View Full Version : Oh my gosh 870s can take abuse!

November 28, 2000, 10:52 AM
Over Thanksgiving I got bored while visiting my parents. I went to the closet and decided to clean all of my Dad's guns. He taught me to shoot when I was a kid, but he doesn't really care about guns. He is a farmer and guns are just another tool for him.

I checked out my Dad's 870 Wingmaster, he has had it since he was a teenager in the fifties. The blueing is pretty much gone. It has seen umpteen thousand rounds through it. It has been abused beyond all comprehension. It has ridden for weeks on end in a pickup, on the back of a 4 wheeler, and before that on a dirtbike. He still takes it out a few times a week to shoot squirrls and annoying birds. It still works great.

I knew that he didn't really clean his guns like I clean mine, after hunting season he would run a brush down the barrel, and spray it down with WD40. (yes I know WD40!)

It took herculean effort to get the nut off to remove the barrel. I removed the bolt. The whole thing was coated, and I mean coated in black ooze. A thick dirty nasty coating of dirt and WD40 gunk.

I asked my Dad when was the last time he cleaned the bolt on his gun. He said that he never had! I was looking at 40 years worth of accumulated crap! And it still worked fine!

I scrubbed on that thing forever. Finally it looked good again, the action was considerably smoother. But I was just astounded that the dang thing would work with all that crud in there. It has seen all sorts of rain, sleet, snow, and other assorted muck, and it still worked.

I just thought I would share this with those who worry about the toughness of the 870.

Dave McC
November 28, 2000, 02:48 PM
Good story but no surprise, Corriea. 870s handle stuff.

Correctional weapons get amazing amounts of abuse and neglect.That's why the industry standard's the 870.
The 870 is as idiot proof as a pump can get, handles all kinds of weather and firing w/o a glitch,and works better after a few thousand rounds break in all the parts right!

Glad you got that one clean and lubed, generations to come will thank you(G)...

November 29, 2000, 05:43 AM
Dave, that's why I've always been sold on 870's. I suppose you could break one by driving over it with an Abrhams, but that's about what it would take.

A friend once brought to me an early Remington gas autoloader, a Model 58 IIRC. The gun had stopped functioning, and he was wondering if I could help. I got out my old Remington factory manual and disasembled it. Turns out, he'd been shooting this gun for 20 years or so and had never done any maintenance other than WD40! (Gawd, I HATE that stuff!) The piston was so carbonized, it refused to move. I poured a liberal application of Hoppes all aournd, let it soak in, and then scrubbed hell out of everything and reassembled. Gun worked great.
I told him to try and remember to clean the gun at least once a year from here on out. He honestly didn't know you were supposed to clean guns regularly.

Dave McC
November 29, 2000, 07:30 AM
Good to see you,Richard,it's been a while. Any smith has horror stories. A buddy told me about a Remington model 11(Think, Auto-5) brought in to be cleaned and checked. The third or fourth generation owner thought it might be a good idea to have it looked at, he had just inherited it. Obviously, the piece had been in use since the Mexican Punitive Expedition, had rarely been cleaned at all other than Hoppe's and massive amounts of what seemed to be motor oil, and had the crimped part of a paper case shell broken off in the front of the chamber and forcing cone. Owner mentioned it was a hard kicker with 3" mags. Of course, it was a 2 3/4" shotgun. It had kept working tho, saving the owner from the Darwin Awards. After cleaning, new springs, and some briefing on proper shells and maintenance, it went back out for another near century of service, probably.

November 30, 2000, 11:33 AM
Gotta love-em.

December 1, 2000, 12:17 AM
They may be strong, but you still have to clear the barrel after a misfire. Check out this story....


Dave McC
December 1, 2000, 08:10 AM
Hard to make things foolproof, fools are so ingenious. I hope the hero of this article heals up fine.

For those who came in late, when an unusual sound is heard on discharge, cease firing, make your weapon safe,and check for safety problems before any more firing is done.

December 1, 2000, 10:17 AM
Remington 870: Workf fine, lasts a long time. Guaranteed not to bust, rust, or collect dust. In the immortal words of Doc Holiday: "I have two 870's, one for each of ya."

December 1, 2000, 08:06 PM
Now that you mention it... Just how do you get the stock and forearm off on one of those 870s? No manual

December 1, 2000, 08:38 PM
Forearm is easy. Unscrew the nut on the end of the mag tube, unlock the bolt a little, remove the barrel. Reach inside the bottom port, there are two little nubs that hold the shells inside the tube, push them both in with you fingers while pulling the forearm forward. The bolt will ride out the front of the reciever. Piece of cake.

I've never taken the stock off of mine, but I'm pretty sure you remove the butt pad, and then insert a long screwdriver into the stock and unscrew it, though somebody who has done this is probably a lot better suited to answer this one.

Dave McC
December 2, 2000, 07:56 AM
Shiro,use a Phillip's Screwdriver to remove the recoil pad or butt plate. You'll see a tunnel that holds the stock screw. It has a hex head w/ slot. Use a long, flat blade screwdriver or a hex driver or ratchet to loosen.

When retightening do not overtorque, just a little past snug will do.

December 3, 2000, 04:29 PM
I have used a MOssberg 500 that has seen ALOT of abuse! Still kept pumping shell after shell out though...

Dave McC
December 5, 2000, 08:13 AM
Dead, Mossys are good shotguns. I'm not out to start a flame war, but the 870 will probably outlast the 500 by a couple of generations. To us mortals, that's more of a theoretical advantage than a real one.

December 5, 2000, 12:05 PM
I imagine that if you torture tested any of the good pump shotguns (870, 500, 1300, 37) the shooter would break down from recoil abuse and exhaustion long before the gun would die.

December 6, 2000, 09:57 AM
I can't top Correia's story, but a couple of years ago I picked up a used 870 and found the inside of the receiver and trigger group caked with dirt and dried leaves. Still worked perfectly. Cleaned up nicely.

I can't think of a repeating firearm with a simpler, more reliable mechanism.

urban assault
December 8, 2000, 04:55 AM
abuse story... young friend of a friend borrowed his fathers beautiful 870 wingmaster. without asking permission first. wanted to shoot it for the first time. he waited until the father left the farm, got out the shotgun and took it down by the pond. went out in the canoe to do some gunning. guess what? shotgun recoil can be a bitch when you try to shoot it one-handed(it looks so easy in the movies;))and that fine weapon ended up at the bottom of the pond. kid was too scared to tell his dad, pond was kinda deep to swim to the bottom so he kept quiet about it. dad has many guns and doesnt realize for "awhile" his shotgun is gone. awhile means about 5 MONTHS! smart guy figures it out right away, interrogates the kid and gets the answer he was dreading. goes to town, buys the biggest damm magnet he can find, ties a rope around it and starts "fishing" in the pond. a few hours of work later, shotgun is "feet dry" and being tended to. very, very light rust on action, wood is swollen and partially cracked, guts are packed with mud, slime and twigs. though cleaning and slight rehab of the now dry wood furniture, the shotgun is back in the gun cabinet and the stupid kid is grounded for the rest of the coming century. the 870 is one tough hombre, to be sure. thanks for listening. PS- I own one also...


Dave McC
December 8, 2000, 08:12 AM
Thanks for that, sometimes the durability of an 870 approaches the supernatural.

A few Correctional examples....

A tower shotgun was rotated inside the armory and taken down for maintenance, performed by an uninspired employee in a lackadaisacal manner. It was then reassembled and in the fullness of time,used at the range for training, firing maybe 40-60 rounds of 00 and the same of 8s.

When I dissassembled it afterwards, I found a soda bottle cap in the place of the mag follower,which was missing. I guess someone had it apart that shouldn't have been mesing with it and lost it. Not wanting the writeup, they'd substituted something that actually held up.

An 870 on loan from another institution had not been cleaned in quite a while, and had been in the rain. The whole surface was now a light brown,and the bore was dark.
I was instructed to take it to the range and ascertain if it was workable. After major cleaning that required a pipe wrench to loosen the mag cap, and two folks to pull the bbl assembly off, I used up lots of silicone spray, lube and so on.I had never seen so much rust in a working weapon.

Being a cautious type, the 870 fired the first round tied to my truck spare, by lanyard. No problem, nor were another 5 rounds.Told ya I was cautious. I then shoulder fired another 5 rounds of 00, w/o any problems. It wasn't the smoothest pumping 870 in the world, but I could work it w/o the veins popping out on my forehead.

The piece was returned to its original institution with a couple of reports attached. It worked fine....

January 4, 2001, 08:16 PM
Thanks for the info on disasembly. I'll try it tonight. I don't really see how to get the barell of buy I'll try as you said Correia. The forarm had me stumped alright I took off the mag tube cap but I couldn't figure it out from there. You just unlock the slide a little and pull the barell out?

January 4, 2001, 10:55 PM
Shiroikuma, if you are trying to take the barrel off the 870, here is what you do. First, make sure the magazine tube cap is screwed on as usual. Do NOT pump the gun with the barrel removed or the magazine cap not on. This could possibly damage the ejector if you do it.

Pump the gun back, and move the pump only halfway back up, leaving the action halfway open. You don't want the ejector touching the barrel when you remove the barrel.

Unscrew the magazine cap after you have the action open halfway. Then just take remove the barrel. If this is the 870, it should come off real easy, just gently pull it out.

Now if you want to remove the fore-end/pump... you have to know where the shell latches are. When you have shell in the magazine tube, you'll see two steel spring bars, one should engage the rear of the shell so it doesn't fly out without you pumping the gun. Those are the shell latches. Have your gun so the barrel is on top and the magazine tube is on the bottom. Reach your index finger into the receiver through the carrier/elevator. Depress the steel shell latch on the left. Hold it down, and meanwhile, gently slide the forearm forward and out. Make sure you are't holding the gun upside down or something, or your right/left will be a little different from what I'm saying. Also, the bolt and slide block will just fall out when you pull the fore-end out if you have it the wrong way.

This is how to remove it on my Super Magnum Express. Should be the same though. To assemble the bolt and pump/fore-end back on, put all the necessary stuff on the action bars like it came out. Then feed it in until you feel it stop because of something. Use your other hand and this time, push the shell latch on the right down. Slide it about a half inch in, and it will stop again. Depress the left shell latch and slide it back until the action bar release engages.

Press the action bar release and pump the action halfway down. Put your barrel back on, and screw the magazine tube cap back on and tighten it with your hand. Don't use a wrench or anything to ever tighten the magazine tube cap. Just tighten it very firmly with your index finger and thumb.

BTW, keep your safety on when you are doing all this, and don't operate the trigger when you are disassembling or reassembling. It might be bad for the hammer to have it fly around in the receiver with nothing inside.

Never tried changing the stock on an 870. BTW, I'm no expert, thats just how it works on my gun. Not sure about yours. Hopefully the Super Magnum doesn't work differently from the standard Express models.

old hawk
January 5, 2001, 12:10 AM
i tend to clean mine on a regular basis,that is once a month or once a mudbath in the woods after hunting regularly,last time was twigs and general leafy junk behind the bolt and it was fine.the only thing i wish is that the mag stops were a bit weaker so it would feel like my older 870's did.if i drop the sg down fast with finger on the slide release shell open right up but man i miss that old feel, maybe in another 5000 rounds she'll come around.....

January 5, 2001, 02:38 AM
Chang, Correia, Dave McC,

Thanks so much!

It's a nice 870 wingmaster with beautiful bluing, but it's my mothers shotgun. She bought it when I was a kid to have us carry it around the "farm" near Homer, which is to this day mostly bushes and trees. There are black and grizzly bears in the area and we have seen many tracks an scat over the years but (fingers crossed) never a breathing bear. With slugs it was our bear gun. I doubt in the 15+ years since then it has ever been disassembled. I doubt it because I was even as a kid in charge of doing that kind of stuff and I didn't know how to do it. I don't know if it was bought used or new, I suspect used. I cleaned the bore after shooting and what I could reach in the chamber, because I loved guns even then. It's been seldome fired but carried in the rain and muck more than a few times. I did find a little easily visible rust where the barrel joins the reciever and on the top side of the mag tube as I couldn't clean it there before. The inside of the mag tube had a little too.

Looks nice and I thank you all for your help :)

Does anyone know why the mag spring has that inside metal cup that goes on top of the spring but under the cap? On this one it has to be pried out and smacked lightly back in. I guess it is to keep the spring from launching across the room as the cap comes off. Is it neccisary? I think the mag tube cap is aftermarket too as it has a swivel stud on it and the sling has Uncle Mike QD type mounts.

Thanks again all.

Shiro in AK

Dave McC
January 5, 2001, 07:41 AM
It's not necessary,Shiro. Cramming that spring back in and screwing on the mag cap is a minor PITA,but that donut retainer is also a PITA when one wishes to clean the mag tube, which should be done periodically.

And, that mag Cap would be aftermarket. No problem, got a couple of them here....

January 5, 2001, 09:25 AM
Shiro, the magazine tube piece under the magazine cap... on my 870 Exp Super Mag, it has a slot in it. Put a screw driver in there, push the thing down about an inch and a half, and turn it 90-degrees and let it up slowly and take it out with your hand (the spring will push it out too).

Maybe its different with the older models.

January 5, 2001, 03:00 PM
thanks again!

I didn't think that spring lock think was neccisary but I'll leave it in there anyway. I was originally taking it apart because I was thinking of refinishing the stock which has some dings in it due to being smacked against trees while hiking I suspect. I noticed the rubber butt pad (nice) seems to have no screw holes, I think its glued on so I'm not taking the stock off after all. My mother was thinking of selling it I wonder how much they are worth?

I also thought about getting a mag extension.. he he if I keep it for myself. I see a distributer with the TAC STAR brand ones for $20, which seems like a good deal. I wish we'd had those extra rounds when I was worried about bears.

Dave McC
January 5, 2001, 07:24 PM
Shiro, if you look carefully at the recoil pad,you'll see two tiny little holes where the screw heads are. Introduce a Phillips head screwdriver in there and unscrew by feel, it's not difficult at all.

Sometimes they ARE glued, but 90% aren't. An enquiry down at the Smithy Forum should give you plenty of input about how to refinish a stock....

January 5, 2001, 08:00 PM
I saw those two holes but I didn't think they were fro screws they are almost pin sized. I'll try that out this weekend and see if the sucker comes off. Thanks Dave McC again! :)