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Thread: upgrading stock Remington 870 Express to duty grade spec

  1. #1
    I have a pretty much stock Remington 870 Express HD. This version has a screw on extended mag tube for 6+1 capacity and an 18.5" cylinder barrel. Currently, the only accessories on it are a Wolff mag spring, 6-rd side saddle, and a 2pt sling (mounted on a buttstock sling adapter and a BFG wire loop)

    Current issues to address:

    1) stock safety is tiny and hard to flick off. What aftermarket safeties are recommended?

    2) extended mag tube always comes loose after shooting. It is only retained by the barrel band. NOt sure what the issue is here?

    3) light - is the Surefire integrated forend worth the money or could I slap a light onto a magpul forend?

    4) sights - currently running just the standard bead sight. Ideally, I would like to have aperture style irons with a tritum front. Also would like a picatinny rail to mount an Aimpoint. Any brand to recommend?

    5) side saddle - stick with the screw on 6-rd side saddle or go with velcro mounted?



    any other things to consider?

  2. #2
    Site Supporter Giving Back's Avatar
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    Mesa tactical can take care of your side saddle/rail/Aimpoint issue all in one. Or you can try a Mesa side saddle with iron ghost ring sight, add a front sight over the bead, and try a Burris Speedbead for your RDS. There are lots and lots of options in the 870 world, and you kind of have to drive the bus, as it comes down to what works for you.

    Light? Personal choice. I don't put one on my shotgun. SF are easy to operate, but may or may not fit your shooting method, or budget. It also may or may not suit your needs. The add on lights tend to be a little less robust, not as user friendly to operate, and can be difficult to keep on while firing. Again, what works for you .

    I like Hans Vang's big button safety, and high visibility mag followers.

    I have found the factory mag tubes lacking a lot. Try something from Vang, or even Mesa if they are still selling them. Generally, a +2 is plenty. However, if you don't want to drop the cash on a new tube, try a wrap of Teflon tape like you use on air or water pipes/tubes. Sometimes it can tighten up thread fit.

  3. #3
    These are just my preferences. You may like them after trying them, or you may not.

    1) stock safety is tiny and hard to flick off. What aftermarket safeties are recommended?

    Vang comp dome safety is my favorite. Very easy to use in several different ways.

    2) extended mag tube always comes loose after shooting. It is only retained by the barrel band. NOt sure what the issue is here?

    I'd replace that extension with a 1 shot extension from either Tac-star, Scattergun tech/Wilson, or Vangcomp. Better balance/weight, and I've never had one come loose.

    3) light - is the Surefire integrated forend worth the money or could I slap a light onto a magpul forend?

    I have never liked any of the surefire forends, though other guys love them. I haven't used a magpul forend, but it looks promising. Ellzetta is a cheap option to try and see if you like it.

    4) sights - currently running just the standard bead sight. Ideally, I would like to have aperture style irons with a tritum front. Also would like a picatinny rail to mount an Aimpoint. Any brand to recommend?

    Vang Comp makes a good combo rail/ghost ring set up. You may find the red dot is too high on the rail, but you can always build the comb up if need be.

    5) side saddle - stick with the screw on 6-rd side saddle or go with velcro mounted?

    I have both, and both have held up fine, but I think I prefer the plastic screw on one. 4 rounds though, not 6. I find them easier to use.

    Hogue short shot stock is pretty nice too.

    Hope that helps.

  4. #4
    Member KevH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shootist26 View Post
    I have a pretty much stock Remington 870 Express HD. This version has a screw on extended mag tube for 6+1 capacity and an 18.5" cylinder barrel. Currently, the only accessories on it are a Wolff mag spring, 6-rd side saddle, and a 2pt sling (mounted on a buttstock sling adapter and a BFG wire loop)

    Current issues to address:

    1) stock safety is tiny and hard to flick off. What aftermarket safeties are recommended?

    2) extended mag tube always comes loose after shooting. It is only retained by the barrel band. NOt sure what the issue is here?

    3) light - is the Surefire integrated forend worth the money or could I slap a light onto a magpul forend?

    4) sights - currently running just the standard bead sight. Ideally, I would like to have aperture style irons with a tritum front. Also would like a picatinny rail to mount an Aimpoint. Any brand to recommend?

    5) side saddle - stick with the screw on 6-rd side saddle or go with velcro mounted?



    any other things to consider?
    You're asking what bolt on gizmos can I add to an Express to make it ready for duty use. My first suggestion would to get an older 870P. They're cheap and the arguably more robust parts and fit/finish are worth the few bucks.

    The primary question is how will the gun be used and with what ammo? Are you running it as a patrol gun? Are you going to shoot buck or slugs or both? If buck, are you using Federal Flite Control wads? Do you also carry an AR in your car? Do you live where there are bears and other large beasts?

    The shotgun is at its best at room distance and high risk car stop distances. We're talking at 50 yards and in with 25 yards being even more ideal. Inside of those ranges the gun with 00Buck or #1Buck is absolutely devastating, especially with a Federal Flite Control wad. The Flite Control is so good in fact that it has more or less negated the need for backboring, porting and the other junk we used to do. It also allowed the shot to impact so close I think on human targets it has negated the need for slugs unless you're dealing with someone dressed head to toe in body armor or barricaded inside an older steal vehicle. I can make head shots (impact area the size of a baseball) with FliteControl 00Buck and a bead sight all day long at 15 yards and have my guys doing the same.

    I think your goal with any duty long gun needs to be to keep it as lightweight and simple as possible. Spend a few hours on a perimeter and you'll want to strip all the extra crap you thought you needed off. So what do you really need?

    Sights:
    If we're using mainly 00Buck or we are simply staying within 50 yards a simple bead sight (bead on a pedestal or ramp mind you) is the fastest and simplest. I have MMC Ghost Rings on one of my 870's and had a Scattergun Tech gun for awhile with their version. I much prefer the simple bead. Rifle sights have their place to. You really need to play with all three to see what you like, but I'll take Remington's standard bead on pedestal over all the options.

    Stock:
    13" LOP is ideal if you're wearing soft body armor if you're 5'5" or over (if under buy Hogue's 12" LOP). Speedfeed's Youth stock with a Remington R3 pad works nicely. Pistol grip shotgun stocks don't allow it to point and swing the way it should to lead the target and in my opinion detract from letting you properly employ the "push/pull" method (it makes you pull the grip slightly downward). Keep the pistol grip on rifles.

    Sling:
    Should be a two point or single point on a pump gun. Three points get in the way of cycling the forend. I prefer the VTAC MkI on 870's. I'm sure a VCAS or a SOB would work well too. Carry strap style slings are useless.

    Magtube:
    I like the +1 extensions. I do not like the +2. I carry mine with "patrol ready" with only 4 in the tube. This allows me to put a slug in the magtube and rack it in should I want it rather than having to dick with pushing my thumb up into the mag tube to keep the buck in the tube. They also let the gun retain a decent balance in the hand and keep some weight off.

    Light:
    I run an old Surefire 618 with some grip tape on it. The newer 618FA's are huge and bulky and weigh way too much. I don't know what Surefire was thinking. We are about to start testing EOTech/Insight forend at my department. Hit me up in a few months and I'll let you know how they're working out.

    SideSaddle:
    Mesa Tactical 4 round or 6 round are my preference. GG&G is making one too now that looks promising. I haven't had a chance to play with one yet. I used the TacStar version for years. They work, but bend and warp after time. I have a gun that's worn one for almost fifteen years and it is slightly warped, but still functional. If you choose to run one use a little blue Loctite on the screws as they tend to work loose.

    Safety:
    I had a VangComp one and I also have had a Wilson Combat one. I ditched them and run a stock one. I have used and have evaluated the use of the 870 in some bad situations. No one has ever reported having a hard time disabling the standard safety under stress when they needed to. I don't think it is something you need. If you feel you really want one knock yourself out. Hans Vang makes good stuff. I prefer the factory safety.

  5. #5
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    I don't have the time behind the gun like the other posters but I've gone through a few shotgun classes and really enjoy my 870.

    I used the Vang Comp safety button but traded out to a Wilson Combat which I like better. Softer on my delicate finger.

    I really like the hi vis follower like another poster mentioned, I got a metal one and upgraded the mag tube spring.

    I've got a left arm about three inches shorter than the right so the surefire foreend doesn't work for me. I mounted a rail and added a surefire x300.

    It helped a lot when I worked out my length of pull, 12 1/2" so I would encourage you to play with that.

    I had a custom guy add a choke and do so work so I've got a good pattern out to 35 yards with regular buck. I really like having that extra reach.

    Thanks for reminding me I need to go out and run that gun. It's so much fun.

    Cheers,
    Cookie Monster

  6. #6
    Member LHS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shootist26 View Post
    I have a pretty much stock Remington 870 Express HD. This version has a screw on extended mag tube for 6+1 capacity and an 18.5" cylinder barrel. Currently, the only accessories on it are a Wolff mag spring, 6-rd side saddle, and a 2pt sling (mounted on a buttstock sling adapter and a BFG wire loop)

    Current issues to address:

    1) stock safety is tiny and hard to flick off. What aftermarket safeties are recommended?

    2) extended mag tube always comes loose after shooting. It is only retained by the barrel band. NOt sure what the issue is here?

    3) light - is the Surefire integrated forend worth the money or could I slap a light onto a magpul forend?

    4) sights - currently running just the standard bead sight. Ideally, I would like to have aperture style irons with a tritum front. Also would like a picatinny rail to mount an Aimpoint. Any brand to recommend?

    5) side saddle - stick with the screw on 6-rd side saddle or go with velcro mounted?



    any other things to consider?
    First thing's first, I'd swap out the guts for some 870P stuff. The Express guns just seem... shaky to me, especially in the last few years. See if you can find an old Police or Wingmaster in a pawn shop, and strip off whatever accessories you want to keep from the Express.

    As to your specific questions:

    1. I've had great luck with Wilson/Scattergun, but I am intrigued by the Vang big dome. I don't have enough time with one to give you an honest opinion, however.

    2. As previous posters have mentioned, the long factory extension is pretty weak-sauce. Get a 1-round or 2-round extension from Wilson/Scattergun or Vang Comp. The 1-round will keep better balance on the gun, and I know a lot of shotgun folks who prefer them. Some will even keep that extra capacity empty to facilitate doing a select-slug drill (in effect, the extension is there purely to allow slug transitions, rather than for extra capacity). Personally, I use a 2-round extension most of the time, and load 5 rounds in the mag. That lets me do the slug transition while still giving me 20% more ammo, and the balance is still reasonable.

    3. I don't like the newer Surefire fore ends. I like the older, slimmer, hard plastic ones (from the Laser Products era). I haven't tried any of the newer Magpul or rail systems, I like to keep my shotgun fairly simple and clutter-free.

    4. As mentioned, a proper ramped bead will work fine for most shotgun applications. The ghost-rings are really just there to let you reach out a bit further with slugs while maintaining speed up close. The Wilson/Scattergun sights give you a cleaner sight picture, IMHO, but the Vangs have wings to protect the rear aperture. I've also seen the Wilson rear cut in half, making a very wide U-notch rear instead of a ring. I don't have enough time on that configuration to give an opinion, but at least one big-name shotgun instructor loves it.

    5. I have solid Sidesaddles on both of my 870s (one has a 6-round, one has a 4-round), and I like them fine. I haven't played with the velcro ones, but given what I've seen with velcro in general, I question how long they'd last compared to a solid. Plus, I live in a very hot climate, so you have to wonder how the attachments will work. I like the idea in general, but I'm not sure velcro is the way to do it properly. For now, just keep the one you have and learn to run it.

    In addition, almost all standard shotgun stocks are too long for modern techniques. I run Remington youth stocks on my 870s, as I found the Hogue to be too short, though it would be good if I were in a position to wear armor. I'd like to try out the new Magpul stock, but I can't see shelling out more than a C-note for a stock when my factory youth stocks work just fine. That's also why I haven't played with the pistol grip/AR-stock units either.

    Finally, get some specialized shotgun training. There are some good scattergun instructors around, you just have to look a bit, as it's not as sexy or popular as the carbine.
    Last edited by LHS; 12-28-2012 at 11:07 AM. Reason: added info on stocks

  7. #7
    10.3" Master Race TGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevH View Post
    Stock:
    13" LOP is ideal if you're wearing soft body armor if you're 5'5" or over (if under buy Hogue's 12" LOP). Speedfeed's Youth stock with a Remington R3 pad works nicely. Pistol grip shotgun stocks don't allow it to point and swing the way it should to lead the target and in my opinion detract from letting you properly employ the "push/pull" method (it makes you pull the grip slightly downward). Keep the pistol grip on rifles.
    I've never liked pistol grips on a shotgun either. I need to put a proper stock on an old 500 I own; I looked into the Speedfeed, but I've read a lot of reports of shells popping out the stock under recoil, so I didn't purchase one. I'm also read that the Knoxx recoil reduction stocks are a joke. Anything to comment on those two stocks?

    Otherwise, what would you guys suggest I get for a fixed stock?
    "Are you ready? Okay. Let's roll."- Last words of Todd Beamer

  8. #8
    I now have the Magpul butt stock on several 870 shotguns. It gives you the benefits of a pistol grip for one hand operation, but doesn't have the darn pistol grip protruding to bang on you when slung. The Magpul stock also does an excellent job of soaking up the recoil from slugs.

  9. #9
    Shotguns are really "my thing". I have done most of my high risk searches with a 870, and I always brought my shotgun when I knew I was rolling to a hot call.

    Safety-Vang Big Speed Safety

    Extensions-Vang,

    Sights-If I am running a bead, I like it on a vent rib. I like Ghost Rings. I currently use an Aimpoint Micro on my first line shotguns (it is really cheating.....and my idea of a fair fight is clubbing baby harp seals). At some point I will build a shotgun around the X/S sights express set up, as I think this would be a really hot set up for the 12 gauge and its typical employment range.

    Stocks-I can run both a pistol grip or a field stock and I am about split on them. The pluses and minuses offset themselves about evenly. For compressed and field work, I like the conventional stock, for indoor work, I like the pistol grip. I have one gun set up with a CAR style stock that I will probably ditch for to try the Magpul set up. I like them set up short.

    I've always run the Surefire Forends on my 870's. There may be better options now, but the Surefire is a fairly well proven commodity.

    Like many suggested, I would dump the express to find a police if you plan on really shooting the crap out of it. I think Vang Comp will do an upgrade package on the Express.

    I run full Vang Comp barrels on all my 870's.

    Hope this helps.
    Just a Hairy Special Snowflake supply clerk with no field experience, shooting an Asymetric carbine as a Try Hard. Snarky and easily butt hurt. Favorite animal is the Cape Buffalo....likely indicative of a personality disorder.
    "If I had a grandpa, he would look like Delbert Belton".

  10. #10
    +1 to everything these superstars have said

    Now my preferances are Vang comp everything:

    Barrel: Hans sometimes has police take-offs that he will sell for cheap with the work all done. (Try to get one without porting, I shot mine without earpro=not good.)

    Ghostring sight (his front sight is robust and well protected, and the front takes an AR front sight)

    1 shot extension (handier then 2 shot extention and more robust the 2 shot)

    Forearm has to be surefire (I like the less cluttered old school laser products one)

    Stock, Hogue super short ( although I will be trying a magpul stock)

    As far as side saddles go I like all of the well made ones, the Mesa Tactical 6 shot is good. I haven't tried the Velcro ones nor due I intend to they appear to be weak.

    Take it for what it is worth, not much.
    Last edited by R.M.T.; 12-31-2012 at 11:53 AM.

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