— Upgrading A Vintage Shotgun – Remington 870 Wingmaster


It’s said (by “them”) that everyone should have a shotgun! Well, I agree.  I’ve been looking for the past couple of years.  I was think Semi-Auto but they cost more than I want to spend on a firearm that I’ll have merely for fun.  I’ve thought about new shotguns, but I don’t like most of them.   I just want something reliable, simple, and that has personality.

This was when I came across an old shotgun in a gun store and was able to bring it home for $200 bucks. It was under consignment by someone who, no doubt, let it sit in a gun cabinet for a decade or so. Probably because they had no use for it. It needed to be modernized.

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The ‘870

This (and all) Remington 870 Wingmaster(s) started out as a hunting guns. This one came standard with a 30-inch barrel and a 4-round magazine. After doing a Serial number search, it turns out that this one was manufactured in 1951. It has some excellent patina.  What’s so cool about it… ‘Is that it reminds me of the Remington 870’s I used to use in the Military so long ago.  Just like this one, they had wooden stocks and handguard.  They were always a little beat up.  Needless to say, when I saw this one, I was immediately drawn to it.  I just have to make it useful to me.


Now, I’m not a hunter, but even if i was, I probably wouldn’t use a pump shotgun.  And definitely not with a 30-inch barrel are no longer necessary thanks to the modern chokes.  In the past, the long barrel was necessary to “choke” the pellets of the shotgun round into a smaller pattern.

So what I’m gonna do, is convert this 870 into the same configuration that Police Departments and the Military used.  Long before there were dedicated “police” or tactical shotgun models, police departments, jails, and the military bought and converted hunting shotguns to their specifications by ordering or cutting the barrels back.

Wait, but before modernizing this survivor…  is this gun worth anything? Not really. Although it is 67 years old, over 10,000,000 Remington 870’s have been made and in 1951, hundreds of thousands of units are still in circulation.  Examples just like this one, can be found for around $200, so we are not destroying a rare firearm.

Cutting It Up

So with a hacksaw, I’m making the change. I use some tape to measure 18.5 inches of barrel length (Remember that under 18 inches, means you’re going to jail).  So I start patiently cutting.  After the cut, I use a file to square-off the barrel and remove the sharp edges. After that’s done, I apply some perma-blue to protect the metal finish. And we’re off to the races.

Once complete, you only need to add a front sight since TRUGLO Home Defense Fiber Optic Front Sight 12you have cut off the original bead sight when you removed 11.5 inches of the original barrel. You can go to a gunsmith and have another bead-sight added for a $100 or more; or you go to an online store and pick up a Tru-Glow fiber optic sight for $19. They collect light through the length of the fiber a project it at the end, making the sight look like it glows.  Using a little JB Weld, and some patience to ensure the sight is perfectly at the 12 O’clock position of the barrel, you have a far better, and more visible sight than that tiny, original bead.


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Now all that’s left, is to enjoy your, more versatile, gun. No doubt, the value has been INCREASED, by making these little changes.  Not only does it look better, and within proportion, it has a mission.  It can now become a stellar home defense tool.

— K. Pinckney

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