Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Friday, September 18, 2009
Turner’s Ruger Days
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Get political

Remington 870

    I want to talk about the Remington Model 870 pump-action shotgun. Actually there are now more than 10 million reasons to talk about that model, because that’s how many of them Big Green has made since it was introduced in 1950.

    As the fall bird seasons are upon us, it is a proper time to discuss shotguns. Through its long history (at 193 years in business, Remington is American’s oldest gunmaker), Remington has made relatively few models of pump shotgun, and all have been produced in the past 101 years, starting with the Remington Repeating Shotgun in 1908.

    It was a bottom-eject gun, as were its successors, the Models 10, 17 and 29. The Model 31, introduced in 1931, was the first Remington pump shotgun with side ejection, and the 870 followed it. This year, however, Remington has introduced its next pump shotgun model – the 887. Production of the 870 continues, and the 887 is not likely to replace it anytime soon.

    The 870, known as the “Wingmaster,” handles as well as about any gun out there – especially the early ones, which handled about as well as a best grade break open gun.
    I remember when the 870 was introduced, so I’m dated. Okay. But for me, the real mystique of using an 870, which I do a lot each year, involves memories I have of shooting 870s (and other guns) with Remington’s Rudy Etchen. Rudy, of course, was known in Gundom as “Mr. 870.”

    Rudy was one of my heroes when alive and remains so now. Among other things, he was a shotgun champ in all respects. He even won the doubles event at the Grand American trapshoot with an 870. When he shot, he was so quick and smooth that I couldn’t detect his going through the manual pumping action to cycle the gun. Truly, he was a master of both the pump gun and the 870.

    But back to the gun itself. It is interesting to note that it took 16 years for Remington to make the first million 870s. The 2 million mark came in 1973, 3 million in 1978, 4 million in 1984, 5 million in 1990, 6 million in 1993, 7 million in 1996, etc.
    In addition to superb handling qualities, there are two other things that have contributed to unprecedented success – durability and price. The 870 is as close to ruggedly foolproof and trouble-free as a gun can get, and it is relatively inexpensive. 

    Any 870 is one heck of a nice shotgun that can be relied upon to do what it is intended to do, every time, anytime. What more can one want? Some folks allege that the Remington 870 is the best pump shotgun ever made. I will not dispute it.

Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at

Photo 1: REMINGTON PUMP SHOTGUNS HAVE been a factor on the market for 101 years, and the Model 870 this year passed the 10 million mark. Earlier Remington pumps featured bottom ejection, like the Model 17 at top here. The first side-eject from Remington was the Model 31, at center, and the Model 870, at bottom, is the one that has just made history.

Photo 2: GENE LUMSDEN, OF BOTH Legacy Sports and Turner’s Outdoorsman stores, shows a nice bison he took at about 100 yards recently on a hunt in Idaho at Pine Mountain Ranch. 

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