View Full Version : Remington 870 jamming, FTE, FTF problems, PLEASE HELP!

Joe Mamma
August 3, 2002, 09:23 AM
I am an experienced pistol shooter but, I don't know much about shotguns or have much experience with them. However, I think I have the honor of owning the world's worst Remington 870! :mad: It is not feeding (chambering) shells correctly and not correctly extracting fired shells. Also, sometimes, the slide "seizes" up and doesn't cycle at all. Sometimes, to cycle the slide, I have to hold the forearm and bang the butt against the ground. The amazing thing is that it is pretty new. I have only fired about 25-30 rounds out of it!

History of the gun: It is a Remington 870 Express Magnum with and 18" barrel which I bought new. It came with a 6 round magazine factory installed. It is not a Marine Magnum. Before I ever shot it, I sent it in to Scattergun Technologies (i.e., Wilson Combat) and had them install ghost ring sights, a different safety, and a sling. When I got it back after a loooong wait, they had incorrectly replaced the mag extension (so it only had a 4 round mag tube), and replaced the breech bolt. The "new" breech bolt was shiny black on the outside, instead of being like the original one which had a rough finish (like the rest of the parts on this Express model). I assume they took the gun apart and just grabbed different pieces from the parts bin when they put it back together. I called them and they said the different breech bolt was not a problem, and they sent me a +2 mag extension (made by Scattergun Technologies) and spring. It was different from the factory Remington one which was on the gun when I had sent it to them. But, I didn't say anything because they probably lost my original one and their extension may even be better. I didn't think it would be functionally worse. Actually, the "new" extension I received from them was a little rusted but, I didn't think it would affect the performance of the gun so I decided to not complain to them about it. After waiting so long to get it back from them, I didn't want to deal with them more than I had to.

Occasionally, I played with it (e.g., dry firing, cycling the slide, etc.) before I ever fired it for real. There was never any hint of a problem. A few weeks ago, I fired it for the first time using live ammo. I used different types of ammo (slugs, birdshot, and buckshot) but, to my surprise, it started jamming. By jamming, I mean that after firing, I could not cycle the slide because something was stuck. Eventually, it would cycle and eject the fired shell and feed/chamber a fresh one. This jamming occurred about 4-6 times during this session of about 25-30 rounds that I fired. The jamming happened with different types of ammo too. I didn't really pay too much attention to this problem at first because I though I (a relatively new shotgun shooter) was doing something wrong. A friend also fired a few rounds and had the same jamming problem. Also, sometimes, the magazine spring would bind up and not put pressure on the loaded shells. It would release after you shook the gun or hit it with your hand.

I took the gun home and called Scattergun Technologies. They were nice but, didn't know what the problem was. They said these problems were VERY rare and the gun is VERY reliable. I watched an AGI Remington 870 Gunsmithing video and took mine apart for a thorough cleaning and lube. I took off the barrel, mag tube, trigger assembly, bolt assembly, and other parts. I looked for pieces to deburr (especially the breech end of the barrel) b/c I thought that might be the problem. But, everything was fine. So, I just cleaned everything well and then lubed them with Breakfree CLP.

Now, the gun seems to be no better and possibly worse! I have not fired it yet but, I have loaded live shells and when I cycle the slide, sometimes the gun is not pulling them from the mag tube. Also, when it does pull them from the mag and chamber them, sometimes there is a lot of resistance when moving the forearm slide forward. Also, sometimes when the shells do go into the chamber, they do not go all the way in! The forearm slide gets stuck with about half an inch left to go before it is completely forward. I don't THINK it is the breech bolt assembly that is getting stuck. I THINK it has something to do with the action bars getting hung up inside the receiver because when it jams/seizes up, there is not even a little bit of play when I try to cycle it. But, when I had it apart, I checked both of the action bars to make sure they were reasonably straight and they were. Like everything else, I then cleaned them (not that they needed it) and lightly lubed them before I put it back together.

Man am I ******! I did a lot of research (including here on The Firing Line) before buying this shotgun. I picked what I thought was the highest quality/most reliable pump shotgun and sent it to a reputable gunsmith (ScattergunTechnologies) for some improvements. I patiently waited months before I got it back from them. I even bought the AGI Gunsmithing video on Remington 870's and studied it. I really don't want to send this gun back to Scattergun or Remington. I don't even think Remington would honor their warranty because it has been modified by Scattergun. I just want to shoot it! I even took a day off from work next week just to go shooting. I was really looking forward to shooting this shotgun but now, I may not even bring it to the range b/c it might not work!

I thought a Remington 870 is one of the most reliable firearms in the world. Does anyone know what is wrong with my gun? Please, can someone help a brother out? :confused:

Joe Mamma

Dave McC
August 3, 2002, 10:51 AM
Take a deep breath, Joe and relax. Help's on the way.Here's a couple options to do until a REAL gunsmith like DML shows up, and he will....

I'm no gunsmith, but I know a bit about 870s. IMO, there's a couple possible probs, and more than one may be here and now.

First, drop the trigger group out and see if the shellcatchers are in place, and properly staked. This means they are not moving for and aft,popping out, and level with the surrounding metal in the receiver.

Second, borrow or buy a standard mag spring and mag cap. Install, instead of the ST stuff, and see if the prob disappears. Make sure you tighten the cap as much as possible by hand, I use padded channelocks to take it ONE click past hand tight.

Third, make sure the bolt and carrier are where they're supposed to be on the action bars. I've had to correct improperly assembled 870s a time or two, and this was one glitch that had symptoms similar to what you're reporting.

Fourth, after reassembly place one drop of CLP on each action bar and pump it a few times. This may smooth it up a bit.

HTH, sing out if they don't...

August 3, 2002, 11:33 AM
I'm no expert but I experianced the failure to go into battary jam on my 870 and found that a tiny dab of grease (not oil) on the ejector spring which rides up against the bolt, really slickens things up nice, and took that problem away. Your failure to feed from the tube I've no clue on, its never happened to me.

Dont give up on it. It is one of the best SG's going. But like everything else, it cant be 100%. Maybe 99%. You had the bad luck of getting the 1 in a 1000 which has problems. Should be fixable, hang in there.

(Maybe someone had installed a Sidesaddle on it and cranked the screws down too tight binding the action, Mike it and see if it falls out right.)

Good luck.

August 3, 2002, 02:04 PM
Wow, you are a patient lad.
If I had sent my SG to ST and had to wait as long as you did, then they sent me the wrong parts, I'd be raising heck.
For what it's worth, I spoke to another famous SG modifier and they said that they were "always fixing their (ST) stuff".
When I looked into a ST SG, it looked like nothing that I could not do myself so I passed. My barrel I sent to a local smith for a forcing cone and I installed my own sidesaddle and factory extension.
I do have a ST hi-vis follower which is nice.
Anyway, it almost sounds like your feeding 3" shells to a 2 & 3/4" barrel.
Do you have your original barrel hanging around?
I would remove all the ST stuff as Dave McC mentions and switch to the original barrel (that says 3" on the side) and see what you get.
I do not know what to say about that bolt. I have not seen any shiny black ones. Mine are either silver or dull black.
When the SG is unloaded and pointing straight up, if you press the slide release, does the slide drop down with a gentle push?
It also sort of sounds like one or both of the extractors are on the wrong side of the slide rails.

I just reread your post. I don't know why I thought you had bought the 18" barrel later. Sorry about that. Do you have access to a spare barrel? Were you shooting 3" shells?

Joe Mamma
August 3, 2002, 11:06 PM
Gentlemen, thank you very much for your replies. Please keep them coming.

Dave McC, I will check those shell catchers (which I assume are the "shell latches"). I will also take off the mag extension. I was careful to tighten the mag extension tight, but not more than hand tight. I always thought problems were common with people who tried to tighten the mag extensions too tight. But, I will go one click past hand tight just as you advised. I will also double check the placement of the bolt and carrier on the action bars.

Edward429451, I will try grease on the ejector spring. Also, I am fairly sure noone installed a side saddle. I was the original owner and never had it done. The funny thing is that I intentionally didn't because I heard there was a slim chance of reliability problems which I wanted to avoid at all costs. But, I can't imagine it being much worse than it is now! But, I'll investigate.

9mmMike, I was only shooting 2 3/4" shells. I have never had anything even loaded into it other than those size shells even though it is an Magnum model (which says 2 3/4" or 3" shells). Unfortunately, I do not have another barrel. Also, when the gun is pointed up and I hit the mag release, it USUALLY drops with only a gentle push. When you refer to "extractors", do you mean the left and right "shell latch" (part numbers 55 & 56 in my factory manual)? I will check the latches.

Erick, I am patiently awaiting any suggestions from you.

Thanks again for all your help. I'll let you know if and how I get this fixed.

Joe Mamma

August 4, 2002, 04:56 AM
Yup I meant shell latches. I was temporarily insane when I wrote that post. Better now.

August 4, 2002, 10:44 PM
I hate to get into this one because it involves Wilson/ST. One thing that caught my attention was the bolt. I am pretty sure that ST strips customers guns as a batch and doesn't worry much about installing the original parts. There is a good chance that the barrel on your gun is not the one you sent.

I see one glaring error. You sent the gun to Wilson without ever shooting it. How do you know if it functioned from the factory? Now that Wilson has worked on it your factory warrenty is void. You could try another gunsmith, send it to Reminton or send it to Wilson. If it was mine, it would be on the way back to Wilson.

I know that's not much help, but without the gun in front of me and a pile of parts to try it would be pretty hard to trouble shoot.

Joe Mamma
August 5, 2002, 01:09 AM
After reading through the information in this thread many times and watching the AGI video some more, I got the feeling that at least part of the problem has something to do with the front ends (front meaning closest to the fore-end) of one or both of the shell latches. I took the gun apart and very carefully checked the entire length of them to make sure they were properly positioned and staked in the receiver. I also carefully checked the front ends of them. This was difficult because they are in a very small space between the receiver and barrel support/mag tube. But, everything looked perfect. Nothing was obviously bent, misaligned, loose, etc. I also pushed the front springy ends against the receiver many times and they always functioned fine. I checked the shell latches and they appear to be the correct ones (the left one is for the left side and right one for the right side). When I cycle the slide and the action functions properly, I see that the new cartridge rest against the end of one shell latch and then against the other just as it is supposed to (according to the AGI gunsmithing video). Also, I lubed everything well (including the front ends of the shell latches between the mag tube and receiver) before putting it back together.

Other things: the bolt/slide assembly was positioned properly on the action bars. The mag tube is straight and undented. I checked it carefully and see no problems with it. The fore-end assembly is definitely tight. The action arms are straight. I looked at them carefully and also used a straight edge to check them. The shell follower is positioned correctly and does not have any burrs or rough spots. The mag spring length is 22 & 1/2".

Erick, I am very comfortable pulling the trigger assembly. I am doing it for the third time today! I see where the action release (or more specifically the extended "hook" portion of it which goes toward the rear of the gun) contacts the lever. It contacts the lever at the "bottom" of the lever. "Bottom" meaning it is the side which would be closest to the ground if I were holding the gun in a normal position just about to shoot something. Is this correct?

DML, I am not sure that the gun functioned perfectly from the factory, before I sent it to Wilson/Scat-Tech. I do not mean to imply Wilson/Scat-Tech broke it. That is interesting what you say about the barrel possibly not being my original one. I never thought about that. Also, before anyone asks, I did double check it and it does still say 12 GA. 2 & 3/4" or 3" shells, like the one that came with the gun from the factory.

One thing that I noticed is the flap (part number 7, called the carrier in the owner's manual) which flips up and down when you pump the gun, is not centered in the receiver. When I push it into the gun, it sometimes scrapes against the left side of the receiver and/or left action bar. Also, when I push it up halfway, I can see that it is clearly much closer to the left side of the receiver than the right side. I double checked the parts diagram and it looks like everything is installed correctly and nothing (like a washer) is missing. But, this doesn't seem right. Is this the way it is supposed to be?

Thanks for all your help. What a way to spend a weekend . . .

Joe Mamma

August 5, 2002, 09:01 AM
I can offer some simpathy.

The 870 is a spectacular firearm, I have a Marine Magnum that is a blast to shoot and has been very reliable in the couple hundred rounds through it.

On that note I have a SIG 225 also which is arguably one of the best handguns in the world and ya know what..........I got that one in a million one with friggen problems. Torqued me off but good. It is the first SIG I have ever had problems with. Kinda depressing actually.

Anyway the moral of the story is, it happens. They are all mechanical objects made by man and therefore subject to being F'd up. Oh well. Keep tinkering with it and you will get it working.

Sorry I can't offer more.

Joe Mamma
August 5, 2002, 09:28 PM
I took the gun to the range today. I went through 100 rounds. Surprisingly, it only jammed once. This time it was a different kind of jam. After firing, I could not pump it. But, unlike the previous occurrences, I COULD move the fore-end (and action bars) just a little bit. I think the locking block assembly got stuck up in the receiver (even though I had lubed these areas well). After a few seconds, it released and it cycled fine. I think the problem will go away as I shoot it more. I think the other jamming problem(s) have been fixed.

Also, it only failed to load the next shell from the mag tube about 2 or 3 times today. I am actually happy it did not happen more. FYI, I have not switched out the plus 2 mag extension yet because I didn't want to change too many things at once. I am still going to try to get this to work with the extension.

Erick, I checked my emails. Thank you for getting the attention of Bill Wilson. He requested that I send him my gun and assured me that it would receive high priority. However, I politely declined for now. Ignoring the functioning problems with the gun (which may or may not be his company's fault), I have not had the best experiences with his company's service (e.g., mismatching parts) or its products (e.g., rusted). I'll try to take care of the gun myself or take it elsewhere if I can't.

Unfortunately, I don't trust the reliability of this gun right now. I cannot/will not sell it because I know that it could easily fail someone at the wrong time and possibly get them killed. I do a lot of competition pistol shooting but, I don't think this gun would be good for any of the shotgun competitions I know of because of its specifications. Does anyone know of any types of matches where this gun would be competitive (pump gun, 6 rd mag, 18" barrel)? I will continue to work on it and try to get it to 99.99% reliability. Worse case scenario, I will get a lot of experience shooting a shotgun and learning how to take one apart and tune it. But, it's frustrating as hell at times.

Thanks again everyone for all your help.

Joe Mamma

August 5, 2002, 10:03 PM

This beginning to sound familier. The failures to feed, (shells not feeding out of the magazine) could be a kinked magazine spring and/or it's getting caught in the space where the magazine extension screws onto the magazine tube. As said before, the best way to check this is to replace the spring with a standard spring and magazine cap. Also, there may be crud or excessive Parkerizing in the magazine tube itself. This could cause the follower to hang up. Try running a tight patch through the magazine tube and see how it feels.

The failure to unlock could be the action locking arm (bar?) on the trigger group. I have seen a few of these hang up because of burrs on the bar itself on the left side. I am looking at one right now that has really bad burrs as it came from the factory. When the hammer falls it is supposed to release the lock, but it doesn't always work that way if things are rough. You might try to lightly
polish the end of the arm just enough to remove any burrs. With the trigger group out of the receiver, pull the trigger while holding the hammer and release it slowly. You'll see how it works.

One last idea. There is a good chance that none of the parts in your gun are the ones that were in it originally. Take a close look at the camming surfaces on the action bars assy. and the end of the left side in particular. Look for excess wear and dings.

That's the best I can do without actually seeing the gun.

Dave McC
August 6, 2002, 04:48 AM
An 18" bbled 870 with a 6 shot magazine is not a competition shotgun,unless you're doing "Practical" shooting, where it makes sense. So, forget competition for now. Just shoot the darn thing, don't worry about winning, just have fun and learn your shotgun. Shoot trap, skeet, sporting, 5 stand, landfill rats, steel plates, whatever. Just do it....

A flagon of mead says that 6 months from now your 870 will be as reliable and mine, and you will be quite good with same.....

Joe Mamma
August 7, 2002, 01:40 AM
DML, the inside of the magazine tube and magazine extension is very smooth and has a consistent finish except for the rust in the mag extension. There is a good amount of rust but, I don't think it is much of an issue because it is at the closed end. I have actually gotten rid of a lot of it by using some CLP and long cotton swabs. However, the joint between the mag tube and mag extension may be an issue. I never thought much about that before. But, there may be a gap there even when I fully tighten the mag extension on the mag tube. I might smooth off the edges on both so the spring/follower won't get hung up there if there is a gap.

With regards to the action bar lock (part # 1 in my owners manual) which you showed in your picture, I have thought about that alot. But, I am *pretty sure* that when this gun was jamming during my first shooting session with it, the lower part of the action bar lock was not extended out of the bottom of the receiver (which would be proper functioning) after I fired it. If I recall correctly, at least a few of the times it jammed, one of the first things I checked was the action bar lock to push it in and release the action. But, I don't remember it being extended. However, that being said, if I am wrong and the action bar was extended, it would explain a lot. That's exactly the type of jamming it was; I couldn't move the fore end at all.

Also, I checked the action bars for wear and they look fine. When I had checked the end of the left action bar which contacts the bar lock, there were no sharp burrs. However, I did notice that the matting surface on the bar was very rough. I lubed the area well but, I think I may polish that surface at some point. It could be one of the problems I am experiencing.

That part of you post which says "There is a good chance that none of the parts in your gun are the ones that were in it originally." is very true. When I took it apart all of the previous times, I had assumed everything was new, properly installed, and fit well. But, now I will examine everything more carefully. It seems like a really bad way of doing things for Wilson Combat/Scat Tech to just randomnly swap parts, especially when the parts are often very different. But, what the hell do I know.

Also, the flap (carrier) which is off center and scapes against the inside of the receiver still concerns me. It touches enough to make the gun noticeably more difficult to pump and if I pump it very slowly, it gets hung up midway through its travel. I will adjust the position of this part at some point.

Dave McC, shooting landfill rats? Now that sounds like fun!

Joe Mamma

Dave McC
August 7, 2002, 06:41 AM
Landfill rat shooting was a pastime of my wild and wastrel youth. One of the few instances where a 410 shines, it requires small shot, eye and ear protection, a shotgun, and a landfill.

There's no B&C prizes for trophy rats, but some of those suckers were big enough to eat cats.

August 8, 2002, 10:12 PM
A few points:

You were treated very badly by ST - the factory mag extension cost about twice what there's does. :mad:

I have the same gun as you (two actually). Both guns were working fine, but I changed the factory red followers to the super ST followers because everyone said they were so fantastic.

End result was that the new followers were very prone to binding. It was very difficult to load the mag, and it would not always feed a round. I took it apart, greased the follower and the mag tube (lightly) but the problem persisted.

I ordered two of the stainless steel followers from Brownells, installed them, and now they load and feed just fine again.

I believe that the ST mag follower design is less than ideal. The factory and Brownells followers are hollow, and the spring seats inside them. The ST followers have a spiggot out the rear that the spring goes over - I believe this design is inherently unstable in the mag tube and can cause binding - not on all guns, but certainly on mine and a few others I've heard off.

Dump that plastic crap and get yourself a Brownells stainless follower and your feed problems should be over.

Your ejection problems are a different matter. I've heard that some 870 chambers are a little rough, leading to empties sticking in there. The solution is to polish the chamber. Mine work OK, so I've not attempted this.

These 870 Express models are roughly made - lotsa burrs all over mine, but at least they are cheap and they work (usually) !

If you want a truly nice pump try a Browning !

August 9, 2002, 08:52 PM

Do you have a part No. for the Brownells stainless follower? I can't seem to find them in the catalor or on line, thanks.

August 9, 2002, 10:14 PM

August 9, 2002, 11:49 PM
According to my invoice

Brownells Rem mag follower s/s 080-000-002 $11-95

Not cheap, but very effective. My loading and feeding has never been smoother. :cool:

August 10, 2002, 02:47 PM
Thank you sir!

Joe Mamma
August 12, 2002, 10:46 AM
"You were treated very badly by ST - the factory mag extension cost about twice what there's does. :mad: "

Interesting point leftover. I should look to see if they are reselling my parts on ebay!

Also, thanks leftover and 9mmMike for the info and link on the Brownell's follower. I think I may try that. I can't tell you how dissapointed I've been by this shotgun. Well actually, I guess I can (see above posts)!

"These 870 Express models are roughly made - lotsa burrs all over mine, but at least they are cheap and they work (usually) !"

I was prepared to deburr my gun but, I have been pleasantly suprised at the lack of burrs.

Joe Mamma