View Full Version : 870 Loading/Clearance Drill Basics...

Dave McC
December 27, 2000, 12:16 PM
I got an E from a member here about the Flextab his 870 didn't have and it led into some other stuff, as things oft do. Here's a coupla things everyone should know about their 870s, and some applies to other brands also.

First, the Flextab is a few small mods that eliminate one kind of malf that locks up the weapon big time.Your 870 has one if there's a slot in the shell carrier. Until I started instructing, I knew little about it, despite thousands of rounds fired through 870s. The Flextab is a nice thing to have,but proper loading technique makes it not a must have.


It's close to a must have for agency weapons, that may have to be employed by lackadaisical, half trained, unmotivated personnel under stressful conditions.And my "Social" Shotguns have them, since I'm really cautious.

The problem:

If, in a pre-Flextab 870, one fails to insert a shell far enough to get past the shell stop,it can come back behind the carrier and jam the action.FYI, I never had this happen, until I induced it a couple of times on purpose.


Train so that one inserts the shells firmly.The method we taught was to turn the shotgun over so the loading port was up, while controlling the weapon with the support hand. Place the butt on your thigh, and place the shell on the first two fingers of your firing hand, with the thumb on the brass controlling the round. Insert firmly and push it as far as you can reach. You should hear/feel a small click as it goes past the shell stop.

Solution II, get it changed to a Flextab, and STILL use the above method to load.This part's optional.

OF COURSE, you're practicing this with snap caps, safety on, muzzle controlled and pointing in a safe direction.

Loading while shooting:

In an AS Scenario, when shooting, this is a good way to reload,so it's a great way in practice. Keeping the weapon at the shoulder and pushed into the cup with the firing hand, use the support hand to load back up to full,while keeping the muzzle covering the area.

Is holding up a 7-10 lb shotgun with one hand fatiguing? Yup, do it anyway.

Loading after running dry:

Despite your best efforts and a mag extension the length of Dennis Rodman's,uh, shirt sleeve, you've shot it empty and the area still has an unacceptable threat level. Keep the weapon at the shoulder as above,rack it open, and use the support hand to load a shell through the EJECTION port.Rack it forward. As long as the brass end is towards the butt, it WILL chamber and fire just fine.Then, with a round up the spout if needed, top it off as above.

Clearance drills and techniques:

Despite your best efforts, there's a round behind the carrier. What happens next depends on the threat level and situation.

If training,and no threat exists in the area, make the weapon safe, unscrew the mag cap, and take everything out of the mag tube, including the follower and ammo. Gravity should get the stuck round out, and it can be urged by lightly tapping the butt.Reassemble and continue.

If it's a real crisis, safe the weapon, GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF THE TRIGGERGUARD,and depress the slide release and keep it depressed. Swing the weapon and hit the butt on a hard surface, goodnhard. This should clear it immediately, if not transit to your backup, or retreat. I've busted pieces of stock off doing this, so be warned it's rough on the weapon.

I hope this is clear enough, anyone not understanding sing out. Those not comfortable with posting publicly about this can E me at [email protected] ...

December 27, 2000, 03:53 PM
I had that same thing happen - once - to my 870MM a few years ago. Since then I religiously insert shells into the mag tube as far as my thumb will reach. When my thumb reached the limit of its extension, I come out and ready the next shell.

I have found it a bit difficult to load in an "AS scenario" without angling the weapon to present the loading port more readily to the weak (loading) hand. Perhaps, and I suspect, this is due to a lack of practice in this specific drill (usually comes down to that doesn't it?...). I'll have to make a mental note to troubleshoot (no pun intended) this maneuver during my next session...

Good post Dave.


Al Thompson
December 27, 2000, 10:57 PM
One technique I really like is unloading the magazine via depressing the shell stop. Keeps your shells from getting beaten up.

I usually turn the 870 upside down (with safety on and finger out of the trigger guard), depress the shell lifter and depress the shell stop. You'll catch on to the sequence and take'em out one at a time.

IIRC, the Win M97 had a button that would do the same thing. Neat feature...


4V50 Gary
December 27, 2000, 11:14 PM
The free sharing of information like yours is one of the reasons why TFL is such a great website. Thanks.

Dave McC
December 28, 2000, 06:59 AM
Thanks, guys, and glad to help. A coupla things...

Unloading the 870 by running shells through the action can bung up the rims in short order. Maybe practicing unloading drills isn't a bad idea.

Keeping the weapon pointed in a safe direction, fingers OUT of the triggerguard, open the action slowly. If the chamber was loaded, catch the shell from there as it exits,and tip the weapon to the right and grab the second shell as it leaves the ejection port. Visual check to make sure, then close the action. Insert fingers(I use the support hand) into the loading port and remove the shells by depressing the stops, until the mag tube is clear. Then, open the action and do another visual check,and proceed from there as needed.

We'll agree to disagree on that "combat" load,I hope,Erick.
Remember, my training was Correctionally oriented, and mass escapes and riots are the ultimate in "Target-Rich Environments". This works, I could get off 5 rounds, with the 5th "Combat Loaded", in less than 5 seconds, with good hits.

But, there's more than one way to get there, so folks should find out what works for them,and practice it religiously....

old hawk
December 28, 2000, 03:23 PM
i havent had ta slam mine on the deck and only had that double feed once,i just pumped it out as usual and it worked fine for me, what i found was that slow pumping will indeed cause the malfunction.

Dave McC
December 28, 2000, 06:36 PM
Old Hawk, "Babying" the action will cause some problems other than a double feed. Best to work it briskly.

December 29, 2000, 01:35 PM
I have noticed that most of the sporting clays shooters I have seen using pumps and Autos load a shell into the ejection port and one into the mag when preparing to shoot in the stand.

Most of the guns are Beretta 390/391s and have a button on the side of the receiver that releases the bolt. Most of these shooters load one into the port, hit the button and load one in the mag. This is probably faster than loading two in the mag and working the bolt to load the chamber.

In an emergency reload I would probably load the round in the port to get the quick shot.

BTW, I have noticed the cowboy shooters load into the port on their Mod 97's. Apparently the rules only allow two rounds in the gun, fastest reloads are through the port.

Just my observation:D

Geoff Ross

Vern Brink
December 31, 2000, 01:51 AM
Very interesting thread. Erick brings up a good point. Assuming the shooter is under stress, after the last round is fired and the gun is empty, the shooter would have already closed the action after aggressively racking the forend (to prevent the infamous short stroke of course) :)
Assuming the trigger was pulled and the gun went "click" - do we now want to open the action, speed load one round, close the action and fire - or do we want to load one into the tube, cycle the action and fire? We teach both the "speed" reload (ejection port) and the "tactical" reload (mag). The 1st method "seems" slower. Hmmmm, looks like I have a couple of drills to work on next week w/the timer. :)

Dave McC
December 31, 2000, 09:19 AM
I'd be interested to see the results, Vern. And, please run a few tests on how long it takes to get ONE shot off from an empty 870 by either method.