View Full Version : 870 Failure! Shocking, and strange...

March 21, 2002, 12:31 PM
OK, I can't post digital photos (no digital camera), and my nomenclature skills on shotgun internals are not the best, but I'll give it a, er, shot (as it were):

I was using dummy rounds to polish up my moves with my new Speedfeed III PG-equipped tactical ubergun. When my PD moved to PG-equipped SGs I had a little trouble adapting readily, so I modified my HD SG to the specs I use on-duty. Anyway, I was working away, and suddenly the gun failed to go into battery when I pushed the forearm forward. I paused, looked through the ejection port and, seeing no cause for the bind, pulled back and pushed forward again, more forcefully. No dice.

I pull back again, roll the gun over, dropping out the dummy rounds, and clear the tube. This is what I see:

Looking through the ejection port, on the far wall of the reveiver, there is a slot running fore and aft. In that slot is a piece of springy steel, anchored in front with a pin and free to push outwards at the rear. The bolt has travelled behind the end of this piece of steel, which has popped out in front of it. Thanks to my initial and secondary (more forceful) attempts to get the gun to go into battery, the bolt pushed forward and bent this piece completely out of whack.

Yes, I can and will probably just haul this SG to my department gunsmith, who will be able to fix it quickly, and likely for free. I'm just curious exactly what happened and why. Was the bolt travelling too far aft, or is the springy steel bit to blame (and what exactly is its name? :P)

Also, is this common? I've never heard of this happeneing before, so I'm guessing 'no.'


March 21, 2002, 12:45 PM
Murphy's Law:

Rule Number 35.........When something jams--Force It---If it breaks----It needed replacing anyway.

March 21, 2002, 12:49 PM
This did not happen. I've read on TFL that guns do not break, especially "brand x" and KSFreeman's constant harping about having backup or multiple copies of the same weapon is silly and misguided.:D

This malfunction/jam is only common if you really need the weapon.

March 21, 2002, 12:51 PM
Sounds like one or both of the rivets securing the ejector (small steel rail) or ejector spring ("springy steel") gave way. Happens sometimes but not a common event.

March 21, 2002, 12:57 PM
I bet it would be a "common failure" if it hadn't happened to the sacred 870. Post something similar about a Mossy or a Winny and the thread will be flooded with 870 worshippers pointing out your stupidity for not toeing the line and buying the 870. Just one more example that proves that ALL weapons are subject to failures. I'm a Winchester 1300 fan, and I'll be the first to tell you that the ejector on them is pathetically weak...just like the 870.

Edit: Spellcheck

March 21, 2002, 01:03 PM
Now now now...I'm an 870 supporter, and I don't think anyone has ever claimed that either 1. 870s are infallible or 2. that mossies or Winnies suck.

Ejector spring, eh? Thanks for the terminology. This will deprive my PD armorer of the laugh he would otherwise have had if I walked in and said "My steel springy thingy is jammed in front of my bolt doohicky."

Mike :D

PS is there a fix I can do here at home? I'm a DIY kinda guy, and it never hurts to learn how to fix things...

March 21, 2002, 01:58 PM
Are you SURE that the gun is an 870? Positively?

Now if it was one of those POS Mossies or Winnies the whole gun would have disassembled itself had you tried the same thing.:D

Must have been sabotaged by a jealous mossberg gunsmith. Yeah! Thats the ticket! :D

Fix, watch your back here man! :cool:

March 21, 2002, 02:09 PM

March 21, 2002, 03:59 PM

Yes , you probably can fix your 870 at home ; it may be more of a pain and the results may be as esthetic as you like but the repair will be done , sorta , as follows .

Inspect again : the ejector spring is in a "housing" that is held
to the receiver by two rivets that are inserted from the outside
of the receiver . Is the housing damaged ? If damaged , it may
be best to replace it .

Get parts : as the other contributor said , you need the two
rivets and at least the spring and maybe the housing.

Remove the ejector spring and housing : by grinding off the
heads of the rivets from the inside of the receiver . pull out
the spring and the housing .

Check the parts fit : Most rivets have a"head" that is made a bit
thick so that it (the head) can be finished flush with the receiver
That may mean a bigger spot re-blue of the rivets and the area
of the receiver that your grinding and polishing affects . If you
are really patient , you can achieve excellent results by repeat-
ed grind/check/grind some more/ check/ polish/blue the rivets.

Install : If the rivets don't have a chamfer on the shank , put a
fairly generous one on both rivets to ease assembly .put the
rivets through the receiver and slip the housing over the rivets
and against the receiver and then slip on the ejector spring .

You have to peen the expopsed shank of each rivet into a head
that will be strong enough to take the pounding that the shell
heads will deliver upon extraction.

All this may not be worth the expense of a gunsmith , but , if you crave independence , it will be worth everything you put into the
project .


Dave McC
March 21, 2002, 04:45 PM
Mike, see if you can get a copy of Kuhnhausen's manual. They cover this well.

Fix, as the resident 870 guru, I guess that flame was directed at me. Never have I said that 870s were perfect and immortal, they just go longer betwen glitches than other shotguns. Proof? Name one major agency or dept that uses either Mossies or Winchesters. It's not because the 870s is cheaper, because it's not.

As to why this happened, well past my diagnostic abilities. I'd haul it to an armorer...

March 21, 2002, 05:04 PM
Who said the 870's were perfect? It's just that they're not cheap pieces of junk. You know, like those Mossy's and 1300's! ;) LOL

March 21, 2002, 05:08 PM
Why on earth would you assume that? You hadn't even posted to this thread yet...

You 870 guys always have that chip on your shoulder.:D :D :D

Badger Arms
March 21, 2002, 06:01 PM
Mossbergs and Winchesters SUCK!!!:barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf:

Truth be told, I can't recall a single department I've encountered that uses either of them. That's really strange as much as Mossberg touts their gun as being "Tougher" than the 870.

Funny, Ithacas have been used for years by many police departments. Most notable is the LAPD where they gained a reputation for being "Cop Killers." Stupid LA cops would keep their finger on the trigger and shuck a round in the chamber while pointing it at their buddies!!! The Ithaca is the slickest gun out there. Watch the movies... Terminator, Aliens, L.A. Confidential... all packed with hard-core Ithaca ACTION!!!

My HD gun is still a Remington.

Went shooting with a Friend. He had a Winchester and shot it side by side with my Remington Express... He asked me to sell his Winney so he could get the Remington!

Yes, the Ejectors are the weakest part of the gun and are known to break. Thankfully, the Ithaca has an ejector integral to the receiver! :D

March 21, 2002, 07:18 PM
Um, pardon me, but I believe the shotgun used in Terminator was a Winchester Model 1887, a lever-action shotgun.

My bases are covered. I have both. A Win 1300 and a Remmie 870. I have to admit, though, I like my 870 better.

Al Thompson
March 21, 2002, 08:49 PM
The first Terminator featured a M37 by the good guy. T2 was the lever gun.


(who still really likes Linda Hamilton)

March 21, 2002, 09:06 PM
Mike ,

Gotta start editing - - -

If the housing is undamaged , you probably can remove just the front rivet and replace it and the ejector spring .

When installing both parts , fit both rivets but install the rear first
and the front last ; the spring has only the front hole to allow the
spring to move to the rear as it is depressed by the bolt . The rivets used to be different .

The primary function of the spring is to prevent short-shucking
because it (the spring) requires the shooter to apply enough force
to (try) cause the operator to not be able to stop the stroke short.

Sorry for any confusion , Hawkaaa53

Nevada Fitch
March 21, 2002, 09:13 PM
I own several Remingtons, and I can tell you an 870 can fail. I bought one brand new, one of the fancy ones and the dammed thing was a jammer. It would not eject reliably. I sent it back twice and they did not get if fixed. Their repair service is not worth a darn.

However, I guess I would still pick one over a Mossberg 835 anyway. I have seen plenty of lemmons in that model.

March 21, 2002, 10:28 PM
Proof that Guns follow the Third Law of Thermodynamics! :D

"The universe tends twoard Entropy"

Aka everything eventually breaks down, as will eventually the whole Universe.

March 21, 2002, 10:33 PM
Funny how you never notice the obvious at first.

I was busy tinkering with my hi-tech, flashlight-equipped club prior to going to work. I didn't want to either 1. dig the other 870 out of the safe or 2. take down the broken one to fully examine the action. The former would involve altering the intricate and delicate arrangement of guns inside the safe and the latter would probably involve gun oil and/or grit on my clean pressed white uniform shirt.


Once I got to work I was able to examine the mechanism of a fully functional 870 as I cruiser-readied it. Doh!

The aft end of the ejector spring didn't work its way loose- the ejector spring broke cleanly in the middle. The front half of it popped out enough to be caught by the bolt on its next pass forward, and from there was bent horribly awry by me practicing the 'if it jams, force it' rule (which, BTW, I wholeheartedly endorse).

OK. I'll take this thing to the armorer. As he works for beer, it will be a cheap fix. And if I throw in more beer, I bet he'll show me how to fix it. ;)

Thanks all,

Badger Arms
March 22, 2002, 12:33 AM
Forgot a very important Ithaca appearance in a movie: Coming to America! The burglar at the McDougals Restaurant brandished one. Eddie Murphy disarmed him and Arsenio Hall picked up the gun and held the guy for the police. Interestingly enough, he held the gun with the thumb of his very large hand over the top of the receiver and his fingers wrapped around the trigger guard. Not gonna kill nobody that way. He should stick to talk shows.

And I've still got fantasies about Linda Hamilton. That one scene when she empties a Remington 870 into the T1000... WOW. She has a twin sister, you know! That was a Remington 870, right?

March 22, 2002, 01:00 AM
yes, it was a regular 870 with the wood LE forend and the factory top folding stock. Many people get it wrong but as I have almost exactly the saem thing I know it when I see it.

March 22, 2002, 01:02 AM
I have a book on this firearm , its called the firearms assembly/disassembly part 6 has all the teardown instructions with pictures (gun -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED-) it only costs 16 bucks I'd get a copy and keep it on the shelf .

March 22, 2002, 09:24 AM
Moosbergs and Winchesters DON"T suck snobby 870 owners with closed minds however do:barf: :barf: :barf: I don't wait to see what the local PD is using to judge my purchases due to all the political bs that goes on in a police or milatery type contract sale.And no Remington doesn't suck either guess I'm one of the few who see's both sides of the fence.;)

March 22, 2002, 09:30 AM
Springy thingies break.
Higher quality springy thingys break less often.
But they all break on occaision.


March 23, 2002, 12:41 AM
HMMMMM. Off the top of my bald head I can name at least 6 departments that use Mossberg 590s and like them. One is a pretty good size police dept. that has used them since 1991.

Personally, I prefer the older 870s, but as I've said before, the ejector spring can be a pain. When replacing one I often think of trying to use a small socket head screw instead of those damn rivets, but in the end, it really isn't worth the effort because the "springy thingy" breaks so infrequently. Just MHO.

Dave McC
March 23, 2002, 07:20 AM
DML, you may have better info than I do, TTBOMK, the closest non 870 issued is at Quantico.

Local depts are unanimous about the 870, tho I understand B-more has some 37s in reserve. Some small local agencies may allow their officers to supply their own. Sometimes, I understand, they use confiscated weapons.

IMO, the 590 is at no great disadvantage to the 870 as an issue weapon, IF the dept rotates their inventory at regular intervals and has adequate armorers. Many do not. Same applies to many depts with 870s.


Politics do enter the awarding of dept contracts. That's why Md State Troopers tote the Beretta 92 on duty.They're made in Accokeek,Md. The troopers I know are not too enthused over the 92,many having retained the older Model 19 S&W that was the previous duty sidearm and carrying it as "Backup".

More often tho,the politics are over who gets to supply a given weapon,not which weapon.Dept heads are too litigation shy to go for many substandard weapons. Maintenance, training and so on are less subject to review,since any glaring shortfalls can be excused on the grounds of budget restrictions.

And, 500s and 1300s are good shotguns. I doubt either will last as long as an 870, but it takes a lot of shooting and neglect/abuse to make either inoperable. For personal rather than issue shotguns, the difference is probably it's your grandchildren rather than your great grandchildren that'll think Gramps's shotgun is getting a little loose.

I guess my lifetime sum of shooting 870s, both mine and issue arms, is around 50K rounds. I recall no glitches, except for a few deliberately induced and some when checking out defective weapons to see how defective they were.

But, if I had shot the same number of rounds through well maintained 500s or 1300s, I doubt the results would have been quite as good. 50K rounds is way more than most shotguns, other than target guns, ever see.I do not think the results would have been much worse.

March 23, 2002, 11:58 AM
Gizmo99 and Kevan,
In the first Terminator movie both Reese (good guy) and the Terminator used Ithaca Model 37s. Reese had the extended mag tube (7+1) and sawed off the stock aft of the grip, the Terminator had the standard (4+1) tube. Both were pulled from the vehicle racks of squad cars in the L.A. area, though I don't think it too likely that Reese could have pulled it from a locked rack. Both are used in the dueling shotguns chase scene where the Terminator hits a wall and escapes with damage to an eye and arm.

Badger Arms
March 23, 2002, 04:30 PM
We're talking LAPD. No offense to any individualy officers, but not every officer locks up his equipment every time.

March 23, 2002, 07:36 PM
Then again, we're also talking about Hollywood, the land of magical shotguns that:

1.) Hit a bad guy dead-on every time when fired from the hip.

2.) Can be sawed-off to the size of a flare pistol and fired one-handed.

3.) Can kill three guys with one blast.

4.) Will have the recoil of a .22 short to the hero but recoil stout enough to cause anyone else to be landed on their butt or pushed back three feet.

5.) Have no muzzle flip when fired one-handed with pistol grip stocks.

6.) Blow cars up with one shot.

7.) Have an infinite tube magazine. :eek:

March 23, 2002, 11:03 PM
I happen to be in a unique position to tell you about the merits of modern pump shotguns.
You see, we use 12ga. shot guns in the process of removing slag from coal burning power plants.
There are days when we will fire 10-15 cases of 3" 00 buck in 2 guns in about 4 hours.
In the last 10 years I have had 2 guns that have been in use for the entire period. 1. A Maverick{copy of the old m500}.2.Mossberg m600
The average life of an 870, <2 hrs., 1300 4-5 hrs.
The problem is, we are shooting thru 3"x5" port holes. This means the gun recoils into the boiler wall almost every shot.
The other thing is the massive amounts of ash that collects in the actions.

Dave McC
March 24, 2002, 09:10 AM
Thanks for that, next time I get invited to a shootout at a fouindry, I'll know what to bring(G)....

po boy
March 26, 2002, 10:55 PM
Before you go to your armorer about a springie thing.
one of the shell latches most likely left shell latch needs to be replaced or just restaked,sometimes these come loose,, now if its the smaller hairpin looking piece in the center where bolt rides then yes it s the ejector spring and if bent needs replacement.

March 27, 2002, 01:24 AM
Yeah, its the ejector spring.


March 30, 2002, 02:24 PM
The world's largest constabulary, the US Armed Forces, I believe selected Mossberg for its duty shotgun - it handles well, the safety is where it shoud be on all SGs, but I personally can't stomach the Aluminum receiver - even my pots and pans are steel...that being said, nothing objectively compares to the all steel, bottom-ejecting Ithaca when it comes to design and engineering, and likewise nothing subjectively compares, to my hands anyway, to the handling and simplicity of an 870...

So there you have it, an Ithaca lover who still sings the praises of Mossies and Remingtons...how's that for open mindedness:D

March 30, 2002, 02:50 PM
I have both Remington 870's (two of them), and seven Winchester model 1300 Defenders(one of each type-I think-except the new 8 shot stainless coastal marine for 2002).
I like the winchesters better, as it appears that Winchesters quality has gone up while remington's has declined in the past 3-5 years or so.
My Remington's have never failed, nor have my Winchester's, but I have several friend's that I have been shooting with, and if their Remington's were manufactured in the past 3-5 years, they don't seem to be of the same quality as they used to be.
Although I tend to think the time I saw the problem, it was operator error and not the Rem870's fault.
The guy said he did not short-stroke the gun, he claimed he could not get it to feed right.
He thought it was the guns problem.
I sold the last Rem870 Marine magnum that I owned because, right out of the box it sometimes would bind in the magazine, like the magazine spring is getting hung up.
When going into battle I always carry a Winchester Defender, but still have enough confidense in my OLDER Rem870,that I could survive with it as well(there is nothing a wrong with the older one).

April 2, 2002, 12:12 AM
I posted the same problem early last month.Got the parts from Brownells.The worst part (for me) was geting old rivit out.I called Remington,they wanted me to send them the gun so that they could check it out.Good luck.

April 2, 2002, 01:18 AM
well , ummmmmmmmmm , I used to have wet dreams about
LINDA HAMILTON .............................

LOL ...