Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review
Part 5 - Range Testing
June 20, 2011

Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

In this part of the review, I'm going to discuss the feel and point-ability of the Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Shotgun and do some basic "out of the box" range testing.  What I mean by "out of the box" is that I'm not going to shoot the shotgun thousands of rounds to demonstrate any aspects related to the life of the shotgun.  Instead, I'm going to focus on showing shot patterns with several different loads of ammo and at a couple of distances that I would consider to be home defense distances.  Although during my range testing,  I will cycle enough rounds through the shotgun to get an idea of basic reliability.


Feel

Feel is so much of an opinion that it is hard to be unbiased, but I will give it a shot.  When you first pick up the Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical, it has a solid feel.  Although this shotgun has an average weight, the polymer look makes you think (prior to picking it up) that it may be lighter than it really is.  Once in your hands, you realize there must be steel underneath that synthetic shell (ArmorLokt coating).  When you shake the shotgun, the three areas that rattle are the fore-end, bolt carrier and ejection port cover.  The fore-end appears to rattle side to side about the same as my other pump shotguns.  The bolt carrier has about 0.06" of front to back play when the bolt is rotated and locked into place.  This also becomes about 0.06" of front to back play in the fore-end.  The ejection port cover is something that you will probably notice only if you are really shaking the shotgun.  Overall, I don't consider these to be outside of the ordinary.

The shotgun shoulders and points similar to most shotguns of this style.  To aim (point), you look down the rib at the front sight.  The action is smooth, but you can definitely feel there is a difference from other shotguns due to the rotating bolt.  The bolt release is a nice big button, but it is still a stretch to reach without repositioning your hand on the stock and most likely you will reposition your hand (similar to the 870).  The safety was behind the trigger and has a very firm feel with a definite click from one position to the other.


Point-ability

Point-ability of a gun is directly related to both the weight, center of gravity, and mass moment of inertia of the gun.  To help simplify the inertia measurement, I'm going to make an assumption that the weight distribution of this shotgun would be comparable to other shotguns with similar geometry and features (i.e. stock, barrel length, capacity, etc.).  By making this assumption, it allows me to treat the incremental weight distribution as a single mass.  This allows me to focus on two easily measured features (the weight and center of gravity of the shotgun) to get an idea of point-ability (inertia).  The physics majors will probably give me some grief on this, but I'm going to keep it in simple terms and say that the mass moment of inertia is just the weight of the gun times the distance from the end of the butt pad squared ( inertia = weight x distance2 ).  Using the end of the butt pad to make the distance measurement allows me to take into account a fairly realistic swing point as you swing the gun up/down or left/right when aiming.

In Part 3 of this review, I showed the weight of the shotgun empty to be 7.040 pounds.  After putting the shotgun on a balance pivot point and moving the location of the pivot under the shotgun until the shotgun was in balance, I was able to measure the distance from the end of the butt pad to the pivot (center of gravity) and found that to be 21.54".  When loaded with 8 shells of 2 ¾" #4 buckshot, it weighed in at 8.056 pounds with a pivot point 22.31" from the end of the butt stock.  From this, I calculated the moment of inertia for an unloaded and loaded shotgun to be as follows.

  • Unloaded: 7.040 x 21.542 = 3266 lbs-in2
  • Loaded:  8.056 x 22.312 = 4010 lbs-in2

Basically, the smaller the inertia, the better for point-ability.  When loaded, the inertia of the shotgun increased by 23%.  What does all this mean?  Until I have a chance to compile data on other similar guns, it is hard to give a good comparative number (like with weight and length) of point-ability.   I do have some data against the Remington 870 Express Tactical and the 887 Nitro Mag Tactical is slightly higher.  One thing to consider is I was able to get an extra shell in the magazine which accounts for some of this difference.  My opinion is that most people will be comfortable with this shotgun and I would not be alarmed by this slight increase.  This link will take you to my Tactical & Home Defense Shotguns page to see other data as it becomes available so you can form your own opinion.

You should also keep in mind that anything you put on your shotgun will have an impact on your point-ability.  For example, if you mount a light near the end of the barrel, this extra mass located that far from your shoulder becomes more resistance to you being able to quickly move the shotgun when aiming.

 


Range Test

For the range testing, I decided to use several different loads of ammunition and I also wanted to get a feel for what the pattern may be at a couple of different distances for some tactical loads.  The ammo I selected to shoot is shown below.  The two Federal shells were what I had on hand and these particular loads are no longer being made, but I felt they would be sufficient for checking out the extreme usage range of this shotgun.

Figure 1
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

Figure 2
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review 

I started out at the 50 yard range and wanted to see how well the 887 Nitro Mag Tactical would shoot slugs and  I also wanted to get an idea on the point of impact of the shotgun based on the sight picture.  One thing I quickly learned is that it is difficult to look down the barrel rib with the receiver rail installed.  The target below shows one of my first three shots in the upper black area.  The other two shots were actually high and off the target.  In the case of the first three shots, I placed the front sight bead in the top of the receiver rail "U" for aiming as shown below.

Once I understood the point of impact, I placed the bead in the very bottom of the "U" and aimed at the lower 4/5 circle numbers on the target.  You can see I shot about a 6.7" group that was still slightly high and left.  If I were to have removed the rail, I believe aiming the shotgun would have been no different than any other raised rib shotgun.

Figure 3 - 5 Shot Group at 50 yards with Rifled Slugs
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

After shooting the rifled slugs, I decided to run a box 7½ shotshells (low brass) through the gun to checkout basic functionality.  I quickly zipped through those shells without any issues.  For my next test, I wanted to gather a typical pattern at 7 yards and 22 yards just to get an idea on how a self defense load may spread out at these distances.  The first load I checked out was the Hornady Critical Defense 2¾" 00 Buckshot.  Except for the stray shot in the upper right, all the other buckshot was within the 4" circle at 7 yards.  At 22 yards, 7 out of the 8 pellets were within the 12" diameter circle.  I am impressed at how tight this pattern was at both distances.

Figure 4 - Hornady Critical Defense 2¾" 00 Buckshot
7 yards                                                                 22 yards
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review   Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

At 7 yards, the Hornady Varmint Express #4 Buckshot created a spread double that of the 00 Buckshot and at 22 yards was well outside the 12" diameter black circle on the target.  In both cases, I feel my lower shots may have been from me compensating for the difficulty in sighting the shotgun due to the receiver rail.

Figure 5 - Hornady Varmint Express 2¾" #4 Buckshot
7 yards                                                                 22 yards
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review   Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

The below shows the Remington Magnum 3" 00 Buckshot.  The spread at 7 yards 9.3" with 13 out of 15 pellets shown on the target.  At 22 yards, only 2 out of the 15 pellets were on the target.  (The other two smaller holes are from shooting at the target above.)  I was a little surprised at how wide the pattern was at 22 yards.

Figure 6 - Remington Magnum 3" 00 Buckshot
7 yards                                                                 22 yards
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review   Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

In this last photo, you see the shoulder killing 3½" magnum turkey shot.  I wouldn't consider the Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Shotgun as a turkey shotgun, but it does have great potential under the right circumstances.

Figure 7 - Federal Premium Magnum Turkey 4 shot 12ga 3½" at 22 yards
Remington 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Review

I ended my shooting session with the 887 Nitro Mag Tactical Shotgun by finishing up the box of Hornady Critical Defense 2¾" 00 Buckshot and then sending about another half box of the 7½ shotshells through the shotgun.  One thing I noticed about the action on this shotgun was that it prefers a fast pump as compared to a slow pump.  On a slow pump, as the brass portion of some shells tries to enter the chamber, they will catch the lip of the chamber and prevent forward motion of the bolt.  With a quick fast pump, the extra force/momentum of the action pushes the shell into the chamber.  When I put my finger into the entrance of the chamber, it had a very sharp crisp edge that I feel could be rounded slightly to produce a smoother transition of the shell into the chamber.  In time and after some break-in, I believe this sharp edge will wear down and no longer be a problem.  If you are experiencing this or any other problems with your shotgun (or any gun), I always recommend contacting the manufacturer during the warranty period so they can work to correct the issue.

 

Thoughts

If you are not planning to put some type of optical sight on the receiver mounted rail, I recommend removing the rail to eliminate any issues with sighting down the barrel rib.  Whatever type of ammo you plan to shoot in your tactical / home defense shotgun, you should always do some basic pattern checks so you have an idea of what is really going to happen with the shot pattern for your distance needs.  I was impressed with tightness of the pattern for the Hornady Critical Defense 00 Buckshot and will be using it in my shotguns and for more reviews in the future.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review.  The following links are provided to help you navigate to these other parts of this review.


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