most dependable 12 gauge shotgun(s)?


February 20, 2007, 08:34 PM
i have 2 remy 12 gauge 870 express(i think) pumps. they both are kinda sluggish when cycling cheap short brass or even the good 3" shells. 2 3/4" shell work fairly well. they where dirty and i sprayed some cleaner in both actions at the range but it didn't make much difference. the guns just dont feel that "smooth". like there is hesitation when i pump sometimes.

i gave one a bath in hot soapy water, poured soap on the parts as i scrubbed with a tooth brush. im gonna see if that make a difference.

anyway what is considered the most dependable brand overall?

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Dave McCracken
February 20, 2007, 09:04 PM
You got it now. 870s last forever and work under bad conditions.

Learn to take yours apart and clean it thoroughly, lube lightly and BA/UU/R. They smooth up nicely in a few thousand rounds....

The Deer Hunter
February 20, 2007, 09:23 PM
see above:D

February 20, 2007, 09:30 PM
Ditto. . . see above.

February 20, 2007, 09:35 PM
See previous 3 posts. I own four, and probably will never buy another kind of shotty. :D


February 20, 2007, 09:37 PM
Another 870 zealot :)

February 20, 2007, 10:08 PM
I've been a Mossberg user for about six years, give or take.
Reading the posts here for a while has converted me to the Remington side of the house. I finally have an 870, and I love it.
Your 870's are definately the ticket. I wish I would have gotten one sooner.
Your mention of cleaning methods kind of scared me, though.
This ( post will point you in the right direction. There is another one on breaking in a pump gun in the links to TFL thread. I used its information to break in an 835 to perfection.


February 20, 2007, 10:28 PM
^^^ you don't like giving your guns a bath? thats steaming hot water and dish detergent poured directly on the parts and scrubbing with a tooth brush really works. i gave my ruger p89dc a bath with it also. i rinse with very hot water and it just evaporates away quickly.

i would like to know your reasons why you don't like that. i may learn something.

February 20, 2007, 10:48 PM
Oh, I think a good double or even an NEF single barrel is more reliable. I mean, what's to break? :D Nothing taken away from the 870, though I don't own one anymore. They're good guns. Don't think they're any better than my Mossberg and there are things I prefer on the Mossberg, but they're reliable and shoot and point well and hold up forever, so what more could ya want?

Far as giving guns a hot water bath, anyone shoots black powder knows the curative properties of hot soapy water. :D

February 20, 2007, 10:57 PM
See previous 3 posts. I own four, and probably will never buy another kind of shotty.


Never say never. I sure like autoloaders and I have this thing for doubles, especially side-by-sides. Even Stevens 311s are classy compared to any pump. :D JMHO, though. And, hey, single shots are cheap and handy!

February 20, 2007, 11:17 PM
Never say never. I sure like autoloaders and I have this thing for doubles, especially side-by-sides. Even Stevens 311s are classy compared to any pump. JMHO, though. And, hey, single shots are cheap and handy!

Well, that's the thing. I've got a Harrington and Richardson Single Shot 10 ga, and 2 Savage side-by-sides (One is a Savage Fox, which my grandfather bought when he was younger, and a Stephens Savage Model B that's even older, which my grandfather cut to 18.1 ((barely legal in Alabama))" years ago, which I kinda wish he hadn't done.) Makes for a good HD shotty though, I've got it loaded with 20 ga. duck loads beside my finance's bed. I really just have a love affair with my 870's though. My current favorite, believe it or not, is a .410 870 Wingmaster Lw loaded with slugs. It's fun to shoot (hunt) small woodland animals with. My next shotty purchase is gonna be a 870 Marine Magnum. That's just a sweet looking gun.


February 21, 2007, 01:23 AM
Saiga AK Shotgun

whats everyone's opinion on that?

February 21, 2007, 02:40 AM
Another 870 fan these things just can not be beat.

February 21, 2007, 09:22 AM
Sorry about the reponse about the cleaning methods. I just got the impression the sticky action could have been from rust.
I actually clean a lot of my guns with water, as I shoot BP exclusively (not subs) for cowboy action.
I guess I should have just said make sure the water is hot.
As far as the Saiga, I had a real good time with one that a friend has. The magazine wasn't big enough, though. But when you're having fun, no mag is big enough. It seemed dependable at the time, but he says you really have to keep on top of the maintenance.


Smitty in CT
February 21, 2007, 09:26 AM
Let's see...
For pumps I have:

12GA Ithaca Model 37 w/30" barrel (50+ years old)
20GA Remington Wingmaster (35+ years old)
12GA Mossberg 535 (3 years old)

I haven't had any problems with any of them, so....I guess pump shotguns by nauture of their design are pretty reliable.

Now if you ask which one is the smoothest....The Ithaca by a mile, but it has had 50 years of "polishing", too.


February 21, 2007, 09:36 AM
Greasing the pump rails on your 870's could to help to make them cycle smoother.

February 21, 2007, 10:07 AM

I also own a Saiga 12, and it has been 100% reliable through about 500 rounds, but for absolute proven reliability, the 870 is the king.

Just my .02,

Ala Dan
February 21, 2007, 11:22 AM
You opened up a can of worms with that question; but my most dependable
shotgun has always been the 18" barrel Remington 12 gague 870 Marine
Magnum~!:cool: ;) :D

February 21, 2007, 11:40 AM
I've got an 870 express but I prefer my buddy's winchester 1300.

February 21, 2007, 12:06 PM
the old faithful mossberg 500, never had a problem and probably never will. Although my single shot winchester model 35 has never jammed either:D

CSA 357
February 21, 2007, 12:10 PM
#1 mod 12 winchester #2 870 dont be sending me no hate mail! its the truth!!!!!!!! :D csa

February 21, 2007, 12:11 PM
In no particular order:

-870 WM
-870 SP
-870 P
-870 E
-870 MM

Oh, did I mention the 870?:D :D :D

February 21, 2007, 12:24 PM
Mossberg 590A1

February 21, 2007, 12:43 PM
In no particular order:

-870 WM
-870 SP
-870 P
-870 E
-870 MM

Oh, did I mention the 870?


-870 SM :)
Love mine, especially now that youve got my synthetic furniture.

Diesel man
February 21, 2007, 03:23 PM
870 express 12 gauge pump shotgun
Great,reliable,flexible shotgun
Even when hacksawed from 26 inch barrel to 18 inch barrel and cut on the stock.

Brian Dale
February 21, 2007, 03:30 PM
You've asked a question with a lot of good answers.anyway what is considered the most dependable brand overall?From the sticky at the top of this Forum's main page, try this classic piece (

February 21, 2007, 03:50 PM
I've got a nice old Remington model '29 which is cut down to riot gun length. The action is very smooth, but not loose despite being 70+ years old. I've never had any reliability problem that was attributable to the gun. The only mishaps I've had were due to bad ammo or jamming due to short-stroking. Several of my buddies have newer Remingtons and Mossburgs (sorry, don't remember the model numbers) and I prefer my old Remington to any of 'em.

I'm also a big fan of the old Winchester 1897 pump, although I don't own one.

February 22, 2007, 12:08 AM
I Have owned a 870 20 gauge for 35 years, you can't find a more dependable gun. However about two years ago I traded a pistol for a Winchester Defender shotgun. I was amazed at how smooth the action was, it is the most fun shotgun I have ever used. :)

February 22, 2007, 12:22 AM
most dependable 12 guage. i have an 870 express. very good gun. i have a mossenburg 500. remington i prefer more. But if we are talking dependable, like no matter what will take any abuse.


which one wins

My NEF pb1 New England Firearms. single shot 12 guage. Its an old style shot gun that will almost never ever where out. with only a few moving parts. Takes little to no time to clean. As compared to the 870 or the 500. i just dont see how it can break. Or even where out.

February 22, 2007, 12:40 AM
I had a Remmy 870 Express from 1981, which got pawned for 75 bux for of all things, food. :(

I fired a Saiga 12, and even considered one, but I wanted a pistol grip, and a collapsable stock, and both are evil features. :evil:

Looked at and liked the Mossbergs, and was almost ready to buy one, but Mossbergs, even though they can have 8+1 in their 20 inch guns, don't let you have that feature unless you never want to swap barrels. In all fairness, the Mossbergs do have the capacity to change barrels with the standard magazine, which holds one more round than the Remington. They are also cheaper. If you look at them side by side, you can see that the receivers on the Mossberg are shorter than the Remington receivers, and are made of aluminum, instead of steel. Plus, the location of the pump release and the safety are in a different location. Makes it harder for those who use pistol grips and collapsible stocks. I have even seen pictures that show where people have had to modify the grip in order for the pump release to clear it. :uhoh:

All I had to do was go to the store and look at the Remington. The finish on the 870 express I happen to like, as I don't like shiny guns, and the action on them is superb, if you take them down and grease the right places with the right lubricants. IF you use a pistol grip, then the safety is ideally located, because you do not want to take the weapon off safe until you are ready to fire. The action release also has no problems with the pistol grip, because it is located forward of the trigger assy. For me, the Remington just felt right, and that to me is the single most important factor when using a weapon. It has to fit properly. Pump reliability when properly lubed is nothing short of outstanding, polishing internals can make it as sweet as the higher end guns, and the supposedly evil features don't seem to bother the antis as much on a pump action, if you are inclined to believe that the .gov might just go through with HR 1022. For my money, the Remington wins hands down on all of the above. :)

So my opinion is that you should go with the Remington. Besides, some things, like firearms, should be American made. I'd feel silly fighting for my freedom with an AK, or a Saiga. Course, Ford still hates me for trading my Ranger for a Hyundai, but hey, customer service would have made a big difference, as well as a warranty that someone actually honored. A jeep would be nice though. Maybe in a little while. But I am rambling now....

Over to you , Chet...

February 22, 2007, 01:12 PM
I'm surprized it took so long for someone to mention the Model 12

I would also cast a vote of support to the Mossberg 500. I loved mine. No slams towards the 870, but Mossy's are also American made, have been around for ages, performed reliably, and no one should feel any shame in owning one.

As for sluggish performance - one thing I've noticed is the newer guns use plastic cartrideg followers in the tube. These plastic followers seem alot more prone to collecting crud on them and getting kind of sticky. Happened with my Mossy 500 and my friend's Express. OTH my Win Mod 12 and JC Higgens Mod 20 both have steel followers and they never get crudded up and sticky.

February 22, 2007, 01:24 PM
Winchester Model 12 the military loved 'em
Ithaca Model '37 light, fast and dependable

February 22, 2007, 02:17 PM
I have owed a Winchester 1300 Defender for going on 3 years now, great shotty, I like it better than the 870.

Bud Tugly
February 22, 2007, 03:47 PM
If the ONLY thing you're concerned about is dependability, then the obvious choice would be a single-shot or double-barrel. Next to nothing to wear out or go wrong and jamming is nearly impossible.

If you want more than 1 or two shots without reloading then you can't go much wrong with any of the major brand pump guns.

February 22, 2007, 05:24 PM
As for sluggish performance - one thing I've noticed is the newer guns use plastic cartrideg followers in the tube

I know I've seen metal followers for like, 10 bucks, on some of the sites I have perused looking a shotty stuff. Easy fix :)

February 22, 2007, 06:26 PM
my vote for the most dependable is my Citori. Pumps and autos have a lot more moving parts and sometimes jam or ftf.

February 22, 2007, 06:48 PM
After taking apart my Beretta semi-auto last night for standard maintenance, I am convinced that my Remmy 870 is a more dependable shotgun.

February 23, 2007, 12:34 AM
There are two or three post here saying: "if all you want is dependiblity, get a break action single shot." There are 4 hunters in my family, we hunt birds about 15 times a year. I have a 870 Mag Express, and everyone else has single shot break actions in 12 and 20 gauge. I have seen more fails to fire and fails to eject from the numerous break actions than my Remmy has had. Plus, twice I've seen my brothers trip and fire their guns into the ground because the hammer snagged on the way down. I just got done giving my 870 a bath, and looked at all the scars it aquired. I'm only 22, but I got the shotgun when I was 14, and have many thousands of rounds through it since then. My only problems were a few falures to load with 3.5" turkey loads, and my plastic follower getting gummed up after a day of heavy shooting. I had to grow into it a bit (I was 87 pounds when I was a freshman), but that gun points like I was born with it attached to my arm. The 870 is a tank, looks nice, is made in America, and is as American as a gun can be!

Bud Tugly
February 23, 2007, 02:04 AM
Hmmm. I've had quite a variety of single and double break-opens in my life and I've NEVER had one fail to fire or eject. I've also never had one fire accidentally from tripping or dropping them. Didn't think it was possible unless you're carrying the gun cocked with the safety off. Are you sure your friends aren't using bad ammo and/or defective guns?

I said break-opens are more dependable, not better. The more complex the gun, the more fussy you have to be with cleaning and maintenance. Any modern gun will be dependable if you take proper care of it.

February 23, 2007, 02:39 AM
I've been a Mossberg user for about six years, give or take.

They say the first step to recovery, is to admit that you have a problem. :D

February 23, 2007, 07:19 PM
Remington 870. THE pumpgun standard. Besides making terrific shotguns, Remington dumped Jim Zumbo after his stupid remarks, and I applaud them for standing up for what is right.

February 23, 2007, 07:46 PM
I personally love the Winchester 1200. I inherited one from my grandfather when he died when I was around 11 years old. It is very light, VERY balanced, reliable, and it has an extremely fast/smooth pump action, and not to mention durable.

When I didn't know what I was doing around 12-13 years old I would shoot 3" magnum 1 1/4 ounce slugs in it with no problem, and it was chambered for 2 3/4":what:

It was also very accurate with Winchester 2 3/4" 1 oz. slugs. At 75 to 100 yds I could consistantly hit milkjugs offhand/unrested.

All in all It has never had a hiccup and it will digest anything I put through it.

The only problem I ever had with it was when I put an empty shell in the chamber to dry fire/cycle the action(which I have done an endless amount of times), well the shell jammed in the chamber and wouldn't budge. I pulled on the pump as hard as I could(I do this with my 870's when I accidently short stroke, and an empty gets jammed in the chamber). It finally slammed open, but it looked like the bolt face was pulled an 1 1/2-2" out of the reciever. It's kinda hard to explain, but it looks really weird.... The gun still works just fine, but I'm always worried about it:uhoh:

February 23, 2007, 07:48 PM
I have one gun I use for everything, a 870 synthetic express.

Now, one day I would LOVE a vintage Browning autoloader A-5, or a high-end over-under skeet gun, but I regard these things as luxuries, which I will get around to about the same time as the '65 mustang my wife wants.

I can throw the 870 in the back of the truck, beat it up, crawl through the sagebrush and creeks looking for jackrabbits, and it will work every time.

I went out with a friend of a friend one afternoon, who had a bunch of break-action guns in various gauges, and while I really enjoyed shooting some smaller ones for a change, all of them were stiff, with gooey extractors. He had just gotten them back from the gunsmith, who cleaned up their actions. (?!)

February 23, 2007, 09:21 PM
Cobray Slam-Fire

February 23, 2007, 11:21 PM
Mossberg 500's are a inexpensive pump that are fairly reliable, % resale value is generally lower than an 870 and as for "made in America" well thats not 100% true...

Do a google search for mossberg mexico.......

But back to Mexico. Speaking before the several gun writers at Torreon was Alan Mossberg who said: "Why are we here in Torreon? Well, Mossberg as a company had to grow. We needed more space, more machinery, more employees, etcetera and since we are indeed looking to the future we decided on Torreon purely to compete with the labor costs of the foreign market.

"We will indeed keep our corporate headquarters at North Haven, Connecticut, but we now will have our Torreon, Mexico plant and our Eagle Pass, Texas facility as well," Alan Mossberg continued. "In the future Mossberg will strongly turn to the shotgun as as total shooting system. That is, the consumer won't need, say, a rifle like the .30/30 to hunt deer. Just add one of our rifled slug barrels to a Mossberg scattergun and you have that all-around shotgun for both small game as well as big-game hunting.

Support Remington and Long live the 870!!!

I currently own 2 and have not been without atleast one in over 25yrs. cuz they work.

oh yeah and the plastic safety button will break on a 500 that's why there is a market for other producers of the button.

don't get me wrong there is a place for a 500 "Hell my 14 y.o. boy has one"


February 25, 2007, 08:33 AM
Sometimes it's just a matter of personal preference. I have a couple of 870's and really like them-----but, if I had to grab one of my shotguns to really "lay down" the "wrath of God"----I'd grab my Benelli Super Black Eagle II.

February 25, 2007, 10:21 AM
Hi all,

I have a pair of Model 12 Winchesters. These guns were smacking clays and birds when the 870 designers were still in diapers. One can't argue with history.. :)

February 25, 2007, 11:05 AM
Now if you ask which one is the smoothest....The Ithaca by a mile, but it has had 50 years of "polishing", too.

I'd venture to say that Ithaca was smoother than an 870 or a Mossberg the day it came off production assembly. That is just ONE SLICK design and as reliable as any pump gun. I'd like a Browning BPS, though, for the tang safety. :D Just a lot of dollars for a pump gun and I'd rather shoot my autoloader unless I need 3" 12s for turkey or geese. The auto is a lot easier on my shoulder and you don't need that stinkin' pump, it does it for you. :D

February 25, 2007, 11:21 AM
ya but most dependable. again that stupid single shot either 12 guage or 410 guage NEF will out last anything.

February 25, 2007, 12:09 PM
We've been doing a little pest controll at cotton gins, feed lots and grain elevators. 60 mph winds, sandy clay dust so fine it gets in every pore of your body not to mention your eyes. Hard on guns. Remington 1100 holds up really good the 9200 at first jammed a LOT but polishing up some parts it got as good as the 1100 and the recoil was less. 1400 win was in the same class and did better with low powered shells. 50 rds was about all you could shoot with any auto before cleaning.The Walmart Remington sportsman pump was a piece of junk and really ruined the brands reputation. The real 870 no problems a GREAT gun, 500 and the Nova were all reliable and no real difference. They would have to be cleaned after 100 shots. The Saiga was to clumsy for me and by the time I got my mag out and loaded everybody else had shot a box of shells. After 10 shots it go back in my welding truck and I'd get the 10 ga H&R. Funny I can shoot a box out of it faster than I could the Saiga ( when I bought the Saiga I didn't know the extra mags cost as much as a gun and hard to find) I didn't like the small slide release on the Win 1300 and constantly jaming it do to operator error.
Farmer gun problems( years of abuse riding around in a pick up being sprayed with wd40) Win model 12 slide locked down and it was really hard to take apart, 37 Ithaca the twin slides came off the locking bolt . I've no idea how. It looked like the most reliable design of any pump. Savage pumps were probably unreliable when new. High Standard the quality control must of been poor because some are smooth and reliable and the next one a piece of junk. On the 12 ga H&R the only problem has been the barrelnut holding the forearm breaks off. Of course a 5 lb 12 ga 3" mag kicks!!! My favorite rifles are Savage but the pump shotguns and single shot shotguns they made were a poor design. The rebounding hammer and inertia firing pin was unreliable even the 24V had a 30-30 barrel that was really accurate but the shotgun barrel pattern was no way near where the rifle sights were. At least it was sorta reliable after new springs were put on the firing pins.
I'd shoot a case of reloads in a hrs time in some nasty weather and it mostly boils down to what fits you the best, stay away from Walmart if they can screw with Remingtons reputation they can screw us.

February 25, 2007, 12:29 PM
Stevens 311 Dbl the sears came apart, Remington 1900 would fire both barrels at the same time, Ithaca Lefever didn't cock one barrel. Of course these guns were built 50 to a 100 years ago. As far as trapguns go my buddies that shoot trap just borrow my guns and leave pretty at the house.

February 25, 2007, 08:31 PM
Well, I have a single shot Iver Johnson hammer gun that's still shooting. I have no idea how old it is, but know that it was discontinued in 1947. It was a "hardware store" gun, stamped "Hercules" on the receiver. It's taken a LOT of game in its day, but I haven't fired it now in at LEAST 20 years, maybe more, and haven't hunted with it in 35 years, so you could say it's retired. :D

February 25, 2007, 09:59 PM
Git rid of them Remmies and git yerself an Ithaca! :D

(I have 2 Ithacas, 2 870's and a Browning BPS, and they're all marvelous).

February 25, 2007, 11:22 PM
I have a benelli Nova that works great, but I had to pick up an 870 in 20ga

March 7, 2007, 05:42 PM
Darkwing: Do you know when Ithaca began making 37s with "twin slides"? All the ones I remember seeing had a single action slide.

March 7, 2007, 06:12 PM
I have seen, and once had it happen to me, a shell from an 870 that seems to get caught behind the bolt. Memory fails me to how it precisely looked, but I remember having to drive the pins out of the receiver to retrieve the wayward shell.

If this hasn't happened to any of you 870 fans, then I can see why you would be in love with it. But I saw this same thing three times, and since then I have always looked at the 870 with the jaundiced eye.

Has anyone ever seen something similar, and is my theory correct that it was somehow caused by short stroking?

I don't particularly care for Mossbergs, but I do admire and respect them. They can stand up to decades of hard use, and I never seen a shell stuck behind the bolt. I have one, and it was and is a great gun, but they don't look distinguished until after you use them for 20 years!

Ithacas are my favorite, they just ooze quality and workmanship...

Dave McCracken
March 7, 2007, 09:58 PM
Bowfin, one can tie up an older model 870 by short loading. If one fails to insert a shell in the mag far enough to be past the latches, it can bind up the shotgun.

Fixes are mentioned in the floater threads up top.

March 7, 2007, 11:18 PM
Sorry just one action bar. I"m blaming my typing and not my memory.

March 7, 2007, 11:50 PM
My 870 hasn't treated me that well. Bought it brand new and it has decided not to eject spent shells. Remington has tried but failed to fix it twice now. It is on it's way back for a third time. I would have to say Mossberg is the way to go.

March 8, 2007, 09:55 AM
Bowfin, one can tie up an older model 870 by short loading. If one fails to insert a shell in the mag far enough to be past the latches, it can bind up the shotgun.

Fixes are mentioned in the floater threads up top.

This is one of the reasons I sold my 870 and bought a Mossberg for waterfowl and never looked back. You can't load the danged thing with gloves on, elevator/loading gate pinches the glove. So, you take the glove off to reload the gun, it's cold, you thumb is numb, you shove a shell in there and that elevator/loading gate pinches your numb thumb and it HURTS! You yank the thumb out and you haven't pushed the shell in far enough for it to click into the mag. The shell jumps back under the shell elevator and ties up the gun. What I'd do when this happened out in the marsh is dig out my pocket knife and push the shell back in from between the elevator and receiver. It was a PITA and took a few minutes. :fire:

The Ithaca my uncle had that I used to borrow had no loading gate/elevator in the way. I bought a double in 1971 and my loading gate problems were over until the steel shot law came out. I didn't wanna destroy my old double with steel shot it was never designed to shoot, so I traded a guy a motorcycle frame for a 25 year old Revelation badged Mossberg 500. It has no loading gate in the way. In the late 80s I sold that gun and bought a Mossberg 500 camo and am still using this gun.

I took my Winchester M1400 out one cold, cold morning this past season and that loading gate/elevator brought back memories when it started pinchin' my thumb again. :rolleyes: I was very determined to get the shell in without it stickin' the works. To be fair, the 870 is not the only gun with this malady, but with the Mossberg, I don't have to worry about it and my old south paw shooting habits prefer the tang safety anyway. But, I do like that Winchester cause it don't beat me up so bad. The gas operated action on that M1400 has to be the softest shooting 12 gauge out there. On the coldest days, I have enough layers of coat and clothes on that the recoil of the pump isn't so bad and on warm hunts, my thumb isn't numbed by the cold. So, I can sort of match gun to the weather I reckon. :D

Dave McCracken
March 8, 2007, 10:06 AM
Bowfin, as I've said elsewhere, I used the heck outa 870s for 20 years and more before I found out about the short loading jam thng. Good technique,I guess.

Same on the thumb, and I've big thumbs. Must be just subtle differences in physiognomy.....

March 9, 2007, 02:59 AM
Ithaca 37/87 pump gun is tops..........just my opinion. I carry an 870 but only because my employer mandates it.

March 9, 2007, 03:10 AM

I would have to say My/a Winchester Pump 12/12 Full, as I inherited it back in 1966 from my Great Uncle, along with a Winchester Pump 12/16. They have both fired every time, all the time, be it at the skeet or trap range, or in the old days, out hunting Rabbits and Quail, when we had open land here in So. Calif.. no mas. sigh :rolleyes:


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