Citadel RS-S1 12 Gauge Semi-Auto AK Style Shotgun – Video Review

@Maddy_A.R with the Citadel RS-S1 by Graham Baates
@Maddy_A.R with the Citadel RS-S1 by Graham Baates

U.S.A. -( The Citadel RS-S1 is both new and not.  Rewind your firearms memory a few years and you’ll likely remember the Saiga 12 and Vepr 12 craze.  Semi-auto, 12-gauge shotguns feeding form a box magazine and operating on the familiar and robust AK piston system and manual of arms.  The Saigas were less expensive and tended to need some tuning before running as desired, the Veprs cost more, but ran perfectly out of the box.  After reading a few reviews I purchased a Vepr 12 and had no regrets.  I used the shotgun in local 3-gun matches and out in the woods busting clays with friends.

After about 6,000 rounds of only occasional maintenance, the gun began to slow down.  I finally did a full strip-down to clean the gas puck and started to notice the wear and tear on the gun after loads of abuse.  Shortly thereafter Russian-built AKs were banned from import.  It was time to retire the Vepr 12.

@Maddy_A.R of GBGuns with the Citadel RS-S1 by Graham Baates.

Come back to modern times and clever companies like Legacy Sports, SDS Imports, and TriStar Arms have begun importing clones of the guns from China and Turkey.  While SDS Imports and TriStar Arms have chosen models based on the Saiga design, the Legacy Sports Citadel RS-S1 resembles the Molot Vepr 12.

The main differences between the two, and advantages of the Vepr design include a magazine well permitting straight insertion of a magazine much like an AR, a reinforced trunnion and receiver, and a very efficient self-regulating gas system.  When Saiga users have to worry about adjusting the gas system based on their load of choice, Vepr shooters just run the gun without skipping a beat.  I was of course curious to see if the Citadel RS-S1would run as well as my old Vepr did, so we’ll jump to the range test first.  In this video you can see how the gun runs with a wide variety of loads in our, “What’s For Dinner?” test in addition to a full-magazine plus one test and then the shooting impressions of both myself and @Maddy_A.R.

Fair Warning: YouTube has deemed this video unsuitable for most advertisers.

Now that we know the gun runs, let’s get into the finer details.  Below are the specifications as taken directly from the product webpage.

Specifications and Features: 

  • 12 Gauge
  • 5 Round Vepr Style Magazine
  • 20″ Chrome-Moly Smooth Bore Barrel
  • 3″ Chamber accepts 2-3/4″ Shells
  • Accepts Berretta/Benelli Mobil Chokes
  • Adjustable Sights
  • Picatinny Rail Dust Cover
  • Manual Safety Lever
  • Bolt Hold Open Feature
  • Molot Vepr Parts Compatible
  • Black Polymer Mono Stock
  • Matte Black Finish
  • Overall Length 41.65″
  • Weight 8.16 lbs

Retail prices seem to be around $600 which is less than what my Vepr-12 cost me.  The gun runs, so aside from a difference in labor costs why does the Citadel RS-S1 cost less?  Did they cut any corners in manufacturing?  See the tabletop video and decide for yourself.

From what I can tell the Citadel RS-S1 is equal to, if not better than, my old Vepr-12.  If the Veprs set the standard for AK-style shotguns, Legacy Sports and Citadel have just raised the bar.  To top it all off the RS-S1 is compatible with Vepr-12 magazines and most parts so there’s no need to wait for an aftermarket if you were to ever want to change something.

About Graham BaatesG B Guns

“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the local 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube .

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I think if I need a tactical semi auto shotgun, I’ll just use my SBE 3.5 Not so fussy

10 gauge shooter

How about a version in 10 Gauge?


Looks like these sort of shotguns are finicky. Can’t say I’d take one into combat, so IMHO, just a range toy.

Graham Baates

Did you see this one be finicky?

Wild Bill

I don’t think that I would be interested in this kind of shotgun, but I am shopping for an over/under youth shotgun for a great nephew. The questions at hand are: “Which has less recoil 28 ga. or .410?” and “Which would be the best for a kid’s first wing shooting shotgun?”


My oldest son started out with a .410 single shot. He is still a hunter today. I think the .410 served him well and he was very proficient with it. I can’t tell you much about the recoil of the .28 because I have never shot one but there is very little recoil to a .410.

Wild Bill

@Tcat, That is the result that I am looking for! Thank you for the benefit of your experience.


Couple of things I noticed: I have a 391 gold tk. that was very perticular for the first 400 rounds and after that it shot anything. Plus when the young lady was shooting the backward travel from recoil was significantly greater I suspect because of shooters body weight and suspect this could have made a difference in reliability of cycling which might have exasperated the the cycling of tha gun not being broken in. It also appeared that she may have also used your old mag. on some of the shoots that did not cycle but that was not noted… Read more »