The Remington 870 shotgun. If anyone can think of a more iconic scattergun let me know, because I’m pretty sure this is the tops. Star of stage and screen and gracing the gun safe of just about every gun owner in the United States, it’s a familiar sight on the range and in the field.
Somehow, though, we here at TTAG have never reviewed the gun before. So seeing the opportunity to fill a hole in our repertoire, as well as an opportunity to find out if Freedom Group had managed to ruin yet another iconic American firearm, we bought one from an online retailer and tested it out.
This model is the least expensive version we could find, figuring that if there are any cracks starting to show in the old girl, they’d be most apparent in the lower-end varieties. But for $350, you still get some nice features.
The latest incarnation of the 870 uses the same style stock as the newer Remington 700 rifles. Most of the stock is the standard slick black plastic, but there are some panels fitted into the gun around the grip area that are made of a squishy, grippy rubber material that give the shooter a much more secure hold on the gun.
Also included is a rubber recoil absorbing butt pad, which is damn near required when shooting a shotgun this light — the gun weighs only a hair over seven pounds. At the top of the stock Remington has crafted in a good-sized comb that gives the shooter a solid cheek rest when aiming the gun, rounding out the fine design of the rear section of the firearm.
Out front, Remington seems to have skimped a little. The forend of the scattergun is a minimalist design, using a rough textured plastic as the sole ingredient. It fits with the price tag and the overall style of the gun though, so I’m not complaining.
While the stock and forend might not seem to be of the highest quality, there’s no doubt that the action itself is up there with what we’ve been seeing for ages. The blued steel of the receiver and bolt both feel silky smooth, and I can’t find any signs of errant tool marks or rough patches. It’s the same Rem 870 we’ve come to know and love, and it feels as solid as ever.
Then, when you put the gun up against some competition, and you start to realize just how good you have it. Compared to a Mossberg 500, for example, the gun is head-and-shoulders above the competition. When you rack the 870, the gun feels solid and well-built. When racking the Mossy 500, it feels like it’s about to come apart. While the finish and design on the 870 is sleek and solid, the 500 has some exposed mechanics and a strange slotted lifter design that I just don’t like. Other things come down to personal preference, like my partiality for the Remington’s cross bar safety as opposed to the Mossberg tang-mounted safety. But overall, the Remington is still a clear winner.
The only thing I could find that wasn’t up to spec was on the trigger guard of the Remington 870. It looks like the old metal trigger guard has been replaced with a new plastic version, and there was some leftover material behind the trigger that I could easily remove with a pocket knife and a few minutes of concentration. While it may not sound like much, it’s the only issue I found on the entire gun.
Out on the range I put hundreds of rounds of birdshot, buckshot and slugs through the gun without a single problem — and never lubed it once. I just assembled it straight out of the box and started stuffing shells up its pipe. The gun never malfunctioned, never hung up, and always ejected properly.
To be fair, we aren’t done testing this shotgun. Our 870 and a Mossberg 500 purchased at the same time, with the same round count on it, are currently lightly salted and sitting in a field somewhere in Texas. Probably being stepped on repeatedly by horses if I know the herd at the ranch as well as I think I do. In a few weeks we’ll transfer them to the bottom of a lake for a while, drop them from an airplane, and then blow them up. And then we’ll see if they still work. But until that testing is complete, I can say without a doubt that under “normal” conditions the gun runs just fine.
There’s no doubt that the Remington 870 is still the king of the pump action shotgun. Even after all of these years and management changes, it still feels and works just as well as its predecessors. And for the money, it’s the best shotgun you can get.
Specifications: Remington 870 Shotgun
Chamber: 12 gauge
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category. Overall rating is not mathematically derived from the previous component ratings and encompasses all aspects of the firearm including those not discussed.
Accuracy: * * * * *
It’s a shotgun. It makes things go boom.
Ergonomics: * * * *
The forend could use some of those softer grippy panels, but otherwise he 870 is a downright comfortable scattergun.
Reliability: * * * * *
Lubed or not, it runs just fine. Give us a couple more months and we’ll prove it even more definitively.
Customization: * * * * *
Everyone and their brother makes accessories for the gun.
Overall: * * * * *
It’s still reigns. Long live the king.
There’s no comparison between the action of my Mossy 500 and my stepson’s 870. Every time we shoot I kick myself for not having bought a second 870 instead, there is that much of a difference.
That’s why I have 1 mossy and 2 870s. 🙂
Ive had nothing but bad luck with the 870. anyone hear of the rem 7400’s where the lugs shear and the gun can explode? remington is garbage. and to the author the gun is the king “because it racks so much better and smoother then the mossberg”???? Yeah a AR “feels” a lot smoother then an AK so i guess AK’s are unreliable junk because you say so? If youre going to write for the masses maybe keep your personal bias in check? ive had many mossbergs with thousands upon thousands of rounds thru them and NEVER a single problem nada…. This author also wrote how saiga 12’s are unreliable junk so LE’s shouldnt use them….. I think your simpleness is showing there bub…. Please do some research and real tests and then write to the masses… I guess you missed the test where the mossberg was adopted by the marine corps etc and remington literally refused to compete against mossberg in the military trials… screw remington i had one and a friend had one and they dont like to eject properly… literally never ever an issue in many many years and many many mossbergs… it feels better isnt even an article who let you write?????
Look dude, Leghorn cannot under any circumstances be called biased towards Remington. He smeared their R51 (deservedly so) and has gotten nothing but hate from them ever since.
I teach 4H shooting sports, and the only gun I’ve seen have a problem was one kid Mossburg 500 where the shell wasn’t able to be loaded in because of its load gate. The shell literally had to be cut in half to get it out of the gun. And it did the same thing repeatedly. It was fixed by bending the load gate. Also about 20 year’s or more ago I had bought a H&R 3-1/2″ brake action shotgun and was impressed with the way it shot, and how far. So I bought a brand spanking new Mossburg 500 in 3-1/2″ as no one was making one in a pump at the time except Mossburg, and Browning. But the Browning was over $1000.00 so i opted for the Mossburg the was over $600.00 at the time and was a very fancy grade gun with with everything you could want engraving, removable choke ect. I had bought every single choke trying to get it to shoot and it was never as good as my 50 year old + Remington Wing master pump that I was given when I was 10 years old. That gun was passed on to me from my uncle who had it for years it came with two barrels one of which is a 2-3/4″ the other 3″ the gun barrels were not made of a good material at the time and were bulged in several places. We had to get it worked on by a Gunsmith who took out some of the bulges. This gun has been run over by him and dented the barrel of the gun on the 2-3/4″ barrel. At one point he had some shells that had gotten wet duck hunting and the bullet when off delayed and blew up the lower part of the action but was able to be fix easily. It probably had over 30,000 rounds go threw it since it was new and it still shoots better than the Mossburg 500. If I was going to bet my life on a gun it wouldn’t be a Mossberg 500… it accuracy was definitely much to be desired. In the end I traded it to a junkyard man for a 88 Isuzu trooper that wasn’t a good idea either. But better than something that doesn’t shoot good. Needless to say I bought a new Remington 870 in 3-1/2″ as soon as they came out, and wouldn’t trade it for a second.
This is in reply to the post saying that mossbergs where better and that they were used by the Marines. Actually the Marines issue shotgun is the Bennelli M4. I’m sue they still have some Mossbergs in there armory but most units deployed over seas are carrying the Benelli. Also the military Mossberg has a steel reciever where the Mossberg Comercialy available shotguns are aluminum so durability wise they don’t compare to the civilian available version. I purchased a mossberg 590A1 and had nothing but problems with it. The finish looked good but the function and quality were horrible. When I first took the gun home I tried to sight the gun in with slugs at 50 yards. From a bench the gun was hitting 3 feet low and right of the target I adjusted the ghost ring sight till I had it maxed out on elevation and windage but the gun was grouping a nice hole low right on paper but outside the CLEET siluoete target. I checked the sights for damage but did not see any noticeable damage that would put it off that bad at 50 yards all I can figure is they put it on crooked or off center. This tells me that there quality control is not where it should be expecially when it comes to there defensive/combat shotguns. Instead of sending it back I just tried to deal with the sight issue by aiming high left. This seemed to work fine for a while till I ran the gun through the CLEET shotgun school. After putting around 200 rounds through the gun I began to experience light primer strikes. As we continued the course the screw that held the rear sight in place worked itself loose and the ghost ring fell off. Luckily my instructor was a friend of mine and let me finish the school with his department issue 870. After that experience I fixed the gun as best as possible and sold it. I then purchased a Remington 870 tactical. I love this gun and after putting close to 1000 rounds through this gun it’s still running smooth. The 870 has been riding in the back of a patrol car for close to 8 years. Though the Mossbergs are popular shotguns in my experience they are not duty grade by any means I have herd many other stories about negative experiences with them. Also if u look at what shotgun most police departments are issuing u will find that the majority probably close to 70 percent of agencies that issue shotguns are issuing Remington 870s. That is all the testiment I need as to there reliability and durability.
Mossberg has to be the worst gun brand I’ve ever purchased a firearm threw. my Mossberg broke after putting 40 rounds threw it and the best part was when Mossberg refused to help resolve the problem. And there the only brand that I know of that builds gun parts out of plastic. I recommend buying a Remington 870 I’ve never had one issue with them.
I owned a Wingmaster 870 I bought new in 1977, still have it and never had a issue with it, I purchased a Mossy 500 about a year ago, it racked like a import, the safety almost needed a hammer to disengage it, forestock rocked like it was going to fall off, I sold the gun about 3 months after I bought it, basically a POS, anyone who would choose a mossy over a Remington has not own both, no way
bought a new Mossberg 500 in 1980 for a long time it was the only shotgun I owned. Never had a problem love the gun to this day. 39 years of service is good in my book.
Your correct the Remmingtom sucks and now I have to ask for repairs. Stroeg for me and my Eagle Scout Elliott.
dude, take a deep breath
Your pathetic bub…..shut the fuck up and go shoot. I heard Mossberg’s come with a box of tampons for every new purchase so why don’t you use them. Stop whining and go shoot up some shit.
Very interesting conversation!
When I was 16 y.o. (back in the ’70’s) my Dad bought “us” a brand new, short-barrelled 870 “Slug Gun,” as the gun shot salesman called it. Meaning it was primarily for deer hunting, and had the shortest (legal) barrel, and rifle sights.
The 870 also has beautiful, wooden “furniture” with tight, but simple checkering.
And at 16 y.o., offhand, on the run (the deer, not me) I shot my first deer, in the neck. Of course, that was AFTER I shot right over it’s back, on my FIRST shot, when it was WALKING, and stepped into a hole.–LOL.)
And, with an uprooted tree for a “rest,” that 870 would put slugs through the same hole, at least once, for each of us, one afternoon, at appox. 50 yards. Later, due to lead fouling (and my ineffective attempts to remove the fouling) it became inaccurate, but a proper cleaning (by someone who knew what they were doing) cured that.
So I have fond memories of the 870, which my 93 y.o. father, a WWII combat veteran, keeps handy for home defense. And I would like to buy one of my own….
Is there any way to tell what YEAR to get, in an 870, that PRE-DATES the FREEDOM GROUP’S OWNERSHIP?
If so, how? Is the Date of Manufacture spelled out plainly? Or is it “coded”, perhaps in the serial number?
I ask simply because I wish to purchase a similar-quality gun, used, from a gun dealer/pawn shop.
Also, can someone link me to a guide which would help teach me what to look for, to judge HOW WORN an 870 is?
If no such guide exists, I would appreciate any advice people could give, regarding how to tell if an 870 is worn, worn OUT, or still has a good amount of life left in it.
Thanks, in advance,
I bought a used 870 Wing Master back in the 90’s in 20 ga.. My gun dealer said it was made in 1967. Manufacturing date was in the serial number. The shotgun had a wonderful walnut stock with fine checkering and recoil pad. The action was fitted perfectly and was smooth as a baby’s butt. Never had any loading or operational problems. It always locked up tight and never had any rattles or loose feeling to the action. It was easy to bring up to firing position and pointed effortlessly. The only better one I have held was a 20 ga. Berretta O/U with 26″ barrels. That was a classy shotgun. If I had the extra money (retired now), I would still purchase the 870 Wing Master. So many options, it would be hard to make a bad choice.
Do you happen to know the average amount of time it takes to break the extractor on an 870. Considering the pain and expense it is to fix it I’m worried about how long it would take to break it and when it does is it cheaper to buy a new shotgun then it is to repair it?
I have put over 1500 rounds through my wingmaster – including black powder and hot loads.
Still no mechanical problems.
It is truly a fantastic design.
Um, I’m not sure if you’re thinking of the same 870 that I’m thinking of. Or are you joking? It takes like 20 seconds to replace the extractor. youtube.com/watch?v=tN5Zs0xa1t8
…sure, breaking down the gun takes a couple minutes (like 3) but you can literally swap the extractor with the bolt still in the gun without an issue…
Oh and a new extractor runs $17.99. Not that I think it’s very likely you’ll break one anyway.
I think I might have meant to say the ejector. That’s the part riveted into the frame, correct?
He meant ejector, which is riveted (ground flush)to the receiver and requires a shipment back to the factory to replace.
Not really, any competent smith should be able to do it.
My 870 is 20+ years old now. It has in excess of 10,000 rounds put through it using every conceivable type of ammunition. I’m still on the original ejector and haven’t had a single issue with the gun. As the OP said… Long live the King.
^. What he said. I got my 870 Express as a graduation present in 1985. I’ve shot countless rounds of skeet, been through 32 dove seasons, 32 pheasant seasons, a dozen duck hunts, and taken probably 35 deer with slugs. Just screw in the right choke for the right sport. Never changed a part, never had a failure.
You’ve been through 32 annual seasons in 29 years?!?! How did you generate the 1.21 jigawatts!?!?
Because NC and SC, RI and MA, and KS and MO have different seasons….
Not really…I just screwed up the math. And I’m soon to be a math teacher. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Mines from 57, still waiting for anything to break, no they didn’t have mags back then…
I replaced my extractor in less than 2 minutes without even removing the bolt assembly from the receiver
I can’t stand the matte finish on the newer low dollar 870’s. It rusts too easy and a pain in the ass to oil compared to polished and blued metal.
Then get an older one. They’re like 200 bucks at a pawn shop.
Older 870 inherited from dad still takes all the pheasant your dog can flush. Been reblued once and never replaced the ejector. If you want to spend twice as much money by an 1100 series. Fantastic shotguns, all of them. Kudos to Remington.
Its the same finish on the high dollar $800 Magpul Edition
If you are worried about rust on this finish, I suggest soak the finish in CLP a couple times. The roughness of the finish on mine soaked it up without any issues, even after using it in the rain.
@TheBear: I did get an older one…..an older shotgun, a Winchester 1300! Much better quality than my Remington 870 Express.
I would still love an old Wingmaster. Other than that, I’m done with Remington for a while. Their QC and business decisions don’t sit well with me recently.
First thing you do with ANY firearm is put a coat of Renaissance Wax on it, wood metal everything you can get at.
You won’t have to constantly try to keep it covered with a coat of oil..
(from Wiki) microcrystalline wax polish that is widely encountered in antique restoration and museum curation.
Thank you for sharing the advice regarding the use of antique wax. I hadn’t heard of that until now. Will try that since I failed to mention in my other post about scratching so easily that I also am diligent about using CLP all over the gun to protect.
I know this is such an old post but I concur. Threw a shell holder/Picatinny railed top on it. Changed my mind on brand preference/looks and changed it to another style of the same thing. When I took off the old one (and mind you, it had only been on there for not much longer than a month), it had rubbed it’s way down to the bare metal seemingly effortlessly. It does NOT seem that the new lower end 870 Express models have the same thickness or maybe the same material composites on their receivers. I can scratch that surface pretty darn easily as I have (not intentionally) once slipping with the wrench that holds the shell holder on, having that lightly skim across the surface and really making a permanent and noticeable 2 inch mark and then once just being a little careless rearranging all my rifles in one of my safes. Another rifle hit it there and on part of the barrel which took it to the metal for 1/4 inch of the way and a permanent scratch for the rest. ****Q: Are the newer 870’s as protected as the older ones with the same finish?
I agree. I’m not at the point where I “can’t stand” the finish but I’ve had the 870 Express/Tactical for 6mths +/-, bought NIB and installed the side saddle style shell holder. Then after finding one I liked better with more Picatinny real estate on top allowing me to place an Eotech red dot in the position I prefer I immediately noticed the wearing of the coat on the receiver down to the metal where the first part was installed. It was not a case of under-tightened pins that hold it on and movement making it wear. It was on there solid and still caused complete deterioration again, down to the raw metal. Additionally I’ve had several more deep scratches that would normally be easily buffed out on most any other gun. I’m a little upset about the quality of that coating but otherwise, perfection in all other aspects, especially mechanical function.
I DID INSTALL A PISTOL GRIP STOCK AND A NEW FOREND WITH A VERTICAL GRIP AND MORE IMPORTANTLY I BOUGHT AND INSTALLED THE POLICE BARREL VERSION AT 18″ FOR THE SLUGS I USE WHICH IS ABOUT 90% OF WHAT I RUN THROUGH THE GUN. Having said that, I wonder….do the police issued police versions of the 870 have a different coating and/or more heavy duty receivers than the civilian ones changed like mine? My solution for this problem is to simply strip the 870, drop off the receiver to a friend who owns a Cerakote business and protect it with a flat black shade of cerakote (textured would be nice), as every gun I’ve had him do has become much more impervious to scratches and wear since it’s a baked on ceramic based paint.
But again, if anyone knows if the police issued “Police Model” has a different material or thickness for the receiver and if it is coated differently? I think I do remember something mentioned about a magnum receiver on them but my memory is not what it used to be and I haven’t started my research on the net yet in pursuit of a definite answer. Though this is an old article, and I don’t know if it sets off alerts to anyone previously involved in the comments at the time it was new, I’m hoping I may luck out with an answer. Otherwise please excuse my ignorance in regards to the age of a forum type comment section and commenting years later. (lol, there were no personal computers ergo the internet until nearly when I was graduating from college so I am a little slower than all the “millenial” out there who know all this stuff.
I dont see a response, so ill give it a go. Police model can be had parkerized or blued. It also has over the express model: steel extractor over MIM, non dimpled mag tube, and metal trigger guard. Metal trigger guard is a debatable “upgrade” (ive got 870s with both, like the polymer one is fine, imo) dimpled mag tube is only an issue if adding an extended mag tube. The extractor is a worthwhile upgrade, at about 20 bucks. I hope that helps.
And in the third installment, can you review and rate the availability and affordability of after-market parts and accessories for the 870 and 500?
I am really more interested in the skidsteer rock bucket.
Does it work well?
This type of glowing report was the main reason I bought an 870 (Express model). However, mine and a number of other new owner’s (noted from reports on the Interweb) experienced jamming and locking-up of the pump when attempting to extract a shell. Seems the attention-to-detail aspect has lacked and units are being shipped with small imperfections in the chamber that causes the shell to cant sideways and jam on extraction. Numerous YouTube videos demonstrate how to hone the affected area. I contacted Remington to arrange for return/repair and they balked at the idea as I was not using the recommended Remington brand ammunition. The problem has decreased (can’t say it’s gone away) after running 100+ shells of various brands through the gun.
A good rule of thumb with any gun is that they are like an engine – they need to be broken in and at least 200 rounds is the bare minimum you will want to run before assessing issues.
That said, several gun manufacturers have let QC slip over the last decade or two.
Case in point – I have an old Sig P220 that is still one of the finest shooting pistols I have ever shot. However, I would not take a currently produced Sig even free as a gift. Well, ok, I’d probably take it free but trade it for something older or from a different brand. 🙂
I had an 870 18” and I had a buddy with an 18” 870 for home defense that had this lockup issue (mine was fine). My expectation is that a shotgun marketed for home defense it should not need significant rounds of break-in. Your average gun owner is not going to put 250 through the pipe as a function test, nor are they going to sit in their room and rack it a thousand times to get a nice smoothed action =] Most people put perhaps 10 shells or less and throw it in the closet or under a bed.
I really do not like the safety location on 870s. Much prefer 590 or even a forward safety like on the Beretta 1301.
I feel modern shotgun designs are reliable enough not to justify a semi IF the budget allows (eg FN SLP, Beretta 1301)
Got locked-up problem with the very first shot and the second, and the third, and … 10 stuck-ups out of 17 shots. They should do better QC test before sending items out of their factory.
So sad with my first Remington bought for HD. Many stuffs and paperwork to straight out problem. I want to be safe and have fun rather than spend money for this type of lock-up problem.
What do you not prefer about the location/function etc, of the safety on the 870’s? This is not to be poised as a “defensive” statement in the form of a question but rather just as the language is posed or ergo as purely an inquisitive nature. (I’ve always been interested in the truth to the subject of function buttons, switches and all things that change the operation of guns but mostly it boils down to my curiosity of 2 things: Safety and Mag releases. Just FYI, I try to keep an open mind as there seems to always be something on a gun that I initially disagree with but always find (with maybe a couple exceptions) that with a little practice, they often can change my initial opinion. With this, the 870 safety button, I found that having the safety ON with a round in the chamber for say…. home defense, the right index finger can literally slide forward almost in one motion from depressing the button (safety off position) and sliding forward 1/4 inch at most to the aft postion or right on the trigger for the intended defensive use.
Polish the chamber with steel wool on a wood dowel mounted in a power drill. I had the same issue, and this fixed it right up.
No matter how good something is, it can still break. Companies can still have bad apples even with the best QC in place. The best practice is to always have a back up plan.
The 870 has a long history of reliability. In the Nam they were used hard, put away wet, and kept on working. But I am partial to my 1954 made Winchester Model 97. It is the last year of production, and many of them were “parts clean up” guns. They looked high and low for any 97 parts, and built as many guns as they could from them. Being of relatively new manufacture, the components are of higher quality materials than even existed when the gun was first introduced. I never knew about it until I saw the movie “Bullitt”, where the back-up hit man takes the two sections from his coat and assembles a shotgun. I had to have one, and found one for $150.00, it already having had the barrel cut to 20″. What I did not know until the dealer showed me was that by having the trigger cocked on a live round, you could very quickly jack 6 rounds out in a hurry just by holding the hammer back, as there is nothing to keep it from following the bolt freely. I had another stock cut down and made into a pistol grip, and the barrel cut to 18 1/4″, Hastings chokes installed, and it is now a very concealable 27 +/-” long. Yes, the old jasper is heavy, but it has never failed to work, puked out a shell, or stove piped. As to the $350 870, you know you ain’t gonna get a Holland and Holland or Boss or Purdy for that little bit. But I expect it’ll be satisfactory, and one thing is for sure ; if you slip and fall on it, it won’t break your heart like it would if it were a Pigeon Grade Winchester Model 21, now, would it? It is what it is, and for a truck or tractor or barn gun and just beating around and actually hunting, well like the man said “It goes bang”, so ’nuff said. Oh yeah, Norinco is making exact copies of the 97, which I have not seen, but I think will be like their copies of the AK–not beautiful but functional and extremely reliable. We shall see. If anybody has experience with the Norinco 97 copy, please post and advise us.
I too am a Rem 870 fan, but also wanted the Win 97 but the prices in the last ten years have skyrocketed because they are one of the few period-authentic pumps to be allowed for Cowboy Action shooting, so all you see on offer now are those truly worn or shot out, for stil too much money, or those in excellent shape for which you pay museum prices. I saw the Norinco and bought it, its fit and finish are top grade, I can find no flaws in wood, metal, blued finish or fit. I got the military model with the useless but interesting bayonet mount, because I wanted a shotgun you could safely leave with the chamber loaded but without a cocked hammer, none of which you can do with a ‘hammerless’ gun (if you have a hammerless with a loaded mag but with no round chambered, it rattles and the slide is not locked down; I admit it could well be an alternate way to proceed.) I am confused by the commenter’s remarks that “by having the trigger cocked on a live round, you could very quickly jack 6 rounds out in a hurry just by holding the hammer back, as there is nothing to keep it from following the bolt freely.” Maybe he talking about unloading the gun, which sounds hazardous to me, but likely he’s referring to ‘slam firing’ whereby you don’t need to release and repull the trigger to fire the gun which can empty the whole magazine pretty fast, because it has no trigger disconnector which forces you to do so. Perhaps if the words in the comment “trigger” and “hammer” were reversed, the true picture would emerge, viz., ‘by having the HAMMER cocked on a live round, you could very quickly jack 6 rounds out in a hurry just by holding the TRIGGER back, as there is nothing to keep it from following the bolt freely.’ (As said, it is the lack of trigger disconnect from the sear which allows this, not ‘following the bolt freely’, whatever that means.) Anyway, pay thru the nose for one of the few remaining Win Mod 97s worth buying, or buy a new Norinco copy, with by the way modern steel.
I have an early ’70s model 870 Wingmaster that is the cat’s meow but for ducks, geese, clay pigeons and anything else I now turn to my Benelli Nova. If given the choice of the Benelli and a Remington on a $350 budget…. Benelli every time.
My Wingmaster lives in a bullpup stock with an 18.5″ barrel these days. 🙂
I want pictures!!! That sounds badass.
The only change from the pic is that I have an Aimpoint CompM2 on it now.
Actually I decided to do an update pic. I just snapped this one.
This is where my Wingmaster lives now on the wall of my gun room.
TheBear – I am torn between ‘Oh my eyes. They are bleeding. The abomination!’ and Google search ‘bullpup stock 870’. How much is in my blow money envelope?
Holy shit that’s rad!!!
Sorry to tell you this but the Nova isn’t a true Bennelli, its Bennelli branded but made in Turkey( run down to your local gun shop and seeththe cheaper off brand shot guns imported from Turkey -they are aldo designed just like the Nova, with that weird looking oversized front sight!)
Remington makes several versions of the 870, and the cost goes hand in hand with the performance.
I’ve had several 870s-a wingmaster, the police model, and now an express tactical, in addition to a mossberg 590, mossberg 500 tactical and a maverick 88. While it won’t knock off the 590, my express tactical is more solidly built than the 500 and maverick 88( 500 and Maverick 88 both experienced cracking trigger housings, and I jad to replace them via a quick mail order to Brownells)
The basic 870 can be easily upgraded over time to save you some change. For its basic use-HD and target practice, it,fits the bill( heck my rattling maverick 88 proved an equal value to its more expensive 500 family member)
Plus as oft stated, “your mileage may very”, but I’ve had friends that bought the Nova, found performance problems and cut corners with them, and ended up buying either an 870, or mossberg in disgust.
Having used 870 in my LE career, I wouldn’t stand by any other duty shotgun unless it were the higher end Bennelli super 90, but for day to day use and abuse public safety employees subject them to, remingtons last…
Gotta love the grand gun debates.
500 vs 870
9mm vs 45
AR vs AK
S&W vs Ruger vs Colt
I vote 500, 45, AK, and S&W.
Meh – guns and calibers are like Pokemon to me. Gotta catch ’em all!
Hah how true, and as any marksman should “To train them is my cause!”
lol +1. I’ve actually been considering pricing up another 870 for an HD role. My 28′ barrel is my all around shotty, and i want to keep it that way. Aside from freedom group BS, these things have a well deserved reputation for durability and simplicity. KISS exemplified.
While I agree with TheBear I will try this game:
Europeans… always wanting to change the rules! 😛
Change the rules? WE MADE THE RULES, MOTHERTRUCKER!
Sorry, that was a bit unusual for me. Still, what can I say? I like exotic things and those exotic things you can get in Europe. Ironically I can get a bunch of stuff you guys would kill for, while I can’t get any American suppressors.
To top it of I am in Norway which is great when it comes to gun rights (compared to other places).
Well. … you’re half right. 😀
I would go 500, 9mm, AK, and S&W
870, 9mm, AR, Ruger
870, 45, ak, ruger. I’ll have some popcorn
Good to see cerberus didnt screw up the 870 yet. Give em another year and they probably will.
I have a Remington 870 myself. Not as accurate as other shotguns I’ve fielded, but definitely more reliable and consistent. The aftermarket for accessories is enormous, putting most other shotguns to shame. It’s not the prettiest, but by far the classiest — it just don’t get any more classic or ‘Murican than an 870.
The 870 is beyond reviews at this point…
Until it isn’t. Gotta keep these guys honest!
I don’t shoot it often enough, but my “modern” 870 Tactical has been flawless.
I’m no expert on shotguns, or home defense, but it’s sure nice to know you don’t have to spend a fortune for a good home defense shotgun.
It’s also great to read such a positive review about a gun from a company that has had more than its share of bad press regarding quality control.
This gun just moved to the top of my Christmas list, and I might have an early Christmas this year.
You can get a replacement trigger assembly from Midway for about $100. No, it’s not cheap, but you’ll only need one ever.
I bought an 870 from Wally World, and it locked up on firing. I looked up the closest Remington certified gunsmith, and took it to McBride’s in Austin (high-end gun store), where they fixed it under warranty. Apparently the bolt or the receiver had some burrs on it that would prevent unlocking.
Aside from that, I have thousands of rounds (low and high brass) through my 870s.
I have a Remington 870 AOW. Straight out of the box, it would not reliably fire. It was only firing 1 out of 5 shells, the firing pin would click but wasn’t even denting the primers. I took it apart and looked at it, everything seemed to be in order, it is a pretty simple action. I couldn’t figure out why it would click when you cocked the action, yet it wouldn’t shoot most of the time.
Took it to my local gunsmith, he had to take apart the bolt and firing pin assembly, after about 30 minutes of searching and measuring, he found some manufacturing rough edges on the bolt that wouldn’t allow the firing pin to smoothly move forward. He also found left over casting edges on the bolt that he had to grind down to get it to cycle smoothly in the receiver. Pretty crappy QC if you ask me. He had to reform and grind down the firing pin channel in the bolt to get it to work. I would have sent it back to Remington except as an NFA item, I didn’t want the hassle of trying to get it repaired, shipping, etc.
Frankly, I am disappointed in the quality. I know the 870 is the Gold Standard for shotguns but my experience so far is that the modern 870 is a mere shadow if it’s pre-Cerebrus/Freedom Group self. I love old 870s, but so far, my own new one has left me distinctly unimpressed. When I first took delivery of it and tore it down for cleaning, too many plastic parts that should be metal, machining marks inside. Not saying there is a better choice for the money, the Mossbergs have always worked but felt cheap too. Guess you get what you pay for, if you want a top end shotgun, buy a better one. Kind of tough with AOWs though, they are pretty much mostly made from 870s or Mossberg 500s unless you quadruple the cost and get a cool Saiga 12 based one.
Is it a Serbu Super Shorty?
No Nathan, a local FFL07/SOT02 made them. The were 12.1″ barrel, quite a bit larger than a Serbu Super Shorty but also cost about $300.00 less so I went for it. Holds 4 in the tube, one in the chamber whereas the Super Shorty holds 2 in the tube.
In California, an AOW or a C&R SBS/SBR are the only NFA items we are allowed unless we sell to law enforcement/military or are an armorer to movie studios. No Machine Guns, no modern SBS/SBRs, no suppressors. California sucks. The SSE process that let us own AOWs here goes away on 01/01/2015 so soon, no more AOWs will be able to be bought. Glad I got one while I could. Totally impractical but major fun.
Wow a fan boy article on the 870 instead of Glock!
That “strange slotted lifter design” on the 500 that you don’t like stays out of the way unless the bolt is open, meaning you can reload it with it mounted to your shoulder and keep all your fingernails.
I think you’ll find that both the 870 and 500 are so reliable that it’s boring to test them and eventually give up. Both are solid pump guns and thus virtually indestructible.
Tell me more though about customization, since the 870 seems to have about half the available options of the 500 available on the aftermarket marketplace.
Both kick like a mule but inexplicably the 500 is significantly lighter in all polymer furniture than the 870 (almost 2 lbs!)
You can crow all you want, but what you have there is an overly complicated slow to reload shotgun that is inexplicably heavy while still recoiling severely with the safety in an inaccessible place and lacking in customization options that still manages to cost more than it’s superior competition.
Take out all the subjectives (seriously, my 500 has never fallen apart while being pumped), compare it side to side with a 500 for reload speed, weight, accuracy, and reliability and get back to us with something more than ‘the 870 works and I like it better than the gun I didn’t review’.
True that BOTH are boringly reliable, but BOTH Remington and Mossberg have kicked out a few bad batches recently( haven’t heard anything catastrophic or totally unrepairable though)
People knock mossbergs for their rattle, which some confuse the loose fit to cheap-move up a notch in cost, like the 590, and it disappears.
My knock is that people gripe about the current non metal trigger guard/ housing. Both use them, and its a cost and weight saving measure, but I’ve mine actually crack and break on my on 500 and lesser cousin Maverick 88( and don’t say the 88 is not a mossberg-they directly advertise the 88 as a mossberg on their public site); this hasn’t happened on my current budget 870 and I’ve noticed the polymer trigger guard and housing flexes a little compared to the hard molded mossberg equivalent.
I’ve also discovered that the metal trigger guard and housing on “high end” 870s can,also be dented and even cracked if dropped.
Also with mossberg, the finish wears
Off faster, cheap ass bluing unless you get phosphate finished ones, than the comparable 870s, but the aluminum reciever isnt subject to rust issues( although it only took a month for my older 500s barrel sitting behind a couch in my “dry” drought plagued California summer weather to suck up enough ambient moisture to rust horribly-again poor finish.
All in all I’ll stick to the 870 first, but wouldn’t hesitate to grab one of my mossbergs if family and friends took ahold of the remingtons before me.
I’ll also take a mossberg over the supposedly equal functioning turkish imports and the ugly, crudely made chinese remington knock off imports that I’ve seen popping up at some LGS like the H & Rs and PA-12s( SHAME ON YOU TURNERS OUTDOORSMAN for selling that cheapo crap!!)
I was thinking the Mossberg 590 is a lot heavier than the 870, but a quick Goggle search shows they’re only separated by a few ounces? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s the 8+1 compared to the 4+1 that gives the Mossberg extra bulk. Seems like the 870 is clearly lighter, but maybe I’m tripping.
Friend bought a new 870 and got it hot out of the box no lube- jam-o-matic. Also in one week rusted red in entirety. The finish is garbage and the machining spotty. My 500 flex did not experience any of these problems and was pristine. The 500 also feels much more solid than the 870…Idk what two shotguns are being compared here…maby a 30 year old Mossberg and the one Remington that passed QC?
I’ve had my 870 out in several torrential downpours and accidentally buried in mud a couple of times and haven’t seen any rust problems.
The stock is swelling a little, but that’s mostly because I’m the one dumbass in the country that buys a duck gun with wood furniture.
I’m still looking out for an Ithaca Model 37.
+1 on that. A classy (and iconic) shotgun.
Just remember the recoil pad since those things are lightweight.
The 37 is solid, but I have a serious complaint about the bottom eject. If you’re shooting clays and burning through two or three cases of target loads in an afternoon you have to stop and clean up so you’re not tripping over shells.
That’s about my only gripe with it.
I honestly don’t shoot that much, but I see how it can be a bit annoying. It also simplifies cleanup since you don’t have to chase hulls. I like it since I like to switch up shooting from left and right shoulder.
Man I can feel the fanboyism from here
The mossberg feels like its going to fall apart? You gotta be shitting me
The mossberg does feel like it’ll come apart! The loose tolerances on the slide. Not my 590, $650.00 shotgun, but my maverick and my 500 “tactical” rattle like bad valves on a 72 pinto!!!
Plus the aluminum light weight throws novice shotgun buyers when they compare them to 870s in gun shops( for lightweight I’d feel more confident with the petit old girl known as the ithaca 37!)- interestingly enough, women and experienced,shotgunners will pick up a mossberg for inventory cause of the lighter weight
If you really want to cheap out get a Pardner Pump. Runs great, solid steel parts, reliable & CHEAP. Already given a glowing review in TTAG.
I’ve always wanted an 870. But being left-handed and kind of a cheapass, any pump gun I’ve bought has been a Mossberg, simply because that tang safety you don’t like is ambidextrous. I will grant that a pistol grip would preclude its use, but for now they seem to work pretty well.
I felt the same way until I found a left handed safety conversion on Midway for $17 with 95% saying they would recommend to a friend. Makes that consideration a whole lot harder.
“In a few weeks we’ll transfer them to the bottom of a lake for a while, drop them from an airplane, and then blow them up.”
Don’t forget to freeze them in a block of ice and thaw them out on a bonfire …
I have had my 870 Mag Express since 2000 and its still running like a champ. I’ve put thousands of rounds through it and the only time I had a jam was because of faulty Federal ammo, even then, all I had to do was rack is really hard to eject the shell.
I’ve fired one of the higher end Mossy 500s and I really liked it. Felt nice in my hands. It had a telescoping stock, pistol grip and ghost ring sights. The other Mossy 500s I’ve handled always felt a little rickety, had cheap feeling polymer and rattled a little too much for my liking. They also don’t really pass the eye test for me.
Thanks for the review!
I have two, one recently made (~2 years ago) and one made in the early Eighties. The older one has gone in the lake at least three times before I owned it and had nary a spot of rust on it, even though the previous owner never cleaned it. They are definitely good go-to guns.
Props to TTAG for posting an unbiased review of a product from a company who hasn’t been too happy with TTAG in the past
I run a mossberg 500 security field combo. Does what I need it too and I haven’t had a problem yet after about 500 rounds, a good 100 being shot in pouring rain and another in a good bit of snow. I choose that over the 870 because I like the ergonomics better mostly, but I have been trap shooting with a friend who has 2 20 gauge 870’s and a new 12 gauge 870. The 20’s ran absolutely perfectly but the 12 had an absolutely rediculous amount of problems. The machine marks caused it to lock up so badly we had to take a 30 minuite break to get it open. Then the extractor broke. After getting those repaired it was still running like junk so he just replaced it with a bottom ejecting browning shotgun. Having put about 1000 rounds through both systems on trap I find that the 500 is a bit less balanced and the action is a bit more stiff. If I was going for a cheap clays gun I’d go 870 but most other tasks 500. Just my take on it. They are both shotgun legends and while I have my preference towards Mossberg I would trust both of them, assuming I didn’t get a freedom group ruined gun.
I did not read every comment, so if someone mentioned this already, my mistake. after researching the problems with express 870 ejection problems, many are saying it is due to the MIM (metal injected molded) extractors. I had this problem with my Remington 870 express tactical, so i called Remington customer support, and told them the problem i was having, and about the MIM extractor, they gladly sent me a forged steel extractor, free of charge, no questions asked! Remington customer support has your back with this. I tested the new extractor a few times with a spent shell, and it throws it much further that the MIM. Call them up, better free than paying 20 bucks for it online plus shipping!
Ryan – how does one tell the difference between the two types of extractors?
Loved my Remington 870 16-gauge. It would occasionally choke extracting an empty casing, but never failed to fire. I say “loved” because it was stolen last week. TTAG, could you do a review on the other guns that got lifted from my safe? That would stir up even more sentimental, fond memories.
The 870 you bought looks very much like the 870P (for police). We carry 870P’s loaded with 00 Tactical (reduced recoil) buckshot. The only issue I’ve ever seen with reliability is short-stroking. I’ve fired thousands of rounds and been on the range for more. There’s also been the occasional pinch between the fore end and the frame of the action.
My 870 Express Magnum still runs like a champ. I have to re-adjust to the longer stroke of the 3 1/2″ action. Recoil from 3 1/2″ loads is pretty nasty. It currently wears a 18″ Mossberg breacher barrel and has a shell holder on the stock. It has 00 buck in the tube and a mix of slugs / 00 buck in the shell holder.
I’ve always considered the action of the 870 to be more substantial than that of the 500. Both are proven, although I don’t think the 500 feels like its going to fall apart. Then again, I’ve always considered the 870 to be a superior pump gun to the 500. If I want to shoot a fast, cheap shotgun, the Mossberg 930 is the way to go. YMMV.
I recently ought a HD shotgun, looked at the 500, 870, but bought the Benelli, just fit me better.
I took an 870 in trade last year. It was a duck gun, 28″ barrel and wood furniture. I don’t bird hunt so it sat in the safe. I put three boxes of military buckshot and a whole box of cheap #8 birdshot without any issues. This spring I decided to make the shotgun more fun. I found an 18.5″ regular barrel, put the stock police furniture on it and added an ATI +3 magazine extension. The ATI extension is about a quarter inch shorter than the 18.5″ barrrel. I now have a full 7+1 capacity without hunting for a 20″ barrel and the extra weight that accompanies it. I put a leftover sling on it and now have it as one of my HD guns. If I ever decide to go hunting I can just swap barrels and pull the extension off and add a plug.
Mossberg felt like it was going to fall apart? Mine has consistently been the exact opposite, where as the 8 or so 870 have always felt sharp in the bolt release, and the stroke chattered like the action bars had burrs. After 2500+ rounds, my 500 has been stopped only by running empty or an errant stick/leaf/branch between the next round and “ceiling” of the receiver (I shoot in woods so dense visibility is <100 yards)
And to all wondering why the 500 is lighter, it is due to the AR- like construction – aluminum receiver, with the bolt locking into a steel barrel extension.
If viz isn’t less than 100 yards, it isn’t the ‘woods’.
“Even after all of these years and management changes, it still feels and works just as well as its predecessors.”
Cycle an old Wingmaster and tell me that again…
Not bashing the 870 – it’s still my pump of choice, but that statement is entirely false.
Old comment, but i see this comment often. In my experience its been entirely untrue. My wingmaster from the mid 70s is much stiffer than my freedom group express. Both have been equally reliable.
When racking the Mossy 500, it feels like it’s about to come apart.
I got a chuckle out of this. Yes, it does feel that way — and it will still feel that way after flawlessly firing thousands of rounds. Go figure.
+1 for sure
I now have a new 870 in 20 gauge (thanks Dad!), 28″ barrel. Ran 2 boxes of ammo through it last week to shoot skeet as its first action, no problems at all (other than accuracy and not having a skeet choke!). The only potential issue I see is the fore grip seems to be tighter to the receiver on the left, and is rubbing a bit, looking at it from above you can see slack on the right side and snug on the left side. I was going to see about taking that off and maybe take some sandpaper to it. This particular model doesn’t have much of a recoil pad on it, so I’ll probably use the slip on buttpad I bought for my 30/30 Marlin, my shoulder was sore after the 2 circuits.
I bought a beautifully blued Remington 870 Police Magnum. It’s so purty I hesitate to shoot it.
My 870 has nearly 100k rounds through it. It now has pitting in the barrel and the extractor needs to be replaced but it still functions and is my baby… It’s been used as a paddle to the duck blind. It has been dropped into a swamp 4′ of water and then into the mud. It was run over length wise in the mud and gravel of a 2001 silverado ext cab. I now own a mossberg but I’m still not sure it would go through everything my 870 has been through without a trip to the gunsmith but I’ve got 9 more years to try and make it to the same point
Wait…did you say 100K, as in 100,000, as in ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND rounds?
It’s at my back door and my Mossgerg is at my front door, ahhh, feel safe in side.
Oops, forgot if I had a side door I would put a Mdl. 1100 win. There.
My choice was a Maverick 88, due to the layout of the controls (since replicated on the Winchester models). I could shut my eyes and operate all of them easily without moving my hand grip. It was easier to swing through an arc (alloy receiver) and just felt better to use. I do not like the 500 tang safety, and especially not the 870’s rear triggerguard safety – it means waggling your forefinger back to operate the safety, then forward to fire. The Maverick’s motion is all forward – click safety, straight to trigger to fire. The slide release is also much better on the Maverick, operated with the second finger, without groping somewhere forward like on the 870.
The ease of reloading the Maverick is a bonus. The plastic trigger guard may put some off – Ruger’s testing showed that plastic worked better and didn’t snap off like alloy, nor bend like steel.
The slide operation may not be as slick as a top of the line Wingmaster, but neither is the price. I’ll stick to my Maverick (with Limbsaver recoil pad and 18.5″ and 28″ barrels).
You and I are very like minded. You also didn’t even mention that the M 88 can be had for like $220.
A five-star overall rating for a gun made by the Freedom Group? Are you sure it was a Remington you reviewed?
7+ lbs is not a particularly light shotgun, by the way. It’s about the right weight for a 12ga of this size. There are lighter ones, too.
At the risk of flaunting my ignorance, does anybody know what the ‘870’ means?
the safety on the Mossberg is VERY intuitive and I prefer it over the 870 but only if you keep the normal stock. Swapping to a pistol grip means its pointless and the Remy gets the nod.
I just swapped a Vang Comp oversized safety on my new 870 Tactical and a Hogue Tamer grip. This will be the HD setup; I’ll swap the Magpul stock back on for range use. The Vang Comp is a *must* have…its much more positive engagement gives better feedback; I only wish they’d include a red o-ring or paint the left side so its clear when the safety is off (like the Remington safety). Easy enough to fix with some paint but it should come that way.
The 870 is nice, but you can get a 500 combo for a few bucks less and a Maverick 88 for like $150 less. The Big 5 Mossberg 500 combo deal is an investment nearly every American family should make.
I’ll take a Winchester Model 12 for every purpose except home defense, as far as pump guns go. There’s a reason they became known as ‘The Perfect Repeater.’ It’s a shame 870 priced the Model 12 out of the market, but I don’t think anyone could argue that any 870 is near the quality as a Model 12.
Well, without debating quality of older made guns, I’d surely agree that the Win Mod 12 does in fact point better and balance better than even my Rem 870 Wingmaster. The Win 12 feels as much ‘between the hands’ as any double gun. Happily, they are not allowed for Cowboy Action shooting (unlike the Win 97) and so they have not become scarce, but shop for a nice one, they are getting on a bit.
For the money – a maverick (mossberg) 88 is the best shotgun you can buy.
A mossberg 590 or a high quality rem 870 is nicer. But bang/buck ratio? Maverick 88 all the way. I paid 185 for mine – used in excellent condition that holds 8 rounds with an adjustable length folding stock with pistol grip.
Additionally, the mossberg maverick 88 is almost identical to the mossberg 500/590 with exception to the pump assembly (Fore-end) and will accept most accessories that the 500/590 will accept. The maverick 88 has an aluminum receiver and a plastic trigger guard. The mossberg 500 has an aluminum receiver and trigger guard. The mossberg 590 appeared to be all steel. I was surprised you advised the Remington 870 trigger guard was plastic as their earlier models were not. In my opinion the mossberg 590 is superior to all of them – owners of the 590 had described it as “indestructible”
Not to knock the 870 at all, but it is certainly not the most iconic scattergun, as the writer claims. That honor must belong to the side-by-side break-action. No contest.
The 870 is a great, and iconic gun in its own right, but if we’re talking about icons…
but what about new york?!
the new green pistol doesn’t shoot but you can put crimson trace up front. it would scare me…
the 700’s have to go back. wow.
they let marlin ship some marred, sloplophobe levers out. i still want a 336 in .35.
this things okay though. good. cheap, too.
and… ithaca. twice the money, but ttag tests 5k dark stuff so: test some. they even still make sweet 16’s. and what appears to be a fine 1911. if only they would bring back the x- 5.
for what it’s worth,
We have 870s at work, they’re great. However, my personal 12ga is an ’88 Mossy 500. I’ve never experienced a single problem with it. It is one of the most beat up, ugly, dirty old shotguns you’ll ever see, and I trust it for home protection every night.
QC has slipped. You seem to have gotten one that was put together correctly but many others haven’t. It is pretty hit or miss these days. The two biggest problems they have been having are the guns rusting if you look at them wrong and the ejectors breaking (which requires a trip back to Remington to fix).
Oh, okay, so the Remington 870 is pretty good? Cool. Maybe now that the word is out people will go buy some.
I have 2 870s, a 12 and a 20 ga. They have both proven to be excellent shotguns, though the twelve doesn’t get out much. The 20 ga. is fairly light and shoots a good pattern, it’s a full choke model from the ’70s, and is an excellent gun for birds, and tree rat hunting. I also have an Ithaca model 27 in 20 ga., and I have to say it’s easily a better field gun than the 870. But, the Ithaca is irreplaceable now so it stays in the house in bad weather. Before I had any of these I had a Nobel 20 gauge, I believe it was a copy of the 870 made Italy. It also was a good shotgun.
Remington’s haven’t so much become worse under the Freedom Group’s ownership as they have become less consistent. Some are great, and some aren’t.
For this reason, I ask a very simple question. Was this gun provided by a friend/co-worker/gunshop for evaluation. Or was it a T&E gun that probably got a bit of extra special attention before it left the factory?
The finsh does rust up quick without lube but that can be solved with paint, the chambers have to be polished, the extractor needs to be swapped out for a machined one and the receiver and barrel extension can stand a deburring other than that the express models are a great shotgun “kit”. Mossy 500’s just require break in and maybe a metal safety switch. Dual extractors and a screw on ejector are a nice touch compared to the 870. Oh and the only reliable left hand conversion for the 870 requires a change to a left safety right eject trigger plate which runs around $90 plus shipping from remington. Those aftermarket lefty safeties are dangerous.
@Evan I don’t think Mossbergs are crap, I just preffer an 870. I killed my first deer with a Mossy. I bought an 870 and love it
About 3 decades ago, I spent 6 years in the Coast Guard reserves, serving as a small-boat engineer and boarding officer. When I first joined the standard shotgun was the Remington 870 with short cylinder-bore barrel and plain wood furniture.
Midway though my hitch the powers that be took away our Remingtons and gave us Mossberg 500s; I don’t remember anyone in the outfit who approved of the change.
I always wanted an 870 of my own, and got the chance when my son dragged home a rusty beater magnum with bent action bars, a hacked-off barrel, and damaged stock. I purchased a new Remington 18.25″ barrel and their synthetic stock set, did a little repair work, and wound up with a great little gun. It shoots a lot better than it looks, but the same thing can be said about me…
I bought an 870 Express Magnum and it has been flawless. The only issue is the finish, but Rem-Oil does the job. Yes the safety placement sucks, but as I hardly use the safety I have had no real issue with it.
Yes there are more accessories for the Mossberg 500, but there are more than enough for the 870 to do what you want with it. Mine has a side folding stock with an ITT recoil reducer.
870 vs. 500 is like Glock vs.1911. They each have their good and bad points, but both are quite good.
The Remington 870 Express is the quintessential shotgun. The debate about this or that is moot. It is the best shotgun ever produced. Period.
I personally love that forend that Remington is putting on these now. It’s the same forend they use on the 870P, the cop guns. It’s minimalistic and not excessively bulky. It doesn’t cover nor interfere with the loading port or the ejection port when all the way back. And it’s hell for stout.
But then I prefer the old “corncob” or “spool” style forend on any pump gun.
…also, as others in the discussion have noted, I had some extraction problems with mine in the first hundred rounds or so. Burrs and tool marks in the chamber were the culprit. Buckshot rounds and slugs extracted without problems, but cheap Winchester field loads appeared to be made of softer plastic and/or thinner metal at the case heads and stuck very tightly in the chamber until it smoothed up.
Granted, I only paid $249 for this shotgun at a gun show, but I was hoping that the rumors I’ve been hearing about Remington’s QC problems were exaggerated.
I’ve put about 5000 rounds through my 870 and have never had it let me down. Only complaint was having to sand down the magazine dimples in order to make it accept an extended magazine. I highly recommend everyone also replace the plastic orange follower that comes with the rifle to an aluminium follower. It was my first gun and shall sit in my kids kids safe one day.
Jesus. What do they think those guns are, a Toyota Hi-Lux?
My local gun shops have plenty of twenty year old Remington 870 Magnums, Wingmasters, and Police guns with far better fit and finish for $200-$300. You can build out a high spec 870 with to suit your needs for only a few $$$ more.
Still, a good semi-auto won’t short stroke when the adrenaline is pumping….
I bought a Mossberg 500 almost a month ago and it gave me trouble with the loading mechanism getting stuck. It was easy to get it unstuck with a tool, but the gun was new and I did not expect it to have such a flaw. I tested the gun several times and it was still having the same issue. I also shot the gun 3 different occasions and on the second and third time shooting the shells were getting stuck/jammed. This was easy for me to fix on the spot, but is another problem a new gun should not have. I took the gun apart, cleaned it and put it back together and both issues were still happening. I called Mossberg and hey told me to send them the gun. I am currently waiting for them to fix it and send it back. I bought a Remington 870 police and shot it recently, no problems whatsoever. I also have a Remington rifle and it has not giving me any problems, so far my trust is with Remington.
If you want a quality Remington 870 forget these silly, ugly Express models and simply buy an older used 870 Wingmaster with nice bluing, engraving, walnut stock, and quality workmanship from the past (pre Freedom Group Remington).
If you are looking for a 20 gauge (which I prefer for many reasons – Google the subject) , the oldest 870 20 gauge models were built on the heavier 12 gauge frame and accept the 12 gauge stock. So they have less recoil than the newer lightweight (LW) 20 gauge 870 frame. However, I have read that replacement 20 gauge barrels for these heavy frame models are more expensive and harder to find. Newer LW 20 guage barrels are all over. Research this subject first if you want a heavier older model that will take 12 guage stock swaps (and there are lots of 12 guage stock options, more than for LW 20s). Per Midway “20 gauge 870 Lightweight barrels will not fit older 20 gauge standard 870 shotguns with serial numbers ending in a “X” or “N” .”
If you want to know everything about how to fix 870s get the book “The Remington M870 & M1100/M11-87 Shotguns – A Shop Manual” by famous gunsmith Jerry Kuhnhausen from gunbooks dot com. It is an amazing book with great detailed photos and troubleshooting/repair methods.
All that said, a pump shotgun that I’ve found superior to the 870 for hunting is the Browning BPS. ALL heavy-duty steel, fine walnut, and smooth as silk operation. Even nicer than most Wingmaster. Nice engraving on older ones (new ones are plain) as an extra cost option on new ones. Over 7 pounds in both 12 and 20 gauge so recoil is light. Bottom ejection for lefties too. However, you can’t load directly into the chamber like the 870, so single shells have to be cycled from the magazine. So a BPS is not great for clay bird competitions or for a “combat reload.” Also you shouldn’t disassemble a BPS unless you are mechanically inclined – see youtube videos on this. You don’t have to though, and the manual says this. Just spray it out with spray gun cleaner, let drain/dry, and re-lube. Easy.
The BPS is the same price as a new 870 Wingmaster, so it ain’t cheap. But you don’t get a quality shotgun for a $350 870 Express, you get a plastic and rust-prone gizmo with rough parts that is like a monstrosity twin brother of the Wingmaster. Unfortunately Freedom Group has also been bad for the 870 Wingmaster, and some are coming now to shops with poor quality stocks and other noticeable defects. Like I said, get a used one. They are all over at gun stores.
An 870 has MANY more aftermarket parts than the BPS and barrels are cheaper. My BPS setup is the standard Hunter with 26″ barrel, and I bought a 22″ upland barrel (again not cheap) that can be used also for home defense. I put Williams firesignts on for slugs and deer (and have also used sabots with Carlson’s rifled choke tubes). An expensive rifled slug barrel with cantilever scope mount is also available. An Upland Special 22″ bbl BPS is available with straight grip stock and so is a Rifled Deer model that comes with the rifled slug barrel. Also other BPS styles including one for kids and smaller people. Browning website will send you a BIG Browning catalog for free. Seriously the BPS is really fine quality, and the Browning company is a class act compared to the dirtbags from Freedom Group that are wrecking Remington, Marlin, etc. It is worth the extra money. Used ones are a real steal because they rarely ever break unless really abused.
So buy a used Browing BPS, or a used 870 Wingmaster that was made by a craftsman years ago. If you don’t know how to check one out, buy from a reputable gun store than has inspected it and will guarantee function and repair or trade-back on used guns. Gunsmiths may also have some or can point you to a good shop. Used guns at gunshows can have problems so beware there.
Is there a TTAG BPS review? I’ll have to search. If not Gunblast dot com has a review of the 16 gauge BPS in their archive.
Update on the mossberg. I received my mossberg 500 and tested it. I had no issues this time.(only shot 5 times to do a quick check). I will use it again soon and shoot at least 25 more shots just to be sure. I shot more with the 870 and still had no problems. Mossberg had to replace 3 parts on the gun, so maybe I got a bad lemon. Their customer service was professional, but it was a little difficult to get a hold of them. Their wait times were high and sometimes the calls will drop. Also it seemed their lines were having issues since it kept either dropping my call or kept me on hold for more than 20 min each time I called and then dropped the call… Other than that they repaired the weapon and were courteous to me. Because of the past malfunctions of my mossberg 500 flex, I am still going to use the Remington 870 as my main shotgun.
I am not an expert by any means. Frankly, I would like to own a Remington 870 pump as well. Lemons come from anywhere. My low tech Mossberg Maverick 88 pump has proven to be reliable. I shoot only 00 buck low brass. Understand, one problem can spoil the whole bunch. Stick with what you trust.
Mossberg 590A1 beats the crappy Remington all day long. I burried the 870 as son as i got the 590A1 in my hands. Your comment above “When racking the Mossy 500, it feels like it’s about to come apart” Makes me LOL and understand that you have probably never hold one in your hands.
The Marine Corps didn’t choose this shotgun because it was pretty. Reliability and functioning under the most adverse conditions are the necessary’s of a tool of war. I’d say 3 out of thousands is about as good as you’ll ever get, People like to raise a little sand over Mossberg’s appearance, and attach too much significance to it’s low price.
Bill Laughridge at Cylinder and Slide once told me he didn’t give a damn if a pistol cost $10,000.00; that what counted is that it worked every time you pulled the trigger and that it didn’t malfunction, and would feed every brand and type of ammo you can put in a .45ACP Government Model. I think that’s why I spent about $1500 to have him bring my Colt Combat Elite up to his standards. It’ll work with everything I’ve ever put in it, and like the man says, that’s what counts. Ain’t it?
There´s a reason why military and police prefer the Mossberg 590A1 over the outdated 870 regarding reliability.
I have been looking at the Mossberg 590A1 for a long while. I am trying to decide whether to purchase the Remington 870 or the Mossberg. The QC problems with the new Remingtons are very troubling to me.
It’s an easy choice, go for the 590A1. The Mossberg is the only shotgun that passed the military 3443g test…firing 3000 rounds…with only 3 failures aloud….The 870 didn’t pass…The winchester wasn’t entered…All other pump shotguns failed. I would personally never buy anything from Remington.
Built on personal experiences Remington quality really sucks and can be more dangerous to the person holding the trigger than the one in front of the barrel.
Stop posting this nonsense. Its untrue, and you (should) know this. Remington didnt enter as they couldnt compete on cost. They never “failed”.
Purchased an 870 in 2013. Shells did not eject on a consistent basis so sent back to Remington for repair. They polished the ejection port, still had issues so back to Remington. They replaced the barrel. Still had issues. Now just passed the two year warranty but called Remington and they are going to replace my shotgun. I think I got the one gun off the production line that had an issue but the company is standing tall and making good on their commitment to customer satisfaction.
My previous post said “holding the hammer back”, a gross error on my part. It should have been “holding the trigger back”, as those of you familiar with the 97 know. Mea culpa – a slip of the fingers.
Initially, I was looking for an all around shotgun like I carried in the military and in Vietnam. Something I would already be familiar with. Before I bought mine, I turned to a friend who is a shotgunner. He was just heading out to hunt birds out west with some friends. While hunting, he asked his hunting buddies for their recommendations for a 12 gauge for home defense, range, and hunting. The Remington 870 easily won in each category. I ordered mine. When it arrived, I learned that I got lucky. Remington produces one with a fixed extended tube, and pistol grip. Unfortunately, you can’t change barrels with that model. The shop swapped out the pistol grip for a standard stock. With this I can change the setup to fit what I am doing. One of the key points was that the 870 uses a two rail system for the pump which keeps it from twisting and binding while racking.
Forty years ago we would buy used Remington 870’s at gun shows other dealers or out of ads in newspapers. They were everywhere and cheap most of the times, old farm guns in our area. Those purchased were modified: cutting the barrels to 18-1/4 inches in length, add a “Be Square” side attached mount with a “Aimpoint” red dot scope, touch up the blue with cold blueing and they were ready to go. Sold them to police departments, walk-in customers or at gun shows. Good home defense guns, or deer guns shooting Remington slugs. The Remington today can be ordered setup as just mentioned, you can never go wrong with an 870.
Reading this article and related responses about the 870, wondering if anyone knows of availability of replacement barrels for my left hand 870 Wingmaster model LHTB, specifically shorter barrels around ~18″?
I would contact Remington Arms or one of their warranty dealers in your area. That shouldn’t be an issue. Check some of the gun sale sites too.
The only issue I’ve ever had with any of the eight 870s my kinfolk and I own was with one split barrel. A friend was hunting with us, using one of my dad’s 870s.
Watched the shot strike the ground, missing the rabbit. Watched the second round nail the rabbit, and out of my peripheral vision saw flame come out of mid barrel. I knocked the barrel of the shotgun up as he was racking in the third round.
Upon examination, there was a 1.5 inch split, at the 1300 position, about 1 inch behind the ring that goes around the magazine tube.
Remington didn’t even want us to ship the barrel to them for examination. They blamed it on reloads, despite us telling them we were using factory loads.
Outside of that one incident, our 870s have walked and talked across Texas.
I got my first deer using an 870 with 00 buckshot in the mixed brush, juniper breaks of Central TX.
Numerous sandhill cranes near Seminole and Snyder have been harvested. Jack Rabbits soon learned extreme evasive maneuvers rather than just running in front of the pickup. Many a dove ended up on the grill or oven thanks to our 870s.
Just had an issue with my 870, I received it 9 months ago and I have put about 6500 ( I reload or it would have been a lot less) or so rounds down through it with out any problems, Its the 2015 model with the wood finish and I love it. Just this last weekend I and the party I was with were fraught with 870 issues. My colleague had issues with the gun 870 express “tacti-cool” locking up and not ejecting the shell, the last time was so bad we removed the barrel and with some positive nudging we got the barrel off and then had to pry out the shell (He was using manufactured rounds and not my re-loads) noticed it was a bit dirty in the load block and extractor but not too bad. My last shot on (we only did 4 rounds of trap) I found my express not ejecting no matter how hard I yanked on the forearm, I pulled the barrel and removed the shell con knife blade, I reinstalled the barrel and I was able to move the action but it got stuck a little over halfway, that’s when I noticed the extractor was gone…. took it home and pulled it all apart all the way down including the trigger assembly, I heard a clinking and I found the extractor on my bench. I think somehow it got lodged up in the action, don’t know how, I re-installed it and ran some snap caps through the pipe and it seems to be working fine. Is there anything I should be looking for? (Before I did the breakdown I did get on line with Remington and ordered another extractor because I wasn’t thinking I would still have it, So I have a spare part on the way for 18 bucks) Meaning, just re-installing the part s good enough or am I going to be facing some issues down the road (or even next time I yell pull”?)
For anyone who has an 870, or for that matter a Moss 500, and who has wondered about what it would be like to own a BULLPUP version of a 12ga but found the price tag for a production version to be on the excessive side.
May i suggest that you look at Bullpup Unlimited out of Tennessee. They produce a drop in stock kit for the 870 and 500 that ive found to be extremely durable and very handy as it shortens the factory 18″ 870 by about 11″. this is accomplished by simply removing the stock furniture from the platform and placing it into the BU Stock Kit. ONLY the stock furniture is removed. Nothing else changes, is remover or modified!
conversion time is about 20 minutes. Kit cost is around $300 and what one ends up with is a platform that shorter than an M4, easly used from small and tight spaces (cars and inside structures) that retain its legal specifications in all 50 states and under federal guidelines.
take a look, for those that might see the advantages this is a solution that will suit to those already owning an 870 or 500.
I want to buy my first shotgun for home defense. I have been debating between Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. This article settles it for me. I’m buying the 870.
http://reviewmesilly.blogspot.ca/ this is the best review i have found on the 870 express check it out
Meh, look at BigEd’s 870 review on youtube
Lol, I love how so many gun nutcases are so insanely defensive to their brand. You prefer Mossberg? Well good for you…nobody gives a sh*t what you put in your safe. And unless Mossberg is paying you to verbally jerkoff about their products online you just sound like an idiot.
This was a great review and I can’t find fault with any of the stated facts.
Got my Mossberg in 1980 never had a problem with it. The tang safety is great now because of a cataract I have to shoot left handed much easier with Mossberg.
Some gun store in Canada have stopped carrying Remington due to poor quality control. I have been told to stay away from an 870 by several people now. I have always liked my Remington 1100 that I have had for 40 plus years.
I have had an 870 wingmaster for roughly 30 years. It was handed down from my fatber, who had the gun for who knows how long, before giving it to me. I have never once had any type of issue with the gun, and I don’t remember my dad ever having a problem with it either. I have heard that the newer remington guns, and that the model 870 express guns are junk. I can’t speak for the newer remington guns, but as for the older ones go, I am perfectly happy with their quality. Besides my shotgun, I also have a model 700, 22-250 set up for competition shooting (age unknown, I bought it used in 96), and a model 700, 7mm that I bought new in 97. I also used to own a remington 22lr as a kid. I have other brand guns that I think are equal to remingtons in quality, and one or two that I think are much better quality than remingtons. Out of the four remingtons I’ve owned, I have never had a single issue with any of them.
Bought a Mossberg 500 new in 1980 love the gun never had a problem with it.
Remington 870 is a very simple, affordable, reliable and easy to customize shotgun. But I don’t really like all of the changes that happened over the years: dimples in magazine tube, plastic follower, synthetic trigger guard. But the good thing is that you can always replace those parts. My 870 is a home defense gun.
Great thread–especially appreciate Steve Seller’s making me aware of the Browning options (pro and con) and his good advice to get a 20+ y.o. 870. I’ve shot my father’s 870 for almost 40 years, and love it!
One question for Steve Sellers (or anyone, for that matter): is a used police-verson R870 legal in NYS?
Also appreciated Pete in Alaska’s making us aware of the Bullpup Unlimited kit, for the R870! Cheap, DIY and cool (as are all bullpups, IMHO).
Again–great thread! Subscribed.
I’ve been read’n these posts again. Some are enlightening, some just humorous. I bought a 20ga 870 LW (2 3/4″ shells only) back in 77 – one of the best gun buys for me & I WAS good with it. While a bit long, a 28″ mod.brl. was darn effective, though I actually like to hunt with a 26″ imp. cyl. Possibly not recommended, but I found it to be a near rifle-accurate deer slug shooter & I can swing that 20LW darn fast. Win SupX foster slugs kill even big White-Tails quickly & a bit past 100yds (I don’t need a Griz gun). I just hate that all my fun has near ruined the fancy good looks that came on that gun but it still works great. However, I always hated that safety button & sleek trigger guard & slim trigger. A Win 1300 12ga is a bit better to duck/goose hunt with. I’ve shot & hunted with too many shotguns to count but that 870 is dear to me. A couple a buds have the 1100 auto version & prefer it (lighter kick). Have to say that, just like ‘the old gray mare’, some of these newer 870s ain’t what they used to be. That BPS that some guy raves on is fine but I just don’t like guns made by “SumYungHo of Japan”. Thanks guys for the fun info!
I picked up an 870 Tactical model about 2 years ago and it is one of my favorite weapons. Accurate and reliable. I did replace the buttstock pad with a softer version, but otherwise it’s stock out of the box. Now there was one issue when I first got it — every now and then I couldn’t rack it, it would seem to lock up. I called Remington and was told to rack it over and over again at home and to do so rather aggressively. Apparently something was slightly off in the manufacturing process and the Remington rep was familiar with this problem. I did as was suggested and once it was broken in it ran perfectly every time. Nothing like blowing up a target with 00 buck. Nasty weapon.
I love my bare bones 870. The only peeve I have is, being a southpaw, I still hate Remington’s safety location. The Mossy has it positioned perfectly. I mean, right where my left thumb goes naturally. Even though I’ve converted my 870’s safety to lefty, it’s never felt like a natural flow.
If Big Green moved those trigger safety’s to where Mossberg does? I personally don’t think anyone would be upset. To improve their shotguns (especially those for home defense) by making them pretty much ambidextrous seems to me a no brainer. But then, I just shoot guns. I don’t design them.
Well written review.agree with most of the things you said.however king of pumps is s little to far.i purchashed an express this year 10-21-2017.had to call Remington,had a brass filler screw for the bead sight.sent me a bead sight(very cheap looking thing) would not fit nearly ruined my threads,got abrass bead off of another shotgun forced it in with locktite holding so far.have shot about two boxes thru it and jammed 4 to 5 times.fit and finish is fine, no tool marks,smooth chamber.i want this gun to work like the fill,fit,and the way it points.right now I am not 100% convinced that it is the gun you wrote about.time will tell.thanks for letting me share experience and feelings.
The quality of the Remington 870 has greatly declined within the last 25-30 years and has only gotten worse. There’s a reason why as of 2016, the top five best selling shotguns goes has follows in this order:
1. Keltec KSG
2. Mossberg 500
3. Mossberg 500 Tactical
4. Remington 870 Police
5. Mossberg 590A1
The 590A1 is still used in the Marines to this day. That’s what I cut my teeth on when I served. Even in Iraqi, Marines were trading their Benelli M-4’s in for the 590A1’s due to the environment that the M4’s didn’t like.
Can i use this for 20 gauge Remington 870 express compact? Ammo 12 Gauge Sellier & Bellot 2-3/4″ #00. Thanks.
One thing I’ve never heard mentioned anywhere but in the police training I’ve had: The 870’s feed mechanism allows the shooter to instantly switch from shot to slug with a round chambered. Place 2 fingers in front of the trigger guard and pull the slide back far enough to touch your finger without going all the way to eject the round. Reach in the tube and push forward on the next round. You’ll hear a ‘click’ and the round is reset. You can now eject the chambered round without feeding the next one. Drop a slug in the open chamber and you’re ready for a distance shot or barricade.
That’s good to know–thanks!
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