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Remington Special Field Model 870.

* If there's one pump shotgun in the world that doesn't need an introduction to the shooting public it's the Model 870 Remington. First introduced in 1950, sales have totalled better than 3,000,000 guns in slightly over 33 years. The 870 has appeared in a variety of guises; field guns, trap guns, skeet guns, 3-inch magnum versions in both 12 and 20 gauge, presentation models, and the list goes on and on. There's even a single-shot version with a gas reduction system for trap shooters. Truly the 870 is the most versatile of pump shotguns.

Just about the time you think Remington has exhausted the variations with the 870 lineup, along rolls another modification of the basic 870, and to my way of thinking this latest offering makes a great deal of sense for the upland bird hunter. The new version (variation, revision, modification?) is called the Special Field 870, and it's available in both 12 and 20 gauge, both, by the way, chambered for 3-inch magnum shells.

Light weight and fast handling are the trademarks of this latest 870, the former because in 12 gauge the gun only weights 6-3/4 pounds (the 20 gauge version is only 5-3/4 pounds), and the latter due to the interchangeable 21-inch barrels both gauges are fitted with.

In order to keep the balance of the gun between the shooter's hands, weight has been pared from both the front and rear of the receiver, and the magazine tube is shortened to coincide with the "standard" shorter barrel. Also, the fore-end has been trimmed in keeping with the whole motif. As a result, the entire gun it shorter than an 870 skeet gun this writer owns that's chambered in 28 gauge!

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between a standard Model 870 and the new Special Field is the straight grip buttstock the gun is fitted with. All in all, the Special Field is an eye-catcher sitting in a gun rack next to more traditional 870s.

Our test gun was chambered in 12 gauge and fitted with a barrel choked in "modified" persuasion. also available are improved cylinder and full choke barrels. Many tests by the arms manufacturers have proven that the shorter barrels give up very little, if any, to the longer tubes when it comes to performance--other than sight radius, of course--but what a difference the light weight will make on a long trek in the field looking for late season pheasant, or any other upland bird for that matter. I'm a big of the pump gun--I've used one all my life--but toting around a 7 to 7-1/2-pound gun for hours on end rapidly gets old. That 28 gauge 870 skeet gun I mentioned earlier is my normal field gun simply because I don't like carrying the heavier models hour after hour.

We didn't have a chance to hunt with this new 870 due to the season, but a couple of skeet rounds were tried. Because of the modified choke, I can't say I hit them all, but the vast majority were nothing but puffs in the sky. The gun swung and pointed well, and this fall I hope to have the chance to use it in the field. Quite frankly, I don't have the desire to shoot it much with 3-inch magnums. I fired a few through it at skeet, and it does let the shooter know there's some recoil. Buffered number 6 Federal premium 3-inchers were the choice and with that light of a shotgun you'd know you fired a couple of boxes by checking out your shoulder the next day. However, with standard velocity 2-3/4-inch loads the gun is quite comfortable to shoot for a long period of time.

A nice touch is the rubber butt pad that comes standard. I think all shotguns should come with one simply because of the type of clothing used in normal upland bird hunting; the rubber pad aids in keeping the gun properly mounted. The cut checkering was done at 18 lines per inch, not too heavy to look unsightly, but it's just coarse enough to provide a good grip in the field.

About the only item I felt could be improved was the trigger pull. It had some takeup and a slight amount of creep. However, today's trigger pulls are decided more by legal departments than the engineering staff. Happily, a good gunsmith can put a good to superb trigger on the 870 in about half an hour. Don't attempt it yourself unless you know what you're doing.

Other than the trigger pull I could find nothing about the newest 870 I didn't like. Because of the shorter magazine tube, total shell capacity is cut by one--to four--but most shooters put in the plug for a capacity of three shells anyway. This shouldn't be a problem for a hunter.

A ventilated rib is standard, and much to my surprise it's fitted with two beads--a white plastic front bead and a metal middle one. To my way of thinking all shotguns should have two beads because they allow the shooter to align his gun much easier.

If you like pump guns, light pump guns, then you should look at Remington's new offering. The price should be around $320.00, and for that it delivers a great deal, in every way but weight. Contact them at Dept. GA, 939 Barnum Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06601.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Hetzler, Dave
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Aug 1, 1984
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