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.
My current shotgun is an 870 Express which is the base model for the 870 line. This shotgun feels very solid and is overall a good shotgun. Remington has had some problems with this shotgun in recent years pertaining to extraction issues. Extraction is when you draw back the fore-end after shooting. If the extractor on the bolt is pulling the shell out of the cylinder it is being extracted. The problem is that Remington has had to cut some corners in order to compete with Mossberg. Mossbergs pumps are all pretty much made to the same specifications within their line and are pretty inexpensive as far as reliable shotguns go. The Remington 870 Express is an attempt to match the low prices of the Mossberg 500. The 870 Express does not get polished in the cylinder, in the receiver or on any of the moving parts so they have to be broken in to be smoother. However, when there are burrs in the cylinder and the shell has expanded, this can cause the shell to be stuck which is an extraction failure. The Express model also has a plastic trigger group and a bolt that looks like it was spray painted with Krylon.
My 870 has ejection issues. Ejection occurs after the shell is properly extracted and a spring pops the shell out of the shotgun to make way for the next shell being brought up on the elevator. Failure to eject can cause stove piping which is an empty shell and a live round in the chamber at the same time. After a couple phone calls to Remington, some internet research, and bending out my ejector spring a little, I am sending it in to get fixed under the 2 year warranty. Remington e-mailed me a pre-paid postage through UPS and said that they have a 2-3 week turnaround. So now I wait.
So who is the 870 Express good for? It is a solid feeling shotgun and despite the problems you may encounter, they have a 2 year warranty (only for the initial purchaser). This shotgun will probably get passed down to my children. It is good for hunting, sporting clays or just blowing stuff up. It came with a 26″ vent ribbed barrel and a modified choke tube with interchangeable choke threads. This gun has a solid design and would be good for many everyday applications, however I would not necessarily use it as a home defense weapon.
Don’t waste your money on the ‘tactical’ models either because they have the same internals and are based on the Express except with some different options. If you are lucky enough to find a police magnum and can afford it, get it! The police magnum has been polished and uses all heavy duty parts such as a steel (not MIM like in the Express) extractor and heavy duty extractor spring, heavy duty sear spring, heavy duty magazine tube spring, stainless magazine tube follower, aluminum trigger group and are usually parkerized. Oh yeah, they also have a recoil reducing stock. If you want an 870 as a home defense shotgun, do your best to find an 870 police magnum, new or used it will be one of the best shotguns you can buy.
If you want a top of the line shotgun for hunting or sporting clays that has the quality of dare I say a Browning or Benelli (yes I do dare) then buy a Remington 870 Wingmaster. The picture above is a Wingmaster that has been turned into a tactical model. Notice the chrome lined bolt. Wingmasters are the pinnacle of Remington pump shotguns. They have been polished inside and out and have a more durable finish than the Express. The trigger group is better quality and all of the parts are the best that Remington has to offer. This is truly a fantastic and smooth shotgun that will outlast you. Your best bet is to buy a Wingmaster if you can afford the up front cost and then buy an 18″ barrel and a 2 shot magazine extension. I have a Vang Comp mag extension because they are touted as the best, and I feel the same, but do your own research.
If you don’t have the money and want a good home defense shotgun you can buy the Express and slowly build it over time with more heavy duty parts (which is what I am doing). The police (aluminum)trigger gaurd can be found on the Brownell’s website, and then you can buy and replace the bolt with a Wingmaster bolt. However if you want a top of the line shotgun that you can switch barrels on and have a home defense shotgun then get the Remington 870 Wingmaster and buy the 18″ barrel and whatever other accesories you want (i.e. mag tube extension, tactical handle and stock, short fore-end).
So to answer the question, yes the 870 Express is an extremely solid foundation. Change out the bolt, trigger group, add a mag tube extension and a shorter barrel and you have a gun that competes with the Mossberg 590A1 and that is no joke. There are many paths you can choose. Feel free to leave comments down below or e-mail me with questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
After cycling about 50 shells (all different types) through my new Remington 870 Express, I have had ejection (not to be confused with extraction) issues in 1 out of every 10 shots. In a pump shotgun, the trigger is depressed, the firing pin strikes the primer which ignites the secondary charge thus sending the wadding and whatever shotgun projectile you have chosen down the barrel. This is the point where the forearm of the gun needs to be manipulated back toward you so that the spent shell casing can be ‘extracted’ from the chamber and then ‘ejected’ from the firearm while another shell is brought up by a carrier or elevator and is then shoved into the chamber by the bolt while moving the forearm in a forward ‘away from you’ motion. Remington is apparently all about cutting corners these days as they now use non-steel or MIM extractors, plastic trigger groups, and are seemingly notorious for ejecting shells. Many people disagree but I am at the tail end of doing 2 hours of internet research on multiple firearm forums and Youtube videos which can attest to the shenanigans of the Remington 870 Express. Having owned Mossbergs my whole life, I never had an extraction or ejection problem as Mossberg uses dual claw extractors and the ejector spring is held in by a screw so if it is faulty, you can buy a new one and install it yourself. Remington ejector springs are riveted into the receiver so it needs to be sent into Remington to be drilled out and replaced. Many of the complainers on the forums I went to were actually describing ‘extraction’ problems where the spent shell is not being extracted from the chamber because the chamber needs to be polished, there is a bump just outside of the chamber opposite the extractor claw, or the cheap mim extractor claw is not doin its job. To make sure it is not the chamber, slide the forearm back to open the bolt and drop a shell in then tip up the shotgun. If the shell seats itself no problem and then falls out then the barrel does not need to be polished. Replace the extractor claw with a steel extractor claw for about $15 and if that doesn’t work then you need to polish the chamber where the lip of the shell seats opposite the extractor claw. Of course if you have a warranty you can ship it into Remington and they should fix the problem for you.
Ejection issues are another monster. This is where the spent casing does not completely leave the firearm and stays in the receiver cavity. Some people suggest replacing the extractor claw with the steel and the problem will correct itself or just put more rounds through it. In a Youtube video, a guy had put over 1000 rounds through his 870 Express and it still had the ejection issues and was able to duplicate them in a video. He changed out the extractor claw with no effects but bent the ejector spring to meet the shell sooner and had desirable effect. My 870 is under warranty and I am going to contact Remington to see what can be done on this matter. I am quite confident after troubleshooting that it is in fact the ejector spring. After my contact with Remington I will post more. Feel free to add comments, questions, suggestions.
Someone really smart once said “The best gun to get is the one you can shoot well.” That being said, do you want a Chevy or a Ford? Shotguns are so versatile that you have to consider exactly what you want to do with it. In most cases, if you get a tactical shotgun, it is probably not going to be a good hunting, trap or skeet rifle. This is not necessarily the case when you buy a typical pump shotgun such as the Mossberg 500 or the Remington 870. Just bear with me. Since I have owned both, my opinion has some weight to it. I have owned the Mossberg 835 utilimag, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 590A1, and the Mossberg 590 Flex. My current shotgun is the Remington 870 Express. Quick background, the 835 Utilimag with wooden furniture was my first shotgun and I loved it, but eventually I got a wild hair and did some trading and selling and ended up with a Mossberg 500 with synthetic furniture. The 835 Utilimag was excessive for me as I never really intended to fire 3 1/2 nitro mags at anything. However, I bought it used for $180, put well over 5000 rounds through it and got $150 for it almost 10 years later. The Mossberg 500 seemed a bit light to me and although I never had any problems with it, didn’t seem very rugged. Got another wild hair, sold the 500 and bought the Mossberg 590A1.
This gun is the epitome of rugged and let me tell you, was very fun. Eventually I had to sell it because of the economy and all. After saving up money, my wife gave me the thumbs up on a new shotgun so I went and bought a brand new Mossberg 590 Flex. After having a 590A1, I wasn’t very impressed with the finish or the ‘assessed’ ruggedness of the firearm. Not being familiar with the difference between the 590 and the 590A1, I rejected it because it lacked the aluminum trigger gaurd, aluminum safety, and heavy barrel. All told, Mossberg shotguns are very dependable, light weight (except for the 590A1), and just a little more affordable than a Remington 870. If you are looking for a lighter shotgun that will serve as hunting, sporting, and tactical then the Mossberg 500 is for you. If you want a ready to go ass-kicker out of the box with a 9 shot capacity and bayonette lug then the 590A1 is for you (Not the 590 which uses polymer trigger gaurd, polymer safety, and normal barrel). Mossberg’s however have aluminum recievers which is weaker than steel (not really of much consequence) and cannot be blued or seemingly refinished ever again and unless you have a parkerized 590A1, the finish will wear off of the receiver. The other downfall of buying a Mossberg is that the 500’s seem ‘cheap’ to some people and if you pony up and just buy the 590A1, there is no versatility as you cannot put a longer barrel on it for sporting. Mossbergs overall are very dependable, affordable, and very popular with law enforcement and civilians alike.
Reminton 870 Express is truly the Ruger 10/22 of the shotgun world. Not only is this American icon very dependable, it is extremely versatile and rugged as well. Although it is a bit pricier than a Mossberg 500 to start off with at $330 (Mossberg 500 combo with a 28″ and a 20″ barrel for $300), I looked at down the road costs and true versatility of modifications. After holding a Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 it was pretty easy for me to see the quality of a Remington, and the main differences between the Remington 870 Express and 870 Tactical is the barrel and tactical stock. My Reminton 870 came with a 5 shot capacity (1 less than a Mossberg 500), but for $65 I can purchase and easily install a screw-on 3 shot magazine tube extension, and for an additional $180 I can get an 18.5″ or 20″ tactical barrel. Aftermarket parts and accesories are vast for this weapon. No, the math doesn’t compute but when I compare Mossbergs to Remingtons, the only Mossberg that I believe feels as rugged is the 590A1 and those are anywhere from $500 to $750 if you can find one. So for just under $600 I now have a shotgun that has a 26″ barrel with a modified choke tube and 8 shot capacity which can be switched to an 18.5″ or 20″ tactical barrel in minutes. Mossberg 500’s do not feel as ‘tough’ to me and the 590A1 does not enjoy that kind of versatility. Of course that is just my preference. Overall Remington shotguns are dependable, have durable finishes and are extremely versatile with the sheer amount of easliy adapted aftermarket modifications. To be quite honest with you, if I had the money I would have a Mossberg 590A1 and my multi-purpose Remington 870. If you have the money and like a solidly constructed shotgun, go for the Remington, and if you want to save a little cash and still get a quality firearm, get a Mossberg. Here is what you do, find friends who have one or both and shoot them. You will figure out very quickly which one you like better.
First and foremost, I slammed Mossberg a couple of times for the ‘quality’ or lack therof of the Mossberg 590 Flex. After doing some research I found that the main difference between the Mossberg 500 and the Mossberg 590 is the magazine tube design. Otherwise the 590 has a polymer safety and trigger gaurd. The Mossberg 590A1 has the heavy barrel, aluminum trigger gaurd and aluminum safety. So the Mossberg 590 Flex is apparently true to the Mossberg 590 line. Having owned only Mossbergs, and having gone from the ultra rugged Mossberg 590A1 to the Mossberg 590 Flex, I realized that I was looking for ruggedness more than anything. That being said, I just bought a Remington 870 Express.
No this is not the one I bought, but there is little difference between the 870 Express and the 870 Tactical. So why didn’t I spend the extra money and get the Tactical? The 870 Tactical had a 6 round magazine tube which would make getting a longer barrel almost impossible unless I bought a shorter mag tube to accomodate a longer barrel. A Remington 870 Tactical also usually comes with some type of pistol grip and usually an 18.5″ barrel. When I went to the store the Remington 870 Tactical was $530 and the Remington 870 Express was $330, and for an extra $40 I could have gotten the 870 Super mag and made a tactical that fired 3 1/2 mags. My 870 Express came with a 26″ vent rib barrel that has a modified choke tube and a 4 roung mag tube. For $65 I can put a 3 shot mag tube extension on it and have am 8 shot clearout, and for an additional $180 put a 20″ home defense barrel on it an have my 870 Tactical. I’m give or take on the pistol grips, because as a civilian if a person or people break into my house, I am not going to do a sweep and clear with my shotgun or any other gun for that matter. My dogs will bark and if I cease to hear them I will point the shotgun at the door and get ready to unload eight copper coated #4 shot. Anyway, the Remington 870 has a steel receiver and really seems to have tighter tolerances than the Mossberg 500 overall, and honestly, the Remington 870 has far more accessory options than the Mossberg 500. So far I can accessorize my Remington to have an 8 shot clearout and a 20″ barrel for a total of $575, plus I still have my 26″ barrel for hunting and shooting clays. The only gripes I was able to find with the Remington 870 over the Mossberg 500 is the ejector and ‘loading tongue’ for lack of a better term. First the ejector spring is riveted in so if it breaks it has to be sent to Remington to be drilled, reinstalled, and refinished. Second, in order to load your 870, a tongue has to be depressed in order to load shells in your mag tube.
As for Mossbergs, I feel as if I need to buy the 590A1 to get the kind of ruggedness that an 870 Express already has. Yes, Mossbergs are dependable and the aluminum reciever makes them significantly lighter unless you are talking about the heavy barrel on the 590A1 and then it is kind of a wash. The ejector on a Mossberg is held in by a screw so if if breaks, you buy one and replace it. Loading a Mossberg does not require depressing any ‘tongue’ to load it, and right now and pretty much always, you can go out and buy a Mossberg 500 ‘combo’ package that comes with a 26″ barrel with chokes and a 20″ tactical barrel. For an additional $50 you can mount some type of pistol grip on it and be into a tactical shotgun for $350 with a 6 shot clearout. Mossberg 500’s have a closed magazine tube though which makes them more difficult to clean, but you could fork over the money and buy an upgraded mag tube (which is always a pain in the ass to change out), but then you need to buy different barrels and a locking retainer nut as the 500 barrels have the retainer screw attached to them. Mossbergs have been around for a while and are certainly not going anywhere. They served me and many other people well through many shots and many years. I never had a single probem with any of my Mossbergs except my 835 Utilimag. After putting about 700 or so rounds through it without cleaning it I started to have extraction issues due to carbon fouling build-up. If say you step up to a Mossberg 590 or even a 590A1 you have now limited yourself to a tactical firearm. Sure they have a 9 shot clearout and the 590A1 is still one of my favorite guns, especially equipped with ghost ring sights and a bayonette lug. So really the two biggest gripes I’ve found with Mossbergs in general are the seemingly loose tolerances which causes people to call them ‘cheap’ which they are not, I can attest to their durability; and the other gripe is the aluminum receiver which cannot be blued and is considered ‘weaker’ than steel recievers, but I have not seen or heard evidence to show me that it is a hindrance of any kind.
So the verdict is, buy whichever one fits your needs best. I like shooting clays and am anticipating doing some turkey hunting and maybe some slug hunting for deer. I also like the fact that I can buy a barrel and mag tube extension and have my tactical with an 8 shot clearout. The Remington 870 is very rugged and very dependable. Mossbergs are also very dependable and have their own adaptable capabilities. Many law enforcement officials trust their lives to Mossbers and many trust their lives to Remingtons. Do research, hold them, shoot them if you can and then decide. Hell, if I had the money, I would have both (the 590A1 of course).