Casey Johnson

The History Of The Remington 870

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The beginning of the second half of the 20th Century was a milestone product year for the Remington Arms Company. It was in 1950 that "America's Oldest Gunmaker" introduced what many believe is the finest pump shotgun ever produced, the Model 870. Produced every year since, the Model 870 has become the most successful single model gun in Remington's 189-year history, and the best selling pump-action shotgun in firearms history. Remington called it "the Wingmaster".

Three years earlier, Remington design engineers had begun working on a replacement for the rugged but outdated Model 31 pump-action shotgun. Utilizing common parts from the sleek, new Model 11-'48 autoloader, L. Ray Crittendon, Phillip Haskell, Ellis Hailston and G. E. Pinckney developed what would later be called the Model 870 shotgun. In January 1950 Remington announced its new Model 870 Wingmaster shotgun. Like the Model 11-'48, the new Model 870 shotgun breech locked securely in a hardened barrel extension, and a new locking block and slide was devised for a smooth and effective operation.

The following is a chronological history (1950 to 2005) of the initial specifications and additions to this versatile and shotgun:

1950 - Remington introduced fifteen versions of the Model 870 shotgun, in 12, 16 and 20 gauges, including: Model 870 AP Standard Grade shotgun (for $69.95), the Model 870 BC Special Grade shotgun (for $81.45), the Model 870 ADL Deluxe Grade shotgun (for $79.95), the Model 870 BDL Deluxe Special Grade shotgun (for $91.45), Model 870D Tournament Grade (for $295.00), Model 870F Premier Grade (for $585.00), Model 870TC Trap Grade (for $159.95), Model 870TD Trap Tournament Grade (for $388.55), Model 870TF Trap Premier Grade (for $678.55), Model 870S Trap Special Grade (for $89.95), Model 870SA Skeet Grade (for $79.95), Model 870SB Skeet Special Grade (for $91.45), Model 870SD Skeet Tournament Grade (for $325.00), Model 870SF Skeet Premier Grade (for $615.00) and the Model 870R Riot Grade with 20" barrel (for $69.95).

1955 - Remington introduced the Model 870 Magnum-AP Standard Grade shotgun (selling for $88.30) and the Model 870 Magnum-ADL Deluxe Grade shotgun ($127.15), each chambered for 12 gauge, magnum load, 3" (or 2¾") shells.

1959 - Remington introduced the 12 gauge Model 870 RSS Rifled Slug Special with slug barrel and rifle sights ($95.95), and the Model 870 SX Skeet Grade and TX Trap Grade and ADX Field Grade shotguns with Sun Grain stock and forend.

1960 - Remington introduced the Model 870 ADX with Sun-Grain stock & fore-end ($162.65), a 20 gauge magnum, chambered for 3" shells.

1961 - Remington introduced the Model 870 AP "Brushmaster" shotgun introduced with 20" slug barrel, recoil pad and rifle sights ($109.70). It replaced the Model 870 RSS. Remington also introduced a 20 gauge magnum Model 870 ADL and Model 870 ADX shotgun.

1963 - Remington produced the Model 870 in a new deluxe grade for all field models with custom checkering and improved wood finish.

1966 - In this year, Remington announced the sale of the one-millionth Model 870 shotgun! The year 1966 also marked Remington's 150th Anniversary in business, going back to 1816, when young Eliphalet fabricated his first gun barrel, giving birth to an industry. Besides local festivities in Ilion, Remington introduced several commemorative firearms with the 150th Anniversary seal stamped on the receiver, including the Model 870 150th Anniversary Edition Shotgun. 2,534 would be sold over the next two years.

1969 - Remington introduced Model 870 field models in 28 gauge and .410, which were issued with scaled-down receivers, and lightweight mahogany stocks and fore-ends. Remington also introduced Model 870 "Matched Pair" 20 gauge and .410 Skeet guns with walnut stocks and hard carrying cases, selling for $395ºº the pair. Over the next three years 1,503 pairs would be sold. Remington also introduced a 20 gauge Model 870 Brushmaster Deer Gun in Standard or Deluxe versions. Remington contracted with the U.S. Marine Corps to fabricate 3,231 Model 870 Mk-1 military-style, 12 gauge Model 870 shotgun with 7-shot magazine extensions and fitted with bayonet attachments.

1970 - Model 870 28 gauge and .410 shotguns were offered individually, in place of the previously marketed "Matched Pairs".

1971 - Left-handed versions of the Model 870 were offered in Field, Magnum and Trap grades, in 12 gauge and 20 gauge guns.

1972 - Remington introduced the Model 870 "All American" Special Trap Gun, advertising it as "the finest pump-action shotgun we've ever made," and selling this custom, engraved gun and protective case for $550ºº. Also, Remington introduced the 20 gauge Lightweight Model 870 in both standard and magnum versions, with scaled-down receivers and mahogany stocks and forends, weighing only 5lbs/12oz. Prices ranged from $139.95 for a plain barrel version to $184.95 for the 3" magnum model with ventilated rib barrel.

1973 - In October, Remington proudly announced production of the two-millionth Model 870 shotgun!

1974 - Remington produced 10,000 12 gauge, limited edition Model 870 DU (Ducks Unlimited) shotguns, "commemorating Ducks Unlimited's many years of service." These shotguns sold for $132.47, and featured specially decorated receivers and a selected block of serial numbers followed by DU suffix. Due to a shortage of American walnut, in mid-year 1974, Remington began fitting some M870 Field Grade shotguns with mahogany stocks and fore-ends.

1976 - Remington introduced limited edition, 12 gauge "Bicentennial Commemorative" Model 870 SA Skeet Grade, Model 870 TB Trap Grade and Model 870 TBMCS Trap shotguns.

1978 - In May, Remington announced the production of their three-millionth Model 870 shotgun! In this year, the "All American" Trap Guns were discontinued. The Model 870 Trap line was altered to now include three grades of increasing quality: TA, TB and TC. Remington also introduced a 20 gauge Model 870 LW-20 Lightweight Deer Gun.

1979 - American walnut stocks replaced mahogany stocks on all 20 gauge, 28 gauge and .410 Lightweight Field guns.

1980 - Remington introduced a new stock styling and checkering pattern on all Model 870 shotguns.

1981 - Introduction of the 12 gauge Model 870 "Competition" Trap gun with 30" barrel and integral recoil-absorbing gas piston. Remington also introduced Model 870 20 gauge Lightweight Limited with 23" barrel and 12½ inch length of pull - "for younger shooters and smaller-framed adults."

1982 - Remington discontinued the Model 870 SA Skeet shotgun in 12, 20, 28 and .410 gauges, and Model 870 TB Trap in right and left hand versions.

1983 - Remington produced 4,000 limited edition, 12 gauge, 3" magnum "Ducks Unlimited Commemorative" Model 870 Mississippi Magnum shotguns. These had a special receiver decoration and 32-inch, full-choke barrels. Remington also introduced a left-hand 12 gauge Model 870 Deer Gun.

1984 - Remington announced their four-millionth Model 870 Shotgun! The company also introduced the Model 870 "Special Field" in 12 and 20 gauge versions, with checkered, straight English-style stocks (no pistol grip) and 21-inch ventilated rib barrels in improved cylinder, modified, and full chokes. Remington also changed the name "Lightweight Limited" to Model 870 20 gauge Lightweight "Youth Gun" with a change in barrel length to 21-inches.

1985 - Remington introduced the Model 870 SP Special Purpose Magnum gun with 26-inch or 30-inch, full choke, vent rib barrel, a no-sheen, satin finish on exposed metal parts, and a subdued oil finished hardwood stock. This gun was designed for waterfowling and turkey shooting.

1986 - Remington re-styled the Model 870 Wingmaster with a Bradley-type ivory bead front sight, and raised diamond style, cut-checkering on the satin finished walnut stock and fore-end. In 1986, Remington introduced the new RemChoke system (with interchangeable improved cylinder, modified and full chokes) which became standard on 26-inch and 28-inch barrels. It was not available on 30" barrels, deer guns, target guns or as a retrofit. This patented device allowed the shooter to use a wrench to change the shotgun to full, modified or improved cylinder chokes. Remington also added the 12 gauge Model 870 SP Special Purpose Deer Gun to the Deer Gun line.

1987 - Remington introduced the lower cost Model 870 Express, which differs from the standard Model 870 line only in exterior matte finish and low luster hardwood stock and forend. RemChoke was now expanded to additional Model 870 12 gauge and 20 gauge shotguns. The Special Purpose line was expanded to include the Model 870 SP with 3-inch chamber, ventilated rib barrel and RemChoke. In this year, the Model 870 Deer Gun was made available in right-hand and left-hand versions in "Wingmaster" style.

1988 - Remington introduced a Model 870 Express Combo with 20-inch slug barrel and 28-inch ventilated rib barrel. The Model 870 TC Trap Grade shotgun received a new stock style and dimensions, and a new 31-inch overbored barrel with RemChoke system or fixed, full choke.

1989 - Special Purpose stocks and forends were changed to American walnut and a cantilever scope mount option was added to the 12 gauge Deer Gun line.

1991 - The Model 870 Express line was expanded with the addition of the Model 870 Express Turkey, the Model 870 Express Cantilever Scope Mount Deer Gun, the Model 870 Express Rifle Sighted Deer Gun, the Model 870 Express Small Gauge, and the Model 870 Express Youth Gun. Remington also introduced the Model 870 SP Cantilever Scope Mount Deer Gun, the Model 870 SPS Special Purpose Synthetic, and the Model 870 SPS-T Special Purpose Synthetic-Turkey Gun.

1992 - Remington introduced the 12 gauge Model 870 Marine Magnum Security gun with electroless nickel plating, seven-shot magazine, 18" barrel, and synthetic stock and fore-end (for $439ºº). Remington also added a fully rifled 12 gauge Deer gun, and .410 bore shotgun to the Model 870 Express line. Also, Remington introduced a fully camouflaged version of the Model 870 SP-CAMO shotgun in Mossy Oak Bottomland camo (for $425ºº). Remington also introduced the Model 870 Express in .410 bore (for $289ºº). Light contour barrels for the Remington Model 870 shotgun were designed in 1992, and became common on these shotguns thereafter.

1993 - Remington announced production of the six-millionth Model 870 shotgun! The company also introduced the Model 870 SPS BG-Camo gun with synthetic stock camo finish, 20" barrel and rifled sights (for $443ºº), and Model 870 SPS-Deer (fully rifled) gun with synthetic stock (for $385ºº).

1994 - Remington introduced cantilever scope mounted barrel on the Model 870 Wingmaster in 12 and 20 gauges. Remington also introduced the fully rifled Model 870 SPS with cantilever scope mounted barrel and Monte Carlo style synthetic stock, and another with RemChoke. Also introduced were the Model 870 Express Small Gauge shotgun in 28 gauge, and a 20 gauge Model 870 Express Youth Gun with or without Deer barrel were added to the Express line.

1995 - Remington introduced the Model 870 Express HD (Home Defense) shotgun with 18-inch cylinder choke barrel and checkered synthetic stock.

1996 - Remington announced the seven-millionth Model 870 shotgun! The company also re-introduced the Model 870 TC Trap gun with straight-comb or Monte Carlo stock. In addition, Remington also re-introduced the Model 870 Express Small Gauge gun in 20 ga., 28 ga. and .410 bore. Custom style, fine-line engraving was added to receiver panels of the Remington Model 870 Wingmaster field, target and Deer Gun shotguns.

1997 - Remington introduced a new Mossy Oak Break-Up Pattern on the Model 870 Magnum SPS Gun, and Model 870 Turkey Gun in new Realtree X-Tra Brown camo. Remington also introduced two new Model 870 Express Combos with 26-inch ventilated rib barrel and 20-inch fully rifled Deer barrel in 12 gauge and 20 gauge.

1998 - Four versions of the Model 870 Express Super Magnum shotguns, chambered for 3½-inch 12 gauge shotshells, were introduced. The standard version had a hardwood stock and 28-inch RemChoke barrel. The Synthetic Super Magnum had a black synthetic stock and a 26-inch RemChoke barrel. The Synthetic Turkey Camo gun had a synthetic stock with Advantage Camo design and a 23-inch, extra full RemChoke barrel. The Super Magnum Combo gun had a standard hardwood stock, a 26-inch RemChoke barrel and an extra 20-inch fully rifled deer barrel. Remington also offered the Model 870 Express Turkey Camo shotgun with Advantage camo-covered synthetic stock in 12 ga. and 20 ga. Youth Turkey Gun versions, both with 21-inch RemChoke barrels. The company also offered a Model 870 Express 12-gauge shotgun with a 28-inch RemChoke barrel in a left-hand version. Fine-line receiver engraving was added to the Model 870 Wingmaster 20-gauge field gun.

1999 - Remington added 28-gauge and .410 bore versions to the Model 870 Wingmaster line. The company also introduced the Model 870 SPS "Super Magnum" Camo Shotgun and the Model 870 SPS-T "Super Magnum" Camo Shotgun, both featuring 12-gauge, 3½-inch chambers ($532ºº). Remington also introduced the Model 870 SPS "Super Slug" Deer Gun, which featured a 23-inch, fully rifled, modified contour barrel fitted with a barrel-mounted cantilever scope mount, and a black synthetic stock and forend ($520ºº). The company also expanded its Express line with the Model 870 Express Super Magnum Turkey Gun ( featuring 12-gauge, 3½-inch chambers, extra-full RemChoke 23-inch barrels and black synthetic stock and forend - $259ºº) and the Model 870 Express Synthetic Deer Gun (with 20-inch, fully rifled barrel with adjustable rifle sights, and matte black finish on all exposed metal parts and black synthetic stock and forend - $365ºº).

2000 - Remington introduced the 50th Anniversary Model 870 Classic Trap Gun as a tribute to the world's best selling pump shotgun! This 12-gauge gun featured a 30-inch vent rib barrel with RemChoke barrel and semi-fancy American walnut stock and forend. Remington also began making the Model 870 Wingmaster Super Magnum with 28-inch vent rib barrel with RemChoke, chambered for 2¾-inch, 3-inch and 3½-inch shells. The company also manufactured the Model 870 SPS-T RS/TG Shotgun with fully adjustable Truglo rifle sights, 20-inch RemChoke barrel, black matte finish on metal parts and black synthetic stock and forend. Remington also made a Model 870 SPS-T Super Magnum Camo CL/RD Shotgun, with a 23-inch barrel with RemChoke and Leupold/Gilmore Red Dot sights, a Mossy Oak Break-up camo finish on metal parts and on the synthetic stock and forend.

2001 - In this year Remington introduced the Model 870 SPS-T Super Magnum Camo CL/RC Shotgun with cantilever scope mount and a 23-inch RemChoke barrel. Also a Model 870 SPS-T Synthetic Camo RS/TG Shotgun with 20-inch RemChoke barrel and Truglow sights. Also new for 2001 was the Model 870 SPS Super Magnum Camo Shotgun with vent-rib, RemChoke , 26-inch barrel and Mossy Oak Break-Up finish on metal parts and synthetic stock and forend. Remington also offered a 12-gauge, Model 870 Classic Trap Shotgun with 30-inch vent rib, RemChoke barrel with high polish blue finish and semi-fancy American walnut stock and forend. Also new was a Remington Model 870 SPS-T Youth RS/TG Synthetic Turkey Camo Shotgun with 20-inch super full choke barrel and RemChoke, and Truglo fiber-optic sights and Mossy Oak Break-Up finish on metal parts and synthetic stock and forend.

2002 - Remington re-introduced the 16-gauge shotgun this year in four variations of the Model 870, including the Model 870 Wingmaster, the Model 870 Express, the Model 870 Express Synthetic and the Model 870 Express Synthetic Youth Shotguns. Also new for 2002 was the Model 870 Express Shotgun in 28-gauge and .410 bore.

2003 - Remington introduced the Model 870 SPS-T, a 20 gauge gun with camo pattern and a TruGlo fibre-optic sight and Model 870 Express Super Magnum Turkey Cammo gun and a Model 870 Express Turkey Camo gun and a Model 870 Express Youth Turkey Camo gun.

2004 - Remington introduced the Model 870 SPS Deer Shotgun, a fully rifled cantilevered, 20 gauge

2005 - In this year Remington introduced the Model 870 Wingmaster Jr and the Model 870 Wingmaster Dale Earnheart Limited Edition gun with fine-line engraving of the famous driver and a solg signature and a Model 870 SP-T Super Magnum Thumbhole stock shotgun and a Model 870 Express Super Magnum "Fall Flight" gun and a Model 870 Express super Magnum Synthentic with 28" barrel and Model 870 Express Jr. NWTF Edition shotgun.

All in all, the Remington Model 870 shotgun has earned it's reputation as the geatest selling pump shotgun in firearms history. This achievement was made possible by a rock-solid design and innovative Remington management, which introduced dozens of variations over a 55-year history to satisfy millions of shotgunners. So many variations, it seems, that the Model 870 has become a collecting field all by itself.

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My main gun is a Remington 870 SPS Super Magnum Max Gobbler with a Knoxx stock. It's a delight to shoot. :) This particular model was available for a year or two only. '07 and '08? I love it.

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Here in AZ, shotguns are invaluable for predator hunting. I have owned a mess of them and have sold scores because of one problem or specific dislike. It all started with a Mossberg 835 pump and has ended with a Remington 870.

Best predator shotgun of the pack in my opinion.

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Turkey predators deer birds if it eatable 870 is all thes needed to put food in the box

had some straps wrapped in wild bacon for dinner tonight

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It all started with a Mossberg 835 pump and has ended with a Remington 870.

You've had better shotguns than what you've presently settled on. By your own admission, there's no telling where you'll be by this time next year. There's no harm in testing the waters. I came within a heartbeat of owning that M4 you used to own. I certainly wish it had worked out different. That said, I have no regrets on the M1S90 I presently own. Before that I owned an Ithica M37 and a Remington M1100. The Ithica was faster than any other pump shotgun I've ever shot. The 1100 faster than any pump, period. The M1S90 is faster, lighter, better handling than any of them. I'll say that you passed on the best shotgun you ever owned because you had too much invested in it. Nothing wrong with that, but the 870 is not the best predator shotgun, and you've owned better, probably times 3.

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I disagree with prior shotguns being better. Better how?

A shotgun is nothing more than a tool to get a job done. To me its not a piece of fine art work. I treat my shotguns rough. If I am using a shotgun then I am in thickets, probably Manzalita, crawling and wading through waist high bushes that make quick work of a nice stock or blued finish. Because it's a brush gun for fox and bobcats, I don't want a longer 26"+ barrel on it. I can't swing that. I'm not shooting more than 25 yards ever so a long field barrel is a liability. Autoloaders cycle fast but are easily effected by load weigh and how dirty they are. A pump always cycles.

Benelli makes some great shotguns. The M4 is not a ideal for predator hunting. I wanted a pump that would take a beating and had a short barrel for the type of hunting I do. The 870 is better for what I use it for.

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Matter of opinion, I suppose. That M4, as long as it ate what you were feeding it, was vastly superior to the 870, or any pump gun, IMO. If you're happy with the 870 today, great. You know as well as I do that something else will come along to win your heart, as unfaithful as it may be.

The perfect predator shotgun...close anyway

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The M4 was a rock solid gun and felt like it could take a real beating but I cringed dragging a $1300 shotgun through brush. Plus Andrew acted like he wanted it really bad so I sold him it.en

I have found that the shotgun you use also depends on what predator you are going after. When I coyote hunt I stand with my back in a tree or cactus with the shotgun pointed down on a rock at my side. A short shotgun makes this uncomfortable as the barrel doesn't reach the ground. Also I'm going to be using full choke. Fox and bobcat I'm typically seated amongst bushes and stuff so a short barreled shotgun with an improved. Currently I don't have a good coyote shotgun but really only need to go buy a 2nd barrel for the 870. Fairly cheap.

I have depleted so much money from the coffers on this baja I can't buy any more firearms.

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Jimbo being a lefty i loved the Ithica M37 . boy could carry that thing bird hunting all day. also have it in a deer slayer

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The bottom ejection of the Ithica is what initially attracted me to it for the same reason as you. Mine even has a lefty safety. The stock finally cracked on it and I couldn't bring myself to pay more for a buttstock than the original price of a ~40 year old shotgun. I finally found a used one on EBay, but when I got it, it was much too short for me. I gave up and bought the 1100. Found that I could deal with the ejection across my line of sight and backwards safety, so when I had a chance to get that Benelli, I did.

Screw in chokes are your friend, Scott. I can go from extra full to improved in no time at all. Barrel length for a predator hunter, I don't think, is all that much of an issue. My 30" Remington might bring down a few more doves than the 18" Benelli, but with the type of ammo most use for predators, not that big a deal, unless you're using some of that 100 yard equipment. Then you might need all the barrel length you can get. I stand occasionally too and you're right the barrel won't touch the ground. I've never fatigued yet just holding it in my left hand hanging down to the side, and I'm old. When I sit, I keep it shouldered, with the barrel resting on my right knee. If something shows, it's up quickly without too much movement and the lead starts flying.

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Standing my 870's barrel will barely touch the ground if I loosen up by grip a little- good enough. My 870 has a 22" barrel on it and I put in a lighter trigger spring, wood furniture. Have you seen the stock and fore-grip Magpul is coming out for it? Looks kinda cool. Wonder if its much lighter.

More often than naught I do the 3 legged stool thing also and keep it shouldered as you do. Loose some vantage but my back can't handle standing too very long before it starts giving me trouble.

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I wouldn't trade my 1100 Special Field for any shotgun. If I'm standing and calling I cradle the gun in the crooks of both arms. Because I'm not a fat old man with back problems, I can do that all day long.

When seated and calling I place the 1100 on shooting sticks like a rifle and it is always ready to go. Short, 21 in barrel, light and reliable. Love that little gun.

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had to bring in about us fat old man with back problems didn't yeah :huh: my 87o turkey special is small and light and lays across my lap the hole time. :D

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