The Remington Model 1100 12 Gauge was born when America had a naval cordon around Cuba, a folksinger named Dylan had just released his first album and we were still testing nukes in Nevada. Cuba’s now our “friend,” that other Mr. Zimmerman’s a Nobel laureate and the only country still detonating nukes is run by a fat little troll with a bad haircut who lives above the 38th parallel.
And the venerable Remington 1100 platform is still going strong, still powdering clays, still striking fear in the hearts of waterfowl from California to the New York islands.
The much-loved scattergun has, of course, evolved over time. There have been multi-various variations of the estimable 1100 over the decades; from simple, affordable field guns for sportsmen to specialized deer slayers to dedicated skeet and trap versions to drop-dead gorgeous fancy grade walnut-clad engraved keepsakes.
Back in 2011, Big Green produced its most radical take on the 1100 theme to date. To paraphrase GM’s genius marketing mavens, the Remington Model 1100 Competition Synthetic is not your (grand)father’s Oldsmobile.
While the Competition Synthetic is another dedicated clays gun, built from the ground up to obliterate flying orange disks, it’s a radical departure from any of its smooth-bore antecedents.
There’s no nicely figured wood, scrollwork or bird dogs cavorting on this gun’s exterior. Instead, the Competition Synthetic’s receiver — still made of sturdy steel — sports a simple silver-nickel finish.
And there’s no camo to be seen. The synthetic fore-end sports an ersatz carbon fiber dip finish. I’m a fan of the look, but YMMV.
That “checkering” pattern is as grippy as an early Steven King novel, without being as abrasive as the author’s views on gun control.
The pistol grip is embossed with a smoother pebbled pattern. While sweaty hands may prefer actual checkering, given an opposable thumb and a full-handed grip, slippage wasn’t a problem even on the hottest days. In Texas.
The forend has moderately grippier molded checkering.
As befitting a dedicated target shotgun, the 1100 Competition features a lengthy 30-inch blued steel barrel. It’s topped with a wide 10mm target-style rib with a small mid-bead and a larger white bead at the muzzle end.
Just for fun (and plenty of competitive options), Remington ships the 1100 Competition Synthetic with no fewer than five chokes. These aren’t no-name tubes cranked out as cheaply as possible. Remmy sourced the full set of Pro Bore extended chokes for this gun from Briley, one of the best names in the business.
You get skeet, improved cylinder, light modified, modified and full tubes. The package also includes a variety of wrenches, springs and spacers.
You’ll need those additional bits to fit the shotgun to your form — something the 1100 Competition Synthetic does exceedingly well. It has an adjustable comb. With a few turns of an Allen wrench, you can adjust length of pull, drop at comb, drop at heel, as well as cast on and cast off.
In a five-stand or sporting clays session, a dedicated clays shooter will easily absorb the shock of a hundred or more rounds. To preserve rotator cuffs and other anatomical features, the soft-recoiling 1100 Competition’s synthetic stock incorporates the impressive Auto-Buster system from Speedbump Stockworks — a sprung shock absorber for your shoulder.
Swapping the Auto-Buster’s standard-fit medium tension springs to damp the kick of softer or stouter loads is a snap. With a few turns of a wrench, you can drop in a lighter or heavier spring set. Both are included with the gun.
That thick, cushy SuperCell recoil pad also takes a bite out of backfire.
The gun’s heft helps, too. Officially rated at 8.25 pounds, our T&E 1100 Competition Synthetic tipped the scales at 9.1 pounds. While you may have to do a few extra curls to get through a full 100-round trap session, the firearm’s physics ensure that your upper body won’t suffer undue hardship while taking part in the competitive scene.
The final part of the 1100’s recoil reduction strategy: An over-bored barrel and significantly lengthened forcing cone. While the set-up’s effect on felt recoil is minuscule, the elongated cone likely has a beneficial effect on your shot strings, making for more consistent patterns.
The 1100 Competition Synthetic’s nickel trigger trips cleanly at just over four pounds. While this claybuster prefers a trigger that touches off somewhere between 2.5 and 3 pounds of pressure, the Remington’s trigger is good enough for government work.
Unlike most other semi-auto shotguns, the 1100 features an ambidextrous bolt release (or carrier release, as Remington prefers to call it). It’s located on the bottom of the gun nestled into the carrier, letting southpaws feel right at home.
I fed the Model 1100 Competition Synthetic a steady diet of target loads and light field loads, including Remington STS #8s, Nitro Sporting Clays #7 1/2s, Federal Premium’s new Hi-Bird #7 1/2s and my own home-brewed #8s (a blend of STS shells, Winchester primers, Claybuster wads and Hodgdon Clays powder).
With the modified choke, all four flavors patterned well enough to be deadly at 30 yards. While the results were almost too close to call, I’d have to give the edge to the Federal Hi-Birds.
One thing that hasn’t changed since the Kennedy administration: The Model 1100’s tried-and-true gas system.
While it may not be the most up-to-date semiauto design, the 1100 gas system has worked smoothly and reliably in more than four million shotguns. It still features the traditional barrel seal (O-ring) and piston ring (the newer version). That makes takedown and the cleaning process slightly more involved than with the latest autoloaders, but it’s nothing you can’t manage without the assistance of a gunsmith.
Just be sure to wipe the gun down regularly and keep a couple of extra O-rings in your range bag (one spare comes with the gun). If it breaks, the 1100 Competition Synthetic won’t cycle. Which will ruin your whole day.
To ensure smooth operation, all of the shotgun’s internal parts are nickel-Teflon coated, including the receiver, bolt, magazine tube and other bits and pieces. Remington says the coating offers reliable cycling and prevents undue wear.
The Remington Model 1100 Competition Synthetic is a well-conceived, carefully executed claybuster. Made in the U.S., it measures up favorably to its imported competition — guns like the Browning Maxus Sporting, Benelli SuperSport and Beretta A400 Xcel. And as your FFL will tell you — it does it for hundreds of dollars less. The Competition Synthetic also offers more recoil mitigation and cast adjustment for better fit-customization options. Weight aside, what’s not to love?
Specifications Remington Model 1100 Competition Synthetic
Chamber: 2 3⁄4 inches
Action: Semiautomatic, gas-operated
Stock: Adjustable target-style stock (polymer stock)
Sights: Twin target-style bead sights (front and mid beads)
Choke Tubes: 5 Briley chokes (Skeet, IC, LM, M, F)
Barrel length: 30 inches with 10mm vent rib
Overall length: 50.5 inches
Length of Pull: 14.5 inches (adjustable with spacers)
Finish: Nickel-coated steel receiver, coated internals with nickel-Teflon finish
Weight: 8.25 pounds (9.1 pounds as tested)
MSRP: $1,305 (about $1,000 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars)
Fit and Finish: * * * *
Both the nickel receiver and the carbon fiber dip synthetic parts are nicely finished and look sharp. Barrel blueing is deep, even and smooth. The synthetic polymer stock and forend are finished with a carbon graphite appearance. The buttstock-to-receiver fit could be smoother and some tooling marks are clearly visible in the interior of the receiver, not unusual in a gun at this price point.
Ergonomics * * * * *
This shotgun can be configured to fit almost anyone. Stock adjustments are easy to make and stay firmly in place through hundreds of rounds.
Reliability: * * * * *
Ignoring conventional wisdom that says you should clean an 1100 about every 100 rounds, I only gave it one wipe-down. I shot almost 700 rounds without a hiccup.
Value: * * * * *
It only looks like carbon fiber. But given its performance and features compared to the competition, the Remington 1100 Competition Synthetic is a lot of gun for the money (and includes ProBore choke tubes).
Customize This: * * * * *
Because the 1100’s been around for 55 years, there’s a plethora of aftermarket parts and adjustment options to checkout — replacement triggers, extended bolt handles, extended carrier releases, alternate trigger shoes, etc.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Model 1100 Competition Synthetic is one of the softest-shooting shotguns you’ll ever shoulder. Despite its weight (or maybe because of it), it’s one of the most effective and complete out-of-the-box skeet or trap guns money can buy.
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