Remington 870 Express Tactical Review
Part 5 - Range Test
February 5, 2011

In this part of the review, I'm going to discuss the feel and point-ability of the Remington 870 Express 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.

I need to be completely honest that I may have a little bias toward Remington shotguns.  Thirty years ago, I got a Remington 1100 for my 16th birthday and have put more shells through it than I can count.  For me, when I shoulder the 870, it feels just like my 1100 which I consider to be a great feeling shotgun.  When I put the two shotguns together, the receiver & stock profile for each match very closely.  At this point in my life, my mind and muscles have been trained to the ergonomics of these shotguns (location of the safety, feel of the trigger, shape of the stock under my hand, and the feel of cheek placement on the comb).  For an unbiased opinion, you should consider the fact that over 10 million of the 870 shotguns have sold over the years which must say something about the feel of the gun by many other owners.

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 7.062 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 21.1".  When loaded with 7 shells of 2 ¾" #4 buckshot, it weighed in at 7.95 pounds with a pivot point 21.75" 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: 7.062 x 21.12 = 3144 lbs-in2
  • Loaded:  7.950 x 21.752 = 3761 lbs-in2

Basically, the smaller the inertia, the better.  When loaded, the inertia of the shotgun increased by 20%.  What does all this mean?  Until I have a chance to compile data on other similar guns, it is hard to give an unbiased view on point-ability.   So for now, my opinion is that most people will be comfortable with this shotgun and I would expect it to be similarly point-able to other similar models on the market.  This link will take you to my Tactical & Home Defense Shotguns page to see other data as it becomes available and 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.  So 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 quickly moving the shotgun when aiming.

For the range testing, I decided to use several different loads of ammunition to get a feel for what the pattern may be at a couple of different distances.  The ammo I selected to shoot is shown below.


I started out shooting the Winchester Rifled Slugs first.  I was pleased with this 3-shot group at 50 yards and it measured 2.2".  Since I don't intend to shoot slugs through the shotgun, I adjusted the sights according to the XS instructions and didn't shoot any more slugs.  I'm more concerned with how the shotgun patterns 00 buckshot.

Remington 870 Review

For the rest of the range testing, I went to Creekside Firing Range north west of Atlanta.  At the range I decided to shoot two different distances, 8 yards and 24 yards.  The 8 yard distance is about the maximum distance the average home owner would ever encounter inside his home.  The 24 yard distance will give you a good idea of the spread at a distance that you may encounter in your yard. 

The next two photos show the spreads of the Remington Magnum 00 Buckshot 3" shells.

8 Yards                                                                  24 Yards
Remington 870 Review   Remington 870 Review 

The next two photos show the spreads of the Federal Classic #4 Buckshot 2¾" shells.

8 Yards                                                                  24 Yards
Remington 870 Review   Remington 870 Review

These last two photos show the patterns for the Federal 7½ Shot 2¾" shells.  Not that I'm going to take this skeet shooting or bird hunting, but in the summer I enjoy snake hunting in a Jon boat after dark and the more BBs the better.

8 Yards                                                                  24 Yards
Remington 870 Review   Remington 870 Review

I decided to add one shot of Winchester Super Double X 2¾" 00 Buckshot since this would probably be preferred over the 3" magnums in a normal home defense situation.

8 Yards
Remington 870 Review

Based on these range test results, I think you can clearly see that this shotgun can be extremely lethal.  One thing you should keep in mind is that the large black circle on the targets is 12" in diameter.  At closer ranges, the pattern only gets smaller so you must always aim before you shoot if possible.  These patterns may vary from gun to gun and with different brands of ammo, but this type of spread is fairly typical for most shotguns with an 18.5" barrel length and cylinder choke.


The following links are provided to help you see the other parts of this review.

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