View Full Version : Lefty 870 or BPS?

March 28, 2011, 07:52 PM
I usuallly don't ask for opinions, but here it goes...

I have been thinking about a new shotgun. I have always wanted a left handed pump gun and have a few bucks left over from taxes this year. I can get a left handed 870 Express for around $350 or a Browning BPS for around $500. The BPS seems a bit more finished, but you can't deny the long 870 history either. I am sure both would be around longer than I. I am kind of intrigued by the top tang safety of the BPS since i am used to the same location of my over/under.

I was wondering in terms of quality, which was better? Actaul owners with real experience please. No anecdotal opinions. If all else is the same, is it worth the extra $150 for a set of chokes?

March 28, 2011, 07:57 PM
I have an old hamy down 870 and never had a problem I even used it to paddle my boat once. But I would stay away from the new remmys seems like theve been goin down hill. I've held the bps but never shot one I like the looks but not the weight.

best of luck

added: I would recomend looking into used ones as pumpguns get better with age in most cases.

March 28, 2011, 07:59 PM
Well if you like tang safetys, check and see if Mossberg makes a lefty in the 500 model. They are excellent shotguns and are less pricey than the Browning & perhaps the Remington.

March 28, 2011, 08:21 PM
How many chokes in this set?

March 28, 2011, 08:23 PM
You specifically mentioned the 870 Express and if it were my money, I would not even go there. Now, the WingMaster would be a different story. There is just a world of difference between an 870 Express and the BPS. You will encounter too many problems with the Express. I could list the potential and real problems but it would be a long post.

Historically I am a Remington shotgun man but I have bought my last express. ....... :mad:

Be Safe !!!

March 28, 2011, 08:35 PM
a lefty 870 is nice but very mission specific. The BPS has a nicer finish and is truely ambi with the bottom load/eject.

BPS is a good choice...you may want to look at an Ithaca 37

March 28, 2011, 09:22 PM
Im a lefty, own a BPS, 870 and a mossberg 500.

The BPS controls are by far the easiest and most natural to reach, the 500 would be second, the 870 takes practice.

The BPS is by far the smoothest pump Ive ever used.

Do it once, do it right, get the Browning.

March 28, 2011, 09:25 PM
Do it once, do it right, get the Browning.

+1 Good advice.

mr kablammo
March 28, 2011, 09:38 PM
Right~handed, left eye dominant, shooting off the left shoulder. I use both BPS and Rem Exp. Both work but the BPS is going to get it done in style.

March 29, 2011, 07:17 AM
i am left handed and only changed one shotgun to a left hand safety a winchester model 12, only because the safety is ahead of the trigger guard. to use the right hand safety on the remingtons and ithaca,s, as i bring the shotgun up i pust the safety off with my middle finger,leaveing my trigger finger free to enter the trigger guard and fire when ready. and i am just as fast as a right hander to mount and shoot the shotgun. it is realy easy to do,try it you may like it. eastbank.

March 29, 2011, 09:09 AM
For me, it the BPS all the way.

I've had BPS's in a 12ga and 20ga - for over 30 yrs ..../ and I'm not saying an 870 is a bad gun - it isn't / but I do think the action is smoother on the BPS - and the location of the safety is a plus if you're using it for hunting ( not a factor for clay target games ).

March 29, 2011, 07:14 PM
Thank you for the many valuable replies.

I have checked around. There are not many lefty model out there in my price range. Special orders seem to jack the price up. I like the BPS and it comes with three chokes. I was thinking top tang safety would feel closer to my other shotgun (less to remember) and I don't have to modify anything.

I am just kind of giddy finally having a chance to finally buy a left handed gun. The 870 seemed like a dependable choice, but I am hearing aviod the lower end of the line and the newer models are lacking the quality of the old 870s.

I did own a 37 featherlight for a year. I loved that gun. I replaced the safety with a williams after market to operate left handed. Everything was good until one day while unloading after a day in the field I pulled the trigger and it went click. I realized the safety was still on and freaked a little. I tried to replicate the condition and it would fire about three out of five tries. I changed out the safety back to a righty and sold it.

Many thanks for the advice. I'll watch for other replies, but it looks like the BPS might get the edge at this point.

Will Beararms
March 31, 2011, 06:43 AM
I am a lefty. I call for a duck camp. I abuse shotguns. Despite the bad rap the 870 Express gets, I have found them to be very dependable and I have overcome the rusting issues of the express finish and the tendency to jam.

I have owned numerous 870's and BPS's. The BPS is more refinned but it is heavier. It is also complicated, complicated to take apart. If you duck hunt like I do, you will need to do more than the cursory field strip a minimum of twice per season.

The 870 Exp is easy to completely disassemble. It is extremely easy to work on. Aftermarket stocks and forends are easy to install. Nothing in the shotgun world handles like an 870. IMHO, the BPS handles like a 2x4 compared to it. The length of pull is 14" on an 870 with a thinner grip. The BPS is 14-1/4" with a thicker grip----it makes a difference when you layer like I do.

The newer Express finish is much better than it was. The barrels don't even compare. For all the bad press Remingtons get these days, the factory modified screw in choke is excellent. Browning Chokes tend to pattern on the tight side.

Using Rem Oil spray, I soak all metal parts on my 870's for two to three sessions essentially all day long. When the parkerized type finish wicks it in, I spray some more on. By the start of early teal season, they bead water like carnuba wax. I have not had a rust issue in five years. It is essential to clean the trigger mechanism out at least once per season and that will remedy the jams. If you do need to replace parts and I have never in decades, you can do it yourself. You cannot with a Browning.

Here's one of mine rigged for duck hunting with a Claw sling, Cabela's Modified Choke for Hevi Shot, and a factory Remington black plastic youth stock with a 13" LOP for my short rear end that works nicely with layered clothing.

the 12 ga. 3.5's hardly kick. The 12 ga. 3" models simply do not kick. My 11 y/o shoots this one with ease. If you get one, feel free to PM me and I will be happy to help out. I shoot right handed models so if one of the hunters I call for, has a malfunction, I can hand them mine and keep calling.



Will Beararms
March 31, 2011, 06:50 AM
Clear your mind when you go to the gun store. Handle both the 870 Exp LH and the BPS and then tell me what you think. If you like the BPS, go for it. They are good shotguns and you will be well served. The 870 just feels so much better to me and over the years, I have become an 870 mechanic by default for maintenance and modification never for repairs. I have owned five and never had to send one back to the factory.

March 31, 2011, 08:37 AM
From what I have read on this forum, other forums, and youtube, jamming is a very common problem for the 870 express. My daughter shoots trap and my husband and I did a tremendous amount of research before we bought her a gun. She wanted an 870 because she had been borrowing an older version of one. After reading a lot of information we bought an 870 Wingmaster. It is a beautiful gun, with a beautiful finish, and let me tell you the action is like butter. She hasn't had one jam, but the difference is that it was double the 870 express' price. Well worth it though in our opinion, but it was pretty hard finding a store with one in stock. A lot of dealers thought that the express was the same thing as the wingmaster. It's too bad that Remington won't resolve the problem with express. They are giving themselves a bad name. We paid about $650.00, but it's a gun that she'll have for the rest of her life and with everything that we've read, it'll be a reliable one.

Will Beararms
March 31, 2011, 08:59 AM
I can tell you what causes most of the jams----either components that have burrs on them, the action bars are out of alignment or the trigger mechanism gets gunk in it and it causes the slide release not to work properly. I can take an 870 Express apart new out of the box and tell you if it has a tendency to jam. All the above mentioned issues are easily fixed.

I think the BPS and the Benelli Nova as well as the new Ithacas are well made weapons but I think people need to know with a little attention, the Express 870 can be one of the best shotguns money can buy.

I had to learn it since at one time an 870 Express is all I could afford. I now use them out of preference. Once I get one set up, they are bullet proof for hunting. You get what you pay for. I buy the base models with the wood stocks and set them up like I want them. After I am done, I have maybe $400 in one and I will put it up against any shotgun made in terms of longevity and handling. Sure, there are nicer and better shotguns out there. I just get a kick out of setting up 870 Express shotguns. When the autos are hanging up and spitting extractors in the duck blind, mine just keeps on keeping on. I have semi auto Brownings but they stay in the vault.

Either way, X wins. I would not rule out the Ithaca 37 now in production. If I get another shotgun, it will be a Model 37. They are easily set up for Leftys and they are the platform the BPS is derived from but IMHO, the finest handling pumps in existence.

Dave McC
March 31, 2011, 04:02 PM
C-girl, like Mark Twain's demise, reports on Express problems are greatly exaggerated.

In the last couple years I've handled and shot over 25 Expresses, some bought that day. Zero probs.

Some I haven't handled and shot seem to need a bit of chamber polishing, some need to be fed non generic ammo (Winchester Bulk Pack seems to be the major offender) and ALL need to have the cleaning procedures outlined in the manual followed before and during use.

Some just need to have smarter owners.

As for the OP, the BPS is a fine shotgun. It's harder to take apart and a little heavier than an 870, but it's a smooth shucking Forever Gun you'll pass on for generations.

Get the one that FEELS best.....

March 31, 2011, 04:08 PM
When the parkerized type finish wicks it in, I spray some more on. By the start of early teal season, they bead water like carnuba wax.

Of course, you could have used the carnuba wax also.......;)

March 31, 2011, 07:33 PM
Thanks for the info, Dave. Good to know. I'm happy to hear that. Maybe we over-bought, but she's happy with it and I'm sure it'll last her a lifetime.

Dave McC
April 1, 2011, 04:07 PM
You're very welcome, C girl.

There's 4 Wingmasters here, two from the 50s and two from the 70s, and a 20 gauge Express from the early 90s.

All are absolutely reliable, though I admit that none have more than 20K rounds through them, so maybe more testing is in order.

All shuck well, but the 20 gauge Express is not as slick as the others.


A few more thousand rounds will fix that.

..."it'll last her a lifetime"......

Her Great Grandchildren may use it and think it's still tight.....

big al hunter
April 2, 2011, 02:47 AM
I teach hunter education classes here in Washington. I am the range master for our live fire. We have Browning BPS 20 gauges. In 6 years I have not had a single problem. We use them because they are ambidextrous. All of our students have been able to operate them reliably. Excellent shotguns IMO. I believe you should spend some time handling both models side by side and take your time deciding. It will be your gun for a long time, it should be the one that you like not the one any of us likes.

April 3, 2011, 08:30 PM
The other thing to remember is if you ever need to sell it (may not be likely but still a consideration) it would be a lot easier to sell an ambidexterous BPS than a lefty only 870.

I have had my BPS for 25-30 years and never regretted buying it.

April 5, 2011, 08:23 PM
I am a huge 870 fan, have been using them ever since I graduated from a single shot .410 to a .410 870 30 yrs. ago. I even have an older Express that has functioned perfectly. All that being said, I don't think I would buy a new Express, too many bad accounts on them. The Wingmaster is a different story but it is also twice as much. The BPS is more complicated than the 870 which is a drawback to me but I would probably get one of them if I were buying new. What I really would do is find an older 870.

April 6, 2011, 09:21 AM
I am an 870 guy. They run smoothly right out of box and (if you're into it) they have alot of aftermarket parts available. The Browning is a fine shotgun too. However, I just like how "natural" the 870s feel to me. The safety location is really not an issue. You will get used to it after literally one day of use. Since this is going to be a sporting gun, you may want to buy the Wingmaster version. Either way, I think the 870 in whatever version you pick is one of the nicest shotguns you can buy for the money.

Will Beararms
April 6, 2011, 01:32 PM
I am warned frequently about the ills of the 870 Express. You have to be willing to tinker with them if need be. Out of the 5 have owned, one required tinkering. The action bars were bent and out of sync on one. I fixed it myself.

All required my Rem Oil Spray treatment. All required that I paid attention to keeping the trigger group clean. If you do not, the slide release will start to get sticky and jam.

On one I owned, I had to break it in before the spent hulls would quit sticking in the chamber. The 12 gauge 3.5" I owned did this with the first 50 3.5" magnums I ran through it.

The Benelli Nova as is without the mercury recoil reducer is unbearable for me with 12 gauge 3-1/2" steel shot. Recoil on the Browning is fine.

The others have never done it. I will say the 870 3.5" kicks less than a lot of 12 gauge 3" semi autos-----I don't know how they do it but it is true.

I have two right now and both were made within the last 18 months. The machining is not as good on the top of the receiver. The fit and parkerizing and the rib on the barrel is better.

April 6, 2011, 01:57 PM
I'll give you the short answer: As much as I love my 870 (although it's a righty that I shoot left handed) I would choose the BPS hands down.

To expand (and I haven't read any of the other posts)

I can say this with authority because I went through the same dilemma when I was purchasing my wife a shotgun. I don't remember what predicated looking into the BPS, but it was something about bottom ejection and ease of use for LH and RH shooters.

I really like that the spent hulls go straight down at your feet. I do think that the flexibility of the 870 as far as loading, accessories has something going for it.

I will agree that the BPS is indeed more finished than the 870 express. My wife's is in 20 ga and has cut checking (as opposed to the stamped 870) that was really pokey when we first got it). Being a field gun I prefer matte barrels, but it came with a shiny blue, which I can live with. I actually prefer the Parkerized finish of the 870, but that's just me. IRRC the barrel is overbored on the BPS for better patterns.

I know how to take down my 870 blindfolded and I don't think that it's too difficult, nor have I had any problems mechanically with it (except when I forgot to clean the firing pin channel and was getting light strikes). It's my go-to duck gun and has seen plenty of abuse (as well as a couple of stock refinishes. On the other hand, I have never completely disassembled my wife's BPS, usually because it gets so little use and spends most of her time on a rack in her closet as her HD gun. From the outside looking in it seems that the 870 is easier to fully dissassemble.

As much as I love the 870 and the sentimental value it holds if I was in the market for another pump shotgun the BPS would be the front runner. For grins you might look at Ithaca Shotguns, from what I remember the Browning design is nearly identical to those guns.