Remington 870 for Practical Shooting (IPSC, 3-Gun) – Modifications to Improve Reliabliliy, Feeding, Extraction and Ejection
As you know, I have a new Remington 870 Combo and fired about 11000 (update: more than 46000 on three shotguns already) rounds through it during this year. I use it for practical shooting (IPSC) which means that I need extremely reliable and fast shotgun. Each tenth of a second means a lot!
So, let me start my story about the Remington 870 “Practical”.
I Got the New Remington 870 Combo for Practical Shooting
As you know, I am a very active competitive shooter. I mostly participate in practical shotgun shooting matches such as the IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation). I have used the Benelli Supernova in competitions but decided to go back to the Remington 870 this year. The long 28-inch barrel is perfect for that purpose. It has replaceable chokes and the barrel is long enough for all types of targets. I am going to use the short barrel for home defense and the tactical shotgun for shooting matches.
The Remington 870 is not a common shotgun for such competitions and it requires some modifications and upgrades. I will have a series of posts and videos about preparing the shotgun for competitions. I think it would be extremely interesting and useful for all Remington 870 owners.
First, a couple of words about my brand new Remington 870 Combo. As always, it comes in a simple carton box. The shotgun comes with the barrel removed. You will find two barrels inside: the 28-inch ventilated rib barrel with the modified choke installed and with bead sight, and the 20-inch barrel with rifle sight. There is also an instruction book, lock, magazine plug, and choke tube wrench.
The lock is a little different from the one which I got in 2008. Also, the new stock and forend are made of very nice wood. The laminate wood stock and forend on my first shotgun had a light brown color and looked cheaper. The current set has a dark brown color and looks and feels like real wood.
The capacity of the shotgun is 5 rounds. You need to purchase the magazine extension separately to be able to load more rounds. But first, you need to remove the dimples inside of the magazine tube. I will have a long +8 rounds magazine extension for competitions and +3 magazine extension for home defense use with the short barrel.
I checked the barrel and all the external and internal surfaces of the shotgun and found no problems, scratches or rust. The barrels and chambers are smooth inside but I will polish the chamber to have a more reliable extraction of the fired shells.
Replacing MIM extractor with Non-MIM Extractor
I had a MIM-extractor and standard follower in my new shotgun. I tested them to see if my first impression about them was right. I always recommend replacing the factory extractor with a non-MIM extractor or Volquartsen extractor. Also, I think it’s a good idea to change the factory follower. But I gave those parts one more chance to show that they are reliable enough.
I’ve made about 2000 shots with MIM extractor without any problems but then I had several problems with extraction of fired shotshells. It is always a good idea to get the Non-MIM or Volquartsen extractor. They are more reliable and competition shotgun needs to be as reliable as possible.
An oversized safety button is another upgrade which can save you some time and enable you to disengage the safety faster. This is especially important when you’re under competition stress.
The barrel/magazine tube clamp that I plan to use is the lightweight CDM Gear BMT Jr Clamp. It holds the magazine extension and barrel in a reliable way and it prevents damage from bumps and hits. It is as lightweight as possible and looks perfect for a competitive shotgun.
The bead sight is not enough for fast target acquisition so I will install an additional light gathering sight. That is going to be one of the many available sights: EasyHit, HiViz, TruGlo etc. They make aiming much more comfortable and easier for the shooter. And also, they don’t cost much.
Chokes are required for a competition shotgun, so I decided to get a set of Remington chokes. You will find an Improved Cylinder and Full choke in this set. Not only do they look awesome, but the choke tube wrench and a magazine cap with a sling swivel are included.
What else can be done to make the Remington 870 more effective as a competition shotgun?
I plan to replace the wood stock and forend with the Hogue Short LOP overmolded stock and forend. They are simple, reliable, easy to use and inexpensive.
I’m not sure if I want to do something with rifle sights on the short barrel, since the factory sights are pretty good and I always liked them. I just need to make sure that the front sight is installed reliably because sometimes they fall off under recoil (especially in cold weather).
There are some other modifications which I plan to do. Firstly, I plan to do a modification of the Remington 870 action bar for fast shooting. That mod is a must for any competitive shooter. It enables you to shoot really fast without the problem of an empty chamber. I also plan to polish action bars and internal parts for smoother work.
The second modification is to make the loading port deeper and wider. That will enable me to use the modern load-quad or load-4 technique. This is the fastest way to load shotguns for competitions. And you need to load them a lot. Those who load shotguns faster can save precious time and they will ultimately win.
And the most important part will be training with my new shotgun. You know, you need to train a lot at home and on the shooting range to get used to your shotgun. Dry fire trainings are the most important part because the more you train with dummy rounds at home, the more effective your live fire trainings become. You need to feel your shotgun and you need to be able to aim fast, load it fast and move fast with your shotgun. That process is not easy but it is very interesting. I will share some of my favorite drills with you in future.
Overall, I am extremely happy with my new Remington 870 Combo! It looks and feels awesome. And the best thing is that I am going to use it very often on all my training exercises and competitions. That means that I will be able to share a lot of interesting information about gunsmithing, accessories, upgrades, tips, and other advice with you. The more I use the shotgun, the more I can talk about it.
So be sure to check the site often because I plan to have regular updates and videos about the process of preparation of the Remington 870 for competitions. There will be a series of different videos which are going to cover everything from the beginning.
Remington 870 for Practical Shooting (IPSC, 3-Gun) – Modifications to Improve Reliabliliy, Feeding, Extraction and Ejection
I decided to use the standard parts at first to see how will they withstand a very hard and often use. I train at least 2 times a week and each training is 125-200 rounds. I started using my Remington 870 with standard extractor, follower, carrier dog spring etc. But I ended up replacing many standard parts with better ones.
Adding Magazine Extension
My first modification was adding a Nordic Components magazine extension which is one of the best on the market today. This extension is lightweight and consists of three parts: nut, tube, end cap. That means that you can have several tubes and play with configuration of your shotgun. That is a feature which is good not only for competitive shooters which experiment trying to find the best configuration of their shotgun but for regular users too.
You will have to remove dimples from the magazine tube, drill them out or depress them using special tools:
After several trainings I started experiencing problems with feeding. I had follower stuck several times, so I have bought long Nordic Components magazine follower and problem was solved. That means that my first impression about the standard magazine follower was right – replace it for more reliable feeding.
Remington 870 Magazine Followers
CDM Gear BMT Jr Clamp is lightweight and holds barrel/magazine reliably. Perfect for competition shotgun:
It is a must have accessory for shotguns with long magazine extensions. It protects magazine extension from damage if you hit something with it.
Polishing a chamber and a recoil lug
Second thing you must to polish a chamber. It is required to be able to use all types of the ammo. Here is video which shows three ways to polish a chamber:
Now, I use a sand paper: 320 grit, then 500 grit, 1000 grit and 1200 grit. That will give you a very smooth chamber which will accept all types of ammo.
Recoil lug has a lot of tooling marks and all they make ejection of a fired shotshell harder. Also, you can even hear the sound of a rim going over those marks as round is fed into a chamber. You need to polish them to make feeding and extraction smooth. Also, I noticed that I have round marks on recoil lug on my older barrel, they are normal signs of wear, you just need to polish them.
I used dremel and sand disc to remove tooling marks and then polished that part with wheel and polishing compound. Just make sure that you don’t overdo this. Be very careful, if you remove too much of the metal you may have problems.
Replacing standard carrier spring with heavier carrier dog spring
When you shoot very fast, you may experience rare Failure to Feed problem:
I was able to fix that using the heavier carrier dog spring.
Remington 870 Carrier Latch Spring Upgrade
Opening and extending loading port
You will need to open and extend the loading port to be able to use modern Load-2 and Load-4 techniques.
Please note, that this is the maximum opening available for the 870:
If you try to extend it further, you will experience stuck shotshell problem which is pretty tricky to cure.
Just note that you will need not only to open the loading port but also to polish sharp edges inside the magazine tube.
Replacing standard ejector/ejector spring with 2 3/4 Inch Shells Only ejector/ejector spring
You will not experience a lot of problems with standard ejector and ejector spring. Just one stove pipe for each 50-100 shots, usually, when shooting from difficult positions. But each stove pipe will take several seconds which is unacceptable during competitions. So, I replaced standard parts with 2 3/4 inch shells only ejector/ejector spring. Stove pipes disappeared and I didn’t have them during thousands of rounds at all. That modification was tested by other shooters and they confirmed that it fixes stove pipes problem.
Here are two small videos which show difference between standard and modified parts:
Modification of the right action bar for fast shooing
This modification was invented and tested by my friend Oleg Datsenko.
Thanks to Sync for illustrations.
Remington 870 pump-action shotgun is simple and reliable. Simple construction of a shotgun is tested by time and by law enforcement and military members. This is very nice shotgun for hunting, home-defense and for police in close quarters combat.
But construction is not perfect for competitive shooting. There is no such thing as a perfect shotgun and all shotguns need tuning and enhancements for competitive shooting like matches of International Practical Shooting Confederation (United States Practical Shooting Association) or 3-Gun. Remington 870 as a shotgun for dynamic shooting has some disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at a problem which competition shooters experience when they try to shoot multiple targets really fast.
This problem is no-feeds when cycling 870 as quickly as possible. When fired shell extracts normally but next round is not fed from the magazine tube. This is not a classic short stroke. Usually this problem appears on a shotgun with long magazine extension when shooter fires in high rate and tries to rack a shotgun fast. Competition shooters usually shoot really fast especially when they have groups of targets.
Solution of this problem will be interesting for competition shooters which experience “empty chamber” when they try to shoot fast.
This problem was experienced by me on a third year of my shooting career when I started to shoot with high speed. Two of my friends encountered the same problem. They are experienced shooters and that wasn’t a shortstroke. Also, I’ve heard about such “empty chamber” problem from other competition shooters.
Here is slow motion video which clearly shows that it’s not a shortstroke, because forend is pulled fully to the rear:
Round is still in a magazine tube.
So, let’s look closer how Remington 870 works. There are two latches, left and right, they feed rounds from the magazine tube.
Action bars have levers which open those shell latches, when forend slides forwards and backwards in needed moment.
Here is how shotgun works when you shoot at regular speed without sharp movements… When forend is in forward position, first round is held by left shell latch. After the shot, when you start moving forend backwards, right shell latch is on to stop the second round when first round lefts the magazine tube. Then, left shell latch is off, first round leaves magazine tube to the carrier, right shell latch catches the next round.
When you move forend forward, carrier lifts round and bolt pushes it to the chamber. In the beginning of this move, right shell latches switches of f and left shell switches on, the round jumps from the right to the left shell latch and held by left shell latch to the next cycle.
And this scheme works perfectly in normal rate of fire. But when you try to shoot faster, there is one problem. First of all, if you have long magazine tube, rounds depress magazine tube spring and move forward under recoil. Actually, rounds stay in place, but shotgun moves backwards under recoil. The most important is that rounds go forward from left shell latch to right shell latch. Right shell latch switches on when you start moving forend back. So when you rack forend fully backwards, round will be still blocked by the right latch and you will receive “empty chamber”. Next shot will be good because there will be no recoil and everything will work as it should.
The solution is simple but it requires gunsmith. You will need additional lever which switches off the right latch.
Now, this lever switches off right shell latch before left latch. And feeding works normally.
Here is video from one of the first tests of Remington 870 after modification:
Everything works perfectly.
One important thing to understand is that this mod is mostly required for competition shotguns with long magazine extensions.
Interesting thought about slug changeovers by Sync:
“The right shell latch cycles a second time later in the stroke, this mod may require some folks to alter their procedures for change-overs or emptying the chamber. They can’t just open the action slightly, set the next shell on the forward latch, and then open the action the rest of the way. If this mod is performed on an 870 with a long fore-end, changing or modifying the fore-end will probably be required to keep shells in the magazine while the action is opened. This helps to show why a typical 870 owner shouldn’t run out and have a gunsmith perform this mod on their HD or hunting shotgun.”
Here are illustrations which show how Remington 870 works with and without action bar modification. Also, they show normal operation of Remington 870 shotgun:
Here is operation with Action Bar Modification:
Also, here is idea of Sync, he proposed this modification for faster shots and elimination of no-feed malfunction: “it’s simpler to machine, keeps the resistance in the slide movement more constant, makes change-overs a little less confusing, and should be less susceptible to wear”:
Additional photos with measurements due to many requests. There are two ways to modify the action bar of the Remington 870 forend and both of them illustrated below:
Have you ever experienced a no-feed malfunction on Remington 870?
You will receive super reliable, easy to load, fast to shot competition shotgun in the end. It will take some time and efforts but the final result will make you happy.
Remington 870 Modified for Practical Shooting
I made photos of this shotgun during Central European Shotgun Open. One of the shooters from Russia used Remington 870 which was modified for load-4 technique, which enables shooter to load shotgun very fast.
This technique requires smooth edges of the loading port. Also, loading port is modified to make loading easier.