870 Tactical - FTD

Remington 870 Repair and Gunsmithing.
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Synchronizor
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Re: 870 Tactical - FTD

Post by Synchronizor » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:47 am

Metallic cartridges and shotshell bases do expand when they're fired, yes, but then they are intended to shrink again after the internal pressure falls off, so they don't grip the chamber. Brass does very well at this, as I'm sure you know. Steel doesn't. With a few exceptions, such as the excellent Remington Nitro Gold hulls, no one makes true brass-based shells anymore; even the brass-colored bases on premium shells are just steel with a bit of brass wash or plating tossed on for looks. Not really that big a deal for low-pressure shotshells, so long as the inelastic steel is strong enough to compensate for its lack of recovery.

And that's where the Winchester Universals fail.

Here we have two fired shells, both your standard bulk-pack target loads, same velocity, same payload, same price point. I cut them apart, clipped the metal base enough to peel a strip away, then measured the thickness of the steel:

Federal Ultra: .013" thick - no jams, fired hull slips in and out of the chamber with minimal resistance.
Winchester Universal: .005" thick - base over-expands, separates from the plastic hull, hangs up in the chamber after firing, bolt cannot even be forced closed on reinserted fired shell.

Here's the thing: I don't care if it's sold on a store shelf. Plenty of crap products are sold on a store shelf. The fact is that the Winchester Universals - despite being the same price as other, better-made ammo - are sub-par shells with dirty powder and weak construction. This isn't a secret, either. Spend ten minutes on Google, and you'll see forum conversations about how these shells will jam and foul Remingtons, Brownings, Mossbergs, Saigas, Benellis, you name it.

I was in Wal-Mart yesterday, looking for some shells, but with the current political climate, everything in 12ga was sold out except:

> Various turkey loads (turkey seasons don't start until April here in Idaho, and they aren't good for much else)
> One box of Winchester heavy target loads
> Several boxes of Winchester low-noise, low-recoil target loads (check your Man Card at the register)
> Dozens of untouched cases of Winchester Universals

Federal target loads were sold out, as were Remingtons, there was just a big pile of Winchester Universal 100-packs sitting on the otherwise empty shelf. People in this part of Idaho love to shoot, you'll see entire families hiking up a logging road, guns in hand, to spend a Saturday together. As avid shooters, people here know what works, and what's a waste of money. Looking at the otherwise bare shelf, it's pretty obvious what the consensus is.


I refuse to fault the 870 - any 870 - for having issues with this ammo, especially with plenty of other good-quality, analogous products offered at the same price. It's true that brand-new Expresses are most commonly reported as having trouble with this crap ammo, but keep in mind:

1) Most new 870s sold are Expresses. New guns don't function as well as worn-in guns, that's a basic tenant of firearms. If most of the new guns are Expresses, it should come as no surprise that a majority of new-gun issues are also observed in Expresses. This also applies to true factory defects. If 9 out of 10 new 870s sold are Expresses, you can bet that at least 90% of defective guns will be Expresses. However, you cannot extrapolate and say that an Express is 9 times as likely to be defective, based solely on that biased observation.

2) The Express is a very common first shotgun, purchased by people who have to ask others about the issues they're having. Someone purchasing a brand new Wingmaster or Police usually knows exactly how to break in a new gun, and isn't worried by the normal hiccups. New shooters don't know that these teething issues are to be expected. Exacerbating matters, they also don't know about basic steps like cleaning a new shotgun before going out to shoot it for the first time. Cheap shells function even worse in an unbroken chamber when it's still coated with the metal preservative applied at the factory and the dust it collected from being stored for however long before being sold. Again, same goes for defects. A new 870 owner will seek help if their new Express seems defective, in case they're just doing something wrong. An experienced 870 owner will know exactly what the problem is with their gun, and either remedy it, or contact Remington and deal with it themselves.


The Express isn't finished as well as higher-end models, and some of its parts are cost-savers, but it's still an 870. An Express Barrel and a Police barrel are indistinguishable until they're finished and fitted. Same goes for receivers, bolts, magazines, and so on. Look at Remington's parts list sometime; Police, Wingmaster, and Express versions of the same parts are all the same price. All you're not paying for with an Express is a handful of internals, a nice finish, and extra human attention for inspection & fitting. Many are perfectly happy to save a lot of money by bringing the gun to 100% themselves. If that concept just rubs you the wrong way, that's fine, but it's unfair to bash such a successful product based on small samples and anecdotal evidence gathered on a forum intended in large part to answer questions and address issues.

Kentactic
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Re: 870 Tactical - FTD

Post by Kentactic » Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:09 pm

The problem with all of that is now my Express shoots winchester junk ammo fine. I didnt go down to the winchester factory and have them tweak their load to work in my gun. I tweaked the gun to work with the ammo. Yes its cheaper ammo. So yes numbers will be different... but guess what? After i fixed a Remington induced flaw that ammo shoots great. What ever variance that ammo may have, it is not enough to cause issues in a correctly functioning shotgun in my experience. If i just blamed the ammo and never fixed the real problem id just be shooting more expensive ammo, still having hang ups, and hating the gun. The first step is admitting your guns the problem. The GUN WAS THE PROBLEM. I fixed it and all ammo functions properly. The gun being altered will fix any issues an express has with low grade ammo. Altering ammo selections to help a damaged gun function is a bad idea and a losing battle.

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Synchronizor
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Re: 870 Tactical - FTD

Post by Synchronizor » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:34 am

Kentactic wrote:The problem with all of that is now my Express shoots winchester junk ammo fine. I didnt go down to the winchester factory and have them tweak their load to work in my gun. I tweaked the gun to work with the ammo. Yes its cheaper ammo. So yes numbers will be different... but guess what? After i fixed a Remington induced flaw that ammo shoots great. What ever variance that ammo may have, it is not enough to cause issues in a correctly functioning shotgun in my experience.
Remember, this whole discussion is about brand new guns. Once the gun is broken in properly (and any defects are taken care of, as may have been in your case), it'll be more forgiving of poor-quality ammo. Even then, the Winchesters still aren't fully reliable in my shotgun, or my friend's guns (which aren't only 870s). Sure, it usually works, I'm not saying every shot causes a hang-up, but it's still frequent enough to be annoying, even when there's nothing at stake.
Kentactic wrote:If i just blamed the ammo and never fixed the real problem id just be shooting more expensive ammo, still having hang ups, and hating the gun. The first step is admitting your guns the problem. The GUN WAS THE PROBLEM. I fixed it and all ammo functions properly. The gun being altered will fix any issues an express has with low grade ammo. Altering ammo selections to help a damaged gun function is a bad idea and a losing battle.
In your case, it sounds like the gun was the problem. If it was hanging up with multiple types of ammo, it clearly wasn't just an ammo problem.

For most people though, myself included, the problem isn't with all cheap ammo, just cheap Winchester ammo. If avoiding Winchester ammo meant I had to shoot more expensive stuff, that would be a different matter. But there is plenty of other low-cost ammo from Remington, Federal, Estate, and others that is just as inexpensive as the Winchesters, but far more reliable.

retep66
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870 Tactical - FTD

Post by retep66 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:19 am

OP here. This is supposed to arrive back to me on Monday, 3/4. I'm hoping it loads, fires, and ejects as it should. I will report back.

retep66
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870 Tactical - FTD

Post by retep66 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:40 am

Op here. Received the firearm back from Remington. There was a spent .45 shell that was preventing me from racking it all the way back. Given the symptoms I guess it would move out of the way just enough to work well when upside down as I described. I feel a little stupid as I was chasing after all of these FTE solutions that others were discussing at the time. Works like a dream now.

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