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Old June 2, 2010, 01:06 PM   #1
Join Date: February 2, 2009
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20 ga for HD?

I have a Reminton 870 express in 20 ga that has served as a great gun for years now. I have been looking for a shorter barrel for HD use for it but can't find one; all I can find are rifled slug barrels. Are there shorter aftermarket barrels for this gun? If not, would shortening (sawing off) a barrel work or would this cause more harm than I anticipate?

I would like to get a decent 12 ga for HD but a new gun just isn't in the cards for us right now.

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Old June 2, 2010, 01:15 PM   #2
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Get the slug barrel if its reasonable. I think you can fire buck out of it.

Get some buckshot, btw. Some say use birdshot/turkey loads, BB, etc. for HD in 12 gauge. I guess it COULD suffice, but in 20 gauge, go with some 00 buck.
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Old June 2, 2010, 01:17 PM   #3
Bill DeShivs
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Cutting a barrel is easy.
Your 20 ga. is a great home defense gun. There is no need to buy a 12 ga.
Bill DeShivs, Master Cutler
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Old June 2, 2010, 01:59 PM   #4
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Cutting a barrel is easy.
Cutting it correctly might not be so easy, as most barrels are tapered on the outside - making a squared-up cut fairly tricky for most folks without the proper jigs
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Old June 2, 2010, 02:31 PM   #5
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Get some buckshot, btw. Some say use birdshot/turkey loads, BB, etc. for HD in 12 gauge. I guess it COULD suffice, but in 20 gauge, go with some 00 buck.
Good advice, but be aware that 00 buck in 20-gauge is rare as hen's teeth - in fact, I think your only option is handloaded ammunition. I ran into this problem when trying to find 00 buck for my 20-gauge, because my local range only allows slugs or 00 buck for shotguns.

The problem is that the geometry of a 20-gauge shell doesn't allow for an efficient arrangement of 00 pellets. the diameter of a 00 buck pellet is .33 inches, while the diameter of the case is .615 inches. Thus, you can't get more than one pellet to fit side-by-side in the case - you have to do a staggered arrangement, and the patterning is pretty much crap as a result.
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Old June 2, 2010, 05:45 PM   #6
Lee Lapin
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The 870 Express Youth model comes with a 21" vent rib barrel with RemChokes and a 13" LOP stock- that's a near ideal out of the box multipurpose gun, for a lot of smaller statured shooters. You should be able to buy that same barrel from Remington, or one of the places like Corson's or Barrel Exchange.

There used to be a Junior version too, with an 18.5" VR barrel and a 12" LOP stock, if I remember those dimensions properly. Don't know if they still make it.

And Remington makes the HD version of the express in 20 gauge too, with a magazine extension and a plain 18.5" barrel. Again, that barrel should be available from Remington. See .

Give Remington a call during business hours (in NC) at 1-800-243-9700 and ask the parts people...

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Old June 2, 2010, 07:00 PM   #7
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The trouble with buying barrels from Remington is that they're so expensive you can just about buy a new shotgun, certainly a decent used pump gun, for the cost of the barrel...

Don't know why Remington charges so much more for barrels than Mossberg, but... yikes.
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Old June 3, 2010, 12:52 AM   #8
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Mossberg has a few barrels for the 870 but may only be in 12 gauge.

I have a Mossberg 500 20 as my go to HD gun. 18 inch barrel loaded with #3 buck which is the biggest locally available pellet size. I am pretty confident I am better served with this shell than I would be with a handgun or the 12 in full 28 inch barrel...

Give and take meet in the middle sort of thing...

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Old June 3, 2010, 02:59 AM   #9
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The most common buckshot size in 20 ga is #3, although Federal does make a #2. #3 will get the job done.
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Old June 3, 2010, 07:12 AM   #10
Gator Weiss
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Home defense is often ranges at 10 feet or less.

At 10 feet, you could fill that shotgun shell with chicken feed and probably drop a man with it.

On a historical note, it might interest you to know that Bonnie Parker (Bonnie and Clyde the bank robbers) carried and used a cut down .20 gauge shotgun.

For home defense, get yourself an extra .20 gauge barrel and take it to the gunsmith. Have him cut that barrell back to 20 inches and round-over the crown after he makes his cut. If you want to, put the bead back on. You dont have to, but you might want it later for something.

Buy some Remington or Winchester #3 buckshot. That contains 20 heavy lead projectiles. At 10 or 20 feet, it is a seriously devastating loading. Another positive feature of .20 gauge buckshot is that it is easily slowed down or outright stopped by fixtures or walls in the house, so your chances of accidentally killing another occupant in the house or perhaps in a neighboring house are greatly reduced. If you load with a .20 gauge slug, it will punch through your interior walls and still be at a deadly velocity. In most cases, your exterior walls will stop the slug from reaching neighboring residences. That .20 gauge slug is a very serious manstopper at 20 feet. I dont think anyone is going to walk away from a belly hit with either the buck or slug at that distance. You dont need 12 gauge for home defense. You dont need a rifle or pistol for home defense. The 20 is absolutely the perfect HD weapon.

The gun that Lee Lapin mentions above is perfect for what you need.
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Old June 3, 2010, 07:29 AM   #11
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Gator, it is a 20ga not .20ga... a .20 would be about 6-8 inch bore diameter... And would be a scary mucker in a bank robbery... the good thing is the racking sound of a pump being cycled ain't nuttin' scary like lookin' down the bore of a crew served shotgun... Bonnie wouldn't never need to fire it.

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Old June 3, 2010, 08:07 AM   #12
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I once read an article where the author claimed a 20 ga. was the ideal HD gun. His main reasoning was it has much less recoil than a 12 ga and could be brought back on target with almost no delay.
Gator was right, at in-home ranges what shot size you have is not relevant. The pattern is still so small anything you fire will be devastating.
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Old June 3, 2010, 08:20 AM   #13
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Rifleman, Felt recoil is often similar on equivalent models 12 VS 20 ga as the 20 is usually on a smaller platform... If the 20 weighs as much as the 12 it would be true...

Since you may have to shoot from one end of the house to the other, I want the biggest pellets I can get. I wouldn't think twice about using #9 shot if that were all I had though.

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Old June 3, 2010, 07:24 PM   #14
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New barrel will cost you $250 or better and the only upside would be that you can get it with rifle sights on it and you would still have your old barrel. I made my choice with an 18" chop job and a choke installed. I shoot #4 and #3 shot in some pretty tight groups at 8 yards which for a HD gun is plenty. At 10' I blow a hole in a 2X4 that I can just get my thumb through. 000 buck is still good out to 30 yards. Just dos centavos from an old dinosaur but for a soft bodied boogerman invading my home nothing else is really required.

My vote, chop it.
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