New shotgunners don’t like the heavy recoil of the 12 gauge Remington 870. This is understandable because nobody likes coming home with black and blue shoulder. You will get used to the recoil with time and ammo spent but there is inexpensive solution to make life of new Remington 870 shotgun owners easier.

Standard Remington 870 buttpad is a hard rubber recoil pad which works well but can be replaced with one of the aftermarket recoil pads. Let’s talk about the available replacement buttpads and find the best one.

What is recoil pad or buttpad?

Buttpad or recoil pad is a piece of rubber, plastic, leather and sometimes even metal that attaches to the buttstock of the rifle or shotgun. The main purpose of the recoil pad is to provide padding between the stock and shooter’s shoulder. They reduce recoil and make shooting more comfortable. Standard recoil pads are usually very simple. They serve their purpose but you can always find the better replacement recoil pad which is softer or have additional features. Some of them reduce recoil better because they are made of special materials. Some of them prevent slipping on the shotgun owner’s clothing or even have special form to make shouldering faster.

Good recoil pad reduces muzzle jump and enable shooter to make fast follow up shots. This is extremely important for guns with heavy recoil like 12 gauge shotguns.

Of course, you can buy a recoil-reducing stock but it cost a lot and has a lot of moving parts.

Remington Supercell Recoil Pad

Do you need to change the recoil pad on your Remington 870?

Standard Remington 870 buttpad is made of hard rubber recoil pad which is good but not the best one. You can always replace it with one of the softer buttpads.

Replacement is easy and fast. You can even do this at home. You will feel that recoil is softer right on your next visit to a shooting range.

How to choose the best aftermarket recoil pad for the Remington 870?

The best way to choose the recoil pad is to try it. Find friends with shotguns equipped with Remington Supercell and Limbsaver recoil pads and ask them to try their shotgun on the range. Try shouldering a shotgun, try shooting different loads. You may feel the difference and this will definitely help you to choose the recoil pad.

Both recoil pads work almost the same and reduce felt recoil similarly. Limbsaver recoil pad is priced little higher.

Pre Fit or Grind To Fit Recoil Pad?

There are two versions of the aftermarket recoil pads. Pre-fit recoil pads like Remington Supercell or Limbsaver are made especially for Remington 870. This means easy and fast drop in installation without adjustments. Grind to fit recoil pads require adjustment and some grinding before installation.

The best recoil pad for Remington 870

There are several most popular aftermarket recoil pads for the Remington 870 shotgun. One is made by Remington, it is called Supercell, it is installed from the factory on more expensive variants of the 870: Marine, Police and some Tactical versions and Remington 700.

You can find more aftermarket recoil pads from Limbsaver company. They make them for many guns and there is special version of buttpad available for the 870.

Installation of the aftermarket recoil pad is very simple. You just unscrew two screws, remove the old recoil pad and install new one with the old screws.

Let’s have a closer look at the best Remington 870 recoil pads.

Remington 870 Supercell Recoil Pad

This is one of the best aftermarket recoil pads available for the Remington 870 shotgun. It really reduces felt recoil which makes shooting much more comfortable. It is made by Remington company and installed on many shotguns and rifles.

It is advertised to reduce recoil by 54%. I can’t say that it is really that good but I really like to shoot shotgun equipped with this recoil pad.

Review of the Remington SuperCell Recoil Pads
Synchronizor

Remington 870 Supercell Recoil Pad
Remington 870 Supercell Recoil Pad

Shortly after buying my 870, I began searching for a replacement for its horrendous factory recoil pad, and took a chance on the most inexpensive pre-fit pad I found. As it turned out, that $20 turned out to be the best money I’ve spent on my 870 to date.

Recoil, What is it?

Shotguns, especially the heavier gauges (10 & 12ga mostly, though some 16 & 20ga loads can kick in certain guns) are notorious for their recoil; and every manufacturer of shotgun parts and accessories claims to have some cure for it. But what is recoil, how does it work, and what factors affect its magnitude? Well, it’s really not that complicated.

Chamber Pressure
Chamber Pressure

Simply put, when the powder in a firearm’s chamber burns, the pressure created pushes in all directions. At the same time it pushes the payload (bullet, shot, slug, musket ball, etc.) forward through the barrel, it also pushes the gun in the opposite direction. The Law of Conservation of Momentum dictates that the momentum (mass times velocity) of the payload will be opposite in direction and equal in magnitude to the momentum of the gun; so the rearward velocity of the gun can be determined based on its mass, and the mass and muzzle velocity of the projectile. Free recoil energy – the amount of energy that a shooter’s body has to soak up when the gun fires – is the kinetic energy of the gun when it’s moving at this velocity; calculated using the classical kinetic energy formula: KE = .5*Mass*Velocity^2.

Recoil energy can get enormous in a large-gauge shotgun, where the mass of the projectiles can exceed those of the legendary .50 BMG cartridge – without the benefit of a 30-pound gun or gas pressures high enough to make muzzle brakes effective. In a locked-breech shotgun like the 870, there isn’t even the cycling of an automatic action to use up some of the energy.

Here are some examples: If I configure my 12ga 870 for turkey hunting, it weighs around 7 pounds. Shooting 1.5 ounces of shot at 1260 feet per second (a typical 2.75” turkey load), that gun will be knocked back into my shoulder with about 41 foot-pounds of recoil energy (assuming typical values for added payload weight in buffering, wads, gas, powder residue, etc.). If instead I’m shooting a heavier 3” shell with 1 7/8 ounces of shot at 1200 feet per second, the recoil energy jumps to about 55 foot-pounds. If my 870 was a SuperMag and I had it loaded with a 3.5”, 2.25 oz, 1150 fps super magnum shell, the gun would come flying back at me with more than 70 foot-pounds of recoil energy. For comparison, that’s almost 18 times the recoil energy of a 7-pound rifle shooting a 62-grain .223 Remington round (might want to check your math on that one, Uncle Joe…) and represents more kinetic energy than an actual bullet fired from a typical .25 ACP handgun.

Dealing with Recoil

You can do whatever you want to a shotgun, but if the firearm mass, payload mass, and/or payload velocity doesn’t change, there will still be the same quantity of free recoil energy present when the gun goes off. So how does one deal with it? Well, there’s another simple physics equation that comes into play here: energy equals force times distance. If it takes a certain amount of force over a certain distance to dissipate a certain amount of energy, the same amount of energy can be absorbed with half the force if you apply it over twice the distance. There are a number of highly-priced, spring-loaded stocks intended to attenuate the recoil using this principle, but they tend to be some combination of expensive, uncomfortable, difficult to control, and/or unreliable. Besides, a shooter can achieve much the same effect by simply allowing their shoulder to “roll with the punch” as the gun fires, which is why shooting a shotgun from a bench rest (without weighing or clamping it in place) is often less comfortable than shooting the same gun and load unassisted from a standing or kneeling position. When you’re standing or kneeling on your own, your body is better prepared to move with the kick and absorb the recoil impulse over a longer distance.

The only problem with attenuating the recoil energy through shoulder movement is that nearly all of the rearward force is focused into the single contact point between the gun’s buttstock and the shoulder, creating a pressure point. This is where a good recoil pad comes in. By employing the same E = F*D concept mentioned above, as well as spreading the point of contact over a larger area, a softer recoil pad will compress and form to the shoulder, distributing the transmission of force over a larger area, a longer time period, and a greater distance. Compressibility can be taken too far though; a pad that is too soft will simply squash itself very early on in the recoil event, and provide negligible cushioning for the remainder because it cannot compress any further.

My Search for the Perfect Recoil Pad

The recoil pad that my synthetic 870 stock came from the factory with wasn’t much of an improvement over the hard plastic buttplate on the old Ithaca model 37 shotgun I shot as a youngster. A hard hunk of rubber with roughly the durometer of a car tire, it felt like I was being hit in the shoulder with a rubber mallet – better than a sledgehammer I suppose, but still far from ideal. The first time I went shooting with it, I fired two 3” magnum turkey loads and my shoulder remained sore for days. That one session was enough to convince me to seek out an upgrade.

There are a number of aftermarket recoil pads on the market that offer the typical manufacturer claims and guarantees (tip: when a claim is made that takes the form of “up to X improvement or more!”, it actually means: “Something may or may not change some amount; we won’t promise anything, but if there is a change, we’re pretty sure that it won’t be a negative one”). I found many of these aftermarket pads to be less than ideal in various ways. Those utilizing “gel-insert” materials (If that term makes you think of shoe liners, you’re pretty close) were clearly too soft for the forces involved, and their mushiness would have made the gun difficult to hold steady against my shoulder. Others get closer to the proper balance of firmness and compressibility, but had surface materials that were even more tacky or gummy than my factory pad, which was already prone to hanging up on clothing when I tried to shoulder the gun. Also, many aftermarket pads are not model-specific, and either fit poorly or require fitting work. Finally, prices for aftermarket recoil pads tended to start at $35-40, and often rose to $50 or more (U.S. currency & pricing). That’s a lot to pay for an aftermarket piece of rubber that may or may not get the job done, especially with the limited amount of money I can afford to spend on my hobbies.

The SuperCell Pad:

Factory pad on the left, SuperCell on the right
Factory pad on the left, SuperCell on the right

Finally, I found the Remington SuperCell recoil pad. Manufactured by Remington, for Remington shotguns, it featured excellent reviews and, best of all, a price tag of just $20 on Amazon.com (meaning free shipping). I decided to give it a try, and placed an order for a SuperCell pad for synthetic-stocked shotguns (part # F301519).

Slight misfitting of pad at top (above) and bottom (below) of stock
Slight misfitting of pad at top (above) and bottom (below) of stock

Taking it out of the packaging, I could tell immediately that this pad was a step above the others I had looked at in sporting goods stores. There were no gel inserts, fancy layer arrangements, springs, pistons, or any other mumbo-jumbo. The SuperCell pad was a no-nonsense foam cushion with two holes for mounting screws and a rigid base shaped to fit into the butt of the stock. The surface featured a low-friction finish tastefully embellished with the Remington “R” on the butt and “Remington” on each side (these markings seem to vary between different SuperCell pads). Two new mounting screws were included in the package, which had wider heads than the screws for the factory pad, presumably to prevent tear-through with the different material (the wider heads also helped to retain the screws in the pad when it was removed). Out of curiosity, I threw both pads on my scale. Including the screws (since each pad used a different set), the SuperCell weighed 2.6 ounces, slightly lighter than the 3.4 ounces of the original rubber pad, but not by enough to appreciably alter the gun’s handling or performance. The old and new pads are essentially the same thickness, so length of pull didn’t change either.

Installation was very straightforward. Ensure the gun is clear (obviously), remove the old recoil pad with a Phillips screwdriver (a #1 or #2 size should be fine, no need for something fancy), insert the new screws into the SuperCell pad, install the SuperCell pad, and it’s done. The instructions suggest using water or oil to make it easier to insert the screwdriver into the small screw holes, but I didn’t find this to be necessary with my tools. Finding the head of the screw – recessed as it was into the soft foam of the pad – sometimes took a bit of fishing around with the screwdriver, but this wasn’t a major deal. Once on, the pad wasn’t a perfect fit with the stock. It was just a hair narrower than the stock in the middle, and sat a little high on the end of the stock, extending slightly past the comb on top and sitting just above the heel on the bottom. These misalignments were extremely small however, on the order of a few hundredths of an inch at the most, and had no effect whatsoever on the pad’s function (or even its aesthetics, unless one looked very closely).

Shouldering the gun after installation, the new pad felt great. The smooth surface slid across clothing without grabbing or sticking, but still stayed firmly in the pocket of my shoulder when I assumed a shooting stance. The pad obviously had more give than the hard rubber one it replaced, but it was still firm enough to keep the butt of the gun solidly in place against my shoulder. Even before firing the gun, I was already impressed by how the feel had improved.

Then I went shooting. I was floored by the difference the new pad made. With everything from light target shells to heavy 3” turkey loads and slugs, the gun just…behaved. There was no physics-defying disappearance of recoil, obviously. The energy and velocities involved were the same, and those heavy turkey loads rolled my shoulder back just as much as they had before; but the SuperCell pad transmitted the force as a firm push rather than a sharp jolt, and that made a world of difference.

A video of me happily shooting 3” magnum slugs with the SuperCell pad while visiting my parents and younger brother can be found here:

My petite, mid-50s mother even shot several of these 3” max-dram slugs that afternoon; and had no trouble dealing with the recoil (probably about 35-40 ft-lbf with those loads); despite the fact that the stock’s length of pull was sized to fit my frame, and with her much smaller stature, she was forced to adopt a rather poor shooting stance in order to steady the gun.

What Makes it Tick?

So what makes these pads work so well? Remington’s marketing for them goes on at length about its “complex matrix of millions of SuperCells” and how the “advanced polymer construction harnesses and releases energy over a much longer time period”; all more-or-less accurate, and admittedly standard fare for a company trying to make their new product sound high-tech and fancy. Personally though, I think all that techno-buzzword marketing is kind of missing the point of Remington’s accomplishment. The truth is, there’s nothing all that groundbreaking about how the SuperCell pad is constructed or how it functions, it’s just a polyurethane foam pad with a nice, non-grabbing surface. But that simplicity is what makes it impressive. Over a decade of extensive testing and development, Remington took this simple concept and made it work by fine-tuning the material until it had the perfect balance of firmness and compressibility. Simple, elegant designs usually take a lot of work to get right, but once they’re achieved, the simplicity pays off. This is the case for the SuperCell. 10 years of development delivered a design that is both superbly-effective and inexpensive to manufacture; resulting in a product that outperforms its competitors for less than half the price to the consumer. Win-win.

Frames from high-speed video footage of SuperCell testing
Frames from high-speed video footage of SuperCell testing

In the battle against shotgun recoil, other companies have been trying to reinvent the wheel with all manner of wacky ideas like spring-loaded stocks, gel pads, sliding weights, drilling holes in barrels, etc. Remington was smart enough to realize that the wheel didn’t need to be reinvented, there was nothing wrong with the concept; it just had to be done right. A marketing department would call that boring. As an engineer, I call that brilliant. In a way, the design of the SuperCell pad has a little of the same magic that made the model 870 so tremendously successful, it’s a simple solution done right.

Close-up of SuperCell foam structure
Close-up of SuperCell foam structure

Final Thoughts

The answer to the inevitable question is yes, I would highly recommend this product to the owner of any compatible firearm. The SuperCell performs wonderfully and offers that performance at an exceptional value. When combined with a properly-fitting stock and good shooting technique, this $20 upgrade should be all that most able-bodied gun owners need to shoot comfortable and effectively. As it stands now, the single major point of concern is the issue of fit. Although the stock-pad misalignments in my case were negligible, others may not be so lucky. There are a lot of different stock styles out there for Remington firearms, and only a handful of different SuperCell pads have been released so far. Wood stocks seem to be especially notorious for not matching up with a SuperCell pad; only one pad is currently offered for wood shotgun stocks. Newer stocks seem to match the pads better, but there are some exceptions. Bottom line; before you buy, do your homework to make sure you’re ordering the right pad, and that it’ll fit satisfactorily. Firsthand advice from other users that have your same stock would be ideal; as Remington’s customer service department has been known to be unreliable on this subject (it seems their compatibility information is based on mounting hole spacing, which doesn’t say anything about the actual profile of the stock).

Improper fit of SuperCell pad on a wood 870 stock
Improper fit of SuperCell pad on a wood 870 stock

The good news is that the situation seems be improving. Remington is apparently equipping more firearms and stocks with SuperCell pads right out of the factory these days. Also, their 2012 parts documentation lists eight varieties of SuperCell pads, compared to the four listed on the packaging when I purchased my pad, and only one in Remington’s 2008 parts list. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come, and not just sloppy documentation.

Even better, how about a line of grind-to-fit SuperCell pads, Remington? Mount the pad of SuperCell foam on a rigid base plate (polyamide or polyoxymethylene, perhaps) that the customer can drill for screw holes and file to fit any rifle or shotgun they want. LimbSaver seems to be doing very well offering a range of recoil pads along these lines, and their products are around twice the cost of a SuperCell.

-Synchronizor

Price: $31.99.

Recommended Product:
Supercell recoil pad for remington870 Get Supercell Recoil Pad on Brownells

Limbsaver Recoil Pad

This recoil pad is also popular among Remington 870 owners. It has almost the same features as the previous pad. The same easy drop-in installation which doesn’t require complicated tools or skills. There are two versions of the recoil pad: one for wood stock and one for synthetic stock.

Limbsaver Recoil Pad is advertised to reduce up to 70% of felt recoil which is hard to believe. But it really reduces felt recoil and makes shooting more comfortable.

Manufacture’s Description and Specifications:
• Uses energy absorbing NAVCOM™, material and elastic motion to reduce recoil shock up to 50 percent over factory pads
• The pads provide greater protection that allows for more shooting, reducing discomfort at the end of a long day of shooting
• The pads also include Anti-muzzle jump technology that reduces muzzle rise. This of course makes it easier to reacquire the target after firing
• The pads do not include mounting screws
• Buyers must ensure whether the pad will fit their wood or synthetic stock
• Made with NAVCOM synthetic material, black and ribbed faces
• Screw on replacement for guns with a factory recoil pad

It makes shooting more enjoyable, and while the push from the recoil is there the jolt is reduced significantly. The Sims Vibration Laboratories LimbSaver™ Recoil Pad helps control recoil. There will be recoil however, but for those that were not able to tolerate the recoil from certain weapons or from ammunition can now tolerate the recoil using the LimbSaver™ Recoil Pads.

Shock is very mild compared to what it used to be and they can now fire magnum rounds without fear of the recoil.

One of the main deterrent to practicing for some shooters is the recoil so after only a few hours of practice the weapon is put away to collect dust. Practicing with your weapon is critical, and without practice, you will never be a proficient shooter.

Some shooters because of the recoil or because others in the family could not tolerate the recoil may have been forced to use lighter loads. In some cases especially with home defense weapons people may have had to purchase another weapon.

The recoil is much easier to handle especially on lighter weight weapons.

The Sims Vibration Laboratories LimbSaver™ Recoil Pad will reduce the recoil without increasing the weight of the weapon. This is ideal for home defense weapons where more than one person may be firing the weapon. In most cases, it is not practical for everyone in the family to have their own weapon, so it is important that each person be able to fire the available weapon.

Limbsaver Buttpad
Limbsaver Buttpad

I have tested this recoil pad too and haven’t noticed any difference with Supercell. They are both really good and reduce recoil and muzzle jump.

This recoil pad is priced just a little higher. You can’t go wrong with Supercell or Limbsaver, so choose the one you like more. Usually, no fitting required.

Price: $37.99

Recommended Product:
Limbsaver recoil pad for remington 870 Get Limbsaver Recoil Pad on Brownells

Installing Limbsaver or Supercell Buttpad on Remington 870 with Magpul SGA Stock

Magpul SGA stock and MOE forend is a very good set for Remington 870 shotgun.

You can replace standard buttpad with softer Remington Supercell or Limbsaver buttpad. Choose buttpad for synthetic Remington 870 stock.

Mapul SGA OEM Butt Pad Adapter comes without buttpadd and screws. You can find the screw at any local hardware store: 1″ long , # 2 phillips wood screw.

Magpul SGA OEM Butt Pad Adapter Remington 870
Magpul SGA OEM Butt Pad Adapter Remington 870
Magpul SGA OEM Butt Pad Adapter Remington 870
Magpul SGA OEM Butt Pad Adapter Remington 870
Limbsaver Buttpad
Limbsaver Buttpad

I have successfully installed Limbsaver buttpad on my Remington 870. It was easy and took just several minutes. Limbsaver recoil pad is softer and more comfortable when you shoot a lot.

Recommended products:

Remington 870 Recoil Pad (Buttpad) Screw Size

I couldn’t find info about Remington 870 recoil pad screw size and type, so I had to contact Remington.
Here is information:

1″ long , # 2 phillips wood screw, you can find the screw at any local hardware store

Maybe it will be useful for other Remington 870 owners.

Notes:

For those interested, a basic overview of recoil equations can found at http://www.jbmballistics.com/ballistics/topics/recoil.shtml

A more in-depth derivation and examination of the model can be found at:
http://www.saami.org/PubResources/GunRecoilFormulae.pdf

Remington’s parts price list includes part numbers and descriptions for all SuperCell pads, and can be downloaded along with other resources from their parts information page:
http://www.remington.com/pages/support/parts-information.aspx

A video featuring slow-motion footage of the recoil impulse acting on my shoulder (taken from the slug-shooting video above):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMq3-i6v6s4

6 comments

  1. Allen I

    I have a Marine Magnum which has spent a few years in the safe. You said the marine models have the supercell pad, so I assume that is what is on my shotgun. It has become sticky and actually left black marks on the carpet at the base of the safe. So much so that I now have a ziplock bag over the but of the shotgun. Yes, I’m in Texas. Yes, the safe is in a non-air conditioned area of my home, but the safe is bolted directly to the foundation slab, and so that area of the safe should not see high temperatures. Any ideas what might have caused this? Any recalls on this recoil pad? Anyone with a similar experience?

    1. Mitch Deville

      The rubber deteriorates over the years. It does with a lot of things not only the recoil pad.

  2. I have a Remington 870 Magnum. The factory recoil pad did the same thing. It became so sticky I could not stand it up anywhere and eventually had to remove the recoil pad. The shotgun is always stored in a climate controlled room.

  3. carl pearson

    Remington 870 trap TA,TB,TC are NOT the same recoil pad as the 870 wingmaster where can i find one? taller

  4. Bill Casto

    I’m looking at the Limbsaver recoil pad for my Remington 870 express. Will it fit without any sanding? Exact? I’ve never put a new one one before, any special tools required? Any hints?
    Thanks
    Bill Casto

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign up to the Newsletter and get "10 Tips to Building a Tactical Remington 870" ebook: