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Old May 23, 2002, 10:24 PM   #1
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Join Date: March 19, 2001
Location: Sioux City, Iowa
Posts: 126
Making 870 better pheasant gun

I have an 870 Wingmaster Magnum that is about 15 years old with 3-inch chambers. I replaced the glossy wood with pressed checkering with synthetic stocks. The black plastic isn't pretty but is lighter and no crying if I scratch.

The 870 has a 30-inch barrel with a fixed modified choke. I'd like to get a Hastings barrel with choke tubes, but what length? This will be for pheasants here in Iowa and Nebraska. Early in the season shots are close, later on longer shots are the norm. Which chokes do you use for pheasants? I missed a lot of close shots because of a tight choke.

I hunt over a field-bred English springer spaniel that works close and flushes, not a pointer. Loads are Federal Premium 2 3/4
No. 5 shot until later in the season. Then I use No. 4, sometimes in a Nitro Mag for long winter shots.

Should I go 26-inch barrel or use a 28. I already have a 30-inch for geese and ducks. I also have a 24-inch Hastings Paradox fully rifled barrel with a cantilever mount for a scope. I like having one extremely reliable shotgun.

I'd like something lighter and quicker. Please tell me more about the use of a 26 and how it affects your range and ballistics vs 30 inch barrel.

HerrJaegermeister is offline  
Old May 23, 2002, 10:49 PM   #2
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Join Date: October 29, 1999
Location: rural Illinois
Posts: 589
I kinda prefer the shorter tubes but you probly won't notice any diff between the 26 and 30 as far as range and pattern ballistics. Handling will be a little differnt.
I like a IC or Mod choke and I LOVE those Golden Pheasant (Fiocci) nickel plated #5s. Swats even those long, fast tailwind roosters with real authority.
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Old May 24, 2002, 04:41 AM   #3
Dave McC
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Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Sounds like a good setup as is. You can make that excellent pump seem "Faster" by adding a bit of weight to the butt or just by putting the wood stock back on. Frankenstein, my overpublicized parts 870, balances about 3" in front of the trigger with it's 21" bbl. To me at least, it seem nigh perfect for upland work.

There's more differences from shell to shell in a given bbl than the average variation between a 26 and 30" bbls. IOW, fuggedaboudit.

In your shoes, I'd leave the shotgun as is and work with the load a bit. For close shots, try some 6s with softer shot, the generic "Pheasant" loads should qualify.

Here in Md, my pheasant whacker of old was the Remington Long Range 1 1/4 oz of 6s. Preceded by a trap load of 7 1/2s for close shots, the combo served me well.Our dogs worked close, and I worked at centering the head and neck on close shots rather than lose some density on wild flushers.

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Old May 24, 2002, 06:43 AM   #4
Al Thompson
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Join Date: May 2, 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 3,611
If you've already got the ducks and geese barrel, my thought would be to have a smith cut your barrel to 24 or 26 inches and install choke tubes. Should be less expensive and give you some versatility.

My 1100 with a 26 inch barrel handles "quicker" than a longer barrel - but - YMMV.
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