The Remington 870: A Timeless Pump-Action Shotgun
Dr. John Woods 12.10.20
One would have to argue long and hard to dispute that the classic Remington 870 pump-action shotgun is not, perhaps, the greatest slide-action smooth-bore shotgun of all time. Selling well into the millions, the Remington 870 has been delivered in a large variety of models from basic shotguns to magnums with numerous unique features that vary among them. The basic Remington 870 was first produced in 1950 as the Wingmaster model available in several gauges including 12, 16, or 20 gauge in barrel lengths of 26, 28, or 30 inches. These were 5 shotguns with various fixed-choke barrels including open bore, improved cylinder, modified, and full choke. Barrels were available in plain or vent-ribbed for an extra fee.
As mentioned, there have been so many models it is difficult to account for them all. These named pump-action shotguns included the Wingmaster, Express, Youth, Synthetic, Deer, Magnum, Express Magnum, Turkey, Express Combo, Laminate, Express Junior, Home Defense, Tactical, Express Super Magnum, Super Magnum Turkey, Super Slug, Special Purpose Marine Magnum, Sportsman, Small Gauge (28 and .410 gauge), Special Purpose, Magnum Duck, SPS-T Turkey, Special Purpose Deer, Lightweight, Special Field, Police, Blackhawk, Riot, Trap, and an unaccounted number of tribute and anniversary guns. See what I mean?
Remington 870 shotguns have seen action by law enforcement, military, and civilian use all these years. It is a sturdy design utilizing twin pump bars to insure smooth action for ejecting a spent shell and loading a fresh one. Shotshells are inserted under the receiver frame through a spring hinged loading gate into an under the barrel magazine hidden under the forearm stock. Plain sights are just a bead at the muzzle, though other models such as deer slug guns used other types of sights.
Wood furniture on the Remington 870s was everything from homely looking hardwood stocks to oiled walnut as well as highly lacquered walnut with pressed or cut checkering. Metal finishing was usually a nice polished bluing to a more utilitarian matte bead blasted dark blue or black finish depending on the model. Marine models were either parkerized or finished in a matte nickel type finish to resist salt rusting.
Barrels came in several lengths as mentioned – plain or with a raised sighting rib. Trap and skeet versions often had special raised ribs for sport shooting. Finishes were typically blued or matte. Remington much later in production introduced their unique RemChoke system which allowed the shooter to screw in various choke tubes from IC, Mod, Full, and a variety of specialty choke tubes such as Super Full or Turkey Full. This made the Remington 870 even more popular. The Remington 870 is a universal shotgun for all types of hunting from small game, upland birds, waterfowl, deer, and big game. It is a great home defense shotgun and truck gun. If you don’t have one, then it should certainly be on your buy list.