View Full Version : Can my 870 express shoot magnum loads?

January 29, 2009, 09:53 AM
I know this is a newbie question, but can my 870 express shoot magnum loads, magnum 00 buckshot for example.

The side of my shotgun barrel says

12GA 2-3/4" or 3"

What are the prerequisites needed to fire magnum shotshell loads?

Thanks for the help:)

January 29, 2009, 10:16 AM
Magnum has a sort of convoluted meaning in shotshells.

For instance there are 2 3/4" (12 pellet 00) loads marked "Magnum", then there's the modern generally accepted consensus that 3" shells are "Magnum", then there are the 3.5" shells that are either called "Magnum" or "Super-Magnum" depending on who's doing the writing on the side of the box and shotgun receiver. It can be confusing to the uninitiated.

Basically if you have a 3" Chamber (based on this marking: 12GA 2-3/4" or 3") you can shoot 3" or shorter shells (any of them). Don't get hung up on the "Magnum" bit of it.

January 29, 2009, 10:22 AM
You can shot anything upto a 3 inch mag out of it. Just look out for the recoil it will kick a little :)

January 29, 2009, 10:34 AM
it will kick a little

a LITTLE?!?!?!?! :eek: :D

January 29, 2009, 10:34 AM
You can tell by the serial number. I have a 870 Express Magnum (name stamped on side) and a serial number that ends in M. It will shoot 3" shells and has a receiver designed for magnum loads.

Remington's FAQ - http://remington.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/remington.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=162&p_created=945141613&p_sid=_XnKc8pj&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPTEmcF9zb3J0X2J5PSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9NTgsNTgmcF9wcm9kcz0mcF9jYXRzPSZwX3B2PSZwX2N2PSZwX3BhZ2U9MSZwX3NlYXJjaF90ZXh0PTg3MCBtYWdudW0*&p_li=&p_topview=1

another FAQ - http://remington.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/remington.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=98&p_created=954350669&p_sid=_XnKc8pj&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPTEmcF9zb3J0X2J5PSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9NTgsNTgmcF9wcm9kcz0mcF9jYXRzPSZwX3B2PSZwX2N2PSZwX3BhZ2U9MSZwX3NlYXJjaF90ZXh0PTg3MCBtYWdudW0*&p_li=&p_topview=1

January 29, 2009, 08:13 PM
OK...so I have the 870 Express synthetic with a serial number that ends in "M". That means the reciever is ok for magnum loads. What is the diference between what I have and a 870 Express Magnum? Or is it all just symantics and advertising?


Scattergun Bob
January 29, 2009, 09:29 PM
Hi Major,

Or is it all just symantics and advertising?

you scored the X ring with that comment, Major

You all know, I am a Remington guy. It seems over my SERVICE life it is the most frequently purchased and fired long gun in my inventory by a factor of 3, and my safe is hands down occupied with Remington products. As well as the standard long gun for my state agency, for which I stewarded several hundred thru service life.

That said, I am ashamed by the marketing guys presently in this company who continue to "muddy" the waters of exactly what a pictular flavor of 870 will and won't do.

So, here is my 3 cents worth on this subject. This only has to do with Remington scatterguns specifically 1100 and 870 series. As safe and competent shooter I believe that we have a obligation to know the limits of our scatterguns. In my mind it is all about diameter of the shell and length of the shell.

1st - diameter of the shot shell. We all know the folly of a 20 gauge shell loaded into a 12gauge chamber!!!! If you don't we can discuss this in another thread, short story=DO NOT MIX GAUGES OF AMMO in your shooting jacket!!!!

2nd - Length of the shot shell. I have fired shot shells in a range of 2.0 - 3" in a 12 bore shotguns. Here is what I know. There are 2 places that we need to check with each new Remington scattergun we place in our hands. The receiver and the barrel.

A Remington receiver that has a M at the end of the serial # will have a ejector set back enough to faithfully eject all shell lengths including 3" shells. A receiver that ends the serial # with a number or any other letter except M, N, or U WILL eject all shell lengths except 3" and 3.5" shells. That is simple RIGHT, and it works every time for inches of shot shell length.

A Remington Barrel is marked with the maximum INCHES of shell length SAFE to shoot in that barrel. This simplest cleanest way to say this came from my FRIEND Zippy 13, The shell length on the box shall not exceed the shell length indicated on the barrel -- it's that simple with modern guns and shells.
Absolute perfection zippy, I tip my hat to you, Bob

So there it is, the advantage of the Remington platform is the ability to interchange most parts, the disadvantage is the need to understand the liabilities each time you chose an option.

Good Luck & Be Safe

January 29, 2009, 10:13 PM
A Remington receiver that has a M at the end of the serial # will have a ejector set back enough to faithfully eject all shell lengths including 3" shells. A receiver that ends the serial # with a number WILL eject all shell lengths except 3" and 3.5" shells.


Hope you are doing well.

Quick receiver question for you. What if it's neither M or a #? I had always heard/read the M suffix rule. But now I read your post that if it ends with a # its a non-magnum. I have beside me as I type this a mutt of an 870. It started off as a factory trap gun (870 Wingmaster TB). The serial number is T234XXXV. X's being other numbers of course.

When I acquired it it had police wood and an express barrel. I do not know if the bolt is original to the gun, no reason to think it isn't but no way to confirm it either. Comparing it to the bolt of a known magnum capable gun I can see no differences in the extractors.

I had always assumed it was a non-magnum receiver given the non M suffix but you've got me thinking (which is a dangerous thing in and of itself).

January 30, 2009, 12:04 AM
ending with a V is a non magnum 12 gauge 2 3/4" shells only receiver.

the first pump shotgun i used and hunted with was a 12 ga. wingmaster i know for a fact that the serial number ended with a V,i'm pretty sure it started with a V too.

i read the following on the remington website, online tech support q&a section.

if it ends with an M its a 12 gauge 2 3/4" and 3" receiver.

ending with an A is 12 gauge super magnum receiver can use 2 3/4",3" and 3 1/2" shells.

if it ends with an N or U its a 20 gauge magnum receiver.

be sure that the barrel can use the same shells as the receiver or do not use a longer shell that whats marked on the barrel. meaning if your receiver is 3" capable,but the barrel is marked for 2 3/4" shells or shorter. i would NOT shoot 3" shells in that barrel.

Scattergun Bob
January 30, 2009, 12:57 AM
Howdy Redneck,

Glad to hear from you!

Remington Shotgun Serial Number Structure for 870 receivers as best as I can.

Letter Prefix

1950 - 1968 = no prefix Letters to serial numbers

1968 - present = letters used S,T,V,W,X,Z,A,B,C,D,E

Letter suffix (special designates/Gage)

A= 12 GA 3 & 3 1/2"
J= 28 GA

Well, there it is in a nut shell, M and A used as a SUFFIX is the only 12g mag indicator for the receiver. I have a few prefix Victor and Xray guns, I have one Charley gun all in 2 3/4" chambers, the rest are Police magnum with the Suffix Mike . Hope that does not muddy the waters too much!

My Best To You, Bob

January 30, 2009, 01:36 AM
Wow! Thank for all the info guys:) I understand now.

January 30, 2009, 08:56 AM
2 3/4" shells or shorter. i would NOT shoot 3" shells in that barrel.


While the 2 3/4" receiver may or may not eject 3" shells, a 2 3/4" barrel may or may not bulge, split or otherwise KB from shooting 3" shells.

Non-ejection vs. damage to gun and/or self........:D.

January 30, 2009, 09:01 AM
OK...so I have the 870 Express synthetic with a serial number that ends in "M". That means the reciever is ok for magnum loads. What is the diference between what I have and a 870 Express Magnum?

Somewhere along the way (last several years anyway). Remington changed the marking on 3" capable 870 express's.

Old marking "870 Express Magnum" on left side of receiver

New marking "Remington 870" on left side of receiver.

I've got two examples in the safe, one from oh 5 or 6 years ago and one from this past November. M suffix is still in use on the new ones but the word "Magnum" has been removed.

January 30, 2009, 09:53 AM
Thanks....you guys are a wealth of knowledge. If you could just do the VULCAN MIND MELD and transfer all that knowledge to me...I wouldn't have to ask questions!


January 30, 2009, 01:17 PM
exactly redneck.

my express has magum stamped on it and an M at the end of the serial number. my dad has a magnum express that does not have magnum stamped on the receiver. but the serial number ends with an M. so its still a magnum model 12 gauge. my wingmaster magnum has magum stamped on the receiver and the serial number ends with an M. the other wingmaster end with a V.

January 30, 2009, 01:37 PM
Wow, that all is a lot of typing just to tell the guy he can shoot anything marked 12ga 3" or shorter.

Scattergun Bob
January 30, 2009, 04:05 PM
It keeps the knife edge sharp, keep asking:)

Good Luck & Be Safe

January 30, 2009, 07:38 PM
I guess mine says 870 express magnum because it is fairly new and it was confusing not to say if the receiver is magnum safe or not. And the barrel that came with it says 2 3/4" or 3" 12 gauge shells. Guess next year, they'll start stamping that on the receiver as well. Along with all the other warnings you see on guns. :-)

January 30, 2009, 09:35 PM
its a safety thing T.A. i would feel really bad if i could help someone NOT kill themself. but did not help.

January 30, 2009, 10:09 PM
Indeed, and with a gun that's been in production as long as the 870 has with such a modular design, different variables (receiver vs. barrel capabilities) must be taken into account, and of course variables change.

January 30, 2009, 10:17 PM
Scattergun Bob said "It keeps the knife edge sharp, keep asking".

Thank you. My Remington 870 Synthetic is very new and has the "M" suffix on the serial number. The whole magnum things is clear now.

Now can you educate me on chokes? How can I check to see if I can fire rifled slugs through my 870? I've heard of full, modified and improved chokes.

Like a sponge,

January 30, 2009, 11:20 PM
Rifled slugs can generally be fired through any choke (except Turkey chokes), though I'd stick to Modified or less (Mod, IC, Skeet). Typically IC is the standard for slugs. Remington's fixed choke smoothbore slug guns are IC choked.

Typically your limiting factor on the bead sight barrels is the lack of adequate sights for accurate slug shooting beyond 25-50 yds.

Scattergun Bob
January 30, 2009, 11:21 PM
Now you’ve gone and done it Major, you have unleashed the great and mighty GODS of constriction and now you will pay with endless bites on information and argument:). Next to will bird-shot stop a bad guy, this subject seems to generate a lot of posts.

Chokes are all about reducing the diameter of the last 1/4 or so of the barrel to effect the "spread" of the shot cloud as it travels down range. In general terms the more constricted the muzzle of the scattergun the Tighter (smaller) the width of the shot at a given distance. This rule of thumb works well until you get to the LARGER shot sizes o, 00, 000 buckshot, then in my testing the more constricted chokes actually cause the BIG BALLS to smack tougher and develop larger patterns. (clear as mud so far, right!)

Below is a chart of inches of restriction assigned to choke names. The first problem is that no 2 chokes with the same name have the same constriction:eek:!!!

Standard Choke Constrictions in Inches
(From Briley)
Choke Gauge

Cylinder .000"
Light Skeet .003"
Skeet .005"
Improved Skeet .007"
Improved Cylinder .010"
Light Modified .015"
Modified .020"
Improved Modified .025"
Light Full .030"
Full .035"
Extra Full .040"
Super Full .050"

NOW, to answer your question, it is safe to shoot rifled slugs in modern Remington shotgun barrels with a restriction of full or less constriction. This is according to the Remington safety standard sheet. I have found in my testing of my agency's guns that rifled slugs shoot best for me in improved cylinder and less constriction.

On top of the standard chokes there are a variety of speciality chokes out there all reporting to be "better than sliced bread" depending on what you are trying to do with your scattergun they may be of some help.

A word to the wise, I consider the inside of shotgun barrels effected by voodoo magic, IT SEEMS that no 2 shoot alike. Be careful of gunsmiths claims of a given machining process "significantly" doing something to the pattern or range of a shotgun barrel. Some methods work some of the time, some don't. Buyer beware concerning that one.

This is a "in a nut shell" discussion of the issue and I hope you will get more info from others.

January 31, 2009, 11:20 AM
To add to the confusion, not all 12-ga guns have the same bore diameter. Over-boring used to be part of the voodoo practiced by gunsmiths, but it has found its way to factory barrels. My old Remington 1100-Trap has a factory over-sized barrel. A screw-in choke that gives you a 0.010-inch constriction in one gun, may not in another gun from the same manufacturer. You should pattern your guns and chokes instead of blindly accepting their labels as gospel.

My friend, Scattergun Bob, notes his testing indicates rifled slugs perform best in guns with IC and less constriction. I like that because if confirms what seems to be intuitive -- a slug doesn't need to be squeezed. That being the case, it makes me wonder: Why does Remington puts any choke, at all, in their special purpose slug barrels?