The 870 Remington Pump Action Shotgun

29 Jan

A shotgun owned by many preppers and survivalists is the 870 Remington pump action. The gun has a simple and reliable mechanism. It’s easy to learn to disassemble and reassemble the weapon. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this classic gun?

The disadvantages largely apply to all shotguns:

1) Lack of range. Even with rifled slugs, shotguns are best used at close distances. A good shot with a shotgun with good sights and rifled slugs can take a deer at 100 yards. Compared to a rifle which can reach several times that distance, one weakness of all shotguns is the lack of effective range. For deer hunting, use slugs.

Buckshot has a more limited range. By the time 00 buck has reached 40 or 50 yards, it will only penetrate a couple of inches of pine. It’s most effective within about 25 yards. Smaller sized buckshot will be less effective as the range increases. Some experts like #1 buckshot. It’s large enough to have better penetration and distance than #4 buckshot. Being a tad smaller than #00 buckshot, you can fit more pellets into a load, creating more trauma.

For most home defense situations or hunting in many areas, the range limitation is more theoretical than practical. Home defense will be under 10 yards and any load should work.

2) Recoil. Some won’t consider this a disadvantage. But for recoil-sensitive people shotguns kick quite a bit. They make reduced recoil shotgun shells for the recoil sensitive. Moving to a 20 gauge shotgun rather than a 12 gauge is another option. The 870 comes in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge.

3) Heavy and bulky ammo. Shotgun shells are quite heavy. For those who plan to bug out and who want to carry a lot of ammo, this is a major consideration.

What are the advantages?

1) Close range stopping power for self defense. Few weapons are as effective at close distances as a shotgun firing buckshot. Even at close range, body armor is very effective in stopping buckshot and slugs though. A shotgun isn’t the best weapon against heavily armored opponents. That said, few home invaders have body armor of any kind.

2) A highly effective weapon for deer and bear within its range when rifled slugs are employed. In the old days, shotgun barrels weren’t rifled. They were smooth bore, just like other shotgun barrels. The slugs often had something that looked like rifling on them. It was more for show than anything. Rifled slugs worked just like a sock with a rock in it. Once you toss it, the heavy end will go first with the light end trailing behind.

For those who anticipate hunting big game with a shotgun, you can purchase rifled barrels. You can outfit the 870 with rifled sights, a peep sight, or an optical sight. One advantage to the 870 Remington is that you can quickly change barrels on it. You could have a short 18 or 20 inch barrel for home defense. You could have a 25 inch barrel with choke tubes for hunting small game and birds and a barrel specifically for rifled slugs.

3) The 870 is highly reliable and serviceable. For those preppers or survivalists who believe they’d have to maintain their weapons over a long period of time without the help of professional gunsmiths, the 870 is a good choice.

4) It’s unlikely to ever be banned in America. I don’t think we’ll see legislation banning semi-automatic weapons in America in my lifetime. Those supporting gun control do target semi-automatic guns. I’ll make another post “What if all semi-automatic guns were banned” where I’ll list what I’d keep and use if none of my guns could be semi-automatic.

While there is a bit of a frenzy purchasing items people think could be banned in the future, like high-capacity AR magazines, if we think through all the possibilities, there could be a risk of a “buy back” program to remove semi-automatic weapons from the population. The 870 wouldn’t be effected. It would take many years before they’d get around to banning 870s!

Years ago, a friend of mine bought up a ton of 870s. I figured once I owned one in each gauge I wanted, I was all set. If you have three or four, why do you need a fifth, and sixth! Researching them a bit today for this article, I learned the new ones may not be up to the standards of the older Wingmasters. I guess he was a wise fellow.

Charlie Palmer, author- The Prepper Next Door

A neat post about the 870.

A nice video (youtube) about taking apart and reassembling an 870:

Step-by-step disassembly for those who want to read about it rather than watch a video

This page from Remington has a link to a pdf schematic for the 870 shotgun

This short video shows how to remove the extractor from the 870.

The video is for a promo for a DVD about gunsmithing the 870. For those who want to learn more about taking apart the trigger group, judging from the sample video clips, the video looks good. It is available on for $18.

I’ve never disassembled the trigger group. You can clean it with a brush or an air gun, soak it in solvent, or spray it with WD-40, and then oil it without taking it apart.

Back in the 1980s I planned to buy some spare parts for my 870. I never got around to it (been busy). If I did, I’d get an extractor, firing pin, firing pin spring, and an extra magazine spring.

The ejector looks like a bear to replace for the hobby gunsmith. Some shooters say it wouldn’t hurt to purchase an entire trigger group  for about $100. Others recommend buying a second 870. You can get a used Wingmaster for less than $350.

Here’s a guy on youtube who is restoring an old 870 he found in a barn.

This link discusses the difference between the lower-cost “Express” 870s and the Wingmasters and the 870 Police models.

For those who want to read more about various buckshot loads, there is a nice discussion here.

This is the first I heard about a possible change in the manufacturing of small parts for the 870. There are several sites with discussions about this:

One more site showing extractor replacement and talking about the MIM extractor versus machined or forged ones.

5 guns to buy before a new gun ban (video on Youtube):

If you own a good 870 shotgun, maybe a Marlin 44 lever rifle, and a 357 magnum revolver, I’d say you’re good to go! These guys do have a good idea for those who want to have an AR-15 but can’t afford one at present: Just buy the receiver and magazines now.

Norovirus Bug On the Rise, New Strain Arrives to United States

Here’s an interesting story  about Marines studying the use of “mindfulness”  to reduce PTSD. During a true WROL or SHTF, one thing preppers should think about is the role that stress will play in their daily lives.

When I think of the word “mindfulness” I think of paying attention. Too many people approach a project without thinking about what they’re doing. Here is a story  about a driver who had their transmission fluid changed at a Jiffy Lube. The vehicle uses a newer kind of transmission fluid. The shop used the old fluid and damaged the transmission, costing $4,288 to repair.

What struck me is that the new transmission fluid is green to idiot proof it. As you drain the fluid, you must notice it is very different from usual transmission fluid. Mindfulness should lead the person to pause and question what’s going on. Why is this stuff green? A pause, a deep breath, and googling it or consulting alldata could have saved a costly repair. Whenever you repair anything, mindfulness can save you money!

The Preppers Next Door (article on, has nothing to do with the book).

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