View Full Version : Still strugging with this old 870....

May 14, 2005, 10:02 PM
Took the "new" '55 Wingmaster out sporting clays today. My schedule recently changed for the better and I was able to go out last week as well. Life is good.
Anyway, last week I shot a 72 up at Lehigh Valley and I was pleased, as this was only my second outing with the 2 3/4" gun.
Today was not so good.
I went to a local place that has only recently re-opened and I ran into the same problem that I had the first time I shot this 870.
I am still struggling with true-pair shots. For whatever reason I cannot get off a second shot with this gun with bumblin' and stumblin'.
When I am in a hurry, no matter how hard I shuck this thunder-stick, the second shell does not feed well. The bottom edge of the shell catches at the bottom edge of the chamber and I have to back up the bolt a skosh and re-feed.
I have this trouble on occasion on my 3" guns as well but you'd never know it as I can back up and re-feed fast enough that there is little delay.
Trouble is that with this 2 3/4" gun, when I back up the bolt, the shell bumps into the ejector and I end up with an empty chamber.
The difference seems to be the longer ejector of the 3" guns gives me just enough room to try a do-over without ejecting the 2 3/4" shell.
Do I have a technique issue or a gun problem?
Keep in mind that even when I "pump like I mean it" the shell jams up. It actually takes a good amount of damage on the edge under the crimp as it gets smashed against the rim of the chamber.
If I go slowly enough there is no problem but some of these stations require a fast pump for that second shot. I actually do far better with my 20" rifle-sighted 870 than this old '55 with plain bead and 28" barrel and I am sorely tempted to abandon this WM but I am determined to make this old gun work. It's just got that cool factor that I insist upon.
Am I the only person to have this trouble with a pumpgun?
Do I just need to learn a happy medium for speed between my fast pump and ultra slow?
I sure wish I'd started shooting with a 2 3/4" only gun. Maybe I could have avoided this bad habit, if that's what it is.
Maybe I can transfer the old 28" barrel to my 3" house gun just to see if I still have this same problem. Hmmmmm.
Please advise,

May 15, 2005, 08:07 AM
I would try switching barrels, and trying the barrel on other guns. This will tell you if the problem is with that barrel.

If the problem reoccurs with other barrels, then you may have problems with the feeding sequence. Sounds like the shell isn't positioned properly. May have a worn or loose part or the wrong part in the gun.

May 15, 2005, 09:06 PM
By "new" '55 model do you mean an old gun NIB/LNIB, one you know that is orginal (passed down to you or similar) or Someone - a tinkerer , has been into this one, and "put her back".

The reason I ask, if the last has occured ( or suspect) Remove the trigger group and compare with a known original spec'd TG.

I have seen two 1100s, and one 870 that have been "tinkered with" and the carrier is a 20 ga carrier in a 12 ga gun.

Most times, will feed and extract fine, there are times, especially when more quick shooting causes these to jam up.

Quick visual, will look "fine". Putting the two trigger groups side by side (tinkered and original) real obvious.

May 15, 2005, 09:26 PM
I had the same problem with my LW 20 870 a number of years back. Nobody had any useful solutions to the problem until a fellow at a local gunshop simply put in a new lifter (shell carrier). That solved the problem. I was so happy, that I bought the boys at the shop lunch.

May 15, 2005, 09:35 PM
What kind of ammo are you using? When I used AA supersport shells in my 20ga 870 exp the shell would not move out the tube. But it might have been the wrong wads in the reload has anyone else had this problem?

May 16, 2005, 07:09 AM
Reloaded Shells? Were they resized during reloading? Or the hulls may have been squashed and out of round.

May 16, 2005, 08:22 AM
By "new" '55 model do you mean an old gun NIB/LNIB, one you know that is orginal (passed down to you or similar) or Someone - a tinkerer , has been into this one, and "put her back".

By "new" I meant "new to me". This is, as far as I can tell, an all original gun. The barrel and receiver are dated close enough to be original and the wood was correct until I put a refinished buttstock (with a pad) on it.
The trigger group looks correct for the vintage and the bolt is certainly one of the older chrome jobs. In fact, I bought this gun with a broken firing pin and when I replaced the parts, the spring and pin were the old-style so I am fairly sure this is not a "tricked-out" gun or one that's been tinkered with.
It seems to just be an old gun with honest wear and tear.
I will swap the barrel to one of my 3" 870's that I've got a lot of miles on and see if I still have a problem.
If the trouble ends up staying with the receiver, I will try a different trigger group. One change at a time................

Thanks team,


May 17, 2005, 07:04 AM
I would suggest having someone look at the carrier. It sounds like it isn't lifting the round up correctly to slide into the chamber. Could it possibly be that the chamber needs to be smoothed up as well. Either fix is easily taken care of. I polish up the chamber mouth as well as the upper portion of the chamber where the round hits and is pushed into the chamber with a fine crocus cloth. As far as the carrier goes, it may just need to be bent up slightly, but make sure if you try this that the carrier will go down far enough to pick up the round coming down out of the magazine. Good luck with it.

May 24, 2005, 09:29 PM
May have found the problem and it may not be me!
I was comparing (yet another reason to have more than one!) to a newer 870 and I noticed that the carrier seemed to drop easier on this '55. It is possible that the weight of the shell combined with the rapid shucking was bumping the carrier down before the shell was started into the chamber.
I could cycle the gun slowly, stop just before the shell had entered the chamber and with a gentle nudge, push the carrier down enough to mis-align the shell so that it would hit the bottom edge of the chamber and not feed, essentially recreating my trouble.
I figured maybe a weak carrier dog follower spring but after I took it apart it looked OK, not that I have any way to measure such a small spring.
Anyway, I took a good look at the carrier dog and thought that maybe it looked a little too smooth on the step that rides against the carrier dog follower, so.....
I took another carrier, complete with the carrier dog and swapped them.
Now, as I cycle slowly, I cannot push the shell down and the carrier does not drop away until the shell has started into the chamber.
I will test this week to verify but I am hopeful that this was a problem that can be attributed to the mechanics of the gun and not the mechanics of the shooter! :D
Stay tuned....

May 24, 2005, 09:58 PM
Hope you get it sorted. Is this the one you picked up towards the end of last year?

May 24, 2005, 10:05 PM
Yup. 100 bucks with a busted firing pin. It's got some miles on it and I guess some stuff is bound to wear a bit. I sure hope this is the trouble. I've been fiddling with it for about a half hour now and it certainly seems like the carrier stays up until the shell starts into the chamber.
I had a bag of old (pre flex-tab) Marine Magnum parts and the carrier was already loose. It's not chrome though. It's that dull nickle finish. If this works, I will try to find a new carrier dog and put the original chrome carrier back in the gun, pits and all. Fun fun fun.
Man, these 870's are terrific.

May 25, 2005, 08:24 AM
Might be worthwhile to replace all the springs in the trigger mechanism. Springs do wear out.

June 18, 2005, 06:55 PM
The replacement carrier/dog helped but did not fix the problem entirely.
I have since replaced the springs in the trigger group with new from Brownell's. I also replaced the mag spring while I was ordering springs.
I took the WM to a sporting clay course and had no problems. Figured it was fixed......
Then I took it to another course where there were plenty of true pairs. I had several problems but if I slowed down enough, I was OK.
I just took the WM to a free range nearby yesterday and threw a gaggle of doubles and had quite a few problems. Same as before, the shell is just 1/16" or so from feeding into the chamber.
It sort of reminds me of a finicky 1911 that needs a major feedramp polishing.
I took my refurbished police trade-in and shot the same doubles with no trouble at all. Shucked as fast as I could and the thing runs like a swiss watch. It sure felt good to shoot an 870 that did not misbehave.
I am sort of lost at this point.
I took the WM out to Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays today and shot an 82 on the "B" stations. The gun ran perfectly but there was only one true pair. Everything else was on report.
I dunno. This old WM is really cool and I will continue to shoot it exclusively for SC but it sure would be swell if I could shuck it at semi-auto speed like my Express 870's and my old police trainer.
Still tinkering,

June 18, 2005, 08:52 PM
The problem you described is one I encountered with my LW 870 20, years ago. It was even more frustating when a covey of birds would get up. I solved it by simply putting in a new lifter (shell carrier). There was no obvious defect in the faulty one.

I understand that the newer 870's have the carrier assembly permanently afixed and you may have to send it to the factory. Older models are pinned in, and you could probably do it yourself.

Lee Lapin
June 19, 2005, 09:29 AM

The 'other end' of the shell could also be the source of problems. If the rim of the shell is not slipping smoothly up the face of the bolt and under the extractor hook, that could also produce feeding problems by keeping the shell too low during feeding or altering its angle of approach to the chamber. Generally this problem is indeed caused by the carrier, carrier dog, spring or follower, but other things can cause the problem as well and it might help to inspect/address some of those potential problems. So check out the extractor hook, plunger and spring and make sure they are functioning smoothly as well, and make sure the bolt face is smooth and clean.

It could also be a timing issue with the shell stops/camming surfaces of the action bars. This is less likely but possible, and wear of/damage to the engaging surfaces of these parts might throw off the timing of the shell exiting the magazine enough to cause problems.

Also make sure the shell rim seat in the chamber is not burred or roughened.

(The above per Kuhnhausen's 870/1100/11-87 shop manual, by the way...)

HTH, sorry to hear you are having problems with this gun. Hope it gets remedied soon,


June 19, 2005, 10:54 AM
Lee -

Good points!

Now I am really going to think outside the box...

What about the bbl? I know the notch in the bbl for extractor is clean. [right?]

What if....you know how the bbl is threaded back where the extractor notch is?
Is there any possible way someone got to monkeying around with this, and 1) that notch does not line up all the time with extractor. I mean even being a bit off or dirty would gimp up operation - wouldn't it? 2) if monkey'ed with and the length going into action - would being a tad too short/ long mess with the operation of action, feeding, extraction and such?

I have only seen one bbl monkey'ed with. All sorts of problems happened. I know sometimes the aftermarket Mossey bbls for 870s "sometimes" need tweaking to correct some similar problems.

Just a thought.

June 21, 2005, 06:20 PM
Thanks team. I have switched to a brand new flextab carrier and the original bolt/carrier combo from my old police trainer as it is a flextab-style bolt.
This elminates the classic chrome/shiny carrier but the bolt is still chrome(ish) so it kinda sorta looks like the original '55 WM that I bought. This swaps out my new firing pin though. :( Oh well, it gets me a new/different extractor.
I will test it this weekend if I cannot get out in the evening.
The original bolt is in real good shape and the face looks fine, no burrs.
The carrier that I was using was from a pre-flextab MM and it looked OK, better than the original which has some cleaned-up rust spots on it.
I hope that the problem is not with the barrel or shell latches.....
Thanks again,

June 25, 2005, 09:53 PM
Shot another round of SC @ Lehigh today. Took Dad and a spare 1100 to which I fitted a new American-style stock with a real recoil pad. I shot another 82/100 with two A stations included this time. The gun ran perfectly again.
Dad shot (at) 50 birds. He has not shot in a long while and only once with me. That was a few weeks ago at the free range with my 1100 with an English stock and hard plastic butt-plate. I hope that I can get him out again. It was a good day.
Anyway, I still need to hit the free range for some super-fast shuckin' to see if all is well with the '55 but, as always, I am hopeful.
I also bought a case of Midi's to chuck just to see if I can hit them.
This should be fun.
Thanks for your help lads.

Lee Lapin
June 26, 2005, 07:25 PM
Keep us updated. If your parts bin proves inadequate for sufficient switch-and-try, drop me a note re. what you need and we'll see if I have what you need to try out...


Dave McC
June 27, 2005, 07:57 AM
I've got an extra lifter around here, Mike. PM me an address if you need it....

June 29, 2005, 12:46 PM
When you take the gun apart, check the shell latches. These are the strips of metal crimped into the inner sides of the receiver. There are two and they oppose each other. They are the pieces that you have to press in to get the guts of the shotgun back into the receiver when you assemble the shotgun. They are only crimped into place. They can move fore and back and cause problems, such as making it difficult to move to forend slide.

June 30, 2005, 10:04 PM
Thanks guys. I still have a few more used bits to work through but I appreciate the offer of parts. You guys are the best!
Goin' out tomorrow night to test a bit with some of the midi's that I just got.
Hopefully all is well and I can get back to some serious BA/UU/R !
Thanks again,

June 30, 2005, 11:35 PM
I had an Wingmaster that I used for years for shooting Trap and Sporting Clays. When I say I've put thousand of rounds thru it, I'm not exagerating. I reloaded and would bring no less them 250 to 300 rounds for an evening of trap shoting. Closer to 500 rounds for a day of Sporting clays and I shot at least once a week, usually twice. I never, ever, not once, EVER had a feeding or ejection problem with that gun. Was the best, most reliable gun I ever owned. I'm sorry I ever got rid of it. Remington worked the bugs out of the 870's years ago. If your's is havign problems, it's the gun, not you.

July 8, 2005, 11:05 AM
I went up to "steak night" at Lehigh last night and had no trouble at all with the cycling of this old WM. I am going again tomorrow and I'll try some really rapid shucking but I think it's OK now.

Now, for some reason I bruised my cheek and I cannot figure out what I did wrong. I have not changed the stock and I do not have this trouble on any other gun, except the 1100 when it had an English stock on it.
I may try a little wedge at the receiver to rasie the comb a skosh but this is an odd problem to come out of nowhere. I'd sure hate to develop a flinch.

Shot a 77 by the way but that includes (or does not include) a clean sweep of big fat 0's on one station. My shooting buddy missed the same six. Odd. I have never missed six in a row in my life. Tragic!

Man my face hurts. No jokes!

Thanks again for everyone's input and assistance and offers of parts. You guys are the bestest!


July 25, 2005, 08:22 AM
Well it's official.

It's Fixed!

Swapping in the last lifter (a flex-tab) and a matching bolt has cured this glitch.
Now I need to find a nicer looking flex-tab bolt in non-peeling chrome so my poor old '55 WM doesn't look like a, well, poor old '55 WM.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, insight and offer of parts.

The gun shucks as fast as I can operate the handle now and it's time to run up the shell counter.

Thanks again,


Dave McC
July 26, 2005, 02:50 AM
Great!! Now BA/UU/R.....