Gun Digest

Gun Review: Remington 870 DM Shotgun

Remington revamps a classic with its new 870 DM line of mag-fed shotguns.

How has Remington revitalized one of the most popular shotguns of all-time with its new 870 DM?

Anybody who knows anything about art knows about the Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting is recognized by most people on the planet and is reportedly insured for 800 million dollars. Most of us don’t know much about art, but we know what we like, and we like the Mona Lisa.

Likewise, anyone who knows anything about scatterguns is familiar with the Remington Model 870 pump-action shotgun. The Model 870 came to us in 1950 (some will tell you 1951) and went on to become the best-selling shotgun of all time, now numbering more than 11 million sold. American shotgunners know what they like, and they like the 870.

The Ever Popular 870

There are Remington 870 pump guns sitting in closets, gun cabinets and bedroom corners all over America. We’re on our third generation of hunters and shooters that grew up on an 870, and they have used it to shoot almost anything that walks, crawls or flys, from big bears to bobwhite quail. In fact, I would like to see all the ducks and geese in one pile that have been taken with a Remington 870!

Like most iconic firearms, the Model 870 has its own posse of fiercely loyal fans. I’m pretty sure there are devotees who light candles at an 870 shrine every night and probably think there’s no reason to ever change the basic design of this shotgun.

Or is there?

Why Would You Change An Icon?

Remington recently announced something most of us thought would never happen: They changed the basic design of the Model 870 and put a detachable box magazine on the most beloved shotgun since the Winchester Model 12. I didn’t hear about the sky falling anywhere, and I don’t think the earth tilted on its axis. The new version is called the 870 DM (detachable magazine).

“The 870 DM is a concept that came about during discussions on how we could advance the pump-action shotgun in some meaningful way,” said Daniel Cox, shotgun product manager at Remington. “We quickly found most people agreed the pump-action shotgun was one of the most reliable and versatile defensive firearms we have today. In these discussions, it became clear there was only one real opportunity to improve the pump shotgun as a defensive firearm. Pump-action shotguns have limited capacity and can sometimes be slow to reload under stress when compared to other common defensive firearms used today.”

The 870 DM is more than just a conversion kit to permit the use of detachable magazines. Remington has been working on this project for years, and the action is definitely different than a standard 870’s action.

Cox went on to tell me Remington saw this as an opportunity to step out of the box and innovate to improve the pump-action shogun by offering a legitimate solution to this concern.

“The 870 DM is a pump-action shotgun that was designed to feed from a detachable magazine and not just a conversion kit on an existing gun,” he said. “This feature takes the venerable pump-action shotgun and allows users to load and reload it much faster and much more effectively right out of the box.”

Cox saying the new 870 DM is a pump gun that was designed to feed from a detachable magazine is important. Remington didn’t start this project yesterday; it has been going on for a few years. As far as making the existing 870 action convert to a detachable box magazine, don’t think for a minute that was easy. One engineer at Remington told me it was like “teaching a horse to fly.” Internally, the action of the gun is different, so there won’t be a conversion kit for the 870 you already have.

On The Range

Under full disclosure here, when I took the 870 DM to the range, I would’ve not been surprised to have some small glitch in the ammo feeding and functioning department. By that I mean it’s a new shotgun with a new concept with respect to the magazine — I expected there to be problems. This was not the case, and these may be words that I have to digest later, but to date I’ve not had a malfunction with the 870 DM. This has been through testing with several types of shotgun ammunition, including Remington, Aguila, Federal and Winchester.

When you fire the 870 DM and work the action, you will notice little difference in that of your Dad’s 870 Wingmaster. The magazine itself loads easier than I thought it would, and after a brief wearing in process the magazine inserted and released easily from the magazine well.

There are a total of five 870 DM models, each with varying furniture and designed for different purposes. Shown here is the Magpul variant, which features that manufacturer’s ergonomic SGA stock.

A word here on extraction of the 870 DM’s magazine: At first blush, I assumed the mag would drop out when the release lever was engaged, but the release lever is depressed and the magazine is stripped from the gun with the shooter’s support hand. Remington engineers had to deal with a gremlin: The pounding recoil in a 12-gauge shotgun (think 3-inch magnum loads) while keeping the magazine inserted in the gun for feeding and extracting concerns, and all the while having the magazine well with tolerances to easily insert and dump the magazine. An internal spring in the magazine well to hold the magazine in the proper position was the answer.

The furniture on this gun is by Magpul and features its ergonomic SGA stock, which means it feels good in your hand, is “grippy” and easy to hold on to, and the shape tends to get you down on the gun and into the sights quickly. The SGA stock is adjustable as to length of pull, which can be important for a defensive shotgun.

The sights on this first model of the 870 DM (there will be five models available: a Base Model, the MagPul model, a Kryptek Camo hunting model, a Base Hardwood model, and a Tactical Model with pistol grip and including an XS Sights Ghost Ring rear sight and a standard dot tritium front. The rear sight is mounted on an XS Sights Shortrail Picatinny-style rail. Target acquisition with this sight is very fast.

The Final Tally

There will be those who will say putting a detachable magazine on the 870 is a terrible idea. For a defensive shotgun, they will say the long magazine is in the way when things turn lively and you can hold just as much ammo in an extended magazine tube. Maybe so, but you can start the fight with seven rounds of buckshot in the gun (six in the mag, one in the chamber) and you can definitely reload a second magazine of six rounds faster than a standard tube-fed shotgun. These sort of arguments, like the Ford and the Chevy discussions, will be going on long after I am gone.

Defensive shotgun aside, some dyed-in-the-wool 870 fans will simply think it heresy to put a box magazine on this shotgun. They may think Remington painted a mustache on the Mona Lisa. I stand on the side that doesn’t see it that way.

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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