Remington 870 Shotgun Review

Remington 870 Tactical Express

April 23rd 2024

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Remington 870 Express

  • Price: $350.00  
  • Barrel length: 18 inch  
  • Weight: 7 lbs  
  • Capacity: 4+1


  • ✓ Iconic design and trusted reliability
  • ✓ Comfortable grip and recoil management
  • ✓ Superior build quality with milled steel receiver
  • ✓ Competitive price point


  • ✗ Basic forend design with minimalistic features
  • ✗ Plastic components in non-critical areas

The Old School King of American Shotguns

The Remington 870 is not just a shotgun; it’s an American icon. Known for its solid build and reliable performance, this shotgun is a staple in the gun safes of enthusiasts and professionals alike.  

It is more than 70 years old and is the best selling shotgun in America’s history. The action has stayed true to its roots, with only minor evolutions along the way, although there are different versions these days that cover everything from home defense to sport shooting.  

We’re focusing on the shorter barrel Remington 870 Express today, but we’ll spare a moment for the others too. 


The Remington 870 has carved out its niche as the go-to pump-action shotgun thanks to robust construction, excellent handling, and an affordable price tag. Its legendary status is backed by decades of consistent quality and a firm presence in American culture. 

In fact this is the best selling shotgun in American history and has been with us since 1950, when Remington revealed its new take on the traditional boom stick. By 1973 Remington had sold 2 million units and it went on to produce 9 million more of these pump action shotguns in the next 50 years. That’s 11 million units, plus a few, and not too many firearms have got close to that kind of sales success, let alone shotguns. 

So the Remington 870 is truly one of the icons of the firearms world. And if you’re a gun guy, you’ve probably got one somewhere. If not, you really should… 

Our Hands-on Test

In our hands-on evaluation, the Remington 870 immediately impressed with its solid feel and ease of operation. It’s just intuitive and obvious, a gun you could pick up and shoot if you’ve never handled a gun before.  

The shotgun handles a variety of ammunition types flawlessly, demonstrating its all-round versatility. The ergonomics are on point, with a rubberized grip and a well-placed comb providing a comfortable shooting experience even during extended sessions. 

However, the basic plastic forend and the simplicity of the stock design may not appeal to everyone, especially those used to modern tactical features. But these are minor dings and overall, we like it.  

It feels like it could survive years of abuse, mistreatment and just about everything else, and still come up firing.  

Test Scores

Price: 5/5  

The Remington 870 is exceptional value. Priced at $350, it provides a balance of quality and affordability that is hard to beat in today’s market. 

Accuracy: 4/5  

This shotgun is reliable and accurate enough for home defense. Accuracy is a pretty abstract concept with 12 gauge shotguns, but it’s certainly a match for its immediate rivals with an 18.5 inch barrel.  

Reliability: 5/5  

The 870’s reputation for reliability is well-earned. It cycles smoothly and handles various ammunition types without any hiccups, ensuring dependable performance when it matters most. It didn’t falter in our test, and most don’t. That’s its main USP. 

Capacity: 3/5  

The standard capacity of 4+1 is fine for most users, although some might prefer a higher capacity. A simple magazine extension tube takes care of that.  

Weight: 4/5  

At just over seven pounds, the 870 strikes a good balance between heft, maneuverability and recoil. It could be lighter, but really doesn’t need to be. 

Ergonomics: 4/5  

Rubber material on the grip areas and a recoil-absorbing butt pad enhances comfort and control. So it is a pleasure to shoot. 

Features: 3.5/5  

The Remington 870 doesn’t boast the high-tech features of more expensive shotguns, but its simplicity is part of its charm. This gun is about practicality and performance, not pretty looks. 

Value: 5/5  

For those looking for a reliable and effective shotgun without breaking the bank, the Remington 870 is a top choice.  

Technical Highlights

The Remington 870 features an 18″ barrel, ideal for a variety of shooting situations. The construction includes a blued steel receiver and bolt, enhancing durability and performance. That receiver is milled from solid steel, by the way, rather than simply forged. 

The traditional pump-action mechanism comes with twin action bars that keep the pump action stable and reliable. It is renowned for its reliability, making the 870 a preferred choice for hunters and home defense alike. 

Optional Versions and Specs

The 870 comes in various models, including tactical, hunting, and trap versions. This allows for customization and upgrades, such as extended magazines or specialized sights, adapting the shotgun to any scenario. 

You can turn the basic Remington 870 action into whatever you need, if you hit the parts & accessories store. But you can also buy the perfect gun off the peg if the standard tactical shotgun isn’t your thing.  

Other versions of the Remington 870 include: 

  • Remington 870 Tac-14 – With a short 14 inch barrel and a Raptor birds head grip, this is purely for self-defense and isn’t legal in every state. It also isn’t as accurate as the standard 870 Tac shotgun, but it is great for close quarters combat.  
  • Remington 870 Tactical – Basically the same as the Express with a pistol grip and pared down stock.  
  • Remington 870 Fieldmaster – This is the hunting version, with barrels ranging from 23 inches to a full 28 inch barrel version that is more accurate. 
  • Remington 870 Wingmaster – Specifically aimed at bird shooting, you can order a 28 inch barrel version.  
  • Remington 870 Super Magnum Turkey – The Super Magnum version comes with a stronger stainless steel receiver that can handle 3.5 inch shells for turkey hunting.  

There are lots of other variants, including the tactical with a Magpul chassis and another with a side folding stock. You can get an Express Turkey gun, and there was a magazine fed shotgun for a while.  

Key Reasons to Buy

  • Outstanding reliability and solid build quality.  
  • Comfortable and user-friendly design.  
  • Excellent price-to-performance ratio.  
  • Versatile for a wide range of activities, from home defense to recreational shooting.  
  • Backed by the reputation of an iconic American brand. 

What the Experts Say

Experts and longtime users alike praise the Remington 870 for its steadfast reliability and straightforward design. It is frequently recommended as the best entry-level shotgun due to its ease of use, accessibility and robust construction.  

Widespread adoption by law enforcement and sporting communities further underscores its effectiveness and dependability. 

Key Rivals

In comparison to its main competitor, the Mossberg 500, the Remington 870 often comes out ahead. Normally it comes down to build quality and trust in a shotgun, as well as things like the smoothness of the action and the stock’s feel and grip.  

While both shotguns are highly regarded and it often comes down to personal preference, the Remington 870 edges out due to its slightly superior finish and the comfort of its stock design. 

The Mossberg 590 is another solid competitor, while the likes of the Benelli Nova are also worth considering. The Remington 870 is a match for both, comes with more parts & accessories, as well as customization than the Benelli. As for the Mossberg 590, you can really flip a coin. They’re both massively capable shotguns and personal preference will be the decider.

Known Issues and Problems

One of the few clear criticisms of the Remington 870 is the replacement of the metal trigger guard with a plastic version in newer models. Additionally, the forend, although functional, is beyond simple. These are minor issues, however, and do not significantly impact the overall performance and reliability of the shotgun. 

Remington has been through the mill itself and when the finances were really at the worst, quality control did seem to suffer. Certain vintage shotguns, especially those produced around 2007, did have issues with machining on the receiver, which could lead to failure to extract and other problems.

The company also dropped the price of the Express model to meet the oncoming threat of the Turkish shotgun manufacturers. Cheaper parts were blamed for rust outbreaks and broken extractors, and the company took the Express out of production for a while. Now it’s back, at a higher price point, and the problems of old are just a bad memory.

Is it California Legal?

The Remington 870 is available in configurations that comply with California’s strict gun laws, ensuring that residents of the state can legally own and operate this versatile shotgun. Specific models are designed to meet the state’s requirements without compromising on the functionality or performance. 

Company Profile

Remington Arms has a storied history that dates back to 1816, making it one of America’s oldest gun makers. The Remington 870, in particular, has been a flagship product since its introduction in 1950. It is arguably the flagship of the company and symbolizes its commitment to sturdy, reliably weapons that can serve on the front line or in the home. 

Remington has always been a pioneer in terms of design and mass production. Despite facing financial challenges, repeated bankruptcies and changes in ownership, the brand remains a respected name in the gun community. 


The Remington 870 is a testament to traditional firearms manufacturing, offering a blend of simplicity, efficiency, and effectiveness that is hard to find in modern shotguns. Its widespread use by law enforcement and sportsmen across the country is a strong endorsement of its basic skills.  

For anyone looking for a reliable, no-frills shotgun that performs well under a variety of conditions, the Remington 870 remains a top choice. Its affordability, solid build and dependable performance, make it a must-have. 


  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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