-round metal box magazine; if the 5-round magazine isn’t enough, it is compatible with the VR Series 9 and 19-round magazines.

Barrel and Forend

The RIA VRF14 has a 14-inch barrel, a good length for a semi-automatic short-barrel firearm. The barrel is a 14” smooth bore with no screw in the choke tube.

RIA VRF14 barrel

The forend on this rifle is made of a durable polymer material. It feels semi-comfortable in the hand and provides a good grip. The forend has a built-in Picatinny rail that makes it easy to attach accessories like the front and rear sights, red dot sight, and lights or lasers.

Innovative Buffer Bolt System

The RIA VRF14 uses an innovative buffer bolt system, which helps reduce recoil and increase accuracy. This system uses a hydraulic buffer to absorb the recoil, which results in less felt recoil and more accurate shots. This system works well, and the semi-automatic short-barrel firearm was not overly terrible to shoot. The recoil was still moderate (we are shooting 12GA shells, of course), which made it manageable during rapid-fire shooting.

test firing

Overall Performance

VRF14 controls

After assembly, I looked at this different firearm and held it. It had a comfortable pistol grip, and the safety, bolt catch/release, and magazine release were in pretty much the same positions you would find on an AR platform. The charging handle on the bolt made it very easy to pull back the bolt into the locking position with the bolt catch.

Loading the 5 round magazine was pretty straightforward, like any box magazine.

With the bolt in the open and locked position, I inserted the magazine and tugged it to ensure it was seated. Hitting the bolt catch to release the bolt is somewhat satisfying, feeling the bolt send the round into the chamber, of course, only after checking that it was on safe.

The VRF14 handles both 2 3/4 and 3″ shotgun shells.

Live Fire Performance

magazine spring problem

I ran it the way it came in my first few magazines with the RIA VRF14. On my first magazine after the third round, it failed to feed, I racked the bolt back again, and it still didn’t feed. Putting it on safe, I took out the magazine and inspected it. I noticed that the follower was stuck in the magazine. I proceed to empty the magazine then disassemble it. The follower was getting stuck in the magazine because of a moving lip on the backside of it. I then pushed the follower up and down through the magazine ten times, reloaded it, and it seemed to run fine after that.

Shooting the RIA VRF14 was fun, but I see it as a hip or chest-height tool. The recoil was manageable from a presentation at eye level but not ideal, definitely not for quick follow-up shots. The knock-off Magpul front and rear sights are useless and not worth putting on because of the aforementioned reasons. The forend of the RIA VRF14 was uncomfortable on my hands during recoil because of the Picitanny rails positioned at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 O’clock positions.

light and laser on VRF14 12 Guage Semi-Auto Firearm

Attaching a sling to the RIA VRF14 made the shooting experience more enjoyable and recoil more manageable. The sling allowed me to cinch down and put forward pressure from the chest and hip presentation. This gave me a more stable platform to shoot from and more consistent and rapid follow-up shots.

I would not recommend bringing this tool to eye level to shoot. Practicing natural body alignment and presentation would make this an ideal home self-defense gun. If you’re unwilling to put in the time for that, I suggest adding light for target identification and a laser for aiming from the hip. Overall I had a blast shooting the RIA VRF14, and stay tuned for the video review soon.


Is the VRF14 compatible with different types of ammunition?

The VRF14 is compatible with 2-3/4″ and 3″ shells.

Is the VRF14 suitable for left-handed shooters?

The VRF14 is for right-handed shooters.

Does the VRF14 come with a warranty?

Yes, Rock Island Armory offers a limited lifetime warranty for the VRF14.

Is the VRF14 legal in all states?

The legality of the VRF14 may vary depending on your state’s laws and regulations. It is important to check with your local authorities before purchasing or using the firearm.

Is the VR14 an NFA Firearm?

No, it is not classified as an NFA item.


  • Dennis Rousseau

    Mr. Rousseau is a former Army infantryman where he learned hand-to-hand combat, squad tactics, close quarter battle training, and multiple weapon platforms. He has deployed to Iraq and is an Operation Desert Storm Veteran.

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