Thanks to Synchronizor for this detailed review!
I won’t get into when, where, and for what I think pistol grips should and shouldn’t be used, because it would just add several thousand more words to what is already a massive piece. I’ll simply say that while they have many downsides, and a fixed or folding stock will be a better choice for many situations, pistol-gripped shotguns do have their place. They’re very compact & maneuverable, and (usually) lighter than a full stock, which can be beneficial on a gun that’s used more as a tool than a weapon, or one that needs to be stored or deployed in very tight spaces. They’re also cool; a lot of folks (myself included) buy a pistol grips just for fun, and that’s a perfectly legitimate reason to own one.
Here is illustration which shows how different pistol grips look like:
So, with thanks to Brownells for providing the grips, and to Vitaly for making all the arrangements, I would like to present an in-depth review of four pistol grips for the Remington 870 shotgun – and by “in-depth”, I mean long. If you don’t have a couple hours to spend reading the ramblings of a detail-obsessed engineer, feel free to skip down to my conclusions at the end, and then back up to any sections that you want to read about in more detail. The outline of this review is as follows:
2. Product Overview
3. Design & Construction
4. Sling Attachment Hardware
6. Mounting Hardware
8. Control Interaction
9. Live-Fire Testing
10. Function & Reliability
The four pistol grips I’ll be examining here are the Hogue Tamer, the Blackhawk Knoxx BreachersGrip, the Pachmayr Vindicator Presentation Grip, and the TacStar Tactical Rear Grip. These four grips provide a pretty interesting cross-section of the pistol-grip options for the Remington 870. You have cheap vs. expensive, simple vs. complicated, bells & whistles vs. bare-bones, bulky & heavy vs. compact & lightweight, and grabby rubber vs. hard plastic.
These pistol grips were tested on a simply-configured Remington 870 Magnum with a cylinder-bore 18.5” bead-sight barrel, a plastic trigger plate (with standard-weight springs all-around), and an Uncle Mike’s magazine cap – under which is a Benelli press-in spring retainer, an S&J Hardware Type 2 follower, and a standard 4-round magazine spring (not the heavy Police 4-round spring). The fore-end is a long Express synthetic piece, to allow me to move my support hand further back and thus better hold the gun safely out in front of my face while aiming. Without a grip or stock, this gun weighs 5.5 pounds (about 2.5 kg) empty.
Hogue hardly needs introduction, as it’s practically a household name when it comes to firearm grips and stocks. The Hogue Tamer pistol grip is part of Hogue’s “Overmolded” line of shotgun furniture, which feature polymer construction with a thin exterior layer of soft, tacky rubber to provide grip. The grip is advertised as containing “advanced Tamer technology” that helps dampen recoil. Much like their popular revolver grips, Hogue’s Tamer aims for a hand-filling shape with a full set of finger grooves and symmetric palm swells for both righties & lefties. The pistol grip by itself has an MSRP of $29.95, though it can be had for $22 – $25 with a little looking around. That’s not bottom-dollar cheap, but it’s still very budget-friendly, and you get a nice set of features for that price. The Tamer grip is also sold in a bundle with a matching rubber-coated fore-end in standard black ($39.95 MSRP), or with special “Zombie Green” rubber ($49.95 MSRP).
While the other three grips were generously provided by Brownells for this review, I purchased this Hogue grip myself several years ago.
Blackhawk Knoxx BreachersGrip:
The Blackhawk BreachersGrip is part of the Knoxx line of shotgun stocks & grips, and incorporates the spring-action recoil-dampening system that the Knoxx line is known for. Blackhawk (technically BLACKHAWK!, but I prefer not to sound like a 10-year-old typing a shouty YouTube comment) is a part of Vista Outdoor, a massive company that also owns such well-regarded brands as Federal Premium, Uncle Mike’s, RCBS, and Hoppe’s. The Knoxx BreachersGrip is advertised as being ideal for home defense and close-quarters work, due to its recoil-dampening system that claims to allow for “comfortable one-handed operation”. Other claims include a “compact design” and an “ergonomic pistol grip with integrated non-slip texturing”. The Knoxx grip is also the only one of these four that is available in a scaled-down version for small-frame (.410, 28ga, and lightweight 20ga) 870s.
The product name & marketing obviously suggest a suitability for breaching duty and other LE work. Blackhawk offers a separate Breacher’s Accessory Kit for it complete with an attachment system for body armor; and the product video – once it’s done with some ridiculously tacti-cool cheesiness that I’m half-convinced is actually self-parody – heavily features uniformed officers shooting the thing.
All the marketing really does push this grip as a serious combat accessory. One thing’s for sure, with an MSRP of $91.95 for both the 12 & 20-gauge 870 versions, the BreachersGrip is clearly not aimed at those with thin wallets. You can find this grip in the $70 range from a number of 3rd-party sellers (or even $50 – $60 if you get lucky with sales), but that’s still not cheap.
Pachmayr Vindicator Presentation Grip:
The Pachmayr Vindicator Presentation Grip is a classically-styled plastic & rubber grip from one of the first companies to popularize this type of grip construction. Founded way back in 1929, Pachmayr became a Lyman brand in the mid-1990s. Their Vindicator grip is a well-known choice, as it has come factory-installed on a number of Police and Express 870 models over the years. Some more recent examples include the breaching configuration of the 870 MCS, and the #81193 870 Express Tactical Pistol Grip.
The company claims that the checkered rubber construction offers superior traction, control, and follow-up accuracy compared to grips constructed of hard plastics, while an internal air pocket in the grip is said to reduce shock for less-intense recoil. MSRP on this grip is a bit steep at $63.98; but it can often be found on 3rd-party websites in the area of $40, which is affordable, but still a step up from a number of competitors.
TacStar Tactical Rear Grip:
The TacStar rear shotgun grip is a basic all-plastic pistol grip that is very commonly encountered in the 870 community. Part of the popular budget-oriented line of shotgun accessories sold under the (also Lyman-owned) TacStar brand, it incorporates a distinctive grip angle, heel swell, and pinky-only finger groove. These features are claimed to distribute recoil evenly over the hand for “painless positive control”; but really, by far the biggest selling point of this grip is (or was, as I’ll explain) its cost. With a little hunting around, this pistol grip could often be found for under $20, which alone was enough to make it very popular. TacStar also produced a matching fore-end with a vertical grip for those who want to go full tacti-cool. Both the front and rear pistol grips were available separately, as a two-piece set, or as part of a full “Tactical Conversion” kit that included both front & rear grips, a sidesaddle shell carrier, and a sling with hardware.
I’ll point out that during the time I was testing these grips and writing up this review, TacStar has redesigned their 870 pistol grip. The new version seems to be similar in construction and features to the old one, but the overall shape & design of the grip has been altered.
The MSRP has also changed, with TacStar’s site now listing individual grips for $38.50. Without having tried it myself, I can’t say whether or not my evaluation of the old version also applies to the new one. However, at the time of this writing, many of the TacStar pistol grips for sale online or in brick-and-mortar stores are still the old version, so the following review should still be relevant.
Design & Construction:
The Hogue grip is made up of three major components. The grip’s core structure is made from glass-reinforced polymer, and it incorporates an upper block that attaches to the receiver, and a sort of “backbone” that extends downward, forming the “spine” of the grip. Onto this slides a plastic outer grip coated with the thin rubber overmolding, which is held in place by a screw that also serves as a heel-mounted sling stud. The third component is a small Sorbothane (a very squishy polyurethane elastomer) cushion that fits into the frame underneath the grip sleeve.
The grip sleeve has an opening in its plastic liner right over this cushion, leaving just flexible rubber. As a result, this grip has a nice bit of extra give right underneath the web between the thumb and index finger, where many pistol grips tend to focus recoil and cause discomfort. This is apparently the “advanced Tamer technology” talked-up in the sales pitch.
The rubber coating on the Hogue grip is soft and somewhat tacky, and features a pebbled texture on the sides to further improve traction, it’s quite thin, probably because it would be too soft to keep its shape without rigid plastic directly underneath it. The grip’s shape incorporates finger grooves and palm swells to fit & fill the shooter’s hand.
The shape is symmetric, so it will feel the same in either a right or left hand. The width of the grip and the spacing of the finger grooves work pretty well for me, and probably most other average-sized hands, but this type of grip shape rarely fits everyone. Those with smallish hands may find the finger grooves a bit widely-spaced, but the grip overall doesn’t seem too huge.
Between the tacky, textured rubber and the hand-filling grip shape, the Hogue Tamer grip felt like it attached itself to my hand when I gripped it. Or, more accurately, the grip sleeve did. The plastic core of the grip – and thus the rest of the gun – still had some movement to it because the single screw-in sling stud holding the grip sleeve to the core structure didn’t connect the two as securely as I would have liked.
Tightening the screw helped somewhat, but didn’t completely eliminate the movement, and I didn’t want to risk overtightening it since it was clamping thin rubber and plastic together using plastic threads. This bit of wiggle does bug me a bit, but it was only really noticeable when trying to quickly maneuver the gun one-handed – and in that case, the inertia of a 12ga 870 is not going to allow you to whip it around like a handgun no matter what. With a hand on the fore-end steering the gun, the slight movement in the grip sleeve really doesn’t have much of a practical impact on the gun’s handling, which is otherwise quite good with this grip.
The big selling point of the Knoxx BreachersGrip is its internal spring & cam system designed to spread out the gun’s recoil. The part of the grip that attaches to the gun’s receiver is an aluminum block that slides back and forth in tracks molded into a rear-ward extension in the plastic grip frame, which ends in a glued-in plastic plug.
A stiff spring contained in the pistol grip connects to a roller cam that holds the block in the forward position until recoil is applied, at which point the block and receiver move rear-ward relative to the pistol grip until the spring-loaded cam arrests them, and springs them back forward.
Blackhawk claims that this system “cuts perceived felt recoil by 65%”. As the language of this statement indicates, the actual recoil energy is not reduced – a spring only stores and releases energy, it doesn’t absorb it – but it does spread out the energy over a longer amount of rear-ward travel, meaning the magnitude of the force applied to the shooter’s hand is much lower at any given instant.
Though this is the only shotgun pistol grip I’m aware of using this principle, many shotgun stocks – including popular offerings from Blackhawk – have used similar systems in an attempt to increase shooting comfort. The physics involved make sense (which is not always the case for other “recoil-reducing” products), and spring-loaded stocks have their proponents, though others find that the noticeable gun movement can cause other comfort or function issues (plenty of folks simply don’t care for the “pogo stick” feel), and the added complexity can certainly make for more things that can potentially fail in hard-use applications. While the spring system seems to be sturdy and put together well, and I’ve seen no signs of excessive wear or fatigue so far, I will note that if this system fails & loses tension due to a broken spring or pin, the gun will be pretty much out of action.
The grip itself is a chunky, slab-sided affair that is entirely hard plastic. Its general shape actually brings to my mind an early Glock grip with its flat sides, grip angle, and heel swell on the backstrap. It’s even bigger than a Glock grip though, presumably in order to fit the spring & cam inside.
Even with my larger hands, I can’t quite wrap my palm around the back of it. I can hold and fire the thing one-handed, but it’ll easily slip out of my grip if I try to swing it around – especially if I’m swinging toward my off-hand side. I imagine folks with smaller hands will find it even more unwieldy. The molded-in grooves are of minor help at best.
Now, a pistol grip does not make an 870 into a handgun, and maneuvering the gun with any pistol grip is best done with a hand on the fore-end. The Blackhawk grip does handle fine if the gun is held this way. But all the other grips reviewed here will at least stay in my hand if I move them back and forth one-handed. Blackhawk’s claims of an “ergonomic pistol grip” that allows for “comfortable one-handed operation” really don’t hold up.
It’s also worth noting that despite the claimed “compact design”, the BreachersGrip is really quite bulky for a pistol grip. Where typical pistol grips may have a slight protuberance above the grip itself, the Blackhawk’s recoil extension comes back over half a foot from the trigger. This is in addition to a pistol grip that’s noticeably longer than the other three grips. If you’re building a pistol-gripped shotgun because you need to store it in an extremely tight space, this one may not be the best choice.
The Pachmayr grip consists of an injection-molded plastic piece that attaches to the gun’s receiver, and a rubber grip that’s attached to the plastic upper piece with a ¼” screw.
While externally the grip consists mainly of firm rubber, there also seems to a fair bit of steel structure somewhere inside, as a strong magnet will stick to many areas. Each side of the grip also features an inset metal medallion for a bit of decoration & branding.
The grip follows Frank Pachmayr’s original “Presentation” grip design – a forward-curving shape with smooth front- and back-straps, that widens down toward a squared-off butt. It’s very reminiscent of classic revolver grips, and the same shape is used by Pachmayr grips for many other firearms.
The front & back straps have a rather prominent part line (indicating where two sections of a mold came together), which some may consider unattractive, but has no real effect on function. If anything, it improves purchase. The sides of the rubber grip are covered in a traction-improving texture that looks a lot like the checkering on wood stocks – it’s even edged in such a way as to mimic cut checkering.
With no finger grooves, the user can grip it however they like. Grabbing hold of the simple shape is very quick & natural, and it should work well for a variety of hand sizes. There is a deep undercut behind the trigger and no overhang above the backstrap, allowing the shooter to adopt a very high grip if desired. A bit of rubber grip curves around this undercut and back down over the back of the trigger guard. This looks a bit odd, as it leaves a small flap of rubber hanging down below the guard, but it does a very nice job of protecting the shooter’s middle finger from being pounded by the back of the trigger guard under recoil (something many 870 owners have experienced with other furniture).
Inside the rubber grip piece is a hollow area (Pachmayr’s “patented air pocket recoil chamber”) that provides a bit of extra give over approximately the upper third of the backstrap. The intent is to take the shock out of the recoil at the web between the shooter’s thumb and index finger, where recoil naturally tends to hit first as the gun kicks back and rotates up; and to shift part of that impact downward, distributing it more evenly across the palm.
Of the four grips examined here, the Pachmayr is the shortest by a noticeable margin, adding the least to the gun’s overall dimensions when installed. But since the design naturally places the shooter’s hand higher up than any of the others, there’s still more than enough space for all of the user’s fingers.
The Pachmayr’s rubber grip surface is not nearly as soft or tacky as that of the Hogue, making it less prone to dragging on clothing or leaving residue on bare palms; both things I appreciate. The rubber provides excellent friction against skin though, and the checkered texture on the sides of the grip really lets you hold on well. It also attaches to its upper piece much more solidly than the Hogue’s slightly-wobbly grip sleeve, to the benefit of control and handling – especially when the gun is manipulated one-handed. Overall, the Pachmayr offers a very solid, versatile, high-traction grip with a classic shape that, in my opinion, looks quite good on the 870.
The TacStar rear grip is a single piece constructed from two separately-molded plastic halves that are glued or bonded together. There was clearly some effort made to blend the exterior of the seam, but a close examination shows that the two halves weren’t aligned very precisely.
The strength of the joint is questionable as well; when this grip is installed on a receiver without the trigger group in place, I can look into the grip’s interior and see the inside of the seam spreading open under the pressure from the mounting screw.
Because the plastic halves are rather thin, and the final product is entirely hollow, it makes a rather tinny, un-reassuring sound when tapped with a fingernail. The plastic used is ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a pretty tough type of plastic that can be engineered for good impact resistance, though the lack of any real structure inside doesn’t really inspire much confidence. While the grip is of average size, the simple, hollow construction does make it extremely lightweight, the lightest by far of the four grips examined here, and this is a valuable feature in some applications.
Compared to the others, the TacStar grip has a relatively shallow grip angle and a very pronounced, almost bulbous palm swell. According to the sales pitch, these features are supposed to distribute recoil evenly over the entire hand. It feels a bit weird in the hand at first, but I’ll admit it does handle reasonably well – especially considering the hard surface with only the barest of molded-in texture.
There is also only one finger groove for the shooter’s pinky finger. It’s kind of an unusual setup, but it feels fine in my big hands, and those with smaller hands will likely find enough space above the pinky groove (and also above the large heel swell) for all three fingers. I had someone with small hands try this, and it seemed to work well. So, the single pinky groove actually seems like a pretty good concept for a hard plastic grip; more purchase and control than a grip with no finger grooves, but simpler, faster, and more versatile than a grip with a full set.
Sling Attachment Hardware
For many applications of pistol-gripped shotguns, a sling is a useful accessory, whether it’s a two-point sling used to transport the gun, or a single-point sling used for retention or stabilization.
It should be pointed out that any of these pistol grips can be paired with an aftermarket sling plate that installs between the grip and receiver, to gain additional rear sling attachment points (so long as the slightly longer reach to the gun’s controls is acceptable). There are many options here, offering a variety of different attachment point styles and locations.
The Hogue grip has provisions for both single-point and two-point slings.
The top of the grip features a loop that will accommodate straps up to 1 ¼” wide. It’s molded right into the body of the plastic frame, and seems to have plenty of meat for a good, strong connection for a single-point shooting or retention sling.
At the heel of the grip is a sling stud that allows a variety of two-point carry slings to be attached and removed reasonably quickly and easily with standard QD sling hardware. This stud is a screw-in type and does not spin in place (or at least, isn’t meant to), much like the studs set in normal stocks.
I really love having a sling attachment point here, and I wish all pistol grips came with them. It’s an ideal location for a carry sling on a short-barreled pistol-gripped shotgun, as it places the gun very nicely across the torso for secure, comfortable, and unobtrusive carry with the pistol grip tucked around the hip; and then when the gun is used, the sling simply hangs underneath, completely out of the way of the gun’s operation.
The Blackhawk grip has a small vertical ring attached to the plastic cap in the end of the recoil extension, apparently intended for use with clip-on slings. It’s thin enough that you could attach a sling using hardware meant for standard QD sling studs, but it’s not ideal. This ring is mounted using a typical soft-material screw however, so you can unscrew it and replace it with a normal sling stud if desired. The sling attachment screws directly into the plastic, and isn’t terribly resistant to coming loose if the gun or sling are twisted relative to each other, but having it unscrew so far as to actually detach seems pretty unlikely.
The Pachmayr grip has no built-in sling attachment points.
The upper plastic piece does seem sturdy enough that you could add a basic sling stud to the top or – maybe – upper sides (the modified Pachmayr grip Remington uses on the 870 MCS has an added sling stud like this), though without having tried it, I can’t speak for how strong or durable this would be.
The TacStar grip features a top loop for a single-point sling. The loop is molded as part of the ABS grip halves. I’m not sure how well the exposed plastic would stand up to very rough use or impacts, but it seems to have a reasonable amount of structure for simply carrying the gun. The loop is sized for 1”-wide straps, but I was able to cram my 1 ¼”-wide strap through with pliers and some swearing.
Unlike with many other types of accessories, weight is not a very clear-cut issue when it comes to stocks or grips. On the one hand, extra weight can fatigue a user who needs to keep a shotgun trained on a threat for extended periods of time, and anyone who’s done any significant amount of backpacking or worn a full combat load-out for military or law enforcement work can attest to how quickly ounces add up into pounds. On the other hand, excess mass doesn’t have much impact on a gun’s maneuverability when it’s back behind the receiver, a gun’s recoil velocity and energy are both inversely proportional to its mass, and a heavier gun tends to be a more stable platform when it comes to aiming.
You’ll have to evaluate the impact of weight based on how you intend to use your gun. Do you need to pack it a long ways on foot? Is this going to be a breaching tool that you’ll need to carry along with a primary weapon? Will you use it to fire a lot of shells in one sitting, or just a few, and how much recoil do those shells produce?
Of note are the extreme light weight of the TacStar grip, and the heavy weight of the Blackhawk BreachersGrip, which is actually slightly heavier than a full-sized synthetic stock with a quality recoil pad.
All of these grips mount to the receiver using ¼”-28 socket head cap screws (SHCS) of varying lengths. However, every grip came with a screw that was shorter than it could have been to take full advantage of the receiver stud’s 8/10” of thread. With the exception of the TacStar, there was still enough thread engagement to create a good joint, but it could be better. Luckily, ¼”-28 UNF alloy steel screws are very common fine-thread fasteners that are widely-available in a variety of lengths. Most well-stocked hardware or fastener stores will keep an assortment on-hand, and they are quite inexpensive if purchased individually. If you’re not familiar with screw types and thread standards, simply take your grip’s original fastener in with you, and tell an employee that you need the same thing, but a different length.
I’ll be honest and say that this section is mostly me being a pedantic, perfectionist mechanical engineer, and you’re probably okay to skip it unless you’re thinking of buying the TacStar. However, I have had to deal with stripped and damaged 870 receiver studs, and while replacing the stud isn’t very difficult or expensive, the gun is out of action until you get the replacement part delivered and installed. Even if your 870 isn’t a hard-use tool that lives depend on, I think minimizing the possibility of failure is worth spending a few cents on a screw. I’ll also use this section to describe the other fasteners and hardware used in each grip, in case you forget where they go, need replacements, or just want spares.
Keep in mind that the screw lengths I recommend here are for mounting the pistol grip directly to the receiver. If you’re installing a sling plate or other accessory between the grip and the receiver, you may want to try a slightly-longer screw to compensate for the grip being spaced back.
I purchased my Hogue Tamer grip years back, and replaced the original mounting fastener almost immediately because it became damaged when I tried to thread it into a messed-up receiver stud. Best as I can recall, it came with a 1 ¾” screw. I believe this length is sufficient if the receiver stud is in good condition and nothing is installed between the grip & receiver, but a decent chunk of the receiver stud’s threads were left unused. So when I replaced it, I used a 2” screw instead. By my measurements, a 2 1/8” screw would have been ideal if anyone actually made one, but a 2” screw provides plenty of engagement.
I did contact Hogue to see if I could confirm that the original was a 1 ¾” screw, but I was instead told that the Tamer grip should come with a 2 ¼” screw. Now, I’m quite positive that the 2” screw I use with my Hogue is longer than the original screw was; and when I tried installing my Hogue Tamer with a 2 ¼” screw, the screw bottomed out in my gun’s receiver stud well before the grip was tightened down. I tried again with a different receiver stud, and the 2 ¼” screw was again too long. According Hogue’s representative, the grip’s design and the fasteners that come with it haven’t been changed since I purchased mine, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on here. I guess if you buy a Hogue and it comes with a 2” or longer screw that installs without bottoming out, you’re good to go.
Anyway, aside from the screw, the only other piece of mounting hardware to keep track of is a small flat washer (1/16” thick & about .45” OD) that goes directly under the screw head. This is equivalent to a specific aerospace/military-spec ¼” washer (NAS620 spec, size 416). “NAS620-416” would be the part number for a matching plain steel washer (note: size 416L is not the same thing as size 416 in the NAS620 standard), though the same washer size in brass or stainless steel would get the job done as well. These washers are pretty easy to find online, but you’re probably not going to be able to just walk down to the corner hardware store and buy one or two for a dime each. My advice; make sure to keep track of this washer.
The sling stud screw that holds the grip sleeve on appears to be a typical ¾” soft-material screw-in stud, essentially the same thing you get in those little $4 sling stud kits from brands like Uncle Mike’s.
As with the others, the Blackhawk’s mounting screw is shorter than ideal – not by much, but an extra eighth- or quarter-inch would have been a good idea. The reason for this is that unlike all the others, the Blackhawk’s fastener is captured inside the assembled pistol grip, and cannot be removed or changed without either disassembling the spring system and removing the aluminum mounting block, or permanently enlarging the slot in the plastic grip frame that provides tool access to the screw head.
Thread engagement with the built-in fastener is about half an inch, which isn’t bad. However, if you want to install a sling plate or some other accessory between the grip & receiver, the thread engagement could get marginal without a longer screw, and as mentioned, switching it out is going to be a headache. A slightly longer screw would have helped head off this potential issue.
Other hardware to keep track of are a standard ¼” split lockwasher (0.487″ OD & .062″ thick) under the screw head, and – as a rather clever touch – a small O-ring that goes over the threaded end of the screw to keep it inside the mounting block and lined up with the tool access slot when the grip is not on a gun. The grip works perfectly well without this O-ring, but installation becomes a bit more of a pain. If you lose it, use a standard #247 O-ring – available from hardware, auto parts, or plumbing stores – as a replacement.
Because the Pachmayr Vindicator has no overhang at the top of the grip, and the mounting screw is underneath the backstrap when it’s assembled, it uses a much shorter screw than the other grips reviewed here. It comes with a 1” screw, which I feel is adequate, but not optimal, as slightly over 3/8” of the receiver stud’s threads are left unused. A 1 3/8” screw wouldn’t leave much extra room if tolerances stack up in an unfavorable way, so I recommend a 1 ¼” screw, which is a more common screw length for this thread anyway.
There are no washers used with the Pachmayr’s mounting screw. Its plastic upper piece has a very tight screw hole, and there’s plenty of support material underneath it, so a washer is not needed. The only other fastener in this grip is the screw used to connect the grip to the plastic upper piece. This is a 3”-long ¼”-20 socket head cap screw. It’s the same diameter and head type as the mounting screw, just longer, and with a coarser thread since it screws into plastic.
All four of these pistol grips had fasteners that were shorter than ideal, but the TacStar was the only one with a fastener short enough to really worry me, as the 1 ¾” screw leaves more than half an inch of unused threads inside the receiver stud.
I could easily see this joint failing if the receiver stud’s threads are worn or damaged, or the gun is handled roughly, so replacing it is strongly recommended. A 2 ¼” screw provided near-100% engagement with my particular grip & receiver stud – the screw just barely avoids bottoming-out. Given this grip’s rather cheap construction and its tendency to flex under screw tension – along with typical slop in length tolerances of screws – you may find that a 2 ¼” bottoms out before the grip is completely secure. If that’s the case, use a 2” screw instead, it’ll still have about twice as much thread engagement as the original screw.
The TacStar grip uses a standard ¼” flat washer (5/8” OD & 1/16” thick) under the head of the mounting screw. Make sure that this washer is not left out; the screw hole in the grip is rather oversized, and located in a structurally weak area, so the washer is critical for distributing the force applied by the screw head.
For detailed information on removing & installing 870 stocks and pistol grips, refer to this video:
Some notes on these specific grips are as follows:
You’ll want to have the trigger plate assembly in place before installing the Hogue, TacStar, or Blackhawk grips. It is possible to get the TPA in and out of the receiver with these grips installed if the gun’s bolt, fore-end assembly, and barrel are off, but it takes some maneuvering. This can be useful for cleaning and maintenance, but for initial installation, it’s best to have the TPA in place to make sure everything lines up properly. Do not try to remove or replace the TPA with these grips installed if the bolt and barrel are in the gun. You may be able to force it in, but it’ll be very rough on critical trigger & locking parts.
The Pachmayr grip is different. Since it encloses the rear of the trigger guard with flexible rubber rather than rigid plastic, it allows the trigger plate to be removed and replaced without having to further disassemble the gun.
All four of these pistol grips mount using ¼” socket head cap screws, which take a 3/16” hex driver. For the Hogue, Pachmayr, and TacStar grips, the screw heads are easily-accessible, and a simple 3/16” Allen wrench – like the “L”-type keys used to assemble flat-pack furniture, or short ring-end tools that you can keep on a keychain – is all you need.
The Blackhawk’s captive mounting screw is much deeper inside the grip, requiring you to work a tool up through a small opening in the frame and into the aluminum mounting block. The screw’s head is deep enough in there that the grip’s extended back end blocks the 90-degree bend on typical 3/16” “L”-type hex keys, and the access hole in the frame is too small for most interchangeable-bit screwdrivers to pass through.
A very long hex bit or a T-handle tool is really a must-have for those who will be using this grip (especially if they regularly switch between this grip and other furniture). Some gun owners may already own one of these (the same tool is used to install AR pistol grips), but for those who don’t, it can be a hassle to find just a 3/16” tool without spending a lot of money on a larger set. I visited several local stores looking for something that would work, but eventually gave up and ordered a 3/16” T-handle from Amazon.com for roughly $5 shipped.
Not terribly expensive (and it was certainly a nice tool to have for this project), but I did have to wait for it to be delivered. If you’re ordering the Blackhawk grip online and don’t have a long 3/16” hex driver, you should order the tool at the same time to avoid waiting.
Installation is very straightforward for the Hogue & TacStar grips; the mounting screw heads are exposed and easy to reach, and no other assembly is required, apart from maybe tightening the sling stud screw at the bottom of the Hogue grip if the rubber grip sleeve feels loose.
The Blackhawk isn’t much tougher as long as you have a tool that’s long enough. You may have to fish around a little for the screw head, but with the O-ring holding the screw in place, it’s not too bad.
The Pachmayr has to have its rubber grip removed in order to access the mounting screw in the plastic upper piece, but this is not difficult; both screws even use the same size hex wrench. You won’t have any problems as long as you don’t mix the two up (the grip screw’s coarser thread could damage the receiver stud if you try to force it in), but the grip screw is significantly longer, so it’s easy to tell apart.
|You can get Hogue Tamer Pistol Grip Forend on Brownells|
|You can get Pachmayr Vindicator Grip for Remington 870 on Brownells|
|You can get Knoxx Breachers Grip Blackhawk! on Brownells|
|You can get TacStar Tactical Grip on Brownells|