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Old June 19, 2012, 10:19 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: April 22, 2007
Location: Pinckney, MI
Posts: 646
I have an 870 Express Mag w/21" rem-choked bbl and bead sights. I had installed a sidesaddle and sling and magnetic fiber optic sight in front of the bead and that was my "tactical 12" for many years. Eventually I took off the sidesaddle because I liked a slimmer, more natural look and the lighter weight (not having the extra 6 rounds and steel mounting plate on the side). Not to mention I don't like having to dig out a hex key to remove my trigger assembly.

I patterned my barrel (this 21" vented rib barrel seems to shoot everything great though) and I shot it A LOT. That configuration has given me yeoman's service over the years, I always sleep well at night with it close at hand and I've always said that if I can't handle the problem with that shotgun then I probably need a squad of US Marines!

Well, I was offered a good deal on some Trijicon ghost ring sites, but due to the vented rib bbl I was worried it would be a hassle to get them installed and that it would never look right to me and might cost me some elevation adjustment range. I decided I'd buy a new 18.5" police barrel and then drill and tap the receiver.

I got to looking around and had trouble finding that bbl in stock anywhere. Also, the ones I was seeing were polished black and wouldn't match my matte Express receiver/mag tube.

I found a Remington replacement bbl that was 18.5" with tritium rifle sights and a fixed modified choke. I always keep the modified rem-choke in my current bbl and it works super for both shot and foster's slugs. Since I don't have to drill the receiver and mount the rear ghost ring sight with this new bbl I can easily swap on a dedicated cantilever slug bbl with a scope if I want to shoot sabots. This bbl is $183 at

Since I was adding the new bbl I went ahead and picked up a Scattergun Technologies 2 rd mag extension with the right hand side sling mount, a VTAC padded sling and stock adapter, a Streamlight weapon mount for my Streamlight M3, a Scattergun Tech oversized head safety and 50 rounds of that nice mil-grade winchester 00 buckshot.

That gives me rifle-style night sights (still bummed I don't have the ghost rings I've always wanted but it's okay), a great tactical sling that I can use in many situations from hunting to home defense to recreational shooting (a sling to a long-gun is what a holster is to a pistol), a shorter/handier bbl, 2 extra rounds (or one extra round and a one round free space per Lewis Awerbuck's recommendation in "The Defensive Shotgun"), a weapon-mounted light, hi-viz follower and upgraded mag spring and a faster-off safety that's easier to index under stress.

I'm pretty happy with that set-up. I was thinking about going with a collapsible stock with the recoil reduction, but I think I'm just going to trim an inch off the factory stock and see how that feels.

I know this is a lengthy response, but that is pretty much what I consider a minimalistic approach to enhancing a regular old 870. Not to mention I picked up AGI's "Building the Fighting 870" and "Remington 870 Armorer's Course" dvds. I will watch them over again and see if there's any internal parts I need to replace, but this shotgun has been ridiculously reliable for almost 20 years and it hasn't let me down yet. But like someone posted previously there might be a better dog carrier spring that I will think about replacing. There is also a feature that newer 870's have called a "flex tab" that will help prevent some kinds of jams that older models were susceptible to. I'd get that if I didn't already have it.

The original finish is holding up on this gun great, but I'm kicking around the idea of doing some nice kind of home camo pattern with dura-coat and some local native leaves for the patterning. But I'm not sure about that yet.

Mostly, I just want to put this thing together, take a grip of ammo and get up to my uncle's farm for some major trigger time! If anything, I'll devote any future spending towards getting setup to reload so I can afford to shoot more high-quality ammo. I'm even planning to check the feasibility of casting my own buckshot pellets. After I put a LOT more ammo through this gun and get some good training I might think about other alterations, but until then I think I'm standing pat after this round of upgrades!

Hope this all helps, I was searching these forums myself today for the same kind of thing. What a tremendous resource TFL is! Thanks to all the long-time members who have contributed so much to this community!

Oh, on a side-note I am trying to think of some kind of secure storage strategy for this weapon. I would like a hidden kick panel or something like that where I could keep it stashed when I'm not home but it seems like that would be tough to implement as a DIY project and since I rent I doubt my landlord would let me cut up the drywall. So now I am thinking about some kind of vertical vehicle mounted rack that I might be able to install in the house by affixing to the wall studs. I don't know, I'm a ways away from figuring that out, but I want to keep it secure (we have a few kids including a toddler) and ready for action.
"Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We're evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I'm surprised you didn't know that." --Saul Tigh

Last edited by azsixshooter; June 21, 2012 at 10:11 PM.
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