Upgrades for Reliability

Remington 870 Repair and Gunsmithing.
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Scorpion8
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Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Scorpion8 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:10 am

If you've followed my intro thread in New Member Introductions, you know I have an 870 Wingmaster that I intend to use for bear defense while in the Great Outdoors. It's not for skeet, trap or any of the gentlemanly sports. So my concern is any upgrades or reliability improvements that will help me make sure that every click is followed by a boom! What parts are high failure, or for which there are improvements available? Nothing purty, just sheer reliability along the lines of zero failures? And user-replaceable too. I have some skills....
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Synchronizor
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Synchronizor » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:37 am

If your gun is still in factory 1974 form, it would probably benefit from some of the design refinements that Remington has made to the 870 over the decades. Easily the biggest one is the flex-tab fix they made to the action in the mid-1980s. This involved modifications to the bolt, slide assembly, and carrier, (the action bars too, but these are less critical, and an optional part of the update) that prevented a particular type of misfeed from causing a severe action jam. Installing the fix is very easy; most of it is just disassembling the gun as you would for cleaning, and putting it back together with the new parts. The price of the update can be intimidating if you're buying all-new parts, but you can save a lot if you don't mind buying used parts instead.

Remington has also made some smaller tweaks that I wouldn't consider critical, but could be things to look into if you're in a tinkering mood. These include beefed-up shell latches (if your latches have only two staking recesses, they're the older-style), a redesigned firing pin retractor spring that is supposed to be less prone to breakage (the improved springs have tighter coils in the middle), and a high-visibility orange plastic follower that's easier to see and won't wear or damage the magazine & follower stop shoulder like the old steel ones could.

Aside from those updates, the 870 is a solid design without much in the way of inherent reliability "weak points". Plenty of folks out there will be happy to sell you "enhanced" parts, but these tend not to improve reliability much since a stock 870 in good condition is already very tough and dependable, and in some cases they can even hurt function (I'm looking at you, "extra power springs"). If you ask me, aftermarket parts are about adding extra features (like magazine followers that are detectable by touch or self-illuminating night sights), enhancing existing capabilities (like mag extensions for more capacity or nickel-plated parts for better corrosion resistance) or personalizing your gun (like furniture that's more comfortable for you specifically), not really about "fixing" anything that was wrong with the original design.

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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by DaveC » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:03 pm

"bear defense"

Please take care, and give due diligence to feral dog pack defense! :shock:

I don't have the statistics in front of me...Being mauled by a bear is horrible to contemplate, but dogs in the wild state apparently kill more people.
All best and good luck!
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by John A. » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:39 pm

I have more wild bears than I do wild dogs.

I hate bears. I'll just come right out and say it.
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Scorpion8 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:48 pm

We don't have a problem with feral dogs here, because they don't survive on their own very long in this environment. Bears? I love bears, seeing them in the wild is always amazing. And the fact is that people are the newbie visitors here - the bears were here first. Mostly they don't want any more to do with you than you do with them, and most run off at the sight of loud humans. But there's always the one that thinks you are a threat to their cubs or is just having a bad day that wants to mess with you. That's where the 870 (and the Ruger Blackhawk) come into use...

So back on topic:

1. I've been looking at improved magazine followers for the ability to "feel" if the mag is empty by touch.
2. Polymer furniture - maybe. I hate "tacticool" looks but I also would prefer to save the original wood furniture and the harsh, wet climate here is more suited for plastic/polymer. I'd be less concerned with tossing the gun in the back of the pickup.
3. More corrosion resistance is a "must have", me thinks. I'll have to investigate those upgrades.
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Scorpion8 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:27 pm

Just ordered the Type-III follower and enlarged safety off S&J Hardware's site.
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Synchronizor » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:00 am

I like S&J Hardware's followers a lot. They're well-made and use a good material, and the tactile elements are a nice extra safety feature. The Type 3 works well with factory mag springs, too.

Their enlarged safety may not be for everyone. The thing's big. I know some folks here like it, but it's a bit too much for me. See what you think.

If you want to do the flex-tab update and make your internals more corrosion-resistant, you could look at dropping in Marine Magnum breech bolt, slide, and trigger plate assemblies. They'll include all the updated part designs, plus the nickel plating. It'll cost you for all those new parts though, and the nickel is probably overkill unless you're getting really hardcore. I take my hodgepodge Express out in the snow every winter, and never had an issue that wasn't my fault.

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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Scorpion8 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:42 am

Thanks. The safety I thought I'd just give it a try, as for the price is reasonable enough if I don't like it.
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Scorpion8 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:32 pm

Synchronizor wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:00 am
I like S&J Hardware's followers a lot. They're well-made and use a good material, and the tactile elements are a nice extra safety feature. The Type 3 works well with factory mag springs, too.

Their enlarged safety may not be for everyone. The thing's big. I know some folks here like it, but it's a bit too much for me. See what you think.
I replaced the follower, and I like the S&J one a LOT. Slides easy enough, GREAT visibility due to the color and finger hole in the center. My 870 had a 2-round-limiter plug in the magazine tube, so I removed that while I was at it. And added the S&J safety. Yes, it is large, but works like a champ and the finger cannot miss it when it needs to be engaged. Such a simple process to replace the safety.

So, what's next?
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Re: Upgrades for Reliability

Post by Synchronizor » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:35 am

Scorpion8 wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:32 pm
So, what's next?
Does your gun have the old-style, pre-flex-tab action? If so, I'd say updating that is the best thing you can do for reliability. You don't have to do it all at once either, each part is an upgrade on its own, and will work with old or new versions of the others.

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