The Remington 870 is quite possibly one of the most iconic shotguns ever made. It has a history that dates back to 1950 and is one of the most versatile shotguns that have ever been on the market. From Hunter Joe to Officer Smith and everyone in between, it’s easy to see why there is a Remington shotgun for everyone.
People across the country reach for their Remington to protect their families or to go hunting. You can safely estimate that there are millions of these shotguns out on the market, and with good reason, too.
What is the Remington 870?
The Remington 870 is a pump-action shotgun that is created and designed to be reliable. Back in 1951, Remington was the fourth design released by Remington Arms Company. During that same time, Winchester was making waves with its model 12.
From the beginning, the 870 was a favorite of hunters because it was a dependable shotgun that was also capable of shooting larger game like boar and deer. Hunters also appreciated that it was lightweight enough to use effectively during dove season.
Later, during the 1960s, skeet shooting became a sport that attracted another group of contenders for the Remington 870. Then, when the Vietnam War was in full swing, men were armed with the Remington 870 as part of their standard issue gear to face the conflict.
The use of the Remington 870 became second nature for veterans, hunters, and military enthusiasts. When the Vets returned home, they had experience with the 870 that carried over into their civilian life. The 870 had earned a reputation for being trustworthy in the war and was widely adopted by law enforcement afterward.
The core Remington 870 models are the Express, Express Tactical, Express Super Magnum, Police, Wingmaster, and Special Purpose Marine. Each model has its own variations as well.
The Express has nine different configurations. The first, the Express Synthetic 18” is the most popular and has an 18” barrel with front bead sight. The Express Synthetic Deer offers a 20” barrel and has adjustable rifle sights. The stock is also different on the Synthetic Deer model.
The Express Synthetic 7-Round is one of the newer configurations and has a one-piece magazine tube. You can’t install other barrels on this one, though, but it is reliable like its siblings. The Express Pistol Grip has a shorter barrel at 18.5 inches with a Pachmayr pistol grip.
The Express Slug has a cantilever system, while the Express Turkey has a 21” barrel and optional non-glare finishes available. The Express Combos has a 26” or 20” barrels combined with rifle sights. The last two models, the ShurShot Synthetic Cantilever and ShurShot Synthetic Turkey. The Cantilever has an 18.5-inch rifle barrel, and the Turkey has a pistol grip with a 21” barrel.
There are a few different configurations of the Express Tactical shotgun. The first is the Express Tactical that comes with an 18.5” tactical barrel and ported choke. The Ghost Ring sight is also fully adjustable.
The Tactical Magpul has a Magpul stock, an 18.5” barrel and extended tactical choke tube. You’ll also find that there is a SuperCell recoil pad pre-installed.
The Tactical with Blackhawk Spec Ops II is also available. The biggest difference between this one and the other Express Tactical models is the recoil-reducing stock.
There are three different configurations of the Express Super Magnum. The first, Express Super Magnum, allows you to use 3.5-inch magnums and has a 28” vented rib barrel.
The Super Magnum Combo includes a couple of different options. You can choose to go with the 3.5” chamber and 26” vent rib barrel or a 3” chamber and 20” deer barrel with rifle sights.
The Super Magnum Synthetic has a synthetic stock as the only real difference between this one and the Super Magnum.
The Police are the model that Law Enforcement prefers. It is markedly different from other 870s as it undergoes a much stricter quality control to meet law enforcement standards.
The longer magazine spring and more robust sear spring and carrier dog spring add to the overall reliability in the 870 Police. This shotgun also has a compressed metal housing.
The Wingmaster is a gorgeous shotgun courtesy of the polished finish. It is the epitome of the classic shotgun and probably is what you picture when you think of a shotgun.
Both stock and forend are made of solid wood while other models have the same parts made of synthetic materials.
The 870 Marine is designed to stop boats from reaching the shoreline. They are used by law enforcement located at all waterfront points of entry because of their design.
The Marine, or Marine Magnum, is made from steel and is coated with electroless nickel plating. The plating is meant to resist corrosion, rust, and pitting due to exposure to salt water. The result is a pump-action shotgun that is unique in both its coloring and design.
What Makes the Remington 870 Unique?
You may ask why the Remington 870 has been so widely regarded and held onto its mantel for as long as it has. The simple answer is that the shotgun can be modified in a variety of different configurations that will work for just about anyone.
It can be changed to be fitted for military use, hunting use, or skeet shooting. The base construction consists of a magazine tube below the barrel. Standard magazines have a 4+1 capacity. For the configurations offered for military and law enforcement, the magazine has a 7+1 capacity.
Barrel lengths are also different between civilian and tactical models. A standard, civilian 870 has an 18-inch barrel while the hunting model has a 30-inch barrel. There is also a special design for the elite military that has an 11- or 14-inch barrel.
You can also get a variety of sights that will fit the 870 shotgun. You can get traditional single beaded sights, a double beaded sights, rifle sights, shot ring tactical sights, and many other aftermarket options that are out there for you to explore. Your best bet is going to be to go to Remington’s website to see all of your different options and compare what they do or don’t do.
Given the variety of shotgun models that are available under the Remington 870 banner, there is truly a gun for everyone. You can choose to go with a basic Remington Express for all-purpose reliability or spend some extra cash and get an Express Tactical if you’d prefer.
When you decide to buy a gun, regardless of the type or model, you’re going to have to undergo a background check, and you will have to purchase through a licensed gun broker.
One of the best places to get a gun online is to go through GunBroker.com. You can expect to find one for anywhere from just over $300 all the way through around $800 depending on what you’re interested in purchasing.
The basic Remington 870 Express is going to be at the lower end of the price spectrum, and if you can purchase the Remington 870 Marine, you’re going to pay top dollar.
Real Reviews from Real People
You will find reviews and articles all over the internet about the Remington 870. Trampas Swanson wrote a comprehensive and informative report about it, too. “Current, I own a Remington 870 Express chambered in 20 gauge with a 26-inch barrel for small game hunting such as squirrels, rabbits, and the occasional trash diving raccoon. With just a simple single beat sight and a cheaply manufactured wood stock set, my shotgun is as bare bones basic as Remington offers with nothing fancy added. For the purposes it currently serves, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This 870 has become a great teaching tool for my wife, Candace to learn the fundamentals of shotgun shooting with. The smaller gauge recoil and smooth action allow for her smaller stature to retain complete control over the firearm during rapid fire situations such as skeet and trap shooting. I plan on using this same shotgun in the near future when my children are old enough to learn the responsibilities and fun of shooting sports.”
Over at Guns America, Dave Higginbotham also explored why people love the Remington 870. “There’s no disputing the simple fact that the 870’s legendary reliability is at the heart of its popularity. Again we see the old triad of sportsman, LEOs, and home defenders…They all want a gun that will work. That’s where the old workhorse 870 comes into its own. You can argue about which shotgun is most reliable, or which one is most versatile, but the fact remains that the 870 is sufficient for almost everyone. Durable enough. Reliable enough. Accurate enough. And should the gun break down, the 870 is easy to repair.”
How the Remington 870 Compares to Other Shotguns?
The most common comparison when you’re thinking about which shotgun to buy is to compare the Remington 870 or the Mossberg 500. After all, these two particular shotguns are versatile and reliable. They’re both easily the number one choice for many first-time shooters.
They are both available in 12 gauge and 20-gauge versions. The Mossberg is available in several lengths just like the 870. The 870 also has a steel receiver while the Mossberg has an aluminum receiver. You would think that means the Mossberg is lighter, and while that’s true, it also is not as well-balanced as the 870, so that’s something to think about.
You may want to also consider the fact that the 870 is not available in a left-hand configuration, while the Mossberg is available in both right and left-hand configurations. It may not matter much to you when you’re actually shooting, or it may be extremely important depending on your level of comfort and expectation.
The gun’s safety also needs to be taken into consideration because of where it is located on either of these shotguns. On the 870, the safety is in a place that is easily accessible to the right-hand shooter, but a left-hand shooter may find it difficult to turn it off and on as needed. The Mossberg 500, on the other hand, has the safety in a central location making it easy to engage with either hand.
That’s not to say that you can’t modify the 870 safety for a left-handed shooter, but if you want a shotgun that is easy to use as soon as you pull it out of the box, then you’re going to want to go with a
What We Think
There are so many years of field use for the Remington 870 that include everything from hunting to skeet shooting to military use to adoption by law enforcement. This shotgun has developed quite the reputation for doing its job well.
If you were to purchase one of these shotguns, you would not be disappointed with its performance. Not only is it still relatively inexpensive, but the reliability can’t be beaten.
As you’re deciding which variation is best for you, read through as many reviews as possible to determine which model is going to best suit you and your needs. There is a vast range of possibilities, so get to know the details to feel comfortable with your final decision.Featured image: Video screen capture, hickok45, via YouTube.