View Full Version : How old is this 870?...

Dave McC
February 19, 2001, 01:11 PM
Pop bought this one used around 1956. It has a 5 digit serial number, 56XXXV. I've been shooting it since about 1958 and I'd like to know just how early this one was made.

Thanks in advance...

February 20, 2001, 09:05 PM
Well, I can't help with the serial number.

Assuming it has the original barrel...the chart in the back of the Blue Book says "Code located on barrel, left side of frame"

Month of Manufacture

BLACKPOWDERX, with B=Jan., L=Feb., etc.

Year of Manufacture

1950 = WW
1951 = XX
1952 = YY
1953 = ZZ
1954 = A
1955 = B
1956 = C
1957 = D
1958 = E

I just checked the 870 Exp. Mag. I bought for the fall duck season in 1993 and it has an EN on the barrel.
E = Oct., N = 1993. FWIW, I pulled the receipt on it - 11/16/93.

The chart starts with 1921 (= M) and ends with 1999 (= T).

They repeated the alphabet as necessary, leaving out a lot of the I's, O's, Q's & V's, and used double letters from 1943 to 1953.

1976 through 1979 used 1, 0, Q & V.

Starting in 1980, with an A, it looks like they started using the whole alphabet.

Hope this helps.


Dave McC
February 22, 2001, 07:22 AM
Thanks, John. I got the serial number off the bbl, the one on the receiver is covered up with a SideSaddle. over the serial number is:

+E W W.

Does this mean my 870 was made, October of 1950? It must be one of the first off the line,if so....

February 23, 2001, 08:23 AM
Congratulations on the first-year gun. Just to satisfy my curiosity - plain wood or checkered? Now I want to know what the plus sign in front of the EWW means. There is no end to this hobby is there? John

Dave McC
February 23, 2001, 10:40 AM
The original stock was checkered, with a corncob forend, John. It now has different wood, and the forend is on another 870 I own.

FYI, not only did I hunt and shoot trap with this one long ago, after I started instructing around 81, I converted it into a "Tactical" weapon and used it on the range and gave demos with it. My best guess is, it has had 8-10,000 rounds through it.Tight as a bank vault,and my great grandchildren some day should be able to use it as I am....

Thanks again...

PS, no idea what the + means. Maybe someone else can help.

April 23, 2001, 09:53 AM
The information one can gleam from this board is astounding!

I just checked my two 870's , purchased at different times and both are different models. My first 870 is an express with short IC barrel and rifle sights purchased new in 96, the second a Wingmaster "Rescued" from a sleazy gunshop because it looked so good and out of place that I bought last year. Both guns have serial numbers that end in "M"

I guess this means both were made in the same year, which I gather from the codes is 1992!

Incredible! I would have thought the Wingmaster was much older and the Express newer.

Geoff Ross

April 24, 2001, 01:01 AM
The "M" at the end of the serial number means "Magnum".
3", that is.

It's the prefix letter that tells the date. Even that doesn't work anymore, but W,X,A,B&C can be considered
modern production. (From the early '90s anyway)

Some of the letter codes on barrels are confusing because they repeat themselves over the years. If you mis-read the codes it can look like your 870 barrel was made in the '20s. This isn't possible because the first 870 was made around 1950.