Remington 870 Express Review
10 million plus sold, the American Icon. The Remington 870. This model, the 870 Express is the entry level model which can be found for anywhere from $300 and up. If you have read my other posts, I formerly owned Mossbergs and was only familiar with them, so when I did some research my opinion was “What the hell.” Several months ago I spent $330 and acquired my first Remington 870 Express. After countless shotgun forums and Youtube videos I was sold. My initial impression was that it seemed very solid. Remington uses steel receivers which are much heavier than the aluminum recievers in the Mossbergs, and the forend does not wiggle as much as a Mossberg 500 or 590. One of my concerns was the single extractor, as Mossbergs all have dual claw extractors. Imagine pulling a dresser drawer out from one side versus placing a hand on either side and pulling at the same time. That is a Remington versus a Mossberg. Well, there happen to be plenty of people who live by Remingtons and mine seemed reliable enough. On the first run, I loaded it up with 4+1 and went in my back yard to shoot some milk jugs. With a 28″ barrel and a modified choke tube it is a very accurate shotgun. The groupings from 30 yards were very tight with Federal 7 shot and even better with #4 shot. However, after about 20 rounds, I experienced an ejection failure, not to be confused with extraction. Extraction is when the ‘extractor’ pulls the empty shell out of the chamber as you pull the forearm to you and the spring ejects the spent shell. The ejector spring is rivited in, so if it breaks, the gun has to be sent into Remington to be drilled, replaced and the receiver needs to be refinished. Mossberg ejector springs are held in by a screw and can be replaced very easily, however I have never had any ejection or extraction problems with any Mossberg. So, when you have an ejection failure, you get a stovepipe, which is when a live shell is loaded but the empty remains in front of the bolt. My research led me to mainly discussions of extraction failures (which we’ll get to) except for one Youtube video where a guy had ejection failures and was able to re-produce them on video. His solution was to bend the ejector spring out to meet the shell sooner and it worked. Not wanting to negate my non-transferable 2 year warranty through Remington, I called and spoke to someone in the repair department who told me to bend it a little and if it broke just send it in. I bent it, it didn’t break, but it didn’t work either. After a phone call to Remington I received 2 e-mails with my invoice, shipping instructions, and pre-paid UPS label. After about 3 weeks, my shotgun was sent directly to my house. Immediately, I looked at the work order which said ‘polished chamber, test fired’. I loaded it up, took it outsided and shot it. Then the forend was stuck. Extraction failure. I saw this in Youtube videos and heard about it in shotgun forums. You actually have to hold the gun by the forend with the barrel straight up in the air and slam the butt down on the ground. It works but I had to do it after almost every shot and it still stove-piped. I didn’t get to shoot it until a Saturday and Remington is only open on weekdays so I had all weekend to be angry. After getting on lots of different forums, I found out that Remington seems to be cutting corners here and there and especially on the 870 Express. The Remington 870 Wingmaster gets a very thorough polishing internally and has much better parts and overall finish, as well as the 870 Police Magnum. The 870 Express uses less desirable parts and does not receive the polishing. Remington is doing this now to compete with Mossberg in the ‘entry level’ pump shotgun area. So I contacted Remington again, and although this guy didn’t accept my recommendation of sending me a Wingmaster or Police Magnum, he assured me that they would have my shotgun working well. This brings me to my last criticism of the 870 Express. The magazine tube is silver soldered to the receiver (whereas Mossbergs are screwed in), and the new magazine tubes have detents to hold in the tube spring plug. Well, a couple weeks back I ordered a Vang Comp 2 shot magazine tube extension which does not work because the shells cannot get past the detents and Remington cannot do anything about it for me. The mag tube extension was $84 delivered to my house and I cannot even use it.
All of this really makes me wish I would have coughed up the extra $200 and bought a Wingmaster, because I may not have encountered all this. All-in-all, it seems to me that Remington is not the same company that many die-hards still believe. Apparently the model 887 also has inherent problems and they have done nothing about it. My gun ships out tomorrow. I should get it back in about 3 weeks. After that, if it works properly, I am going to sell it and buy a Benelli Supernova. That is my $0.02 on the matter.