Modifying the Fighting Remington 870 (pt. 1)
With the advent of the AR15, the good old 12 gauge pump shotgun has been pushed aside as the ultimate home defense weapon. At one point in time, the shotty was considered to be the go-to for when things went bump in the night. Stories were often told of bad guys fleeing the scene at the sound of a trusty pump action being racked. However, due to legal restrictions, shotguns must have an 18″ barrel which makes them unwieldy in tight areas such as hallways. They are fairly heavy and the recoil can be nasty. This makes them downright difficult for many women (and men) to shoot well. Contrary to how they are portrayed in the movies, they are not sweeping death machines that can clear a mob with one shot.
Fighting with a shotgun is a thinking man’s game, the shooter has to take aim and has to know how their shot patterns or spreads with a particular load and/or choke at certain distances. While the autoloading shotgun may be faster, they are ammo sensitive, needing enough pressure to cycle the action and therefore not as reliable. The pump action is a simple mechanism that will spit out anything you feed it but the user has to know how to manipulate it properly and remember to chamber a round after each shot. There are techniques for faster loading during a fight that should be mastered due to the limited shot capacity.
Even with those disadvantages, the shotgun is a very versatile. By switching the type of shot shell or slug, one can engage a target at very close range and out to 100 yards. Even with the disadvantages of limited shot capacity and range, nothing can match the devastating firepower of a 12 gauge at close range. Getting hit with a blast of 00 buck within 15 yards is like getting hit with a .38 nine times at once. That is nothing to snicker at.
With upcoming restrictions on the legality of semi-auto long guns in Kalifornia and quite possibly the rest of the country, it is prudent that we consider getting back to mastering the shotgun. Shotguns, especially pump actions are much cheaper than AR15s. When there are panic shortages in ammo, shot shells are usually cheaper and stay in stock better than the popular rifle and pistol calibers.
We decided to build a pretty trick defensive pump shotgun. We started with the venerable Remington 870. We chose the Tactical model which came stock with a lot of features that we wanted such as a seven round shot capacity, a 18.5″ barrel threaded for chokes and XS short rail with rear peep sight, saving us a few hundred dollars. This nicely equipped 870 was only about $475 bucks, a lot of kick ass for the price.
To improve the ergonomics and reliably we decided to add a few new parts. We ditched the factory stock and forend for some Magpul parts, got a police spec trigger group, a Volquartsen extractor, and a few other parts. Perhaps the coolest thing was a Holosun red dot optical sight!
The first thing was to tear the gun down. Ray Wong of Rider Munitions Co shows us how. To remove the stock, the factory butt pad is removed with a phillips screwdriver.
Next Ray removes the large screw that holds the stock to the receiver of the shotgun with a super long screwdriver.
The stock Remington 870 trigger assembly was cheapened out some years ago by switching to a plastic trigger guard. The police spec counterpart is made out of metal. The police spec also has a stronger shell lifter spring and hammer strut spring for a lower chance of jamming and for more reliable ignition. We got the police spec trigger group at Brownells.
The police spec trigger group isn’t absolutely essential to acquire but there is a nice bit of reassurance in getting the most durable and strong part possible. After all, the Remington factory left it on the heavy duty police model for a reason right?
With the stock off, Ray pushed out the rear pin to start the removal of the trigger group.
Next, Ray pushed the front pin out. With the pins out, the trigger group can be removed and set to the side. It actually makes a nice collection of spare emergency parts!
Then Ray exchanged the stiffer police hammer strut spring with the stock hammer strut spring. We wanted a better trigger pull for slug shots and the heavier police spring would make trigger stiffer. The heavy spring will give more reliable ignition of the shotshells but we decided that stock was reliable enough and we would rather have the lighter trigger than a harder hitting hammer.