View Full Version : 870 Mods to Make an All-rounder

December 11, 2001, 06:26 PM
I have an 870 Express, 28" barrell that I got for $1 about 12 years ago. I grew up using short barrelled semi-autos or doubles for grouse, woodcock, pheasant, have become accustomed to snap shooting, mostly to try and get a shot off before my dad who was always wicked fast. Currently have no bird dog, so no bird hunting, but occasional clay shooting and home defense would be the purpose. I am thinking about having the barrell cut down, I am assuming it would need to be cut at one of the posts where the ribs attach. This gives me a choice of about 24.5" or 21.25". I would also like to add a 2 -shot mag extension. I think this would add a little weight and help with swing. I guess my question is, I kind of think I would like the "look" of the 21", but would I be giving up too much (over the 24") for "casual clay shooting", which is how I will use the gun the most? Sorry so long. I've read your history here, seems like some good and knowledgeable shooters. This is my first post. PS I would also get the barrell rethreaded so I could use different choke tubes.

December 11, 2001, 09:15 PM

By the time you cut the barrel and rethread it, you are well in to the price of a shorter replacement barrel for an 870. You might also be out the price of new chokes unless the smith has the same thread cutter as Rem Chokes.

The various mail order shops will sell you a 20" inch Remington 870 barrel for around $150. Mossberg also sells 18.5" barrels for the 870 for about $100. I've seen these in stores for less than the price on Mossberg's website.


Cutting the barrel also makes it less desirable for clays because the longer barrel promotes follow through on the swing.

December 12, 2001, 01:58 AM
Welcome to TFL twix.

If clay sports and home defense are your intended purposes, then you might consider the combo I chose.

Keep your 28" barrel for clays. Most clay shooters will tell you to go with a longer barrel (up to 30") because, as PJR points out, it helps you follow through on shots more easily.

For the shorter home defense barrel, Cabela's sells a 20" barrel with rifle sights. It comes in an Express finish and in two versions: rifled barrel or fixed improved cylinder. I went with the latter option so I could shoot birdshot, buckshot, and rifled slugs out of the barrel. At Cabela's, the barrel runs $105 plus $10 for shipping.

As for mag extensions, a lot of people like the Tac-Star. I personally chose the Choate kit. The Choate has been around a while and has been used by the military and FBI. They sell a range of lengths. I bought the 8-shot extension that fits the 20 inch barrel perfectly. Comes with extension, a clamp, the spring, and a good hi-vis follower. Also, the parkerized version they sell matches the Express finish quite nicely.

If you insist on chokes in the shorter barrel, Remington does make one (21" I think) for their Express turkey guns. It's threaded for Remchokes, and has the Express finish. Don't know about cost on this one though.

Anyway, I totally agree with PJR. By the time you spend all that money at the gunsmith's, you could have two barrels for different applications.

December 12, 2001, 02:10 AM
I was right. The Turkey Express has a 21" barrel. If you need chokes in a short barrel, this is a good way to go. You could contact Remington and ask about ordering the 21" turkey barrel. Or surf the web and see what you can find. I don't think Cabela's sells this particular barrel. At least it's not on their list of replacement barrels. But if Remington puts it on a gun, I'm sure somebody sells it somewhere.

Here's the shotgun itself: http://www.remington.com/firearms/shotguns/870extrky.htm

I've seen the entire gun pretty cheap at Bass Pro Shops. Seems like it goes well under $300 when it's on sale. $269 maybe???

Dave McC
December 12, 2001, 06:00 AM
I've shortened a coupla bbls, and usually regretted same bitterly. You may save some money by checking at local gun shops for a police turnin bbl. I've seen used, Cylinder bore bbls that were perfrctly serviceable for as low as $75.

There's two extensions(2 and 3 shot) here on 870s. One's Remington, one's Choate. They both work.If I were doing it all over again, they'd both be two shot. The 3 shot extension may hinder a fast swing some. The extra rouhds are nice, but these two "Serious" 870s have the extensions for more reasons than more rounds. Clamping the bbl to the extension in effect stiffens the bbl and tightens slug groups, and the extra weight reduces the kick and aids recovery in rapid fire.

I really don't see any difference in handling between my 21" bbled parts 870 and a standard riot gun with 18" bbl.

As for casual clays, with well fitting stocks on both, my scores at trap run a bird or two/25 lower with Frankenstein,the parts gun,than they do when using my 30" bbled 870 TB dedicated target claycruncher. No es importante...

And, some rounds of any clay game every month with your HD tool WILL help WIHTF.When one's so familiar with a tool that it feels like a body parts, one's effectiveness in a crisis elevates by an order of magnitude, at least.


December 12, 2001, 07:54 PM
Don't cut the barrell! Got it. Thanks for the ideas/input. I kind of like the looks of that 21" on the turkey gun. I have allready did a quickie web search, havn't turned anything up. I'll make some calls tomorrow. If it's not too expensive that would be my number one choice. So, Dave, that clamp on the mag extender helps. Does it make it any harder to break down the gun, or are their any other downsides?

Al Thompson
December 12, 2001, 09:08 PM
twix, it adds a few minutes to the process. Nothing to fret about.

The turkey barrels/guns are very under-rated and make excellent tools.


Dave McC
December 13, 2001, 06:32 AM
It adds maybe two minutes to a breakdown, that's both taking off and putting on. I break them all the way down at least once a year, CAREFUL cleaning from the muzzle and/or Boresnaking from the breech suffices after most usage.

Giz is right, at usual. Perhaps the Best Buy on the new market is a Turkey model 870 Express with the 21" bbl and a slug bbl. Outfitted for anything from mice to moose. If all my 870s disappeared in a clap of thunder, and I was limited to only new guns or couldn't find a coupla older WMs, this is the first thing I'd get.

The downside of a short bbl for sport is kinda limited. It's not as good for long range pass shooting, the balance means one has to work a bit more at keeping it moving, and the increase in blast and flash with heavy waterfowl loads might bother your blindmates. OTOH, it handles like a quail/grouse/woodcock hunter's dream, might enhance your rep as a wingshot on waterhole doves,
and carries a bit lighter.

As for "Serious" use, it'd take a more critical man than I to detect any real differences in handling between a 21" bbled turkey gun and an 18" bbled riot stopper.


December 13, 2001, 08:31 PM
I sent an email to Remington, and they said they will reply within three business days (I asked them if I could get a 21" turkey barrell only). Meanwhile, I called my favorite gun shop, they said they could get me a 21" barrell for $170, a Remington Express for $239 or a 21" Turkey Express for $289. Hmmm. Plan! A friend and shooting buddy has expressed an interest in an Express, and he likes the 28" barrell on mine. I taked to him today, and he is willing to buy the Turkey Express, I'll pay him the difference between that and the regular Express, and we'll swap barrells. I don't really need the 28" barrell and it will save me over $100. If I ever get serious about any clay sports, well, I'll just have to get a serious shotgun for it, right (I bet you all are easier to convince than my wife!)?* Only downside is that it probably won't happen until January. Will leave me some time to ponder the other mods. Should I ask questions here or start a new thread? And thanks for the guidance, folks. *Note for Dave and any other serious 870 devotees, I didn't mean to imply that the 870 isn't a serious scattergun, please take no offense. Often those of us with lesser skills will try to cover up our deficiencies with technology.

December 14, 2001, 01:55 AM
Good deal, twix. Hope it all works out for you. That 21" turkey ought to be a great barrel.

I almost bought that very gun, but at the time, I went with the Super Magnum Express with a 23" turkey barrel simply because of price and availability. (I got it for the same price as the regular Express turkey gun.) http://www.remington.com/firearms/shotguns/870esmstc.htm That said, it turns out I rarely shoot the 3 1/2" shells. Nice to know that I can, I guess. But they pack more wallop than I like. The 23" barrel is a nice length though.

For my other 870, I have the two barrel combo I described above. With two 870s and three barrels, I'm set for just about any application you can think up.

Dave McC
December 14, 2001, 08:10 AM
No offense taken, Twix. One thing tho about 870s, it's hard to stop with just one. Good news, one can build a battery of 870s for about what a decent O/U from Browning or Beretta will run by itself. 4 of the 5 here were bought used, and I doubt I've more than $2K in them counting all the mods and add ons.

And, while few top competitors use an Express as Gun A, much good shooting and fun can be had with an 870 at local ranges. Shot a round the other day with 4 other middle aged guys. 3 pumps on the line, two 870s and a Model 12 Field Grade. The others used a Belgian Browning and a Beretta O/U. All were experienced, the kind of guys with well worn straight patches on vests embroidered with their names. I might have been low gun with a 22/25.

The Model 12 was high gun(ran 'em), a tight choked death ray in competent hands. It ain't the piano, it's the pianist.

December 14, 2001, 07:06 PM
My buddy coughed up the money today, so I will pick up the Turkey next week. Only catch is, he wants me to keep it at my house until he gets a long gun safe so he can slip it by the spousal unit (he just got an 11-87 SC nickel plated about three weeks ago). No problem on my end. Next up: choke tubes! It looks like that 21" turkey comes with an extended extra full choke. This I probably won't use much, but after playing with the aforementioned 11-87, I really liked those extended tubes that you can screw in by hand. Briley has them for about $35, an extra $5 if you want them black (which seems a little backward). Any opinions on extended versus flush? Briley vs whomever? I was thinking maybe a skeet, imp cyl and mod to start. BTW, that super magnum looked interesting. Could probably survive a direct hit from a "bunker bomb". My shooting for now consists of one or two "stick in the ground type" throwers at another buddy's house. We don't have room for any real long shots or incomers, but we can throw about 45 degree crossers. A real treat is to go to the fancy gun club once in awhile for a round of sporting clays. If I get a chance I will use it for a local"three gun" type IPSC match, too. And Dave, yup, I need to do alot of bangin' on the ivories before I worry about getting any fancy Grand Piano!:)

December 14, 2001, 09:28 PM
Happy to hear it all worked out. Let us know how you like the new barrel.

Can't answer your question about the Briley tubes, but I'm sure someone here can. I have a range of the RemChoke tubes (skeet, IC, modified, full, xtra full), and like them just fine. But you do need a wrench.

Try this thread:

December 15, 2001, 12:06 AM
Thanks Guyon for doing a search for me. I was kind of thinking that Briley may manufacture chokes for alot of the manufacturers. Also, I wouldn't feel right if I didn't post the results of this episode.

December 15, 2001, 01:58 PM
How about a Polychoke?

Do they still make these? You can go from rabbits underfoot to treetop squirrels to slugs with a turn of the collet...

Every try to change a screw in choke in the field? Not very practical...

I'd cut the barrel length to your personal "balance point"...

Dave McC
December 15, 2001, 03:18 PM
I'd add IC and Modified tubes, that XF can handle the long range stuff. BTW, patterns from my Hastings Full and XF are nigh identical with the same load at 35 yards. Go figure...

If turkey hunting is not foreseen, you might be able to swap that XF for another tube, done that a coupla times, tho how I ended up with two 20 ga Modified and two Skeet( all Remchokes) tubes is a mystery to me.

Re extended tubes....

They add weight at the muzzle end, and whether that's good or bad is your call. On a short turkey style (or "Serious") bbl, not as bad as on a 32" custom clays gun.Ported chokes do not have even the tenous claim that ported bbls do for reducing kick, the gun's already moving by the time the choke has the charge in it. They do provide a handy place to anchor your Swiss Army Knife's can opener when you use it like a wrench to tighten or loosen the tube, but that's a minor advantage.

And the bright colored ones can serve as a distraction.

In your shoes, I'd go with the Remchokes for now. Instead of using those Brileys(Which seem to be VERY good), use the price of one tube to get a decent smith to do the forcing cone. This'll make a bigger difference than a Gucci choke tube.

But for now,just take that 870 out and shoot it, with the XF tube. It'll teach you to hold closer, and when you bust a bird, it vaporises. Good for morale(G)....

December 15, 2001, 06:59 PM
Thanks, guys. I'm not planning on doing any turkey hunting soon, so I've been thinking I will give the extra full to my bud for doing this favor for me (otherwise he's gaining nothing from this transaction,he could have just went and bought a new or used 870 Express). I did order on line from Brileys today an extended black skeet and lite modified tube (you have to pay extra, $5, for the black finish!). I agonized over these choices, originally was going to buy three, but they are $40 apiece. We had just patterned my bud's 11-87 with skeet, imp cyl, lite mod and mod last week so I based my decision on what I saw from that. That should do me for awhile as I practice up(I will look into that forcing cone idea though). Let's see, $1 for the gun, $60 for the barrell, $90 for the tubes after shipping, how am I doing? I'm getting pretty excited to shoot this new creature. Thanks for all the help.

December 16, 2001, 12:56 AM
You never did tell us how you managed an 870 Express for $1. Can I shop where you shop?

Dave McC
December 16, 2001, 01:45 PM
A new 870 for $151? Ya doin' good, bunkie(G)...

I'd like to hear the tale of a $1 870 myself. Thanks...

December 16, 2001, 02:49 PM
I was in the Navy, and the 1st Class Petty Officers Ass. was having a raffle. One of the PO's came around and asked me if I wanted in. I said no (thinking that I had REAL bird guns back home, I didn't need a "club" like that). He said that he was getting ready to make out the watch bill, and my name was at the top of the list. I said give me a ticket. They had the drawing on my birthday, and I won an 870 Express, NIB, with a case. I think it's the only time I've ever won anything like that in my life. I'm glad now. Also, it's starting to take on a little sentimental value, that's why I didn't just sell it and get something else. Hopefully this will be passed on as Dad's/Grandpa's "$1 shotgun".Thanks for asking.

December 18, 2001, 06:29 PM
Just like Dave said: I picked up my 21" turkey barrell and put it on my 870 Express today. Used the extra full choke that came with it because I havn't got the Briley chokes yet. Fairly close and easy shots, first round I missed almost all of them, but after that it was deadly. And just like Dave said, I centered one with that extra full choke- it was kind of impressive, the clay just disintegrated and orange and black dust floated in the air for a few seconds. I like that barrell, it suits me at my present skill level. Thanks again for the help. PS The gun even came in at $10 less than I was originally quoted, it's going to take a little time to get used to racking that thing , but I like it and I did manage to break a couple doubles too.

Dave McC
December 19, 2001, 06:53 AM
Great! Now go buy a messa ammo and have fun. While you're having fun, you're learning your "chops".

Don't forget to pattern. We don't need to count all those teeny holes so much as determine where the majority of pellets are hitting.

Choke choice has many options. When money allows, add a full orIM tube,and you'll be set for just about everything flying.

January 3, 2002, 09:07 PM
I bought that 21" bbl turkey express a while back & it is my most fave shotgun - other than a 20 when a 12 isn't "needed."

I don't think you don't give up anything with a "shorty" barrel.

FWIW, I use Fed's #4, 2oz, premium for turkeys, with that extra full/turkey choke. Will stick a legitimate 20+ pellets in the head/neck alone at 40 yards. :eek:

YMMV as with all things shooter-related, but a good place to start & a very not-shabby load for a way-tight #4 pattern. Next bet was Win's 1-7/8s #4

Other than the fed's "no lead" for waterfowl, can you say a 60 yard duck load? (if I could ever figure a 30'+ lead ... ;) ... does right well on the turkeys too ....

Even if not used for turkeys, a heavy charge of #4s, at whatever velocity, is a pretty tough all 'rounder to beat.