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ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: Remington's Model 870 also great

by Bryan Hendricks | September 20, 2018 at 2:41 a.m.

For all the love I've given the Winchester Model 12 shotgun lately, some Remington Model 870 owners feel unappreciated.

We love you, too.

I learned to hunt with a passed-down Marlin bolt-action 20-gauge, but my first gun was a Remington 870 Wingmaster 20-gauge that my dad gave me for Christmas in 1977. I used it until 1986, when I traded it for my first 12-gauge, a Smith & Wesson Model 1000 with a 30-inch, full choke barrel.

Introduced in 1950, the Model 870 reflected a new cost-conscious era that forsook the fine workmanship of previous generations. The 870 was made of mass-produced, stamped metal parts, compared to the forged, milled steel and hand-fitted parts of the Model 12.

The 870 is loose and it rattles, but it works. It is the most successful shotgun ever made, with more than 10 million units sold. It disassembles quickly for easy cleaning, and barrels bought off the shelf are interchangeable.

Barrels for the Model 12, in comparison, were fitted to a specific receiver and were stamped with the same serial number.

Like the Model 12, the 870 is virtually indestructible. It shoots no matter how much abuse you heap upon it.

The Wingmaster, with its gloss blued metal and glossy wood, is my favorite 870. The Express is the economy model with a butt stock and slide of matte birch. The 870 is also available with plastic stocks in black or camo.

My late son Daniel used a youth model 20-gauge 870 Express with great success. Alan Thomas of Russellville used an 870 for many years until he switched to a Winchester SX3, and my friend Bill Steward is fiercely loyal to his 870s.

Autoloader love

I don't own a Remington Model 1100, but it is a superb, easy swinging, sweet shooting autoloader. For reasons I can't fully explain, I've generally gravitated to Winchester's Super X autoloaders. I don't use my SX3 for duck hunting much anymore, though. Those duties rest with a Remington V3, an outstanding shotgun that hunters largely shun. I am also a big fan of another short-lived, ill-fated Remington experiment called the 105 CTi.

Its design and appearance were radical, and gun writers whose exposure to it was at one-day media events poisoned the public against it with terrible, untenable reviews. To know the 105 CTi is to love it.

Last week I revisited the Super X Model 1, Winchester's short-lived, ill-fated attempt in 1973 to recapture its lustrous pre-1964 reputation. Despite exquisite craftsmanship and engineering, the Super X1 was plagued by a fragile bolt slide buffer. It's a small plastic part that prevents the bolt slide from crashing against the back of the receiver.

The part degrades and becomes brittle, even if the gun has never been fired. It caused much heartache with my first Super X1, before I was aware of the problem and how to fix it.

I recently acquired an unfired, unassembled Super X1. Internet SX1 enthusiasts advised changing the bolt slide buffer before firing a single round. I found new buffers made of Delrin, a more durable material than the original part.

To my amazement, the factory buffer disintegrated under slight pressure from a metal pick. Most of the pieces fell out. I dug out the remnants quickly and easily. In seconds, I tapped in the new buffer with a 3/8-inch socket extension and a plastic mallet.

Say again?

Shotgunners hold some amusingly inconsistent opinions. Browning purists, for example, respect only the Auto-5 shotguns that were made in Belgium. They scorn the Auto-5s made by Miroku in Japan in terms that are borderline racist. There are some notable differences between the Belgian and Japanese Auto-5s, but both are fine shotguns.

On the other hand, purists are equally contemptuous of the new Winchester 101 over/under shotgun. Some say it's a cynical attempt to cash in on the name and sterling reputation of a storied and beloved icon.

The beloved, legendary Model 101 was made in Japan by Olin Kodensha, and was a stepchild to its sister, the Nikko Model 5000.

The new 101 is made in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale, the same outfit that made the Auto-5 until 1976. Those familiar with the new Model 101 say it's better than the old.

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Sports on 09/20/2018

Print Headline: Remington's Model 870 also great


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