Some guns don’t age as well as others. We might look at the design choices from decades ago and wonder how they were ever considered practical. There are others who look so dated that they don’t even resemble anything you could call a weapon.
Then, there are the classics that age like a fine wine. One such weapon is the Remington 1100 shotgun. Even though it has been around for a while, we thought it would be fun to take a look at why it has withstood the test of time. Good guns come and go, but the Remington 1100 is a slice of Americana that will live forever.
- Model Name 1100
- Brand Remington
- Weight 8 lbs.
- Barrel length 18 to 30 inches
- Caliber 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410 gauge
- Designer Wayne Leek
- Ammo capacity Varies
A History of the Remington 1100 Shotgun
The Remington 1100 shotgun was first released in 1963, when designer Wayne Leek wanted to make a follow-up to the 58 and 878 shotguns. The 1100 is a gas-operated semi-automatic, eliminating the severe recoil that came with most of the Remington pump-action family members.
To this day, there are still 1100 models in production. There are currently over 4 million Remington 1100s in circulation, culminating in a beautifully-crafted 50th anniversary edition in 2013.
The Remington 1100 is a consistent top-seller in big stores across the United States. It’s still a go-to weapon of choice for professional skeet shooters, as well as private citizens interested in keeping their homes free from invasion.
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While the Remington 1100 has been around since the 1960s, there has been a healthy amount of competition and technological advancement since its debut. Does it still stand the test of time, and should you invest in something whose design outdates many professional shooters? Let’s take a look at the design features.
The Remington 1100 looks like an older shotgun. This can be a positive or a negative depending on your personal taste in gun design. Personally, we think it looks delightfully classic. While the Remington 1100 has been outshined by other semiautomatics in practical features and additional modifications, very few shotguns have come close to simply looking as beautiful as this gun.
After owning this gun for a good amount of time, you may notice some degradation to the metal and wood finishes. This is to be expected with such a versatile weapon, as you can take the Remington 1100 with you in almost any environment. It’s a tribute to the design of the gun as to how versatile and flexible the Remington 1100 is. You can win a trophy for trap shooting, and in the same breath, hunt an elk that could keep you fed for months.
The stocks on an older Remington hold up well after decades of exposure to elements and wear and tear. You’ll notice some engravings on the bolt and receiver, which we think is a lovely touch that you never see anymore in a high-class weapon.
If you like, you can replace the butt stocks that will deteriorate over time. Remington made this very simple, which helps since the buttstocks are one of the first things to go on the 1100. If you know your way around simple gun maintenance, this won’t be a problem for you.
The Remington 1100 has stood out among its peers for a good reason. Although reliability can fluctuate depending on the amount of use you put into the Remington, you’ll find that this shotgun holds up better than a huge majority of its competitors.
The rubber o-ring that comes with a gas-operated semiautomatic will inevitably break down as you continue to use your shotgun for years. There are cases where people report their o-rings last for decades, never needing any replacement. For many others, though, the o-rings need to be maintained before anything else happens to the gun.
Without being able to modify the amount of gas that goes into the barrel with each shot, you won’t be able to change the system to accommodate different strengths of shells. If you’re not deep into customization options, this shouldn’t affect you, but be aware if you’re used to swapping parts. The Remington 1100 was released at a time when modifications weren’t as prevalent as they are today.
If you do find that your o-rings need replacing, they are very affordable. If your usual store is out of stock for the Remington 1100, you can swap them out with a generic #21 Viton version instead.
The Remington 1100 comes in a couple different variations. You can find a 2 ¾” and 3” version, and you’ll begin to notice some of the differences between pump-action shotguns and semi-automatic shotguns here. The latter only handles one type of ammo on a consistent basis, preferring to stick with heavy or light ammo without changing between the two in the same session.
If you insist on finding a version of the Remington 1100 that accepts more than one kind of ammo, you can search for the Versa-Max. You might consider swapping out a barrel if you’re dead-set on different shell lengths, but we think you’re better off with one shotgun and one barrel.
Usage in Hunting
If you’re planning on taking down an animal, the Remington 1100 is a perfect fit for your venture into the woods or mountains. Using the stock feels like a natural extension of your body when you hoist up the weapon for aiming.
You’ll feel a click with the crossbolt safety, so be careful if you’re getting too close to your target. The other parts of the gun are tailored for hunting. If you want, you can use your Remington 1100 without a sling to make for a better exit strategy. This is entirely up to you and your comfort level with your surroundings.
Bear in mind that the 1100 is heavier than most modern shotguns, but this can actually work to your advantage. Because of the weight contained in the gun itself, it will stabilize better in your grip, making you a better shooter.
While you’re out in the woods, you might consider adding a rifled barrel with sights, or a cantilevered scope base. The latter isn’t always easy to find, but it will give you better accuracy and firepower throughout your trip. Sending sabot rounds through a rifle barrel is guaranteed to give you a better shot when you’re aiming to take down an elk.
Target Shooting and Competitions
If you’re looking for a used gun to use for target practice, your bank account will appreciate you choosing the Remington 1100. It’s an affordable choice if you just want something to take out and use for skeet or trap shooting.
We already talked about the low recoil thanks to the weight of the gun. This will help you quite a bit when marking your targets in the air, especially if you’re going through several boxes of ammo. Securing a semi-automatic shotgun for clay pigeon shooting will give you a nice advantage on others who are blowing a ton of money on brand new models.
Most of the time, you would expect a tube-fed shotgun to come with you into a competition if you’re choosing a semi-automatic. You can make some simple modifications to the Remington 1100 if you’re serious about winning a 3-gun tournament.
The easy loader and shell carrier already help you out when entering the competition, and afterward, you can add to what’s already included. A bigger bolt handle, extension on the magazine tube, and an enlarged safety are all things to consider if you plan on taking the Remington 1100 with you into a competition.
Loading the Remington 1100 can be a bit slower than what you’re used to with other firearms. This is due in part to the silver tab that is used to unlock the loading gate. You can snag a replacement part for this gate, speeding up your reloading process by quite a bit. If you’re concerned with being able to put more ammo into your shotgun right away, go ahead and order a replacement part.
Keeping the bolt hold open on the final shot, you have the option to toss a new shell into the side port. With this, you slam the release and you have yourself one round ready to go. Most of the time, you’ll find that you can fit 4 rounds into the chamber. There’re always extension options if you decide you need a higher capacity.
The mark of any great gun owner should be the regularity of cleaning your weapons. The Remington 1100 requires a little more TLC than others, thanks to the gas-operating system. You’ll find a lot more dirt and grime accumulating inside the loader due to the gas ports meeting.
Taking apart the Remington 1100 requires you to pull out the barrel and stock by unscrewing the magazine cap, then locking the bolt back in its place. This gives you access to the o-ring, cycling gas parts, and the entire gas system.
The Remington 1100 is as retro on the inside as it is on the outside. The guts of the shotgun reveal springs, pins, levers, and circlips. You might have some trouble cleaning the inside of the receiver, especially if you’ve gotten used to maintaining more modern firearms. With that said, you might find cleaning an older model of a shotgun to be therapeutic. There’s something to be said about caring for an older weapon with the same attention to detail as the original manufacturers intended.
Buyer’s Guide to the Remington 1100: Yes or No?
As you can see from this review, the Remington 1100 has withstood the test of time. While you can find other semi-automatic shotguns that are lighter, cheaper, and more cost-effective, they just don’t make them like they used to.
Why are Remington 1100 models so widely available to this day? The answer is simple: this gun was made to last. Countless other models of guns have been rendered obsolete. The Remington 1100 is the gun that says to other guns, “I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know.”
If you have someone new to shotguns, whether they are young or old, the Remington 1100 would make for a great history lesson. Using the old-school engineering on the inside and the extreme detail on the outside, anyone interested in firing a shotgun for the first time will do well with this classic.
Check for a used model before you go new, as the same standards apply to Remington 1100s in production today as the ones you’ll find form decades ago. You simply can’t go wrong with this gun, and when they write the ultimate history of American-made shotguns, this one will stand at the top.
Conclusion and Where to Buy the Remington 1100
Thanks to the wide availability of the Remington 1100, you can find one just about anywhere you would normally go to purchase a shotgun. A trip to Cabelas will likely reward you with a huge inventory of new models. You can also find used shotguns dating back to the original version from the 1960s. Walking into a physical store will let you inspect each gun yourself, letting you see any cosmetic or functional problems before buying.
If you decide to shop online, you will likely run into some trouble finding any valid listing for a Remington 1100. Semi-automatic shotguns are not commonly sold online unless they are coming directly from a private seller. Be sure to check the profile of anyone who lists a gun for sale and see what else they have listed to be sure they aren’t running some kind of scam.
We hope you have enjoyed this look back at one of the great contributions to American firearms in the Remington 1100. Whether you buy a brand new model or stick with a used gun, you’ll understand why it has stuck around for as long as it has.