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Posted: 1/8/2006 6:39:49 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2006 6:45:20 PM EDT by StealthyBlagga]
I have a brand new 12ga Remington 870 Express HD with the factory 6+1 mag extension. I like it a lot - surprisingly smooth considering it is at the budget end of the 870 range. I do, however, have one problem with it: during rapid fire (such as shooting pairs of clays), shells consistently fail to feed from the magazine. This happens only when I cycle the action rapidly (i.e. while still in recoil), and only with more than 3 shells in the mag tube (if I have 3 or less, the shells feed out just fine). So far, I've been shooting 2-3/4" 1oz, 2-3/4DE #8 shot target loads. With 3 shells in the mag tube, the follower should not even be to the join of the mag extension, so I doubt there is a problem there.

Before anyone suggests it, I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that I am not "short stroking" the action. I owned my first 870 at age 17, and I am near 41 now, so I know how to pump these things very fast and reliably. The empty hulls eject smartly every time. Indeed, the problem happens even if I purposely pump to the open-only position. This is not operator error.

The shells feed OK every time if I leave a brief pause between firing the shot and pumping the action, so I initially assumed this was just a weak mag spring - in other words, the inertia of the stack of shotshells in the fully loaded mag was enough to allow the next shell to lift off the shell retainer momentarily under recoil, and so the shell was not released in the proper way. I have had this problem with my 8+1 shot 1187 too, and cured it with a Wolff +20% magazine spring.

Unfortunately, the +20% Wolff spring I installed today failed to cure the problem on my 870. I also tried a Choate mag follower (to reduce the chance of the spring kinking). I am therefore at a bit of a loss as to the root cause. I can't see any obvious burrs on the shell retainer finger. The only thing that I am still unsure of is that the mag follower feels just a tad rough for the first half-inch or so of its travel when I feed in the first shell, so there is a faint possibility of a rough mag tube interior, but given that there is no problem with a near-empty mag, I'm not sure I buy this explanation either (I'll check when I get the chance, none the less).

Can anyone else here offer any ideas/suggestions ? Hopefully someone else has had the same problem, and has a quick and cheap cure ready for me. I'd rather not have to take it for a long stay in a Remington warranty station if I can fix the problem myself.

I have my own Dremel, if this helps .
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 9:52:05 PM EDT
Check the end of the mag tube to the extension. A bur here will end up slighty binding the shell feed (read make sure the lip edge is inside tapered).

As for the mag tube it's self, jig up a few rods with the 12 gauge brush, wrap a piece of cloth around the brush (old piece of a sock will work), and spin the wad down the inside of the tube to polish out the inside of the tube (clp helps to cut any dried grease). When done, clean the burs/casting lines off the follower skirt, lube and put the mag tube/extension back together.

Note: if the inside of the mag tube is rought as hell, you might have to steel wool wad a plug on the brush to spin down the tube to polish it out.
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 9:53:32 PM EDT
The only thing I can think of off hand is that the extension tube may have been screwed in too tight, which can cause the extension to misalign with the gun's magazine tube.

Try removing the extension and collar, and checking out the interior of the magazine and extension tubes.
While your looking, check for burrs, rust, or sticky factory lube.
I'd just cut to the chase and give the entire gun and extension assembly a good scrubbing and re-lube with fresh lube.
A lot of new Express problems are "cured" by nothing more than a good cleaning and change of lube.

Slide the follower and spring through each tube to check for anything that might be interfering.
When you reassemble it, screw the collar on the gun finger tight, then turn it one more "click".
In other words, don't over tighten it. It won't come loose.

When you screw the extension on, screw it in until it JUST contacts the magazine tube.
The clamp will prevent it from coming unscrewed.

Check the action bar shell stop cams for burrs, bends, or malformed cam ramps.

Check the shell releases for proper operation, to be sure they're firmly staked in place, and to be sure they have proper spring action.

Next, some where where it's safe to do so, load the magazine full, then slowly cycle a few rounds through.
Then reload and try some fast.

Last, the old standby: try some different ammo.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 2:15:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dfariswheel:
The only thing I can think of off hand is that the extension tube may have been screwed in too tight, which can cause the extension to misalign with the gun's magazine tube.

Last, the old standby: try some different ammo.



+1
Link Posted: 1/15/2006 4:24:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/15/2006 4:28:06 PM EDT by StealthyBlagga]
OK, I investigated this some more this weekend. I confirmed the root cause; as I suspected, the stack of shells in the mag tube is indeed moving forwards under recoil, and the rapid pumping is moving the right shell latch into position while the shell stack is still forwards. Thus, when the left shell latch (which should be holding the next shell ready to be fed) is pulled out of the way at the end of the pump stroke, in fact there is no shell there for it to release and so I get an empty chamber.

I am stumped as to the right way to fix this issue. I have another Wolff mag spring to try, but honestly I doubt this will help - the springs I have already tried deliver plenty of pressure IMHO. The real fix would be to move the cam position of the right action bar further forwards, so that the right shell latch is not actuated until later in the pump cycle. From what I can see, there is really no good reason for this latch to be actuated so early in the pump cycle (almost the moment the bolt unlocks). Have I discovered the long-hidden design flaw in the 870 ?

By the way, I did confirm that the right cam surface is in the "correct" position, or at least the same position as another new 870 I checked out.

I hope someone is going to tell me that this is a common problem for people who shoot their 870s fast, and that there is some gunsmith out there who specializes in fixing this problem by welding stock on the right action bar and cutting a new cam surface further forwards (later in the pump cycle).

Well, come on... don't hold back. Who is the gunsmith ?
Link Posted: 1/16/2006 11:04:15 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/16/2006 11:22:25 AM EDT
Thanks Mike. I've already emailed Remington, so we'll see what they have to say. My guess is that they'll tell me to send the gun to a warranty center, sit on it for 6 months, then tell me there is nothing wrong. I was kinda hoping someone had come across this before and had the fix.
Link Posted: 1/20/2006 8:34:20 AM EDT
OK, here is what I got back from Remington:

"Thank you for your patience. You could be experiencing shell surge. We make a magazine spring for police that is a little longer to prevent this. The part number is 92447 and retails for $3.25 plus $8 shipping and your local tax. You can order direct with a credit card at 800-243-9700 or check with local gunsmiths to purchase."

So now this phenomenon has a name... "shell surge". Sounds like exactly the problem I'm seeing.

Leaving aside that Remington apparently use a less reliable spring in their civilian HD model (presumably civvy lives are less valuable than LEOs), I've already tried using a Wolff +20% extra power spring, which is pretty darned stiff, and it didn't solve the problem. I've replied along these lines and an waiting for their further response.

Anyone care to comment ?
Link Posted: 1/20/2006 9:06:03 AM EDT
Hey there StealthyBlagga-
I will chime in a little........ I have had several 870s over the years. I've never had this "occurence" happen to me? I read your posts and one thing that comes to mind- How does the LENGTH of the Wolff spring compare? If it is for an "8 shot" and +20%, then you are getting plenty of push. I would look at the shell stops next. Maybe Remmy got a bad run of them?
One other thing to watch is the pump rails themselves. That is how the shell latches are operated. Take the spring and follower out and check for any imperfections on the mag tube itself. (use a low powered flashlight). Make sure your weapon is unloaded before trying any of this.

I really wish I could see the shotgun in question. A road trip to AZ sounds fun; but I don't have the time. Good luck! Let me know if I can help further...........
Link Posted: 1/20/2006 10:25:57 AM EDT
Thanks for the feedback Milldude. I already cleaned and inspected the mag tube inside and out (one of the first things I looked at). I also eyeballed the latches and they look OK (no obvious damage/malformations/burrs). The funtionality of the latches appears to be correct. Oh, and I am using a brand new, full length (40" ?) Wolff mag spring, same as I use in my 8-shot 1187... right out of the bag, no coils removed. I'm baffled.
Link Posted: 1/20/2006 10:36:46 AM EDT
i'm baffled as well. Let me ponder this.......................
Link Posted: 1/21/2006 4:52:19 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/21/2006 4:52:47 AM EDT by mike103]
Link Posted: 1/21/2006 4:22:19 PM EDT
My 870 Police does this too. At first I thought I was short-stroking the gun.

Then I realized I could reliably reproduce the failure by applying rearward pressure on the forend during firing.

I plan to replace the mag tube spring with a Wolff, once I find a good mag extension and mag clamp. I have no idea if this will work.


I'd be curious to what Remington says, and if they have a name for the problem, it can't be that unusual.


JOE
Link Posted: 1/22/2006 5:24:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 1337DO:
My 870 Police does this too. At first I thought I was short-stroking the gun.

Then I realized I could reliably reproduce the failure by applying rearward pressure on the forend during firing.

I plan to replace the mag tube spring with a Wolff, once I find a good mag extension and mag clamp. I have no idea if this will work.


I'd be curious to what Remington says, and if they have a name for the problem, it can't be that unusual.


JOE



Thanks for the validation Joe. I do the exact same thing - pull back on the pump handle, break the shot and then allow the backwards pressure plus the muzzle rise in recoil to cycle the action very quickly. The Wolff springs haven't helped me (tried 2 already) neither have a Choate "anti-bind" follower.

I have this question going on two other forums, but nobody has yet hit on a fix. I'm more and more convinced that this is a design flaw with the 870 as a tactical gun, and that a fix to the latch time is going to be the only reliable solution. Going with progressively heavier mag springs until the problem is fixed is an ineligant "brute force" fix, and would leave me feeling wary that a weakened spring could cause a return of the probnlem at an inopportune moment.
Link Posted: 1/22/2006 5:47:38 PM EDT
After reading the description of your malfunction, and the factory "solution", it appears the pump action is not compatable with your shooting style.

Have you considered an auto?

I have always considered a pump to be more reliable than an auto, but lately I am using nothing but a 12 ga auto. Absolutely no function failures, and it shoots quicker than I can pull the trigger.

Unless you go to a box-fed magazine (like the sidewinder) I see no way to overcome the recoil induced shell surge..
Link Posted: 1/22/2006 6:40:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ar-wrench:
After reading the description of your malfunction, and the factory "solution", it appears the pump action is not compatable with your shooting style.

Have you considered an auto?

I have always considered a pump to be more reliable than an auto, but lately I am using nothing but a 12 ga auto. Absolutely no function failures, and it shoots quicker than I can pull the trigger.

Unless you go to a box-fed magazine (like the sidewinder) I see no way to overcome the recoil induced shell surge..



But, but, but... the SOUND of a pump being cycled is enough to scare off a bad guy, right ?

In all seriousness, I already have an auto (an 1187) for 3-gun competition and it is pretty much 100% reliable with everything I feed it. I just wanted an 870 in my collection - mostly for old times sake, as it was the first gun I ever owned, but I can't abide having a gun that isn't reliable. Plus, now that I have identified this weakness, I have an excuse to get a TIG welder and Dremel on it... I don't consider any gun truly "mine" until I've shown it who's boss with the Dremel .
Link Posted: 1/23/2006 8:42:39 PM EDT
Any additional word from Remington?

Thanks.

JOE
Link Posted: 1/23/2006 10:04:33 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 1337DO:
Any additional word from Remington?

Thanks.

JOE



Here is their final word (why am I not suprised)...

"I cannot diagnose the cause of the problem sight unseen. The spring was a possibility.

I recommend sending it to Remington Warranty Center. You can view a list for the US and internationally at the following section of our site.

http://www.remington.com/support/repair_services/

To view the warranty for Remington firearms, go to:

http://www.remington.com/support/warranty/"

I replied that I don't want to pay to ship my $300 shotgun to a warranty center, have it sit there for 6 months, then have them return it telling me there is nothing wrong. I'd rather expend the $$$ and time fixing the problem myself. At this point, I trust my own gunsmithing skills more than some monkey at Remington.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 2:26:28 AM EDT
god you know i have the same shooting style that you do but i have not encounterd this problem.. i probably dont shoot my 870 as much as you do and havent been able to in a long time..

i do not have a mag extenson on it and have not encounterd this problem... but from what i've been seeing perhaps if you can bring yourself too grab one of the wolf springs and see if you can straech it out some.. perhaps a longer mag spring will help in this... to me it seems like this really is a case where a sugnifcantly stronger mag spring would do the trick to fix this problem..

just my guess... perhaps try stacking mag springs?..

Jess
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 11:45:47 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 2:23:44 PM EDT
My particular 870 does not have an extended mag tube, only the factory 4-shot tube and factory spring. I am going to try to replicate the problem this weekend with a few different kinds of ammunition.

I am pretty sure (it's been a while since I have fired the gun) that I have had the problem equally with PMC birdshot, Sellier & Bellot Buckshot, and Wolf Buckshot.

I'll post any findings.

JOE
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 12:31:02 AM EDT
Don't send it to Remington ot a "warranty station" shop unless the smith specializes in Remingtons

I'd check out gunsmiths over at www.trapshooters.com discussion forum

New Remington products are CRAP

The problem will not occur with an old one. The late ATA Hall of Fame trapshooter Rudy Etchen shot an 870 for decades in trap doubles , shooting very quickly and his gun had HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of rounds through it.

In fact, you might even try JOEL ETCHEN guns in Pennsy;vania to see if they work on 870s or for a recommendation
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:49:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ikor:
Considering the fact that John Satterwhite used to demonstrate breaking seven hand thrown clays before they could hit the ground with an extended mag tube on his 870 on a regular basis, and that thousands of them set up this way do not have such problems, I for one, do not believe this is an issue with the mag spring weight or length, and I think you are correct that adding spring tension is not the answer.

You say the shells move forward in the tube under recoil, but that is impossible due to physics, so the gun is actually moving away from the shell stack, and not vice-versa, but you knew that

If you hold HARD to the rear on the fore end, you should actually have to push forward a very silght bit to unlock the action after firing. With the 870, you are best off to use the "strong" hand on the stock to pull the gun into the shoulder and not apply rearward pressure with the hand on the fore end. It sounds to me like you have managed somehow to arrive at a combination of ammo and technique that allows you to replicate the problem, but I have personally never seen it happen, and i have seen thousands upon thousands of all sorts of rounds fired through hundreds of 870s, maybe half with extended mag tubes...which is certainly NOT saying it is not happening for you...just that it is not common, even if Remington has coined a word for it.

Based on your information and description, I, too, think this sounds like a burr or maybe even a slight problem with the dimensions of your mag tube, etc, (a dent perhaps?) is causing the spring / shell stack "assembly" (for lack of a better term) to hesitate in moving the stack to the rear just long enough for you to move the fore end thru its cycle and end up with an empty chamber. It is obviously only happening when you have four or more shells in the tube.

Before you start welding and or cutting away, try this same thing you are doing now with some Buckshot and / or heavy loaded birdshot to see if that makes a difference...also maybe the same load you are using now from a different manufacturer.

This is not an inherent design flaw of the 870, but it could be a flaw in your particular gun.

Keep us posted, please. I am curious to see what happens.



Thanks for the long and thoughtful response ikor.

Yes, of course, I know that in reality the shell stack's inertia are keeping it static, while the gun is recoiling back away from it. My description was, I hope, sufficiently clear. Also, as you suggest, I am pulling back only gently, so the action can still unlock quickly.

The essence of the problem is that, by pumping back so fast, the right shell latch is closing on the shell stack too fast (while the inertia of the stack is holding it forwards ) and thus it holds the next shell forwards and off the left shell latch; this means that, when the left shell latch opens at the rear of the pump stroke (as it does, correctly) there is no shell there to be released. I can replicate this almost every time... with the action locked back, I can look inside the receiver and see (1) the right shell latch holding the rim of the next shell, (2) the left shell latch properly retracted, and (3) no shell anywhere in the receiver.

I have een advised by an experienced Remington smith on another board that this outcome is likely with the pumping technique I am using, and that I should learn to pump more slowly or change to a Winchester pump. I am starting to agree with his perspective.

Before I dump or Dremel the Remy, I may try polishing the inside of the mag tube (theye are no dents, and it looks pretty smooth, but it can't hurt). I may also try stacking two springs with a factory follower in there to stop them from getting tangled, though I still think this "stronger spring" modification is an uber-BandAid.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 5:54:51 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 8:43:40 PM EDT
Yup - I've tried both the factory (hollow plastic crap) follower and a Choate solid follower with the spring guide. Same problem with both. I could try using the factory follower between two springs just as an experiment, then if it works I could find a more robust metal solution.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 2:37:28 AM EDT
I've been shooting 870s and 1100s since 1980 - They are DIFFERENT now. Little things llike shell lifters and other parts have been changed and sometimes not for the better. The newer generation guns have all kinds of problems the old guns didn't have.

You're best bet is to check with gunsmiths and shotgunners over at www.trapshooters.com and you will get some really worthwhile replies. And don't rule out Joel Etchen in PA. If they don't fix guns they'll tell you who can. The late Rudy Etchen shot over 250,000 rounds through an old 870 with half of those being doubles with really lightning speed reflexes and never had a problem.

Matt Dryke shot 7 to 8 clay pigeons hand tossed before they hit the ground with a 1970s vintage 870.

Something's amiss with your particular gun and I really would check the shotgun sports smiths.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 11:27:11 AM EDT
I tried a variety of ammo today, including Wolf, Sellier & Bellot, and Winchester buckshot. I also tried Federal and PMC birdshot.

I was able to reliably reproduce the failure being described in this thread only using the Wolf and S&B. I believe those particular loads are loaded hotter than comparable 2 3/4" ammo. Winchester buck and all birdshot worked fine. Number of cartridges in the magazine did not have any effect.

StealthyBlagga, did you cut the replacement Wolff spring to fit the mag tube? The springs I have came in a 10-pack and had to be trimmed to fit a particular gun. Maybe I've misunderstood, but it sounds like you put two 40" mag springs in your shotgun? Too much preload on the spring may cause problems...

For my case, I'm going to switch out the mag spring after I geta mag extension I like. If that doesn't help, maybe I'll learn to pump more slowly or change to a Winchester.


JOE
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