For the most part the pump shotgun game is divided into two main camps; 870 or 500. Although there certainly are other pump shotgun makers out there that maker cheaper and more expensive versions of the pump shotgun the big two are Remington and Mossberg. When I was in the market for a pump gun I was basically making a choice between these two. I did not want something super cheap with no aftermarket, and I couldn’t spend the type of money to get into the higher end pumps. I became familiar with shotguns using the Remington platform and was used to the controls. Although I can operate a tang safety just fine having learned from O/U skeet gun I had for a time I still preferred the button safety. So my journey with the 870 began. I started out with a standard 26″ vent rib rem choke 870 express and this was fine. I left it well alone for at least a year and it was my constant companion to me whenever I went clay shooting.
My descent into madness began with the tacti-itch, that difficult to resist urge that most modern gun owners have to remove and semblance of traditional practicality and turn it into a liberals nightmare of blackgunnedness. This descent began simple enough. It began with a great deal on a 18.5″ cylinder bore, single front bead barrel that I found in the Bargain cave of my “local” Cabela’s. Quick and easy to switch between the 26″ and 18.5″ barrels for whatever reason I had the 18″ stayed on 90% of the time whether it was for skeet or hand thrown clays. I look back at this stage with the slightest tinge of regret because the dirty 18.5″ barrel with wood furniture gives that patrol car aesthetic that is still kinda cool.
I began thinking of furniture though because as I said this was a descent and it could not be stopped. I still to this day am just accepting the mantra of buy once cry once. Being a resident of the great state of New Jersey, we still have an AWB and pretty much the only thing you can have a collpsible stock on is a pump shotgun. Therefore I felt compelled to do so. I had my mind set on the pinnacle of of tacti-cool, the pistol gripped collapsible stock. I found a Blakhawk! Knoxx stock set for a good price at a gun show and jumped on it. After playing with the collapsible function of the stock for a while I was just tickled by my purchase. I proceeded to buy a Choate +2 extension and Mesa Tactical combination side saddle and picatinny rail. After throwing it all together I marveled at the tacticalness it possessed. I thought I was good to go, that is until I finally take it to shoot after all this tinkering only to realize the side saddle interferes with the new forend and wont cycle the gun. After a few four letter words and some pouting I packed it up for the day. All I had to do was simply take a Dremel to the forend so it would cycle. All is right in tacti-world again. This was until i put a red dot on top and realized my comb height was not nearly tall enough to get a decent and consistent sight picture. I then ordered some CAA m4 style stock cheek risers which did not fit he blackhawk stock because it is thicker than an m4 stock even though it looks the same. They would stay but weren’t exactly perfect so my sight picture still stunk. I gave in and chose to go down to the basic stock, no dot, and do some clay shooting with it. It felt as if the stock was made out of a cheese grater. This stock may work for some but sure wasn’t working for me.
Second and Final Permutation
So I basically took a gun that I could shoot a 23 hit round of skeet with and made it useless, fantastic.Inspiration came when I took my certification for hunter’s safety. Even though buying a compound bow got me interested in hunting I wanted to have the added flexibility of being able to partake in shotgun seasons as well. I took stock and realized the biggest problem was… THE STOCK. I also wanted to ensure that this gun would have some flexibiilty in its philosophy of use. I basically wanted a do-all gun and the 870 is the place to start. I wanted to have a viable defensive shotgun that I could also deploy as a hunting gun. I was almost all the way there just needed to get it to fit me properly. I needed that comb height for using anything rail mounted so I turned to Magpul. With the Magpul SGA stock I can add .75″ using oem parts and adjust that further with a little ingenuity if needed, I am a big guy so the available long length of pull is also nice. Removal of the pistol grip also returned the gun closer to original ergonomics and worked with the controls a lot better.
With the ergonomics improved I turned to aesthetics. I always turn to black as a color choice in most everything and was kinda tired of it. Plus I wanted to get closer to earth tones for the previously mentioned hunting applications for this firearm. So I chose to go with the Magpul stock in FDE. Now that I was settled on FDE I could not just leave the gun black with FDE furniture. I decided to go for broke and try and locate a Cerakote Applicator near me. I found Gus from Dynamic Combat Solutions through Cerakote’s website and after filling out a contact form was contacted via email. After talking logistics and checking out his Instagram Page I was convinced his shop was a good fit for me. I decided to go with burnt bronze which is an interesting color because it goes well with the FDE but gives a clear two toned definition to the gun, once you add the original black accent pieces I felt the look would be dynamite. I wasn’t wrong it came out great, Gus’s work was top notch I have a gun that looks sick, is a little easier to camoflague, and will withstand some abuse. This color changes depending on lighting. it gets bright and gold in hue in harsh bright light and gets a deeper browner color in shady light.With the addition of wraps and some naturally aquired ghillie style camoflauge this gun can certainly blend in with the wooded hunting grounds of New Jersey. With the current complement of barrels, optics options of the rock solid mount provided by the mesa rail, and the adaptibiity of the stockset; I am confident that there is not an application whether it be hunting, defense, or otherwise this system cant handle. It was a long journey and well worth it, I learned a lot.
Conclusion and Future
I certainly did learn a lot about my buying habits and what is important in the gear we buy. My advise would be if you are interested in a bit of kit that you arent already familiar with get some range time with it first before you put your time, money, and sanity into it. Currently all I am running is the standard comb height and bead and fiber optic from sights. I am upgrading the 26″ barrel to a more robust light pipe fiber optic system to make it more distinct while viewing through the rail. As for the mounted optics I am looking at getting a rail mounted ghost ring system either through LPA sights or Hi-viz. These would provide back up to a Vortex Optics SPARC 2.