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frontlander
June 6, 2002, 11:28 PM
Howdy. A while back at a gun show I picked up a used 870 Express 12 gauge that had been worked over by Gunsite. MMC tritium ghost rings, shortened synthetic stock (12 3/4" LOP), Pachmayr foreend, 18" Vang barrel (no porting, 6 round side saddle. After several months of living with this new arm, and 400 rounds of ammo, here are my observations so far:

The gun is very handy. I like short, quick, fast handling arms (Model 94's both Winchester and Marlin, M1 Carbines, the old style lightweight ARs) and this gun fits right in. The short barrel combined with the short stock make it very easy to pack along in vehicles. Here on the ranch we spend a lot of time in tractors, trucks, etc. and the 870 doesn't take up much space tucked into the corner of the cab. The short stock does have a drawback for a stockcrawler such as myself: when wearing light summer weight clothing, my face is right on the narrowest point of the comb which has a nice habit of smacking the cheekbone with heavy loads. A cheek-eez pad would help and I temporarily built it up with duct tape for the same effect. I shoot all my long guns with my thumb on the right side of the grip so that does save me from the "thumb up the scnozz" syndrome. When wearing heavy cold weather clothing the stock length is just about perfect.

The gun's light weight does make it kick a bit with full power buck and slugs. Proper form is mandatory or else a horrible flinch will start to develop. Luckily I've learned from this forum the proper way to handle shotgun recoil (proper mount, weight forward stance, rounded recoil pad) so this really is not an issue.

I have fired 400 rounds of mostly #8 1 1/8 oz. 1200 fps promotional ammo evenly split at aerial and stationary targets. I patterned these loads at varying ranges from 7 ft to 25 yards and was quite impressed with the uniformity and tighness of the patterns. The Remington 9 pellet 00 stayed inside 9" at 25 yards. Remington and Federal 1 oz both hit about 1" above point of aim at 25 yards.
Our ranch is quite literally a "target rich environment" for firearms practice with thousands of ground squirrels (gophers) running rampant. The #8s will kill out to about 35 yards max. Running shots are great fun. I even shot a few of the rodents with slugs.

The MMC ghost ring sights are a great help when making precise long distance shots and don't seem to detract from making hits on aerial targets. I am not sold on the tritium option. I've used the gun in low light and no light conditions and have found that the tritium really starts working when I can no longer identify the target due to lack of light. If I were purchasing the sights new I would skip the tritium and buy more ammo. It does no harm, though.

The tolerances between the barrel and the Pachmayr foreend were too tight, allowing the forrend to stick to the barrel when the barrel was hot. This was easily fixed by sanding.

All in all I am very pleased with the quality and function of the 870 platform. This being my first 870, I have nothing to compare it to except its reputation and mine certainly lives up to it.

Dave McC
June 7, 2002, 04:42 AM
Thanks for posting this,Frontlander. Sounds like a very nice piece. 9" buckshot patterns at 25 yards? Impressive....

The kick will be less if you keep the S/S topped off. It adds about 1/2 lb.

How's the trigger?

And, slugs on ground squirrels may be overkill. Not much meat left(G)....

C.R.Sam
June 7, 2002, 10:37 AM
Head shoot em.
Not supposed to eat squirrel brains anyway.
Mad squirrel disease you know.

Sam

frontlander
June 7, 2002, 01:43 PM
The trigger is manageable, but not ideal. 4 lbs but with quite a bit of smooth creep. It is better than most shotgun triggers I have used. At least the creep is smooth and the letoff is predictable. Almost like a miniature two stage military trigger. Can an 870 trigger be safely brought down to 3.5 lbs/crisp? I have heard both yea and nay. When I took a look at the trigger assembly in action it looks like there is excessive amount of sear engagement (hence the creep) but I thought that perhaps this was a safety measure to preclude discharge during rough handling.

Steve Smith
June 7, 2002, 02:39 PM
Would you mind listing exactly what you had done and a total price or detailed pricing? Thanks!

Dave McC
June 7, 2002, 07:25 PM
Ya got me scratching my head now. All my 870s are pretty creep free, some came with less than 4 lb triggers, two got made that way, but all are on the crisp side.

My oldest runs 3 1/2, the TB 3 3/4, both the Deer 870 and Frank come in under 4.

Factory trigger specs run 3 1/2 to 6 lbs.I'd be very loath to go under that 3 1/2 lb threshold on a "Serious" shotgun. Some trapshooters use lighter 870 triggers, but they treat them like fine crystal.

And, if you do decide that it needs some work, let a qualified professional do it.

HTH...