View Full Version : Does shell size depend on the barrel or action?

February 27, 2009, 05:44 PM
I just bought a Rem 870 wingmaster thats previous barrel was marked 2 3/4" shells if I have a barrel that can shoot both 2 3/4 and 3" shells can I shoot the 3's safely out of this shotgun?

February 27, 2009, 05:53 PM
Not if your receiver is not capable of taking 3" shells. Barrel and receiver both have to be capable of 3" to fire the shell.

February 27, 2009, 05:56 PM
The action itself did not specify a shell size it was just on the barrel.

February 27, 2009, 07:22 PM
If the action is not set up for 3 inch you could face ejection issues but worse the action may not handle the pressure!:eek: I am no 'smiff but it sounds logical...:o

February 27, 2009, 07:57 PM
Best to err on the side of caution

February 27, 2009, 07:59 PM
Yeah absolutely, 2 3/4 is fine for HS anyway

February 27, 2009, 08:11 PM
The receiver must have enough feed and bolt travel to move the cartridges and handle the recoil. The chamber length itself is in the rear of the barrel. They really need to match to feed well, otherwise go with the 2 3/4". ;) -7-

February 27, 2009, 09:00 PM
IMHO, Remington committed a major faux pas with the new barrel markings.

In a perfect world, the label on the barrel should clearly identify the shells you shoot in that gun. This is typically the case, except the folks at Remington label their barrels as both 2 3/4 and 3" to indicate which type of action the barrels will fit. The newer actions may say "Magnum" or "3-inch" on them; but, the older 2 3/4" receivers say nothing. It's very easy for the uninitiated to see a newer barrel on a 2 3/4-inch action and assume that it will shoot 3" shells because of the barrel markings.

It's convenient that the barrels are interchangeable, but Remington should have found a better way to avoid the confusion. I'm sure Remington thinks they provide sufficient information, yet the OP's question demonstrates there is still some doubt.

Major Dave (retired)
February 27, 2009, 09:32 PM
I bought an 870 Wingmaster in 1973 (for $84.95, NIB, from K-Mart). Since 2 3/4 inch chambers were standard, and interchangeable choke tubes had not yet been invented, I found myself wanting to upgrade, when those features became available. So, I bought an aftermarket barrel with vent rib (the 1973 barrel was without that feature), interchangeable choke tubes, and a 3 inch chamber.

However, I can't shoot 3 inch shells with the new (3 inch chamber) barrel, because the ejection port on the 2 3/4 inch action is not long enough. Also, the bolt in the 2 3/4 inch action doesn't travel far enough to the rear to allow a 3 inch shell to feed from the magazine into the action, before being fed forward into the chamber.

In short, you can't feed a 3 inch shell from the mag into the chamber, and you couldn't eject it, either, using a 2 3/4 inch action, regardless of the length of the chamber the barrel has.

However, I recently came across a gunsmithing web site which offered to modify 2 3/4 inch actions to accept 3 inch shells.

March 1, 2009, 01:16 AM
sthrnfryedyankee, what is the last character of your shotgun serial number? if it is an M. you have a magnum receiver meaning that with a magnum (3") chambered barrel you can safely shoot 2 3/4" and 3" shells in that shotgun.

if it is a V than you have a 2 3/4" or shorter shells receiver shotgun, regardless as to whether or not you put a magnum 3" or super magnum 3 1/2" barrel on it.

the model 1100 shotgun non magnum receiver( marked with a V,not an M) can as far as remington says shoot with a steel shot barrel 2 3/4" lead or steel,3" steel. even though the receiver of the 1100 is 2 3/4" you can shoot 3" shells with it,just NOT LEAD shells. they supposedly make higher pressures and can wear out faster or damage the gas system and or operating rod.

but you are not asking about the model 1100 shotgun,you are asking about the model 870. i was simply giving the 1100 model as an example non magnum receiver still able to shoot magnum shells,with certain restrictions.

March 1, 2009, 01:40 AM
If the action is not set up for 3 inch you could face ejection issues but worse the action may not handle the pressure! I am no 'smiff but it sounds logical...

Worry about the pressure first. The ejector is the last concern.

2 3/4" is the length of the fired, uncrimped case. That's about the same size as the 3" case before it's fired. The 3" case will open up another 1/2" or so. Except that it can't in the 2 3/4" chamber--there isn't room. The result is sky high pressure that could ruin your gun, not to mention your face.

Simply look on the barrel and it will either say 2 3/4", 2 3/4" only, or 3". If it's a 3" barrel, then you're ok firing 3" shells--but not until you have an ejector set up for 3" shells. If you fire three inchers (remember, 3" bbl. only!) in your receiver set up for 2 3/4", the 3" shell can't eject because the case head hits the ejector before the case is clear of the chamber, and tries to kick it out of the gun. you need the long ejector. The 3" (longer) ejector works just fine with either size shell.

I realize that's more info than you asked for, but this is a subject that crops up from time to time. It's rather simple.

The simple answer:

Yes, you can fire 3" shells in a 3" barrel, even if the gun came with a 2 3/4" bbl.

But: The gun won't work until you install the long ejector, which will work with shells designed for either bbl.