View Full Version : What to look for while buying used 870?

November 14, 2008, 02:12 PM
First post so go easy on me.

I am going tomorrow to look at a used 870 xpress, I am not a gun guy but am adding a shotgun for HD. I am a coin collector so I realize that one does not become an expert overnight. I just need some "common sense" advise.


Dave McC
November 14, 2008, 03:17 PM
Other than abuse and rust, not much to watch for.

There's no Lemon Era for 870s.

Some recent QC issues like off centered bore and choke tube threads have pretty much been dealt with.

The common Net Myth about Expresses rusting seems to be from not following the manual about soaking all surfaces in oil. This procedure removes the factory preservative and neutralizes any bluing salts left.


November 14, 2008, 04:01 PM
Before you buy from a private party - I would suggest you visit some good gun shops in your area - look over the new guns first. If you have a buddy that's knowledgeable - take him along.

About all you can do is judge it based on overall condition of exterior / and interior of barrel. I would pass on it, unless its a small cosmetic issue. I also would not recommend buying a gun that does not have screw in chokes in the barrel ( I don't know if some of the 870 Express came in without screw in chokes or not ). There are an awful lot of good used pump guns out there on the market now / you don't need to be in a hurry on that gun.

November 14, 2008, 11:41 PM
About the only thing I have ever seen go bad on an 870 was the shell hold/release bars. They can fall out of the gun if the "staking" goes bad or they are pried at. In any event, it is a pretty easy fix for a gunsmith to re stake them.

November 15, 2008, 06:15 AM
Get a good look down the barrel and inside the action. Either take a small flashlight and shine it throught the slide opening and look down the barrel (after making sure it's not loaded) or stick the corner of a white piece of paper in the action in a well lit room and do the same. It should be fairly smooth. Look for cracks and pitting. Work the action through a few times and feel if it binds or sticks in the middle of movement. If you know the guy and/or feel comfortable with him cycling a few rounds through it to prove it feeds and ejects would be good. Since it's a Remington 870 it should prove just fine, unless it's been abused. Even the finest made firearms don't seem to stand up to rednecks who load them with thumbtacks and such. Ask how old the gun is, if he bought it new, how many rounds he's put through it, if he's ever had any problems with it, etc. If you buy it, take it home and clean it and oil it. And then fire it. I'd say put 100 rounds through it at least. 25 rounds at a bare minimum. If it does have any problems it should be fixable by a decent gunsmith since the 870 platform is probably the most popular pump action in the US. An 870 with 18'' barrel used properly is probably the BEST home defense weapon one can ask for. Only other advise I can offer is to do a lot of research to find out what load is best for your own home defense situation. I hope you enjoy it, but never have to use it.

November 15, 2008, 08:35 AM
My 870 Express came with the 18" Fixed Cylinder Choke barrel. That's a fancy way of saying it's a perfectly straight bore and nothing you can do about it. And for HD that's fine. I've run Federal and Remington 00 buck through it at the range and the spread is fine at HD distances.

The nice thing about the 870 is that it is really easy and not too expensive to buy another barrel if you have any other purposes in mind. I have a second barrel that is 28" with screw-in choke for bird hunting.