I receive letters from all around the world as an author of the Rem870.com Blog. Most of them come from the United States, but there were also letters from France, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and many other countries. Owners of the most popular pump-action shotgun live in all parts of the world.
Once I read a heart-touching story from a son who received Remington 870 from his father. Another letter had a detective story of a shotgun being stolen but later returned to the owner after many years. Stories of restoration of the old rusty 870s which shined with their beautiful walnut and bluing again and many other interesting letters from all corners of the world.
I am a proud Remington 870 owner myself and I own 5 of them. I have them in several setups, home-defense and competition. One of the most challenging shotgun sports in the world is Practical Shooting, and I spend lots of time competing. My best results were top-10 on the Shotgun World Shoot in France and silver on the Central-European Shotgun Open. I got those results with Remington 870 shotgun prepared for competitions. That required me to become a gunsmith in some way and learn to upgrade and repair my shotguns myself.
And of course, I have helped many shotgun owners to upgrade, repair and understand their shotguns better. Over the years, changes were made to our favorite shotgun, which surprised and disappointed many of Remington 870 owners. I cannot say that they were all bad but some of them were definitely aimed to lower the cost and… quality. This article results from my analysis of the most common problems and searches for solutions during the last 11 years of owning and competing with the Remington 870.
The old extractor was there for decades and there was no need to replace it. But new Remington 870s were manufactured with an updated ejector made using the Metal Injection Molding (MIM) process. This is a small part but it plays a huge role and affects reliability dramatically. MIM extractors are much softer than non-MIM ones. Speaking the language of numbers and using the Rockwell hardness scale, the MIM extractor has 18-20 HRC; the non-MIM extractor is 40-42 HRC! That’s why new extractors may slip from the edge of the fired shotshell, leaving it in a chamber. Factory or aftermarket (Volquartsen) non-MIM extractors improve extraction of fired shotshells in a great way. By the way, Remington 870 Police version still utilizes good old non-MIM extractor.
The steel receiver of the Remington 870 makes it extremely durable and stands out as our favorite shotgun from the crowd. I have two 870s which fired more than 30,000 rounds each. I am familiar with a shotgun with more than 80,000 rounds. Sure thing, you need to replace some springs and small parts but other than that, shotguns work perfectly. But steel is a material that is prone to rust and that means that 870 needs good coating. Many owners don’t like coating of newer shotguns because it is easy to scratch and gets rusted easily. Better coating and good rust prevent are sure to protect Remington 870 from corrosion.
Chamber and barrel
“Rough” or “sticky” chamber is another issue experienced by many new Remington owners. Chambers of some shotguns are far from mirror polish and this leads to problems with extraction. There are numerous videos that show how to polish the 870’s chamber to improve its reliability. Actually, I made one myself. That is a quality issue and it can be fixed only on the factory. Better quality control and attention to barrel manufacturing can change this situation.
Another thing that surprises me is that one of the oldest shotgun manufacturers doesn’t offer chrome-lined barrels. Even inexpensive shotguns from Turkey come with chrome-lined barrels nowadays. That can make the life of shotgun owners much easier!
Some of the Remington 870 owners miss the metal trigger group which was available in older shotguns. But in my opinion, it doesn’t have huge advantages over the new synthetic one. But of course, it looks and feels more authentic and solid.
Remington 870 ejector is an interesting part. First of all, it consists of two parts. There is an ejector and ejector spring installed using rivets. It is easy to understand the choice of rivets over screws. Once the ejector is installed and rivets are polished, the receiver looks smooth and rivets are not visible. That makes shotgun look perfect. But that also makes the replacement of rivets, ejector and ejector spring a challenging task. You need to drill the old rivets out, place new rivets and install them using rivet staking tools. That is almost impossible to do in the field.
Ejector and ejector spring were supplied in several sizes some time ago. One ejector worked well with 2 3/4 shells only, while the other could work with both 2 3/4 and 3-inch shells. Now all shotguns come with a universal ejector. It looks like a good idea but the problem is that the universal part doesn’t eject fired 2 3/4 shotshells with enough power. That may lead to occasional “stovepipe” problems, especially when shooting from uncomfortable positions with ejection port facing up.
How can this be fixed? Look at the Remington Versa Max spring-assisted ejector. It is simple; it is effective and has enough power to eject fired shotshell of any length and while shooting from any position.
Heavier carrier dog spring
Police 870s come with heavier carrier dog springs for a reason. It is more powerful and it improves feeding. That part is extremely cheap but still plays a significant role in the reliable functionality of a shotgun. That issue can be fixed easily; just start supplying all the Remington 870 shotguns with heavier carrier dog springs.
Modern shotgunners shoot faster
You may be surprised but modern techniques enable pump shotgun owners to make 3 shots per second. Construction of the Remington 870 was developed when shooters were a little slower. “Empty chamber” is a common problem of tactical and competitive shooters trying to shoot a shotgun as fast as possible. That is a tricky problem and it would take too much time to explain it, but it can be fixed with a heavier magazine spring and modification of the action bar to change the timing a little.
That can be easily fixed by supplying a little modified forend from the factory.
As a Remington 870 owner and competitive shooter who put more than 60,000 rounds through my five shotguns, I have a huge experience in making them as good as possible. The difference between gold and silver can be in just several seconds, which is just one malfunction in a match consisting of several hundred rounds. That’s why I do my best during the preparation of a shotgun for the competition. I communicate with hundreds of shotgun owners as a blogger and know their pain. All of the information above was earned a hard way during training, competitions, spending hours of time and burning thousands of rounds. Now I share this precious info to make Remington 870 great again!
The firearms world is evolving and all companies are doing their best to beat competitors. For example, Benelli Armi released the Nova Speed, a new revolutionary pump action shotgun recently. It replaced the old Benelli Supernova shotgun. They made a completely new pump-action shotgun from scratch. It has numerous improvements which shooters asked for during the recent years. That shotgun looks promising, and that is a challenge that Remington can accept!
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