Remington’s Masterpiece

The venerable 870 shotgun.
The shotgun is deeply woven into American firearms traditions often being used by civilians as a hunting and gathering device and, if required, it crossed over into a personal defense tool as well. No segment of our society has warmed up to and used the shotgun as well or as often as the American police and no shotgun as been more accepted by law enforcement officers than the Remington 870.

Introduced in 1950 to directly compete against the Winchester Model 12, the Remington 870 has become the best selling shotgun in American history with sales numbers racked up in excess of 7 million shotguns for both the LE and civilian markets!

Why A Pump Gun?

I own two 870s with the new one being 25 years old and the old one 30 years of age, and they have never given me a bit of trouble other than I split the stock on the old gun not long ago so—up front—I like the 870. Cutting to the chase, the 870 is arguably more dependable than many of the other shotguns in the marketplace be they semi-auto of gas or recoil operation or pump actions of a different maker. The twin-action bars and smooth action make the 870 just about as dependable as the next sunrise.

There is a subtle clue here by looking at what platform the custom makers nationwide generally use as the basis for their shotguns. No brainer here, these guys take an already good gun—the 870—and then modify it to what they think a fighting shotgun should be. Maybe the only problem here is often some of these builders have never used a shotgun in a fight, so there is a tendency get a butt load of stuff stuck on the gun probably not needed other than to fulfill a marketing ploy.

The Rifle Shotgun?

Rifled sights are great for slug shooting and I recall as a young man working at API with Mr. Jeff Cooper who was a staunch believer of the shotgun being used with slugs (I would suppose because of his strong foundation in rifle marksmanship). The slug, of course, allows for a single projectile of rather large dimension to be placed on the target by a competent shooter.

Slugs historically have not been all that much fun to shoot, but with the advent of the reduced recoil tactical slug, an average human can shoot the shotgun pretty well and pretty often with the single ball load. Because of the 870’s rapid barrel change, the ability to shoot slugs with a barrel if required is a breeze. And as they have for many years Remington has a broad spectrum of shotgun barrels and guns specifically designed to shoot slugs for hunting, defense or law enforcement (if you need or want a specialized shotgun).

Editor’s note: This column originally ran in the November 2008 issue. Clint is recovering from surgery and will resume his column in the January 2013 issue.

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