A Case for the Remington 870
The 870 will take game birds, deer-sized game, rabbit, squirrel, wild boar, and defend your life and home. The shotgun has an enviable police and military record. As a doorbuster, alley clearer, and all-around projectile launcher, there is nothing quite like the Remington 870. And, while all my 870s are of the 12 gauge variety, the shotgun has been manufactured in .410 bore, 16 gauge, and the lovely, light, and fast-handling 20 gauge.
I have spent a good bit of time training folks on the proper use of the semi-automatic shotgun. In that same time or less, those shooters could have been up and shooting the pump-action 870. The shotgun is simple to load, operate, and maintain.
During my entire time in uniform, and with quite a few High Standard, Mossberg, and Winchester shotguns on hand, I saw more than a few shotguns with loose pins and broken springs. With the 870, I have seen exactly one failure — and that was the trigger-reset spring in a used-and-abused example.
Folks don’t realize it these days, but quite a few pump-action shotguns were not ‘breakdown types.’ That is to say, the barrel wasn’t easily removable. You really need a gunsmith to change the barrel properly.
Shotgun Barrel Selection
The Remington 12 gauge barrel is easily changed in a few seconds. You may quickly swap between a turkey, slug, or a relatively short, home-defense barrel. With a middle-of-the-road barrel length, and a good set of choke tubes, you may use also elect to use one shotgun for a host of different roles.
Author’s Tip: Add the XS sights magazine extension to add two shells to the magazine’s capacity. Unlike many of the plastic types, the XS unit is well made and robust.
Why the 870 Over Other Shotguns
While some may prefer other types of shotguns, I would suggest new shooters look to the Remington 870. If you later find you are limited in some manner, then you may choose another shotgun. However, it is more likely the 870 will prove a lifetime companion.
The Remington 870 has been affordable, with a reasonable price considering its quality. There have been price increases, but the shotgun remains an affordable option. Fit and finish are good — even among the price leaders and police-issue firearms.
The Remington 870 isn’t modular, and it wasn’t designed to be. Just the same, it is quite easy to change the stock and forend to make any 870 a ‘more tactical’ shotgun. AR-15-type butt stocks may also be added. Stand-off devices and muzzle brakes are easily fitted.
Several types of choke, including the TruLok, are useful for increasing the 870’s versatility. And don’t forget, the barrel swaps out easily. I am sometimes fond of saying, “I am glad there are so many choices in firearms.” After all, few firearms suit every shooter well. That being said, the Remington 870 is an exception.
The Remington is a go-anywhere, do-anything shotgun that most any shooter will find well suited to hunting, personal defense and for those willing to raise the bar, skeet, or trap.
The 870’s versatility is surprising to many when they first learn the shotgun was originally introduced in 1950. It has been in continuous production since. During the 1990s, the shotgun passed 7 million units produced. The figure is more than 10 million today.
The 870 shotgun was designed for ease of manufacture and parts interchangeability. The 870 features twin action arms. Many successful and robust shotguns used single action bars, but the Remington set a standard for twin bars.
In police service and training, shotguns are used hard and the action is slammed a lot. Single rails may bind and bend. The Remington doesn’t bind or bend — in my experience. The Remington 870’s steel, locking lug is widely regarded as the strongest in the industry.
There are different types of stocks, including nicely checkered, plain wood, and synthetic stocks. Synthetic stocks are immune to extremes of temperature. Some Remington 870 shotguns have a beautiful blue finish, others feature a matte finish.
Whatever the type of shotgun and the expense, the action, lockup, and trigger can be counted on to be true to the same rugged 870 reputation that has made this model legendary. The 870 is a world standard and among the firearms that every serious shooter must own.
Operating the Remington 870 Shotgun
The action is locked when the shotgun is cocked. There is a small release near the trigger guard to release the bolt. Move the bolt to the rear with the forend, close the action, and load the magazine. Actuate the bolt release, and load the chamber by racking the bolt with the forend.
If desired, you may top off the magazine too. When you fire the shotgun, the bolt is released and may be racked to the rear. A spent shell is ejected and another is loaded. It is as simple as that.