Older 20ga for HD?

Tactical, combat, military, law enforcement and home defense use of a Remington 870 shotgun.
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dmcowles
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Older 20ga for HD?

Post by dmcowles » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:50 pm

I'd like your opinions on something I've been considering. I have a ca. 1951 mod. (EXX code on bbl) 870 in 20 ga. It is a great field gun in vg-ex condition (The wood and varnish (checked) are good, no cracks, 95% blue, and everything functions just great. Has the original wooden mag plug, -sn. 12909xx,) but it is the only scattergun I still own and am keeping it for personal/home protection. It has a mod choke 28" bbl which I would think needs to be cut down by 8" or so to be most effective (using #3 buck, about the best I can do in 2 3/4" shotshells.) Would it be a bad idea to have it cut down? Should I just try and sell it or swap it for a Mossberg 500 or somesuch? Would it be an even value trade? Is this something that a collector would prize?

Thx in advance.
Dave

DaveC
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Re: Older 20ga for HD?

Post by DaveC » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:39 pm

My $0.02:

If I wanted to use it as an HD gun, I'd have the barrel shortened by a professional gunsmith to 18-1/2-in. to 20-in. or so... Can a spare barrel be located and used? I'd check to see if there was another barrel available.

personally, I'd rather have a 1951 Remington 870 than a new Mossberg 500, but you might feel different. If you ever decide to do shotgun sports with your 20-gauge, I'd think twice about permanantly altering the barrel, but otherwise, why no? :?:
Alle Kunst ist umsonst, wenn ein Engel in das Zündloch prunst.

dmcowles
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Re: Older 20ga for HD?

Post by dmcowles » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:56 pm

After thinking about this, I believe there may come a time fairly soon when I may need to put meat on the table in the absence of supermarkets and commerce. That old 870 will probably get a pig with the #3 buck shot or a rabbit or squirrel with some #6. I guess I can manage the extra barrel length for HD. Thanks for your input.

Chief Brody
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Re: Older 20ga for HD?

Post by Chief Brody » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:15 pm

Why not find a new or used 18" barrel to use for HD, then swap on the 28" for hunting? The improvement in maneuverability will be very substantial.
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Synchronizor
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Re: Older 20ga for HD?

Post by Synchronizor » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:42 am

dmcowles wrote:It has a mod choke 28" bbl which I would think needs to be cut down by 8" or so to be most effective (using #3 buck, about the best I can do in 2 3/4" shotshells.) Would it be a bad idea to have it cut down?
It'll really depend on how you plan to use the gun. Often, the most effective way to employ a shotgun for home defense is to take a defensible position, contact the police, and wait for the intruder come to you (if they do at all). In that case, a longer barrel really isn't that much of a detriment. On the other hand, if this is the only firearm in the house, and you may need to move through your dwelling with it to round up family members (or hunt down an intruder, if you're feeling reckless), then a shorter barrel may be nice. Still, a handgun would be a far better choice for this than any shotgun.
dmcowles wrote:Should I just try and sell it or swap it for a Mossberg 500 or somesuch? Would it be an even value trade? Is this something that a collector would prize?
You could look into it, but from what I've seen, standard 870s don't have a ton of collector appeal.

As for the Mossberg 500, they're good utility guns for the price, and if you're okay with the fit, feel, and control setup (not that they're bad, just quite different compared to an 870), a basic hunting model with an extra 18.5" HD barrel would probably work well for you, based on what you've shared here. However, most Mossberg 500s aren't built as tough as 870s are, and they don't handle abuse as well. I'm not trying to dump on the Mossbergs, they are good guns, but unlike 870s, which are all identical apart from cosmetics and some minor parts, the various Mossberg 500-series models are more variegated, and you get what you pay for. The military-grade 500s and 590s are seriously tough guns, but on the other end of the scale, the entry-level, low-price-point 500s just don't seem to be built for more than light use. There are some common issues that can arise if they're used as real working guns without at least upgrading some of the cheaper components. Again, nothing against the Mossbergs; for a lot of people, an inexpensive, light-duty shotgun is all they need, and Mossberg is smart for supplying that market in addition to offering higher-end models. Just be aware that a lot of the used 500s on the market are these lower-end models, so if you're trading for one, you'll want to make sure it's in proper working order and doesn't have existing problems, and you may want to go through and upgrade some parts.
Chief Brody wrote:Why not find a new or used 18" barrel to use for HD, then swap on the 28" for hunting? The improvement in maneuverability will be very substantial.
I'm not sure (I'm in my University office and don't have all my information bookmarks), but I don't think Remington made any 18" barrels for the old large-frame 20ga 870s. In fact, back in 1951, I don't think there were any factory 18" 870 barrels, period. There was an 870R - Riot Grade model in the original lineup, but that had a 20" barrel (and I believe it was only offered in 12ga). I have seen 20" slug barrels for the large-frame 20ga 870s (here's an example), and there's always the option of buying a longer barrel and cutting it down. However, from what I've seen, large-frame 20ga barrels of any type are tough to find, and expensive.
dmcowles wrote:After thinking about this, I believe there may come a time fairly soon when I may need to put meat on the table in the absence of supermarkets and commerce. That old 870 will probably get a pig with the #3 buck shot or a rabbit or squirrel with some #6. I guess I can manage the extra barrel length for HD.
This is my suggestion: hang on to your gun. You can't go wrong with an 870, and it sounds like yours is in excellent shape and fits you well. Even with 2.75" shells only, a 20ga is a capable choice for many types of hunting, and it's an outstanding choice for HD. Consider your HD plan, and decide whether or not shortening the barrel would really give you an advantage. If you do decide you do want a shorter barrel, and you can't find a second one for an agreeable price, take your current barrel to a gunsmith to have it cut down. But don't have them make it a minimal 18" riot barrel with no choke; instead, have them shorten it to something like 21" - 24", re-mount the front sight (if it has something other than a vent-rib), and thread it for interchangeable screw-in chokes (having it threaded for chokes might be worth looking into even if you decide not to shorten it - with a selection of choke tubes, one threaded barrel can do the work of several fixed-choke barrels). You should be able to have this done for less than you would spend on a second barrel (especially an old, hard-to-find large-frame 20ga barrel). A riot-style cylinder-bore 18" barrel really isn't an absolute must for HD, a few extra inches won't drastically change it's handling, and with the longer length and interchangeable choke tubes, it will still be a fairly effective all-around hunting weapon.

dmcowles
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Re: Older 20ga for HD?

Post by dmcowles » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:02 am

Thanks everyone for all the great feedback. It is not my only HD piece, so it will remain intact and maintain its multi-use properties. I am very fond of the old girl!

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