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[Review] Citadel RS S1 Tactical: AK-Style Shotgun

The Citadel RS S1 tactical shotgun...is it just another semi-auto AK shotgun or does it dethrone Saiga? Find out with our hands-on review!

    What’s new in the world of AK shotguns?

    Well, Citadel’s RS-S1 seems to be the newest AK shotgun on the block.

    With the Russian Imports preventing Saigas from coming in the US, the market has been hit with a variety of new shotguns from both China and Turkey.

    RS S1 Close up
    Russian based design, made in Turkey, used by an American.

    The Citadel RS-S1 comes from Turkey with love.

    Some folks scoff at the idea of certain countries making certain weapons. While an American shooter may accept a double-barrel rifle from Britain, they’d scoff at anything made in Turkey.

    I can’t speak for Turkish rifles or handguns, but in my experience, Turkish made shotguns are generally very solid.

    I’ve used and reviewed Turkish Pump guns, Turkish single shots, Turkish Semi-autos, and even a combination pump and semi-auto design. They’ve all functioned reliably and have done so for years.

    Even my Hatsan 12 gauge imported by the same company that imports the RS-S1 has been running great for over a decade without issue.

    Table of Contents


    Why Is the AK Shotgun So Appealing?

    Semi-auto shotguns, in general, have become quite popular. As with anything semi-auto, the desire to shoot faster means a need to reload faster.

    This is where box magazines come into play.

    Editor's Pick Magazine Fed, Semi-Auto Shotgun
    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Box magazines are typically faster to reload a gun from empty and on a shotgun, they can be quite functional. The presence of so many Ak variant shotguns is likely due to a few reasons. First, the Saiga S12 was a gun many fell in love with.

    Second, the long stroke gas piston system of the AK translates over very well to the 12 gauge platform. With the right size gas port, you can run everything from light field loads to full powered buckshot and slugs reliably.

    Reliable ejection pattern is always a plus
    Reliable ejection pattern is always a plus

    The AK is a robust design that’s easy to scale up and down for a variety of different purposes.

    Plus, it’s an AK, and in accordance with the Warrior Poet Ice Cube, the AK is perfect for days both good and bad.

    Ice Cube AK
    Unless it’s range day…then using your AK is a good day!

    Down and Dirty with the Citadel RS-S1

    The Citadel RS-S1 is, of course, a semi-automatic, magazine fed shotgun that operates on a long stroke gas piston. It features a 20-inch barrel, weighs 8 pounds and comes with two five round magazines.

    The gun comes with a number of features that surprised and pleased me.

    First, the gun sports a top scope rail if you want to add optics!

    The sights are standard AK for the most part but do feature an easy to adjust the rear sight for drift or windage. This is a nice little touch that makes getting your sights on target easy. While the front sight is a standard AK sight style, it is fixed in place.

    A peek under the front sight shows us a small section of Picatinny rail that allows the end user to attach a light, laser, or similar accessory. The handguards look like they came off a modern AK in the 100 series.

    They don’t look or feel cheap, and we’ll talk a little more on those later.

    RS S1 awesomeness
    Note the Pic rail under the front sight

    Due to the fun American import laws, the guns feature what’s best described as a “thumbhole stock”. Although it is a very modern thumbhole stock. It’s made of black polymer and sports a nice little recoil pad on the rear.

    The dust cover is also hinged, a feature I love. The safety is the standard AK variety, but it sports an extension that allows you to swipe it into the down position with your trigger finger. This is an excellent addition to the AKs not so ergonomic safety.

    When a "thumb stock" is barely that
    When a “thumbhole stock” is barely that

    The magazines are 5 rounders, but someone made the wise decision to make sure they functioned with Vepr AK magazines. This means higher capacities are available. The current market includes 10 rounders from SGM.

    To use a magazine in excess of 5 rounds you’ll have to fight with Title 18 Chapter 44 Section 922(r) of the United States Code and make your RS-S1 compatible.

    ATF Meme Guy
    922(r), thanks Government…

    5 round Vepr mags are quite common though, and even 2 rounders exist if you want to go bird hunting with this gun. The magazines don’t rock in like a normal Ak. They go straight up and in, like an AR.

    This is faster and more intuitive than the traditional rock and roll. From experience, I will say rocking and rolling an AK shotgun mag can be a little tricky, so I appreciate the modified magwell. Behind the magwell, we have a massive ambidextrous and extended magazine release.

    Push it in and the mag is free.

    Dat Mag Drop
    Dat Mag Drop

    The gun actually uses common Benelli chokes and comes with a choke wrench to release them. Chambered to shoot both 2.75 and 3-inch shells with the barrel chrome moly and can handle steel shot.

    Lastly, the gun is packaged in a very nice case that’s plastic with 4 latches and comes with custom cut foam for the gun and the magazines.

    This gun retails at $699-ish and comes with iron sights and a case.

    How come my CMMG Anvil comes in a cardboard box with no iron sights for nearly double the price?

    RS S1 partly field stripped
    RS S1 partly field stripped

    Citadel did this right, at least on paper. The gun has enough features to float my boat but the main question is, does it work? Will it eat the ammo I plan on tossing through it?

    To the Range, We Go!

    So the only way to find out was to hit the range and put some lead on target. I went with a wide variety of ammo.

    This included standard double buckshot, reduced recoil Federal Flight control, Fiocchi high-velocity birdshot, Federal cheapo birdshot, and a random mixture of birdshot from Winchester, Monarch, and several others in my “mystery ammo” box.

    This random box is where those one or two strays from a box end up.

    Much of the ammo I took out we’ve reviewed in our Best Shotgun Ammo: Home Defense & Target Shooting article.

    Starting with the high-velocity birdshot the first thing I noticed was holy trigger slap. To the point where I put gloves on and thought the rest of the day was going to be rather unpleasant. It slapped my finger enough to make it go numb.

    RS S1 flaming ejection
    RS S1 flaming ejection

    The trigger pull itself isn’t bad, kinda spongy with some overtravel and pretravel, but it is a shotgun and I’m not making sub MOA groups with it. The reset is pretty good though and allows you to rapid fire with ease.

    After taking a short break I loaded up standard 00 buckshot and went to town. The first thing I noticed was the trigger slap was gone. I took the gloves and fired the weapon, and didn’t experience the trigger slap with any other round beside the Fiocchi high-velocity birdshot.

    The recoil with buckshot wasn’t bad, but you can tell the gun has a lot of gas going through it.

    This ‘overgassing’ effect is in place to ensure that the gun eats whatever ammo you put through it. If you’ve ever fired a pump gun with reduced recoil ammo, then you’ve experienced the recoil with full powered buckshot from the RS S1.

    It lets you know you fired a shotgun but isn’t painful. A couple dozen rounds of standard buckshot through a pump gun would leave you bruised and battered, but through a gun like this, you might be a little fatigued.

    Like an AK, but better!
    Like an AK, but better!

    Now it cycled both the buck and high-velocity ammo without issue. Every round fired and ejected. The real test would be cheap Federal birdshot and reduced recoil buckshot.

    Why reduced recoil?

    Well, why not?

    Cheapo birdshot is obvious, no one wants to spend a butt load of money just firing expensive buckshot all day. Cheap birdshot allows you to plink and have fun with the gun. Semi-auto, box fed shotguns are some of the most fun guns you can have.

    The RS-S1 is no different.

    Today’s reduced recoil buck was Federal 00 buckshot with the flight control wad. This stuff loaded and cycled like a champ. The gun didn’t even stutter with the lower recoil stuff. It ate it up and spit it out.

    The reduced recoil was noticeable and allowed me to control the gun to a greater degree. Muzzle rise was reduced slightly, and the recoil was more akin to birdshot than any buckshot. This makes it the perfect fodder for rapid fire destruction of targets, watermelons, and since its Fall, pumpkins.

    Next up was the final one, the El Cheapo birdshot you get at Walmart for 20 dollars per 100 rounds. I use the Federal marked stuff, but it exists as Winchester and Remington as well. This low brass ammo is often number 7 or 8 shot and is a game and sport load.

    Rapid fire blasting is made easy with low recoil bird shot
    Rapid fire blasting is made easy with low recoil bird shot

    Most importantly its cheap and if a shotgun can’t run it I’m often dissuaded from owning it. I loaded up my mags with tepid excitement. Racked a round into the chamber, and pressed the trigger.

    Anxiety built in me, then the trigger broke and the gun fired. I pulled the trigger 4 more times without a single stoppage or hang up. I load the next magazine and let off 5 rounds as fast as I could. Ever round cycled with ease.

    Recoil was practically nil, as was muzzle rise. The birdshot ripped into my berm and create a freshly mowed field. This was really when I noticed just how fast this gun cycles.

    It can really rip through a magazine. I mean I can blast out all 5 rounds before the first hits the ground. Of course, this is easier to do with the lighter recoiling buckshot and the cheapo birdshot.

    Honestly, this gun is going to cost me ammo money because  I really love seeing how fast I can dump rounds out of it. Spending all this time dumping rounds did lead my to get plenty of practice with swapping magazines.

    money meme
    A lot of us experience this when we walk by the ammo section of our local sporting goods store.

    Sadly the magazines don’t drop free 100% percent of the time, this leads to me ripping one out and replacing it with another frequently.

    However, the massive magazine release and the straight magwell do make reloads easy and intuitive. You can hear and feel the magazine lock into place.

    Trying to load a full magazine on a closed bolt is a challenge, but luckily the Citadel RS-S1 does incorporate a bolt last round bolt hold open. With the bolt locked back you slam a magazine home, grip and rip the charging handle and you are back in the game.

    One thing I noticed was that the handguards do an amazing job of mitigating heat. I honestly didn’t feel how hot the gun was until I set it down and felt the heat rising off the barrel.

    These polymer handguards appear to be well insulated and even after well over a hundred rounds the keep the hands cool.

    Long-Term Reliability

    I’m currently sitting at about 350 rounds of assorted ammo, with about 250 being cheap birdshot, and the other 100 divided being high-velocity birdshot and buckshot of both standard and reduced recoil varieties.

    RS S1 awesomeness

    Zero issues in terms of reliability. Typically a semi-auto shotgun needs to be braced against the shoulder for it to function reliably, but even firing from the hip or away from the shoulder won’t cause a malfunction with the RS-S1.

    The gun just goes bang, time after time, trigger pull after trigger pull. Now 350 rounds isn’t a lot compared to a handgun or a rifle, but it comes to shotguns its a healthy dose of lead in a very short time period. I plan to hold onto the gun for a bit and to keep running it hard. If I run into any issues I will add them below under an update portion.


    I really only have one major complaint with the gun. The sights are smallish and a bit hard to pick up rapidly. The cut in the rear iron sight is very small and its hard to get a good cheek weld and sight picture. The rail kinda gets in the way and can be distracting when you are trying to line up your sights.

    The RS S1 does have the Picatinny rail on top though, so mounting a budget red dot isn’t hard.

    Other than that the gun is rock solid. If I was to go through with 922 R I’d love to install a folding stock and a proper pistol grip. As well as toss in some high capacity Vepr magazines. The RS-S1 is a great shotgun and is an absolute blast.

    Dumping magazine after magazine is so much fun and semi-auto shotguns are always a literal and figurative blast.

    By the Numbers

    Let’s break down the numbers for the RS-S1 and see how it runs.

    Accuracy 5/5

    I mean it’s a shotgun, it’s not a long range weapon. It patterns well, and with the right ammo can be used out to 50 yards with buckshot. That buckshot being Federal Reduced Recoil Tactical LE 00. The sights are okay, and the front is really the only one needed for buckshot.

    The addition of a red dot would make this gun even faster on target and the added rail is a Godsend when it comes the RS-S1.

    Reliability 5/5

    Round after round when I pulled the trigger it went bang. With every type of ammo I tossed into it, bang. Birdshot of all types ran like a champ and the gun ate both high and low brass without issue.

    Dumping mag after mag is such a blast. If you’ve ever handled a lot of semi-auto shotguns you know reliability can be the key to piss you off. When a semi-auto shotgun runs it is by far one of my favorite guns to shoot.

    Customization 2/5

    The gun does share magazines with the Vepr so higher capacities are out there, with 922R restraints tacked on. The addition of a Picatinny rail on the top of the gun makes it easy to add optics and a small section of Picatinny makes flashlights an option.

    Past that finding parts may be difficult unless the gun takes off in popularity.

    Looks 3/5

    The gun looks slick. I like the black handguards, the aggressive overall styling, and the fit and finish is very nice. The downside is the thumbhole stock.

    It’s not the worst thumbhole stock and its way better than a Saiga style rifle stock. Still, to me, it detracts from the styling of the gun overall.

    Price 4/5

    The MSRP is 799 which is an expensive-ish for a shotgun. It’s no Benelli, but the 930 SPX is still a bit cheaper. However, the price is likely to drop and to be lower when it hits the market. MSRPs tend to be high with guns and a bit cheaper once they are for sale on the mass market.
    [Editor’s Note] The RS S1 is now on the market and Brownells has it for $700 – a very respectable price for a semi-auto shotgun!

    Overall 4/5

    The Citadel RS-S1 is a great little gun. It’s a blast to shoot and so much fun to hit the range with. The magazines feed so well, and the gun eats everything I put through it. The gun handles very well, and matches the AK ergonomics to a T, and then improves upon them.


    The Citadel RS-S1 is a step above a lot of the crazy variants in the foreign made AK shotgun market. It looks good, handles like a well-made machine, and goes bang when I pull the trigger.

    What else is there to say?

    Editor's Pick Magazine Fed, Semi-Auto Shotgun
    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    What about you folks? Do box fed, AK pattern shotguns appeal to you? What upgrades would you want? Looking for a regular AK…check out our Best AK-47 Roundup.

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    7 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Mark Wierzbicki

      I have just come accross this and found it very interesting and in line with, well, all the other reviews I have seen. I own an Armsan RS-S1 which is arguably the same weapon, (mil spec adjustable stock, no tab on the safety, bolt release). It is great to fire, and always brings a smile to my face. I have had some issues with light loads (Hull 28g fiber wad) although English Sporter 28g fiber runs like a dream as does everything above. I have had issues purchasing aftermarket addons, like custom front ends, 10 round magazines not so hard to get, Chokes, but then that is the uk for you. It has a small picitini rail on the barrel just after the foreend, which is arguably too far back from the muzzel for a light, and whats the point of having a floating barrel if you are going to put pressure on it with a bipod. even with the UK restrictions it is still great to shoot.

      September 5, 2020 6:14 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Nathan Manger

        Hi Mark, I'm looking at one of these for PSG/3 gun. In terms of spares, can they be purchased, if so where from please? Had a poke around on the net, but couldn't find anything. Merry Christmas fella - Nath

        December 13, 2020 9:13 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I hear mixed stories about mag fed shotguns. Is there any truth to the shells becoming distorted under magazine tension?

      August 17, 2020 6:26 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        Yes, since shotshells are made with plastic hulls these days, they do have the chance of deforming when under constant magazine pressure. If you load a magazine and shoot a magazine, it is very unlikely for a problem to occur because of this. But if you load a mag and let it set for days, weeks, or months -- you might grab that mag to find that it doesn't feed reliably.

        This can be a major problem if you plan on keeping a mag fed shotgun as a home defense shotgun.

        August 17, 2020 6:31 pm
        • Commenter Avatar

          Thanks for the clarification. I'm surprised no ammo maker has tried to fill that niche with a brass cased HD load for mag fed shotguns. I know there are those out there that home brew brass shells, but a legit commercial load specifically for mags could be something.

          August 18, 2020 10:40 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Would I be able to run the 25 to 50 rds. Drum from VER in my rds-s1?
      Love the article

      April 2, 2020 9:02 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Brian C Harralson

      How would you compare it to a Lynx 12?

      November 21, 2018 8:15 pm
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