Living in Texas, I never thought I’d have the need for a dedicated slug gun. Most of the time when I’m shooting I’m surrounded by wide swaths of land. I can be fairly sure that a pass-through or missed shot (which, of course, never ever happens) will fall to the ground long before it reaches a populated area.

But then I landed an incredible hunting lease, just minutes outside of downtown Austin, near Austin Bergstrom International Airport. I could leave my office at the capitol building at four o’clock and be in the blind by five. But because of its proximity to the airport, I couldn’t use centerfire rifles; bows and shotguns only.

Remington’s 870 SPS SuperSlug proves that dedicated slug guns have come a long way since I took a doe with a .410 slug from my Savage Model 24 more than 30 years ago. This is a specialized machine: a shotgun designed for deer hunting. Although I’m sure it would also do an impressive job on pigs, predators and just about anything else.

Out of the box, it doesn’t look much like the Remington 870 Express I use for turkey hunting.

The 870 SPS SuperSlug’s barrel is not your traditional scattergun tube. It’s 25 1/2 inches of fluted heavy-duty steel pinned to the shotgun’s receiver. Notice there are no sights. As a narrow-purpose gun, Remington assumes you’ll be mounting a scope. To do so, a Weaver rail comes mounted on the receiver right from the factory.

The fore-stock is also a bit different from a standard 870 Express. It’s slightly thinner and a couple of inches longer at the bottom. Both sides have a molded-in grip texture — a welcome feature for cold hunting days in northern states, where gloves are a must.

The included sling attachments are much appreciated. Why every pump gun doesn’t come with standard sling attachments is beyond me. When you’re handling dogs, calls, decoys, ducks, deer or turkey, you often need both hands free.

The 870 SPS SuperSlug’s safety, receiver, rails and all its internals appear to be the same as the 870 Express, including the extractor, ejector and rivet. That concerned me.

I’ve witnessed some less-than-stellar quality with newer Remington 870 Express shotguns. Specifically, I’ve seen the ejector and the front section of the rail (where the ejector sits) break off. I’ve seen modern 870’s run 10,000 rounds without issue, and I’ve seen some not make it 1,000.

All that said, the Remington 870 SPS SuperSlug feels better than my 870 Express shotguns.

Part of that’s due to the fact that the barrel is pinned to the receiver via a screw opposite the ejection port. (After removal, the shotgun disassembles like any other 870.) There’s less slop, and the action is notably smoother than a typical new 870 Express. In fact, the action on the SuperSlug is smoother than one of my older 870s, and that gun has thousands of rounds through it.

Remington says that this model has a “3 lb. competition-style spring on trigger assembly.” I’m not sure what that means. It feels exactly the same as either of my standard 870 Express guns. It’s a little gritty, then breaks right about 3 lbs.

The large, flat-bottomed over-molded synthetic stock does a great job at the bench or in a blind. It provides a generous amount of recoil reduction — important when launching stout slugs — by spreading out the shock over a wide, soft area. I can snug the stock well into my shoulder pocket while still not having to squeeze too hard with my firing hand.

That directly-to-the-rear pressure both mitigates recoil and reduces tremor in the hand, improving accuracy. There’s also a lot of material on the bottom of the stock, which helps to brace the gun either on bags, a rest, or maybe the arm rest of the chair in your blind. (I like to put used office swivel chairs in my blinds. They make for better naps).

The 870 SPS stock is almost 1″ shorter than my standard 870 Express’. My dad used to joke that my arms were so long that I didn’t need to bend over to tie my shoes, so the shorter length of pull isn’t an advantage for me. Owners under six feet tall or wearing heavy winter coats will appreciate it; nothing increases felt recoil like a too-long length of pull.

Unfortunately, the same things that make the stock shoot well at the rest make it a bit ungainly shooting off-hand. That’s a lot of stock to deal with. It’s also doesn’t carry particularly well at the ready; the lower portion continually grates and fights against my wrist. It also just looks weird, like it belongs at a bench rest competition rather than slung over your shoulder in the woods.

But then, with the way the 870 SPS shoots, you probably won’t mind.

Remington’s web page boasts “rifle like accuracy” for the SuperSlug. Truth. Using the Remington AccuTip Sabot Slugs, it printed a 1.4″ group for five rounds at 100 yards off of bags, using a 9X scope. That’s a 300-yard deer murdering machine.

Even at $16 for a box of five slugs, that’s worth every penny. But if you can’t find those rounds, fear not. Firing several other easy-to-find and inexpensive slugs (e.g., the Winchester Super X 2 3/4″), I was printing an average of 3″ five-round groups at 100 yards off bags. Many of my groups were smaller. That’s still a 250-yard capable round out of the SuperSlug.

I put 100 rounds total through the gun over the course of a week. That’s probably more than most shotgun slug hunters will shoot in a year or two. I had no difficulties with any type of slug I used. Brands included Winchester, Remington and Sellier & Bellot in 2 3/4″ as well as 3′ shells. I had no difficulties extracting any of the rounds with a simple pull of the pump.

That was a welcome surprise. Many of the Remington 870 shotguns I’ve purchased over the last decade have had problems ejecting, with shells getting stuck in the chamber. The SuperSlug seems to be an all-around better constructed gun.

More good news: you can unscrew the SPS SuperSlug’s barrel pin and fit a standard 12 gauge barrel. A capability that make this gun the ultimate hunt-anything-anywhere truck/trunk gun. There’s nothing that Frankenstein’s shotgun combo couldn’t handle, from birds to bears (although that stock might be a little hard to handle on dove hunts).

Of course, that’s not what the 870 SPS SuperSlug was designed for. It’s made for taking deer at longer ranges with confidence. At that, it absolutely excels.

Specifications: Remington Model 870 SPS SuperSlug Shotgun

Gauge/Bore: 12 gauge
Magazine Capacity: 4 (2 ¾ & 3) 3 (3 ½)
Barrel Length: 25 1/2″
Barrel Type: Fully rifled extra heavy (fluted)
Sights: Drilled and tapped, Weaver rail
Receiver Finish: Matte Blue
Overall Length: 47 inches
Length of Pull: 13 3/4 inches
Drop at Comb: 1 1/2 inches
Drop at Heel: 2 inches
Stock Material: Synthetic
Stock Finish: Mossy Oak Treestand
Weight: 7 7/8 lbs
MSRP: $829

Ratings (out of five stars):

Appearance * *
It’s a weird looking gun. The useful stock just can’t reconcile with the long front end of the rifle-like barrel. The metal finish is done well, with nothing shining, uneven or unfinished. The Mossy Oak Treestand camo works great for my area, but it’s not pretty.

Customization * * * * *
There is little you can’t change on an 870. The SPS  SuperSlug is just one of literally dozens of different variations of the 870 Remington offers. But this gun was built for one purpose. It’s designed for what other people modify their 870’s to do. The only ding: no iron sights.

Reliability * * * * * 
No issues at all. I’ve come to expect shells sticking in the chamber of a new 870, but this oh-so-fancy fluted barrel had none of those problems. From 2 3/4-inch to 3-inch, from the cheapest slug to the finest and rarest available, it went bang every time.

Accuracy * * * * *
They boast rifle-like accuracy and that’s what the SuperSlug delivers. The idea that I can smoke a deer at 300 yards with relative ease is awesome. I’d take shots at pigs and coyotes even farther than that.

Overall * * * * 1/2
It’s hard to rate this gun, as it is so specific in its task. But for that task, it’s hard to imagine it could have been done much better.  I’d like to see a fixed sight option and some upgraded internals for a version that costs about twice as much as the Express, but this is one great deer gun.

18 Responses to Gun review: Remington 870 SPS SuperSlug 12 Gauge Shotgun

  1. I’m curious why a hunter wouldn’t just use a rifle? Off the shelf rifles do all that. Just saying…

    • The area he is hunting in doesn’t allow center fire rifles due to proximity to the airport. There are other areas with this restriction as well and it looks like the 870SS fixes that problem quite nicely.

    • Did you see where he said because of his proximity to the airport and city he couldn’t use a rifle? Also some places near me in eastern PA because of similar problems of too many people only allow bows and shotguns so shotguns like this allow rifle shooters to hunt in areas where rifles aren’t allowed because of how far their bullets can travel.

    • Some places mandate shotguns for deer hunting, particulary areas in the midwest. For the cost of this one, I think I’d rather just buy a rifled barrel to go with my current hunting shotty.

    • Yep. In MD, there are only a small number of counties that allow rifles. I happen to live near two of them. But, I live in one that doesn’t!

    • Some states, or counties, require shotgun only hunting for white tail deer.
      But what if you don’t live in one of those?
      Here’s a fun excercise. Compare the Boone and Crocket as well as the Buckmasters records with shotgun only states. You’ll find that around half of the record book bucks were taken in shotgun only states. So even if you don’t live there, if you get serious about taking a record book animal, you’d be well advised to get a slug gun and apply for some out of state tags.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful, rational, and deeply meaningful contribution to this conversation.

      Now hush please. The adults are talking.

  2. More good news: you can unscrew the SPS SuperSlug’s barrel pin and fit a standard 12 gauge barrel.

    They don’t show a closeup of this “barrel pin,” but every 870 has easily swappable barrels. You just unscrew the magazine tube nut, remove the barrel and put on a different one. I’m not sure how this “pinned” barrel represents an improvement.

    My 870 express has been in slug configuration for years with a 20″ slug barrel with iron sights (sometimes you don’t want a scope), with a Knoxx recoil-reducing stock, which seems to be a better stock than what’s shown. It’s a pistol grip stock with internal shock absorption and adjustable length of pull.

    • You can see the screw head in the first picture and the hole it goes into on the receiver in the 5th. You’d get pretty tired trying to remove the barrel just like every other 870 without taking that out first.

      • I see now. I skipped over that photo of the receiver.

        Does the pin provide enough additional accuracy to be worth the trouble? My 870 barrels feel really solidly mated with the receiver as is. That can’t be a very deeply-set screw.

        • Man, I wondered the same thing and I wish I could tell you. It is certainly more accurate than the pump guns I’ve used with just a rifled barrel, but I don’t know how much the pinned barrel has to do with that as the quality of the barrel itself.

  3. Massachusetts is shotgun-only for hunting for white tails partly because rifle bullets are thought to travel too far to be safe.

    Of course, slug guns like this Remmy are perfectly legal in MA even though the slugs travel pretty far too.

  4. Hi, John! Took my coffee break, saw this article, and was just wondering whether you’d like me to not mind my own business and be as obnoxious as I was in commenting about yesterday’s….

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