View Full Version : I bought the wrong 870, now what?

April 12, 2007, 12:10 PM
I'm new to shotguns and I've been thinking about getting a Remington 870 for the dual purposes of HD and skeet. Last night I was in Wal-Mart and took a look at the shotguns and was smitten by a Remington 870 Express Combo with a 20" rifled barrel and 26" Rem Choke barrel and 4+1 magazine capacity. I liked the laminated wood stock furniture. So, I took her home for $394.

Now I realize that I may have made a big mistake. For HD the magazine the 4+1 capacity is too small (I don't like leaving one in the chamber, so only 4). The 20" rifled barrel is useless for my purposes. The 26" barrel may be useful for skeet, so that is a plus. The 870 has dimples which need to be removed to add a mag extension. And Wal-Mart's policy is NO RETURN for firearms.

I'm considering buying a new 18" or 20" smooth bore barrel so I can use it for shot and buck for HD, that's about $120. I don't like the idea of drilling out the magazine dimples on, so I'd have to have a smith take a go that, more $$, and then about $45-75 for a quality mag extension. However, I am happy with the wood furniture and dislike synthetic stocks.

What should I do, sell it, keep it stock and buy a HD gun, or use it as a base for building it up? What would you do?


April 12, 2007, 12:32 PM
4 is actually not too bad for HD. It is good as a hunting gun too if you want to try it as such. If you add a shell holder and reload after each shot you can have the 4+1+5 on the side or in your case 3+1+5 on the side. It is still an 870 express so there are upgrades.

Another option would be to take it to a gun dealer for a trade. You might lose money this way but it could be easier than trying to get a mag extension installed.

April 12, 2007, 12:39 PM
The 20" 4shot tube gun is a great defensive gun. Spend the money you would otherwise give to a gunsmith and Brownells, and buy some ammo. Shoot the pee-pee out of it, and then decide what you like and dislike.

roy reali
April 12, 2007, 12:45 PM
Are you expecting the Incredible Hulk or Zombies to enter your home?

April 12, 2007, 01:08 PM
HAVE NO FEAR! They sell mag tube extentions, just do a search on gunbroker or ebay.

April 12, 2007, 01:21 PM
Depending on your environment, the rifled barrel isn't a show stopper. Louis Awerbuck advocates using slugs as at most social distances, the shot pattern isn't going to open up much and you might as well be shooting a more accurate, more predictable round.

As for the capacity, a Wilson/Scattergun Tech mag extension can deal with that.

April 12, 2007, 01:57 PM
You might also take it to a gunshow NIB and try to trade for what you want.

You can sell the rifled barrel here or on one of the auction sites. Full-rifled barrels on E-bay routinely sell upwards of $150. If you use the proceeds to buy a smooth-bore short barrel, it will probably cost you around $100. Use the difference to by the magazine-tube extension. You might even have enough leftover for a side-saddle, bandolier sling or buttstock ammo carrier.

A magazine tube extension should screw-on to your existing magazine just like the cap. I'm not familiar with the dimples of which you speak.

April 12, 2007, 02:00 PM
4+1 is a lot. You need to remember, that is a 12ga SHOTGUN. It can blow things to pieces. You will be hard pressed to find a situation where you will need more than that in an HD scenario. Just my opinion, but in reality, and in most circumstances; one shot from a 12ga will do the job.

April 12, 2007, 02:00 PM
At indoor ranges, the shotgun works on a theory similar to a submachine gun, in that it lets you put a lot of pistol caliber lead (9 .32 cal pellets with 00 buck) on target very quickly. The shot gun might be a little more forgiving than a rifle or pistol in terms of shot placement, but not by much. You still want all 9 pellets on target. At halway ranges, I don't know how bad your rifled barrel will perform. I'd pattern it before I bought a smooth bore. At 10 yards, you might ok with what you have. I also like rifle sights on a shotgun, which you can get with a smooth bore, but not always. It's not a bird or trap gun.

April 12, 2007, 02:24 PM
I run slugs exclusively in my working shotguns, and carry buck for critters like dogs and such. For human encounters, the 1oz slug is hard to beat, and it performs the same whether the range is 2feet or 100yds.

April 12, 2007, 08:05 PM
(I don't like leaving one in the chamber, so only 4).

Is that with 3" shells or 2 3/4" shells? my Mossberg 500 holds an extra round with 2 3/4" shells. I'm not too familiar with the Rem 870.

April 12, 2007, 08:21 PM
870 express holds 4 2 3/4 shells. 3 3" shells. But 2 3/4 00 buck should be enough if HD is the issue.

April 12, 2007, 09:53 PM
The rifled bbl can be used with 00 or anything else!

If an intruder gets past 4 or 5 rounds of 00 throw the gun at him/her/them and run ... for you 1911.

Mike U.
April 12, 2007, 10:34 PM
I can't think of a better shotgun platform for upgrading or diversification than the 870. You have a great deal of options available and adding a mag tube extension is kid's play. Start there if your unsure that 4 is enough. You are aware that the term "one shot stop" holds especially true for shotguns right? Shotty's have a reputation for ending fights very quickly and effectively.

Smoothbores for the 870 are not break-the-bank expensive. Here is one from Midway:


I highly recommend you NOT shoot buckshot out of a rifled barrel. That soft lead gets into the grooves waaay too easily and can be very difficult to get out. And, it really compromises the accuracy when you want to shoot sabot slugs out of the barrel. Sabots turn your shotgun into a rifle with a good degree of accuracy out to 150 yards and beyond (from what I've read). :eek:

You have the opportunity to turn your shotgun into a real multi-purpose firearm with a little more investment. I've not regretted doing these upgrades to my 870 for one second since I got it. :D :cool:

April 12, 2007, 11:52 PM
Mike U,

You have given me the answer on the barrel issue. I'll get a smooth bore barrel and save the rifled barrel for slugs or even sell it. The link for the Remington factory replacement barrel at MidlandUSA is exactly what I've been looking for and the price is right.

Others had question about the dimples. On newer Remington Express 870 models there are dimples in the magazine chamber that prevent any shells going beyond the dimple and this precludes using magazine extensions unless the dimples are somehow removed. Some people drill the dimples out, some use a Dremel tool to grind them out, and others pound them out using a socket wrench. I'm reluctant to take a drill to a brand new gun. These dimples must have been the idea of a lawyer.


Robert Hairless
April 13, 2007, 01:06 AM
Simonz, don't beat yourself up. I don't think that there is a "wrong" 870.

Drilling out the dimples is no big deal. It sounds scarier than it is. There are two tricks, though.

First trick: stuff paper towels into the receiver and the bottom of the tube as plugs to prevent filings from getting where they shouldn't. Remove the towels carefully when you've finished cleaning the tube after drilling.

Second trick: start with a bit that's smaller than needed to drill out the entire dimple, and get that first hole as perpendicular to the dimple as possible. It's your pilot hole. Once you've made them, the rest is relatively boring. Just keep increasing the size of the drill bit to increase the size of the hole a step at a time. Three or four bit sizes should produce a perfect job.

When you've finished drilling out the dimples, debur the inside of the tube. Just wrap a 1 inch strip of wet-or-dry abrasive paper around a dowel that almost fits the tube. Twist the dowel so that the abrasive cleans up burrs. It shouldn't take more than a few seconds if you've used my trick to drill the holes.

Be sure to clean out any filings from the tube. Some Hoppes #9 on some patches will do what's necessary. After you've finished this step, carefully remove the paper towel plugs.

Lee Lapin
April 13, 2007, 12:30 PM

There really is no "wrong" 870, because they're like Legos- you can make almost anything you want out of one.

Seems you have a start on getting your barrel questions sorted out- just sell the rifled barrel and use the proceeds to buy a smoothbore. There are 20" smoothbores with rifle sights that are externally identical to the one you have, and there are 18" factory barrels with bead sights and an occasional one with rifle sights too. You just have to figure out which one to get.

There are two systems used to retain magazine caps on various 870s. Old Express guns, Wingmasters, SPs and Police guns have a spring-loaded detent set into the barrel ring that engages recesses in the inner rim of the magazine cap. Newer Express guns (except the HD guns that come with magazine extensions) are like yours- they have a plastic magazine spring retainer that doubles as a magazine cap retainer. Teeth on the plastic retainer engage other teeth inside the magazine cap to keep it tight. The dimples are there to retain that plastic retainer.

You really do need to remove those dimples. It is a DIY job, no need to pay a smith to do it. The best thing to do is drill them out. Trying to pound them smooth using a socket etc. for a mandrel risks damaging the magazine tube. That's pretty thin steel in the walls of the magazine tube and I have seen people distort the magazine threads trying to 'iron out' the dimples. The best DIY approach is to drill them out carefully.

I'd drill a small pilot hole at each end of each dimple first, then work up from there. You want to wind up with a hole no bigger than it needs to be to get rid of all the dimple, it'll be an oblong hole with radiused ends when you're done.

Plugging the magazine tube to keep filings out is a good idea. Remove the trigger plate first, to get it out of the way. Take a piece of cloth large enough to block the magazine tube and a loop of twine long enough to reach through the magazine tube. Lightly oil the cloth, hang it in the loop and drop the other end of the twine down the magazine tube from the receiver end. Use the twine to pull the cloth plug partway into the magazine tube, then drop the free end of the twine down into the tube.

Drill out the dimples, clean up the burrs and polish the area. Upend the receiver over a trash can so the muzzle end of the magazine tube is down. Shake out the twine and slowly pull the plug out through the muzzle end of the magazine tube. The oiled cloth plug should clean out the magazine tube as it comes, if you arranged it to fit tightly enough.

You really can do it yourself, or a tool-handy friend can help you with it if you aren't comfortable doing it alone. But that is the best approach to getting rid of the dimples.


Mike U.
April 14, 2007, 02:53 AM

With all of the great advice these guys are giving, you'll be ready to rock and roll in no time. And another shotgunner is born!

Congrats on the purchase of your 870! Your kids will be able to pass it on to their kids. These shotguns really are that good. :D

chris in va
April 14, 2007, 03:14 AM
9 .32 cal pellets with 00 buck

Actually, maybe I have some weird shells. The 3" 00 buck has 15 pellets. Maybe you're talking about 2 3/4"?

Mike U.
April 14, 2007, 04:02 AM

The reduced recoil shells in 2 3/4" length usually run 9-00 buck pellets.
I have reduced recoil Winchester Ranger reduced recoil 2 3/4" shells that have 9-00 [email protected] 1200 FPS.
Also, I have some Sellier&Bellot 12 ga 2 3/4" shells that run 9 pellets per shell too and they come out at 1210 FPS.

Now, I also have a box of Remington Buckshot load# SP12H that is 3" and has 15-00 pellets. No idea of velocity on this one. :confused:

April 14, 2007, 04:40 AM
And I feel confident with it for HD duty.

April 14, 2007, 06:11 PM
Now I realize that I may have made a big mistake. For HD the magazine the 4+1 capacity is too small (I don't like leaving one in the chamber, so only 4).

The biggest mistake I can see is you fell for the "4+1 isn't cool enough" crowd. I have an 18" 870 with stock 4+1 capacity and an additional 5 rounds on the buttstock. The gun balances like a dream and if I somehow (can't possibly fathom how) missed 5 times with 00 buckshot I can put 5 more in it from the slip-on sidesaddle in a few seconds. And that's just the 870. A stock Mossberg 500A with 5+1 in it sits in the opposite corner of the room. ;)

April 14, 2007, 08:17 PM
Four rounds isn't insignificant. My personal shotgun I carry on duty has a four round tube backed up with a six round sidesaddle. I have no doubt that it will take care of me if I take care of it.

Also, are you sure that your slug barrel is actually "rifled"? I suspect that it is actually a smooth bore with rifle sights. If so it's totally suitable for your purposes.

April 14, 2007, 09:44 PM
Remington sells rifled barrels with their 870 expresses. At least it came with mine in the package I bought (same box, two barrels, one shotgun) so chances are it is a rifled barrel. But 4+1 is nothing to sneeze at and I don't think the BG on the other end with the hole in it won't really be particular as to whether it has 8 shots or 2.

April 14, 2007, 10:41 PM
other options.

Go try a few gun shops and find a 30" full choke fixed barrel with a vent rib. Get out the hacksaw and cut her down. Legal and it may get you a 18.5 inch barrel for about 30 bucks.

Buck shot lead does not get in the rifling of a rifled slug barrel as it rides in a plastic shot cup. It does however drastically open up the shot pattern. The centrifugal force really affects shot patterns.

The dimple issue is really a non issue, the dimples work just like a center punch for drilling them out, or you can find a piece of round bar stock that fits nicely and use that as a mandrel to carefully tap out the dimples. Its really made out to be much more difficult that it is.

April 15, 2007, 01:48 PM
Mossberg's standard 500 has 5 + 1 capacity, and every combination of barrels, chokes, stocks, forearms you could want at a great price. And if you want "high" capacity, the 590 and 590A1 hold a standard 9- 2/34" rounds without any modifications. Mossberg's are high quality and made in America.

roy reali
April 15, 2007, 03:05 PM
4, 5, 6 rounds out of a shotgun? In a home situation an intruder will most likely be shot at a range measured in feet. A 12 gauge at this range doesn't need too many repeat shots to be effective. I understand having an extra round or two can't hurt. But come on, do some parts of the country grow extra tough bad guys?

April 15, 2007, 06:14 PM
4, 5, 6 rounds out of a shotgun? In a home situation an intruder will most likely be shot at a range measured in feet. A 12 gauge at this range doesn't need too many repeat shots to be effective. I understand having an extra round or two can't hurt. But come on, do some parts of the country grow extra tough bad guys?

You make a good point...I've said the same thing myself more than once.

I've heard 1911 guys claim 8 rounds of .45 is more than enough for them to get the job done...yet sometimes I hear those same guys talking about tacticool mag extensions like it's unacceptable to use a shotgun with 4+1 or 5+1 capacity. Oh the irony...:rolleyes:

April 16, 2007, 06:08 PM
Sell your barrel on ebay, and pick one up on ebay too.

The rifled barrel should fetch 100 or so, and thats what an 18.5 inch should cost.

its almost exactly what i did.

April 16, 2007, 08:22 PM
You've got a great all around gun, as it is.

April 16, 2007, 10:44 PM
As I posted previously, I ordered the Remington 20" Imrpoved Cylinder barrel with rifle sights from MidwayUSA on Thursday. Today (Monday) it arrived in the mail. Now that is great service from MidwayUSA.

I've decided not to remove the dimples in the Magazine and keep the gun stock with 4+1 capacity. Like others have said, 4 will do the job. When the rain stops will get to the range to try it out.

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.


Mike U.
April 17, 2007, 02:39 AM
:cool: Glad it all worked out for you. Happy shotgunning! :D

April 18, 2007, 02:39 AM
4 rounds of 12g should be more than adequate for HD. ONE round of 12g with have most crooks steppin'-and-fetchin' down the block even if it doesn't hit anybody.

Stick a Sidesaddle ammo carrier on it for that 1 in a thousand encounter where you might need more ammo and call it good. If you need more than the 4 or 6 additional round that gives you whip out your PRC and call for fire.

EDIT: Just saw your resolution of the issue at the end here... good for you.

Average Joe
April 18, 2007, 06:34 PM
Keeping the chamber empty has more benefits then you realize. Usually just racking the slide will put fear into an intruder, without even firing a shot, he will be heading for the hills. Then with 4 rounds at your disposal, you will be ready for any brave souls that remain behind.

April 18, 2007, 06:48 PM
Get over your aversion to a round in the chamber. Load it up with 5 and leave the safety on (obviously). I have a Mossy 500 Persuader with a full compliment of 8 rounds. If confronted with the need to use it for SD you don't want to warn the intruder by racking the slide. All he should hear before the ensuing fusillade is the "click" of the safety moving to the OFF position (if he's sharp enough to react in such a short time span). If he is, then be glad you didn't give your position away. Be sure to load with #00 or some other shot size large enough to make an impression on a crackhead peaking out on his his last hit (whether or not he has the presence of mind to even know he's been shot), and keep shooting until he falls down. Then reload and call the police. You will need a a mop and rubber gloves afterward. I have no desire to shoot anyone, but my fusil de boudoir gives me the crunch to deal with the most determined sociopath (my beloved wife will be watching my 6 with a 9mm). By the way, if SD is your prime consideration and you are adverse to a round up the spout, why did you buy a gun with a magazine that only holds 4 rounds? The only limiting factor on the guns I have ready to go is what I'm willing to leave out of the safe. Please don't take this as a flame. Huntin' guns is for huntin' and fightin' guns is for fightin'. Self defense is not a sport- hunting is.

April 18, 2007, 06:59 PM

DON'T give up the element of surprise. The last thing to go through the BG's mind should be the wad.

April 18, 2007, 07:05 PM
I took a dremel tool to the dimples in mine. Took about 15 minutes. Started with a coarse stone then moved to a sanding drum then a polishing bit. From the outside of the mag tube you cant tell anything was done to it. Stuffing the paper towels is a great idea. I did the same with shoprags. I've got the 20 inch smoothbore rifle sighted barrel and 7+1 capacity extension. I also added a four shot tacstar sidesaddle. I doubt seriously I'll ever need 11 rounds of 12 ga for HD, but if the zombies come it is there. :)

loaded operator
April 22, 2007, 09:47 AM
Hey simon, I have a 870 express super mag and it is perfect for HD, I keep mine next to the bed ready to work when needed. I keed a dud in the barrel and 4, 2 3/4 , 4 shot in the tube. You are probably never going to use any of the 4 if there is an intruder cause when you cock the slide back, that noise alone will make the SOB run. I keep a springfield 45.acp Loaded Operator with a 10 round mag and a extra 10 rounder in the holster incase WW3 starts while im sleeping. you made a good choice, good luck.

April 22, 2007, 11:16 AM
I have 4 fully functional shotguns all are currently set up with 20.5" or less barrels. The 870 has a 27 ribbed barrel with replaceable choke tubes. My guns are versitile; loaded with a combination of slug, 00 and 0000 buck. I also have some #4 bird shot when needed.

I love shoguns

April 23, 2007, 12:13 PM
Wal-Mart won't allow you to return firearms?

I've never had Wal-Mart turn down anything I wanted to exchange.

April 25, 2007, 01:30 AM
If you insist on keeping the chamber empty, practice racking the slide while holding a shell between your index and middle fingers of your off hand, then immediately feeding that shell into the magazine. After that, shoot two, reload two... rinse and repeat as needed or until your ammo runs out. Against multiple targets you can shoot the shotgun dry if necessary before transitioning to your sidearm.

I’d make the necessary modifications and buy a magazine extension and put it up for future need in a SHTF or PAW situation but I wouldn’t advise installing it on the shotgun just for possible home invasions. There is no significant advantage in having a magazine extension on a HD shotgun if you practice reloading and transitioning in the pattern suggested. Not having a magazine extension will be a significant advantage if you wind up in court afterwards.

BTW, you bought the right shotgun but like a lot of other things it just needs a few adjustments for your intended purposes. Have fun!

April 25, 2007, 01:34 AM
Save up some money and send it to Vang!