View Full Version : Buying a used pump gun....

Dave McC
July 21, 2000, 03:23 PM
A coupla things to watch out for,and some gratuitious advice....

First, know your dealer,and hopefully,know your prospective shotgun. Stick with brands that you recognise, not anonymous or unknown. Even name brands can have lemon models, some of the S&W models didn't do well when dirty.

So,you've a dealer you know, maybe even trust,and he tells you this one was owned by a little old lady who only toted it to church on Sunday,and it's practically new.You've BOTH made sure it's unloaded, so....

First,check overall condition. Start at the recoil pad or butt plate, and look for dings, scars, stains,etc. An overoiled piece stood in a closet will often show stains on the grip area. No biggie, but if it was owned and operated by an idiot, there may be other problems.Check metal for rust,worn finish, and general condition again.
Look all over, then disassemble it. If the dealer has a problem with this, you may want to go elsewhere. Be sure you can put it together again(G).

Look the bbl over by sighting down it like it was still on the weapon. Check for bends, dents,BULGES, corrosion, pitting,and any indication that it was not original to the piece.Check the muzzle for damage, and look for any sign of being shortened or hacksawed. Then check the bore. If the bore is dirty, a reputable dealer will clean it on request.If not, go elsewhere...

Look the bore over and see if there's any of the stuff listed above. If there's tube chokes involved, ask if you can unscrew the tube. Do so, to make sure it's not rust welded in place.It happens.

If it has a vent rib, look UNDER the rib for signs of rust,dirt,etc.

Take a good look at the mag tube, inside and out. Check the condition of the springs, and look for rust. While it's apart,look at the bolt face and see if there's peening around the firing pin hole, and make sure there's a good hook on the extractor. Take a squint at the ejector,usually mounted inside the reciver, and if you can see the bolt lugs, check for peening there also. Old Model 12s show this fairly often,according to a smith friend.

Now, check the action bars for cracks and wear. if all of the parts come through OK, ask if you can cycle a couple of snap caps, NOT LIVE AMMO or empty cases,to check function.

While you're at it, check the bbl markings and make sure it chambered for at least 2 3/4" shells, some older guns are not. Firing off a round longer than what's it's chambered for is neither fun nor safe.

Finally, ask the dealer about what kind of warranty applies. Some dealers have a 30-30 guarantee, 30 feet or 30 seconds, whichever comes first. Others want happy, repeat customers and will address any legit concern you have.

Good luck,ad if there's anything I didn't cover, sing out....

July 21, 2000, 03:57 PM
Wow, thanks! I have been turning over in the back of my mind buying a backup 870, so this is timely. They are surprisingly inexpensive, but it helps to have an organized checklist. I hadn't thought about peening of the bolt face. Which leads me to another set of thoughts...

If you're buying an older shotgun (say, an 870), do you think it'd be worthwhile to replace parts like the mag spring, extractor/extractor spring, firing pin/fp spring, maybe the mainspring?

One of the nice things about older 870s is they're all metal, no dimples, etc. -- but to go back to the 2 3/4" issue, are the 3" receivers any stronger? I am positively never going to be a goose or duck hunter, so I can't see any reason to wear out the sneakers (or tires) looking for a 3" chamber if there isn't some internal, structural difference.

Thanks again, Dave!

July 21, 2000, 04:03 PM
First, great article by Dave.

Second, to answer John's question, I suspect that the Remington 870 3.00" receivers are not any stronger than the 2.75" receivers. Check out Scattergun Tech's web site (now a subsidiary of Wilson Combat) and look at their price for a Remington Steal.

With the Remington Steal, you get all sorts of niceties done to your Remington 870 shotgun -- including the conversion of your 2.75" receiver to 3.00". Cost for the entire deal is $170.

Now unless SGT is replacing each 2.75" 870 receiver with a stronger 3.00" receiver on each and every Remington Steal that comes through the door (in which case I expect SGT to file for receivership in short order), I suspect they are merely lengthening the chamber and using the same receiver. Thus, my guess is that the 3.00" receivers would not be any stronger than the 2.75" receivers.



Justin T. Huang, Esq.
late of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Dave McC
July 21, 2000, 05:14 PM
Two of mine were converted by the smith that did my forcing cone work, and it may have consisted of changing the ejector and going to the new style shell elevator,guys. Of course, you need a 3 inch chambered bbl.

I doubt I'll ever use another 3" shell, except for waterfowling, or the deer around here start using Kevlar.

John, if I ran across a decent 2 3/4" chambered 870 at a decent price, I'd snap it up in a heartbeat. As for spare parts, a set of springs isn't all that expensive. I'd get a spare firing pin,too.

Dave McC
October 26, 2000, 08:39 AM
Bringing this back up for Loknload....

October 26, 2000, 09:10 AM
Thanks Dave, This is exactly what I was looking to see ;) I'm headed to the gun shop today to take another look at that 12 and also get some prices for a friend.
Will post what I find :)
Thanks again :)

We preserve our freedoms by using four boxes: soap,ballot,jury, and cartridge.

October 26, 2000, 10:10 AM
Justin, the steel receivers of 3" Rem. 870s is much thicker than the 2 3/4" models. I doubt if the beefier receiver is needed to handle the 3" shells. It is probably more a matter of "over-engineering". Since the bolt locks to the barrel, the receiver is basically just there to hold all the parts in place.

But, you know, I still want to get a 3" 870. I seldom shoot 3" shells and already have a 2 3/4" 870 that works perfectly well. But there is just something cool about that big beefy 3" receiver! ;-)

Regards! DaMan

October 26, 2000, 12:00 PM
just had my dealer order me a rem 870 police turn in...finally arrived (damn RPS shipping)...beautiful rem 870 wingmaster, 2-3/4", immaculate condition....wood, no scratches, no dings, a very little bit of storage dirt....well worth the waiting, and definately worth the $200 or so i paid for it...

speak now, or forever hold your peace

Dave McC
October 27, 2000, 08:53 AM
You're very welcome,Loknload. Good luck with the 12.

Da, the "More is Better Principle" is alive and well when it comes to 3 inch mags. Few need them, most have them. Enjoy...

Twist, great shotgun, great price. Your great grandchildren will thank you.

October 27, 2000, 01:22 PM
Hey Dave,
how about a guide to SXS shotguns?
I have been looking around for a double barrel shotgun for awhile and it seems they are either an extinct beast or beyond my budget. I would like to buy one and perhaps spend a weekend sanding and staining the stock etc (I'm into making old furniture look nice). Main use is wall decoration/so I can say I owned one :)

p.s. the new Rem 870 is working nicely now thanks.

October 27, 2000, 02:20 PM

Dave McC
October 27, 2000, 03:38 PM
Hayden, while I've had many pretty firearms, I've never owned one that was just decoration. If you're at all like me, you'll have that thing out for a shoot PDQ.

Besides the thread Kilgor imbedded, I'll bring up one about building a Lupara.

October 28, 2000, 12:06 PM
thanks for sending me in the right direction.
Dave please excuse my mouse it becomes lazy in search mode :) I should have known better and searched first!!


Dave McC
May 13, 2002, 05:03 PM
Up for the new folks....

May 14, 2002, 03:54 AM
Dave McC,

I have a question about older Wingmasters but first a bone to pick with you...

It was because of your continuous recommendations that three months ago, I brought my first 870, a 99% mid-80's Wingmaster. Because of the beauty and fit, I have a second one, in mint condition, on the way and I'm actively looking for a third. The first two will be used (along with my restored SX-1 auto) for sporting clays; The third will be fitted with the CompStock, shorten barrel, etc. and used for the home. Your comment are always appreciated, but costs are adding up. <g>

My question to you/others: I have my eye on a mechanically excellent late 60's Wingmaster. That's going back quite a ways and I was wondering if there might any reason(s) to look for a later vintage. In otherwords, do you feel that the 870's (as well as the barrels) built then are every bit as inherently strong as those manufactured in the 80's or 2002? Thanks for your/everyone's advice.


Dave McC
May 14, 2002, 04:28 AM
Sorry,Mike, I never promised you a rose garden(G)...

870s get expensive only in aggregate. One can assemble a decent collection for less than half of what a bare bones Perazzi would.

Old 870 bbls are as strong or stronger than new ones, and oft better made. I was shooting trap last Sunday with a man who had recently added a 1959 TC to his collection. Beautiful gun, and with a history of thousands of rounds behind it, still ticking along.

870 bbls come in three generations. The first were very well made, light and balanced very well for the field or trap, in 30" length.

Remington lost a class action suit, brought by idiots who clogged their muzzles, shot the guns and blamed the maker for their injuries. More idiots on the bench and jury box gave them much of BG's money.

As a result, the next generation of bbls were lawyer designed, and weighed more. Some also were bored off center, but this doesn't seem to affect performance.Some folks prefer the heavier bbls.

Third generation of bbls is the Light Contour job, a return to the dimensions and steel of yesteryear. Retro bbls, as it were.

I'd be hesitant to pick up a 60s vintage WM ONLY if I were planning to shoot steel and it was choked tightly. Even then, damage would be limited only to the choke.


May 15, 2002, 05:57 PM

Thanks for alleviating any concerns regarding the strength of earlier Wingmasters/barrels. I am going to have a gunsmith open the chokes a bit on the two 30" full-choked barrels. My only concern now is how short the stocks seem to be, but that's a topic for another thread.

I am looking forward to accessorizing the third Wingmaster particularly now that Brownell's is coming out with a set of fuzzy dice specifically for the 870. Either that or perhaps red flames on the receiver.<g>


Dave McC
May 16, 2002, 04:03 AM
I am ignoring your last statement, Mike(G)...

IMO, there's always room for one Full choke, open one bbl up to whatever constriction you prefer, but leave one tight.

You may want to have the forcing cones done when the 870s are at the smith's.

As for accessories, no prob IF one's not trying to use them as a substitute for practice or expertise....

Dave McC
November 29, 2002, 04:50 AM
Up for Drivie....

June 25, 2009, 03:55 AM
My M-12 was stolen, still had the other bbl assembly and was scouring the pawn shops for an 870 wanting a turn-in police gun. All were camo duck guns, very expensive, not what I wanted but the salesman said he had one he wanted to move. For $150 I couldn't turn it down, practically new, had a Hastings rifled bbl, scope and condition looked new, only had some fouling from shooting slugs. Took it home and cleaned the bore, all fine inside. The wood was cheap looking but OK, not trunk gun quality. Now i'm looking for a smooth bore bbl for it. As luck would have it later I found a near new looking M-12, mfg 1937 for $250 and couldn't turn it down. I had difficulty removing the bbl assembly and found it probably had never been removed, the grease in the threads was solid. I found one speck of rust, removed it and put the gun in my safe. I love slug guns and this 870 outshoots my c. 1915 M-97 I rebuild from a rusty hulk. 12 ga is the way to go. I cast 5 different slugs and also my 00 buckshot and load with Hercules Unique for most loads.