Remington 870 Shotgun

DunnBy Robert Dunn 
AGI and GunTech Video Producer, 
AGI Pro Course Graduate, GCA Charter Member

I have always wanted a Remington 870 shotgun, so last year finally bought one. I knew when I was buying it that it was not manufactured like they were in the old days. There is no Walnut stock, beautiful engraving or blued finish; mine has a durable sand blasted black finish. The plastic trigger guard is the first thing I noticed that I wasn’t thrilled about. The synthetic stock certainly fits, but nothing is flush with the receiver. I found a mystery part in the butt stock during its first trip to the range, which I will tell you about in a second.

870-1Having said all of that, I still feel that I could club the heck out of an intruder or angry dog and the gun would still operate properly afterward, as sometimes hitting an adversary is tactically/legally better than shooting them. The 870 is a tried and true design. With the addition of a Surefire fore-end (Model 618FA), you also have the option of seeing and/or blinding your target before you shoot!

By the time I bought my 870, I had sold far more of these models than I’d shot. I must say our society is well armed. There are plenty of factory variations with collapsible stocks, pistol grips, long hunting or rifled barrels, different finishes and stock materials, etc. Modifications and improvements have been taking place on this model since the 50’s. The shotgun’s innovative twin action bars insured improved reliability and smooth functioning. Many Law Enforcement agencies have selected this as a patrol weapon for decades.

The day I saw my 870, it was like it called to me. As I said before, I know the “flaws” of my personal weapon, but this particular serial number was meant to be mine. I was at the gun range and as I was leaving, the black 12-gauge 870 express magnum shotgun demanded to be inspected and then purchased. It turned out that it was on sale for cheaper than I could buy it anywhere else. The ten-day waiting period was tough for the both of us. Luckily on the tenth day, the range and gun shop, being one and the same, allowed me to fire slugs indoors. I got home with a pleasantly sore shoulder and a mysterious little part that dislodged itself inside of the butt stock as I was shooting. It’s funny how a part rolling around somewhere in your firearm puts an end to training. But heck, it’s not like I didn’t intend to go home and completely dissect the trigger group anyway.

When I unscrewed the stock bolt, and finally got the stock assembly off, out came the mysterious part that was taking a ride up and down the long stock bolt. Though it didn’t look like anything that was needed for safe operation of the shotgun and it surely didn’t have a Remington part number, the statement, “Oh hell, I don’t need that crazy little part” just doesn’t go hand in hand with gunsmithing or firearms in general. This gave me an excuse to call Remington.

The "mystery" washer.

The “mystery” washer.

The experience of calling Remington’s 800 number was met with excellent customer service. The gentleman I spoke with had never seen or heard of such a thing and he had been “doing this a long time”. He apologized that he didn’t know what the part was but agreed that we should find out what it was! He asked me if I minded waiting on hold for a while as he checked with the head armorer. He got back on the phone and told me that it was an “assembly washer” that only one of their factories uses to separate and store the receiver studs before mass assembly of the shotgun. He said that sometimes a little bit of machining oil will cause the washer to stick to the receiver stud and it gets assembled with the stock bolt. A lot of the time the washer will remain there undiscovered, but it got banged around for quite sometime that first day at the range!

I really like the no frills nature of this particular model of the 870. My favorite car is a black 1968 Plymouth Road Runner and it reminds me of this shotgun. They were both engineered to bring down the price for the “common man” without sacrificing the firepower (or horsepower) and reliability that you need. Just like my Road Runner, the 870 just keeps working, no matter how hard you beat on it. If it breaks, there are plenty of parts available and everything is quick and easy to get at to fix, although my car doesn’t have any “Federally Restricted Parts” . . . yet.

20 Responses to Remington 870 Shotgun

  1. Plastic trigger guard??? What the ….?! A “sign of the times”, I suppose. Hmm.

    I’ve been waiting a few years now for an 870 to come my way screamin’ for my ownership!

    I’ve never seen nor handled an 870 and am wondering if the current/newer made 870’s all have plastic trigger guards, or just certain ones?

    Interesting article. Good as always Robert.
    Hope you’re able to get to SHOT 2018, … if so, have a BLAST!!!

    • Hey Dana, if I could only have one shotgun, it would be an 870, even though my favorite shotguns are Browning A5s. I actually wrote this article a long time ago. This 870 in the article has done everything for me. It has gone hunting and has protected my life two times when I lived in California. Jack Landis gave me a really nice Boyd’s forend and stock for Christmas a few years ago and it looks excellent!

      • Good day Robert.

        Yes, I remember about two years ago I first seen your article here, not sure if I commented though, but most likely.

        Also remember you had an article somewhere sometime within the past two years or so (maybe here on G&G or GCA’s GunTech) that you mentioned Jack gave you a really nice Boyd’s stock for Christmas (very nice gesture – you have good friends).

        Lol about the dog! I like it! Does the gun work on neighbor’s, and neighbor’s cats too? Ha ha.
        Cheers buddy

        • I used to live in the city and folks would rummage around in the garbage cans near the bedroom window. More than once I racked the slide of that 870 and would laugh quietly as they high-tailed it out of the parking lot!

          • LOL! Thatta boy, nicely done! Would expect nothing less than that from you.

            You’d be up to your eyeballs with the Canadian Mounties if you did that here in Canada. Even if you even DARE have a gun in proximity to a quarrel anywhere here in Canada you are in deep *&^% with the law.

            Our Canadian laws make it VERY clear that Canadians are NOT allowed to defend themselves nor others, no matter what. Who’s side is the law for I wonder?!!

  2. My old 870 Police looks similar in finish to this 870. It too has a plastic trigger guard/group. That particular shotgun is about 12 years old or so now. I don’t know when they started. My ’64 vintage and ’75 vintage Wingmasters don’t have any of that foolishness and they’re MUCH prettier.

    I still prefer my Winchester model 12!

    • I like the model 12 as well. Even though I complain about the polymer/plastic parts, they have taken a couple hard hits and didn’t break or even scratch the guard. The 70 is such a strong and simple design, it is hard to beat.

  3. I have three 870s. One is the Marine Magnum, the other two are standard 870s. All of them have plastic trigger guards. The oldest one is about 15 years old. I don’t know when they switched to plastic and have considered switching to metal guards, but have never been bothered enough to do it.
    Great shotgun and, yeah, I think it could be used as an impact weapon if needed.

      • My Mossberg 500 JIC (Just In Case) Mariner is fully coated with grey’ish Marine Coat of some sort. Bought it from Cabela’s a few years back. Never taken it out yet, but I handle it at home a lot during repairs and simple handling practice. Basically it’s difficult to let it out of my hands because I like it that much.

        • The Mossberg is on my list. I have lived in Coastal areas for much of my life. It’s amazing what can happen to your firearms if you don’t take care of them. I have seen some pretty horrible looking guns and rescued many of them over the years!

  4. Two years ago, I acquired a State police trade-in 870 magnum 12 gauge. It had a low round count through the action, this gem spent most of it’s time in the trunk of a police car. Minimal stock and fore grip and a short cylinder bore barrel were standard.
    My intention was to turn the new (to me) 870 into a trap shooter. New barrel ( with replaceable chokes) and Magpul furniture completed the transformation. I have been able to break 25 clays in a row, several times with the new combination.

    • My uncle said once the greatest thing about duck hunting with an 870 is that if need be you can paddle your boat with it!

      They do double nicely as impact weapons.

      And also to everyone’s chagrin my brother and I used to shoot 25s in trap quite regularly. Some of the club members weren’t impressed with our unsophisticated hardware. They also said there’s no way we’d shoot doubles that good with them. We proved them otherwise.

      Though my affections lie with the Winchester model 12 of old the 870 is a surefire winner in any role it is employed. And I grew up shooting one quite a bit.

      • Since writing the article, I had to whack a dog pretty hard with my 870 and the gun is fine and the dog never came back to my property! That is great that you shot trap with it, wish I could have watched the reactions at the range!

  5. I got my 870 in the early 80s, around 82-84. Beautiful walnut stock, metal trigger guard, and beautiful bluing. I have gotten 2 turkeys with it and won some at turkey shoots. Mine is a Magnum Wingmaster.