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Old March 7, 2010, 07:49 AM   #1
Join Date: March 7, 2010
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First shotgun (870 Express); few quick questions

Good morning gents:

I bought my first shotgun, a Remington 870 Express, 3", black matte finish, 28" barrel, modified Rem Choke. I also added an Uncle Mikes sling set up as well, having to drill out the magazine cap to do so. I've used the 870 years ago in the service and I liked it then. When I was looking to join frinds for duck hunting this year, after all the advice I got, the 870 seemed to be a very rugged, reliable and acceptably accurate choice at a decent price.

In addition to joining friends for goose and duck hunting this year, I also wanted something more substantial than my .22 for dealing close range with coyotes that seem to be coming closer to the house than ever. We live in the country and when walking the dogs in the morning, we've had the ocassional run in with coyotes. I didn't want to go with a .223 or similar hot calibre because of the presence of other houses in the area, so I was looking for something more for defensive action in the event of a close encounter, as opposed to actively going out to hunt coyotes. In the spring, we've also had contact with black bear, so I was also considering carrying the shotgun on morning walks, loaded with deer slugs in the event a bear would not run the other way.

That said, can you give me some direction on the best barrel for deer slugs? I've seen some posts here, including aftermarket sights that look interesting. If I use my existing barrel, does using slugs pose any problems?

Also, any suggestions as to the best rounds for practice as well as home defense (in which case I'd be looking to get a shorter barrel).

Thanks in advance for the advice,


Last edited by econrecon; March 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM.
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Old March 7, 2010, 11:09 AM   #2
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Well, for defensive applications, you could do without the slugs. They will also carry a long way and endanger nearby houses. Also, they require a better sight picture than buck shot. I would go with 00 Buck or something in that category. If you mean to defend yourself, that will be fine. Some Professional Hunters and Guides of dangerous game (African Big 5) go in the bush after wounded lions and tigers with 00Buck and the like. If it works on those animals, it should be good to go on coyotes and black bears. A short shotgun should be just fine.

Practice operating the gun so you can work it instictively. Then shoot a few rounds occaisionally to get used to shouldering and firing rapidly. Honestly, a little skeet wouldn't hurt as it gets you used to shouldering the gun and swinging with it. You must shoulder it the same way every time; consistency is the key. This also puts your eye in the same place every time. That eye is the rear sight. Get familiar with the function of the safety too.
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Old March 7, 2010, 11:32 AM   #3
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I've got an old 870 Special Purpose with the 21" RemChoke barrel and Bradley bead sights. By stacking those beads, it will put a 2 3/4" Super-X slug on a soft drink can at 50 yards, more often than not.

A long ride in law enforcement has provided me with ample opportunity to see what slugs & 00 buck do in an anti-personnel role. My personal and duty shotguns are always equipped with a but-cuff of slugs and if I think I even might need them, they are so loaded. You can bet your best hat that if was anywhere that 'bear trouble' might occur, my scattergun would be stoked with as many slugs as it will hold.
May a person who is relocating out-of-State move firearms with other household goods? Yes.
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Old March 7, 2010, 12:29 PM   #4
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Greetings, econrecon and welcome aboard.
You can bet your best hat that if was anywhere that 'bear trouble' might occur, my scattergun would be stoked with as many slugs as it will hold.
Right-on Sarge.
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Old March 7, 2010, 12:52 PM   #5
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Also, they require a better sight picture than buck shot.
Not so much... That is a misconception that is not great in super short distances such as HD.

Your POA and intended POI needs to be the same 1 inch for slugs as for 00 buck. The spread will be from zero to 1.5-2 inch in the average room of the average home... The wad will likely be in the entrance wound.

For deer hunting range, you can have an intended 3-4 inch planned POI with 00 and still hit vitals for a quick kill.
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Old March 7, 2010, 03:15 PM   #6
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Yes, all that is true about the slugs, if you are able to hit anything with them in a hurry. I would take my FN FAL if I could, but the original poster said he was concerned about other houses in the area. Even a good hit with a slug will go thru the bear or feral dog and keep right on going. THAT is where the 00buck has the advantage.
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Old March 7, 2010, 07:02 PM   #7
Join Date: March 7, 2010
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Some excellent advice here gents, much appreciated. I firmly believe in Greco's point about practice and developing the instinctive action with the firearm. I was out this afternoon to put some 2 3/4" target loads downrange, as its been many years since using a shotgun, despite reasonably regular use of a pistol and .22.

I found that I have a bit to learn on the mechanics of this action in order to have a fluid operation of an 870 Remington. I'm a firm believer that practice is key to effective use of anything, but especially the use of firearms which, outside the range, are often used under condtions of stress; muscle memory and repetition in my experience make for effective use.

The bit about big game guides using 00 to finish off large, wounded animals makes a very good point, esp. in view of the issue of residences in a rural setting. Thanks all, this is very helpful,

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Old March 7, 2010, 09:49 PM   #8
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It should be a fine general purpose shotgun. If anything, an additional barrel would only contribute to its usefulness. The 20" smoothbore rifle sight barrel is apt to be the most common, though other versions turn up from time to time too. If it's a new Express gun, it'll have the new style magazine cap detent, which is the plastic teeth on the magazine spring retainer that engage teeth on the inside of the magazine cap. Fortunately it won't matter whether you get an 'old style' barrel with the spring-loaded detent set in the barrel ring, or the 'new style' barrel without the detent to use on your gun. Yours will work OK either way.

Check around at the different stores in your area and ask if they have any used 870 factory smoothbore barrels that are 18- 20" long. The Remington Counry Store was selling out a bunch of closeout barrels (18.5" RS ImpCyl with Marine finish, 18.5" RS parkerized rifled) a few weeks ago for $59 each, so good deals do turn up if you keep looking. Even a bead sight barrel will probably work OK if that's what turns up first and cheapest, you can always keep looking for a barrel with sights if you decide you want one, and then sell whatever barrel you aren't using. Keep an eye on , sometimes a member here has a barrel for sale. Last 870 barrel I bought here was a few weeks ago, an 18" 12 gauge factory barrel with an XS Big Dot bead added, for $80. Like I said, there are deals out there.

For coyotes you might want larger shot like Dead Coyote ( ). For bears, even blackies, I'd rather have slugs. We use Brenneke KOs, and they seem to work well with every shotgun we try them in ( ).

As you said, practice is critical. When you pump it, make it a conscious two count movement- briskly all the way back till the forearm stops is count one, then all the way forward briskly is count two. That'll keep you from short stroking the gun, which is the big bugaboo for new pump shotgun operators under pressure.

Learning to load the gun without looking at it is a critical skill also. The gun can be combat loaded at the shoulder, with the action closed, the hammer cocked and the safety on just let the muzzle sag till it feels like most of the weight comes off the shooting hand which is holding the gun at the shoulder. The support hand pulls whatever shell you want to load next from wherever it's carried and orients it by feel with the brass toward the little finger, the crimp toward the pointing finger, the shell cradled on the two middle fingers and 'pinched' lightly between the pointing and little fingers.

With the trigger finger properly in register outside the trigger guard on the side of the receiver, the front of the trigger finger is a 'tell' for where the little finger of the support hand should go for most people to properly locate the loading port. With the shell cupped in the fingers of the support hand and properly oriented, the cupped hand finds the bottom of the receiver and should land the brass of the shell on the ramp created by the front of the trigger guard (what- you thought they were just being graceful with that design?).

Run the shell down the ramp and into the loading port, reverse the support hand and bring the thumb back to the brass and push the shell all the way into the magazine. After you practice for a bit it will feel natural.

Leaving an 'empty slot' in the magazine means you have room to load whatever shell you need that's different from what's in the magazine on top and run it right into the chamber by hitting the action release. Remember, with a tubular magazine it's FILO (first in last out) and LIFO (last in first out). That's usually a practice called the select slug drill, but it can work any time you need to change the load in the chamber as quickly as you can manage for another shell. It's another good pumpgun skill to practice on till you get good at it.

Remember- software trumps hardware...

Mindset - Skillset - Toolset. In that order!

Attitude and skill will get you through times of no gear, better than gear will get you through times of no attitude and no skill.

Last edited by Lee Lapin; March 7, 2010 at 09:55 PM.
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Old March 8, 2010, 01:57 AM   #9
Join Date: March 5, 2010
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When I was looking for a short barrel for my 870 I went to a local gun shop to see if he had one on hand. He didn't, but he had a 28" on hand. I got the barrel cut off, squared, blued with a fiber optic bead on for about $90, including the barrel. I was pretty happy. It was a little heavier than I intended because it had the full rib, but that just made it easier the other day when I decided I was interested in rifle sights and got a pair for $30 that mount to the rib. Don't know how they'll hold up, but it kind of added to versatility.
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Old March 8, 2010, 07:51 AM   #10
Join Date: March 7, 2010
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Excellent detail, thanks Lee.
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