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Old March 23, 2009, 02:11 AM   #1
Join Date: February 2, 2008
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870 Questions


When I look at Remington's MSRP page
they list dozens of varieties of the 870 Express and 870 Wingmaster

If I understand it right, I can get ANY 870 Express or ANY 870 Wingmaster, new or used, and build the same setup as those sold on the website, right? The difference might be stock pattern and barrel length but I can get any barrel that will fit the gun and any stock installed right? Or does it make a difference which one of those I pick, ie Express 870 Super Magnum Turkey Camo vs 870 Express Combo? I'm under the impression that I can buy any Express setup and with money and a gunsmith, build any of the other (express) ones off of the platform.

I'm thinking of looking around gun stores for a "gently used" Wingmaster. On the other hand, I am the first person in my immediate family to show an interest in shooting, so there is the "Buy a new gun and then hand it down" aspect of starting new instead of with someone else's tradition. That sounds kind of lame/expensive when I type it out...
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Old March 23, 2009, 05:51 AM   #2
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In short:

Yes, but........

Long(er) version,

You can pretty much make of them what you will. They are like adult legos.

There are a couple things to consider:

1) Action vs. barrel ratings for magnum/supermagnum shells. Make sure you stay within the bounds of both your receiver/action and barrel in terms of shell length.

2) Retention system, dimples, etc. Make sure you understand the differences between the wingmaster ball detent magazine cap retention system and the express dimple/ratchet system.

Stocks swap between models rather easily with the proper tools. Barrels interchange with consideration for numbers 1 and 2 listed above.
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Old March 23, 2009, 07:24 AM   #3
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Can you explain the magazine end cap retention problem - differences? Does it limit extension magazine tubes?
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Old March 23, 2009, 07:25 AM   #4
roy reali
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This thread is a lot shorter then I thought!
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Old March 23, 2009, 10:46 AM   #5
Lee Lapin
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ANY 870 Express or ANY 870 Wingmaster, new or used, and build the same setup as those sold on the website, right?

Sorta kinda pretty much. Stay away from the 870 Special Field (the 21" straight stocked version from a few years back) as a base gun. Stay away from the 3.5" Supermag versions for a base gun.

Find a good solid used Wingmaster, LE trade-in Police gun (older ones were marked Wingmaster on the receiver, not Police), or an older model Express gun. Any of those will do fine as a base gun to build whatever shotgun system you want to put together. Older model Express guns have aluminum trigger plates, no dimples in the magazine tubes, and the same internal parts as Wingmasters. The only difference is the level of finish inside and out. I've been shooting 870s for going on 40 years and have not yet bought one NIB.

Older Wingmasters will mostly be chambered for 2 3/4" shells. That's plenty, unless you want to hunt waterfowl or turkeys, in which case you'll want to hold out for a magnum (3") receiver gun. You can tell magnum receivers because their serial numbers end in M. If you're curious, I posted a list of 870 receiver codes at and I'm too lazy to type it again. 8^)

The only thing to really look out for in buying a used 870 IMHO are signs of kitchen table gun butchery. Some people just cannot reist the temptation to take guns apart down the the last pin and spring. I will not buy a gun that has obviously been abused in this manner. A quick look at the trigger plate will tell the most tales. No place where I buy guns objects to my doing a basic field strip on an 870 in order to examine it before buying- a golf tee in my pocket to push the receiver cross pins out with is the only tool needed.

There's no reason IMHO to worry about buying a used 870. You aren't marrying it after all. 8^)

Happy shopping,

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Old March 24, 2009, 09:30 PM   #6
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tarpon - older 870s came with magazine end caps that had to be pried out. The newer 870s have "dimples' on the inside of the magazine tubes that allow easier magazine end cap removal by pushing the cap in, rotating it 90 degrees, and letting the spring pop it out.

But at the same time, the dimples prevent you from installing magazine tube extensions unless you smooth them out.
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Old March 25, 2009, 01:09 AM   #7
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3.5" base gun

Lee Lapin,

Why not use a Supermagnum as a base gun?
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Old March 25, 2009, 02:16 AM   #8
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Why can't you pass-down a nice gun that was previously owned? I'd rather inherit a clean used Model 12 Pigeon grade than a new 870 Wingmaster.
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Old March 25, 2009, 11:17 AM   #9
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Expense is relative - these days a good solid pump gun like a Wingmaster or a Browning BPS is a very good value new at around $ 500 - $600 / but they aren't "special" because they aren't unique and there are thousands of them made every year. There are cheaper pump guns on the market - 870 express, etc - but sometimes you get what you pay for / and yes you can mix and match parts - but it won't be cheaper than buying a complete gun when you find a good one. Just used barrels alone - can cost you $ 200 - $300.

But to Zippy's point - sometimes the effort it takes to search out a real nice used gun - can be a lot of fun - and it will give you a great gun to shoot and pass down. Some of the finest guns I own, I bought used.

While many of us started with pump guns years ago - as our "shotgun" desires grew - we found other guns fit us better or met our needs better so most of us have added a number of shotguns to our collections. Its been a great journey / and every week I enjoy wandering around the used gun stores in my area - looking for another great gun / or another great deal. Its almost as much fun as hunting or shooting ...
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Old March 26, 2009, 01:30 PM   #10
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I am small in stature and have essentially no padding on my shoulder's skeletal structure.

Are there a variety of recoil reducing stocks and pads for both the 870 and the Mossberg 500?

I will be using slugs for shooting paper targets, and also shooting trap with a friend. We both would like to find an experienced hunter and hunt for both deer and fowl. Gun will also be an HD gun if ever "needed".
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Old March 26, 2009, 06:22 PM   #11
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I've seen a lot of people build up the guns your talking about from old 870 Express guns. The versitility of the weapon is amazing. You can customize them for almost anyone.

I built my custom HD shotgun from an old 870 Express Super Magnum. I wasn't looking for a Super Magnum, but that's just what I found. I plan on doing another project like this soon. This was my first project gun so the next one will be a little more complex and challenging.

I had a gunsmith touch up the horrible job someone did when cutting the barrel down. (It's 18.75")

I used Brownell's Baking Laquer to give it a black finish

Replaced the old, broken, wooden stock and forend with a synthetic Shurshot set.

Snapped on 3-dot fiber optick turkey sight.

Installed a magazine tube extension.

Slipped on an elastic shell holder.

This helps me sleep better at night than Ambien
A hit with a .45 ACP beats a hit with a .22 LR everytime. A hit with a .22 LR beats a miss with a .50 BMG everytime.
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Old March 26, 2009, 08:34 PM   #12
Dave McC
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870s are as versatile as a SAK. Maybe more so.

I built one, now yclept Frankenstein, from a surplussed receiver and a messa used parts. It's taken game from grouse to geese, surprised some folks on the clays fields, and is a comfort when things go bump.

My first 870 was made "Around 1950". It was a field gun until I needed Homeowner's Insurance more. It also has filled the venison supply , helped me place HOA in some LE style 3 gun, and still works glassy smooth after just shy of or 50 years of service.

It now wears the usual bellsnwhistles of Tacticality.

I liked the performance of this one so much I built another, based on an old cruiser gun. Maybe 20 deer later, it's a keeper with a secondary job as backup for HD.

I'm certainly no smith. If a ten thumbed klutz like me can do it, so can you....
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Old March 27, 2009, 03:26 PM   #13
Lee Lapin
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Why not use a Supermagnum as a base gun?

Because it's "Too much sugar for a cent" as the old folks used to say. IMHO anything that needs to be done with a 12 gauge can be done with a 3" magnum or less. Mostly less- I'd have to dig really deep here to find any 3" shells. But I don't chase ducks, geese or turkeys, so my outlook might differ from those who do.

Because some folks have trouble with shortstroking a pump shotgun anyway, and adding an extra howevermuch of an inch to the action bars surely can't help with that...

Because I've heard tales of the little spring steel piece that's snapped onto the back of the bolt in a Supermag to fill up the ejection port coming off, and jamming up the action...

It's just free advice on an Intraw3bz forum, it wasn't scribed by the finger of God into a stone tablet on a mountainside... 8^).

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