This is a review I wrote at AR15Armory.com....but felt it might be enjoyed here. bc
Details, Details, Details:
The Remington 870 has been the quintessential law enforcement shotgun for the last several decades. Find a police vehicle with a shotgun inside, and there's a good chance that shotgun will be a Remington 870. It's been available in a variety of configurations with stock, barrel and finish options to suit the user (or at least the purchaser). All 870's have double action bars for reliability in operation.
The 870 has a very large, side-ejection port which I like very much. The magazine follower is a bright orange and provides a VERY visual indication of an unloaded magazine tube. The safety is a cross-bolt behind the trigger and action release lever is forward of the trigger. All current Remington Police shotguns wear their very effective R3 recoil pad. All 870P's are chambered for the 12 gauge 3" shell (though most users stay with the 2 3/4" round).
I've chosen a near-clone of the gun that's kept in the police cruiser I usually drive as a Reserve Police Officer, for personal use (I wanted a wood stock on my gun and the department uses synthetic). My reason for devoting so much time to the scattergun is simple. It's the weapon I will go to on the street, and my shotgun-fu was VERY weak. Over the past few years I'd spent so much time on the handgun and the carbine, I'd nearly forgotten the shotgun (except to clean it monthly). Faced with being limited on duty, I decided to take the leap and learn what I'd been presented to the best of my ability.
My 870P wears the traditional walnut stock and forearm and parkerized finish. It has rifle sights on an 18.5" Improved Cylinder barrel and a capacity of 6+1 using 2 3/4" shells. This picture is not mine, but my gun is identical.
Police vs. Express:
There are several very important differences between the commonly found Express models and the higher-end Police shotguns. They can be found at the following link.
Patterning, 00 and #4 Buckshot:
I patterned my gun at three, five, seven, ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five yards with Winchester Ranger Low Recoil 00 Buckshot (RA12005). The target used was an IDPA competition target. At three to ten yards, all pellets stayed in the "-0" zone. At 20 yards, all pellets stayed inside the "-1" zone of the target. At 25 yards several of the nine pellets wandered into the "-3" zone. I was very pleased. I'll repeat this test again and take pics when the weather gets halfway decent and I get a day to head to the range. This particular load is my favorite general purpose load. If I were limited to one type of shell for my shotgun, this would be the one I'd take. Thirty rounds of Ranger Low Recoil 00 is what's in my go bag (more on this later).
This round has a bright red hull.
Since I'm not limited to one load, I choose a different round for home defense. The 870P's tube is filled with Federal Tactical Low Recoil #4 Buckshot(LE1324B) for home defense. Considering my apartment living arrangement, and the direction and proximity of my immediate neighbors, I've gone with the smaller pellet #4 load for safety reasons. I patterned my gun at five and ten yards. At both distances all pellets stayed inside the "-1" zone of the IDPA target. Considering my living conditions, this is perfect for what I want it to do. I feel it's the best balance of performance in target and lack of barrier penetration. This round has a dark red hull. Be aware, as it has been discontinued by Federal, this load can be fairly difficult to find if you attempt to buy some. I have a very limited supply myself, and have had much difficulty finding replacements for what I've shot. I'm presently scouring the internet and local shops, but have thus far been unsuccessful in finding more. When my supply is depleted I'll switch to the Ranger 00 exclusively, but I won't be happy about that change.
My chosen slug load is the brand mate to the 00 Buck. Winchester Ranger Low Recoil, 1oz.(RA12RS15). I shot this off the bench at 25 yards. All slugs stayed in the "-0" zone of the IDPA target. For fun, I also shot a few rounds at the target's head box at the 15 yard line unsupported. Head shots were easily accomplished. I keep 18 rounds of this load in my go bag. Something I think is great; this round has a medium grey hull (visually different than the red hull of the buckshot load).
Below are a couple pics of the shells and their boxes. Take note of how Winchester crimps and seals their buckshot load. I REALLY like this feature. The Federal shells will occasionally leak their shot buffer if they're not rotated out frequently (every six months at max). Subsequent research post writing this review has led me to the cause of this issue. Winchester makes their hulls out of a stiffer plastic to prevent warping or bulging in the magazine tube under spring tension. Federal's shells leak buffer because they're, literally, uncrimping inside the tube. That explains a LOT of what I've observed over the last few years.
Nothing is perfect. There are a few things about this gun I really don't like. Are they easily correctable? Yes. I choose not to do so things are the same across the board from work to home. Here's my short list...
-LOP!! The length of pull on this gun is a full sized 14". That's fine if you're in a duck blind or trap shooting with the Fudd's at the gunclub. Put body armor on and things suddenly don't fit right anymore. Fighting shotguns should come with 12" LOP stocks.
-Small-head safety. This is a pet peeve. While the safety is easy enough to find under normal conditions, if you add stress or gloves it's not such a simple task. A larger button on the safety would be a vast improvement.
-Rotating front sling stud. This is minor, but the front sling stud on my gun rotates. I'd prefer a fixed unit, to keep the sling from twisting around.
-Sights. While not a dislike, I think they could be better. The rifle sights as issued on the gun are fine, with a white triangle in the rear and a fairly small post with a white face on the front. That said, XS Sight Systems makes a tritium Express set for the 870 that would VASTLY improve on the 870's functionality as a close combat tool.
MY 870P and why I like a KISS shotgun.
My previous shotgun (a Mossberg 590A1) was loaded with tacticool goodies. I think I found about every way I could to modify it from the factory configuration. Dedicated forearm light, side saddle, shortened stock, ghost ring sights, adjustable choke...I did it all. It was heavy, slow, and stuff caught on everything. While the gun had a very high "cool factor", it never really made me happy with the way it felt. Sure, it had all the whizbang gadgets that make a gun look awesome in a youtube video, but when it came time to actually put the gun to use in training I was underwhelmed by the way it swung, came to the shoulder, and generally how it handled (the thing weighed a TON).
When I got this Remington, I promised myself I was going to keep it simple and exactly like my cruiser gun. I wanted clean and fast handling rather than sluggish with tacticool goodies. My first trip to the range simply reinforced what I already knew: KISS is best. The 870P swings from target to target with ease, is fast from ready to the shoulder, and doesn't have a bunch of crap on it affecting what is the best balance I've ever seen on a riot-type shotgun.
All of this brings the question "Well if you don't have a side saddle, where do you keep ammo?" That brings me to the next part of my thread title, the Sneaky Bag.
Showing the "Police Magnum" marking. Also visible at the front of the trigger guard is the action release lever.
The rear rifle sight.