Importance of chamber size (2 3/4", 3", 3.5") in an 870?


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SKILCZ
March 16, 2010, 11:03 PM
So I'm told that 870 Wingmasters are much better than Express Magnums, but I notice that they only fire 2 3/4" shells. I'm new to shotguns. Is it worth getting an old Wingmaster but being limited to smaller shells? What am I losing out on by not being able to fire 3" or 3.5"? Are most shells now 3" or larger? Is it harder to find 2 3/4"?

I'd consider getting a Maverick 88 or Mossberg 500, but I'm told 870s get the slight edge in quality.

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EHCRain10
March 16, 2010, 11:10 PM
Depends on what you are going to use the shotgun for. If you arent hunting geese or turkey you really have to try hard to justify the 3.5inch chamber.

chas08
March 16, 2010, 11:41 PM
If you arent hunting geese or turkey you really have to try hard to justify the 3.5inch chamber.
In my opinion, EHCRain10 is correct. the 3.5 chamber excels with "Large Steel Shot" for Geese, which I do hunt. And as much as I like having a gun that is all length capable, it is not necessary in most instances. The guns you have mentioned in your post are all decent guns in their own light. New guns have been "cheapened up" to keep them at a certain pricepoint. 2 3/4 inch shells are the most common and before the onset of mandatory use of steel or non-toxic shot for Waterfowl, it was the only chambering I owned. Nowadays if I were starting out, I'd search the auction sites and pawn shops for an 870 Wingmaster Magnum with the 3inch capable reciever and buy a Remchoke barrel for it, if it didn't already have one. search "Wingmaster Magnum" on Gunbroker or one of the other auction sites. It will give you an Idea of whats out there.

SKILCZ
March 17, 2010, 12:28 AM
Thanks for the replies. I should add that I plan to use it for home defense and sporting clays (two different barrels).

Are Express Magnums that bad? I've read mixed reviews on them. Has the quality of Express Magnums decreased the 870 down to the Mossberg level? It seems the 870 tends to win out by a small but consistent margin in polls I've seen, but I don't know if that's taking into account the Express Magnums.

Would I be just as well served by getting a Maverick 88? Or is the 870 truly better?

Virginian
March 17, 2010, 03:28 AM
They have been making 3" Wingmasters for over 50 years, so there are a few around. The receivers are the same on everything except the Super Magnums (3-1/2") regardless of what some people may tell you. The ejectors in the receivers are not.
The Express starts from the same point as a Wingmaster, but a few cheaper parts are used and the finish is considerable rougher to meet the price a whole, whole lot of people would rather pay.
I would pick between a Mossberg and an Express based on which one felt the best to me, both guns are very, very servicable, but neither will ever get confused for a Wingmaster in the dark. Either will kill bad guys and clay pigeons for generations.
I don't have much to say for a Maverick other than they are cheap.

memphisjim
March 17, 2010, 03:54 AM
2 3/4 are cheapest and most plentiful

natman
March 17, 2010, 04:47 AM
Thanks for the replies. I should add that I plan to use it for home defense and sporting clays (two different barrels).

Are Express Magnums that bad? I've read mixed reviews on them. Has the quality of Express Magnums decreased the 870 down to the Mossberg level? It seems the 870 tends to win out by a small but consistent margin in polls I've seen, but I don't know if that's taking into account the Express Magnums.

Would I be just as well served by getting a Maverick 88? Or is the 870 truly better?

For the stated uses you have no need for 3" shells, much less 3.5".

The Express guns use some cheaper parts and the finish isn't as fancy, but they are still good solid guns.

Dookie
March 17, 2010, 04:54 AM
DOWN to the Mossberg level? I will take my 835 over the 870 Express any day. Never jams and always cycles, all of my 835's do but none of my friends 870's can run more than a few rounds without having to perform surgery on them, it's why I switched.

Fred Fuller
March 17, 2010, 07:05 AM
Remington started manufacturing Magnum Wingmasters (i.e., Wingmasters with 3" chambers) in 1955. The serial number on any 879 that left the factory set up for 3" shells ends in an M- that's one way of recognizing them.

For the uses you describe, you can do everything you want to do and more with 2 3/4" shells, which are the most common and usually the most economical variety as well.

none of my friends 870's can run more than a few rounds without having to perform surgery on them

Somehow I find dark shadows of doubt creeping into the farthest corners of my mind regarding the above statement :D.

lpl

batex
March 17, 2010, 07:40 AM
For your intended purpose of clay sports and home defense, you will never need to fire even a 3" shell, nor would you want to. 2 3/4 are the standard, most common and cheapest by far and are best for the purposes you describe. If you really get into the clay target games, you might find you want to reload your own shells. I did because if you shoot 50 - 150 shells in an outing, you really don't want to shoot even the cheap 2 3/4 field loads as they will take a toll on your shoulder. I reload 2 3/4 target loads with 1oz. of shot. Even my 13 year old son has no problem shooting 75 or 100 rounds in a few hours at the gun club.

By the way, an 870, either Wingmaster or Express is a great choice. My first "trap" gun was an older 870 Wingmaster with a 30" full choke barrel I found at a pawn shop for $200 about 4 years ago. Since then, I've shot thousands of rounds through it and it has never failed or even hestitated. I clean it about every 500 rounds or so. I also have an 870 express but the Wingmaster is much more pleasing to look at.

SKILCZ
March 17, 2010, 09:56 AM
Wow, thanks for all the replies. I meant no disrespect to the Mossberg. I've heard good things about both (kind of like the Ford/Chevy truck debate), but I've been told by everyone that the 870 has a slight edge, especially if it's a Wingmaster. I found a lightly used 2 3/4" Wingmaster locally. The guy is asking $350. What's a good price for one?

Floppy_D
March 17, 2010, 10:04 AM
I found a lightly used 2 3/4" Wingmaster locally. The guy is asking $350. What's a good price for one?

If it's in good shape, that's probably not bad. I'd see if he'd take $300 if it were me. I have a slightly beat up Wingmaster circa 1970 that I gave $250 for (a year or two ago) and I love the thing. The action is slicker than whale snot, and 2 3/4" will do anything you need it to (save possibly upper-atmosphere geese). Good luck!

oneounceload
March 17, 2010, 10:50 AM
For HD and clay targets, a 2-3/4" chamber is all you need.
No magnum shells allowed on the clays courses -and typically nothing larger than 7-1/2 anyway. Plenty of HD loads in 2-3/4" size.

natman
March 17, 2010, 12:23 PM
DOWN to the Mossberg level? I will take my 835 over the 870 Express any day. Never jams and always cycles, all of my 835's do but none of my friends 870's can run more than a few rounds without having to perform surgery on them, it's why I switched.
I actually prefer Mossbergs because they are lighter, cheaper and with a little bit of smoothing run just as well as an 870. However, to say that 870s are unreliable is not consistent with reality.

Dookie
March 17, 2010, 04:00 PM
Somehow I find dark shadows of doubt creeping into the farthest corners of my mind regarding the above statement .I don't care if you doubt. 2 Mossbergs and three Remingtons, all relatively new, one brand new. All three Rems would consistently not cycle 3.5's and the new one kept getting stuck closed, we started taking the barrel off when it would not. Mossbergs? One new and another nearly new. Not a flaw. Heck, even the semi auto Stoeger ran perfect.

I have friends with older 870's and they run like butter, if it wasn't for the safety location I would be looking to get one, I am not brand loyal, I buy what works for me.
I don't recommend prolonged shooting of clay pigeons with 3.5's. It just lacks appeal after awhile.
Depends on what you are going to use the shotgun for. If you arent hunting geese or turkey you really have to try hard to justify the 3.5inch chamber. Agree.
It does sound like the OP would be best suited with a 3'' chamber. 18" barrel for HD that shoots 3" 00 and a nice long barrel for clays.

Hunterdad
March 17, 2010, 04:04 PM
I've shot deer, geese, ducks and turkey with my '72 wingmaster that has a 2.75" chamber. Inever got caught up in the 3.5" nonsense. Dead is dead.

philpost
March 17, 2010, 08:54 PM
Question: I recently purchased 00 Buckshot for HD, and they turned out to be 3". The gun will take both 2 3/4 & 3" shells. Is there a problem with me using them if neccessary?

Fred Fuller
March 17, 2010, 09:24 PM
none of my friends 870's can run more than a few rounds without having to perform surgery on them

I have friends with older 870's and they run like butter

I rest my case... :D

Adair
March 17, 2010, 11:59 PM
Dookie, 2 years ago I sunk my duck boat 2 years ago and lost my 870 Wingmaster. I was short on change after replacing all my gear so I got a Mossberg. Well I was hunting this year when a fine Pintail flew over and the gun jammed up and the barrel fell off. While I was trying to find the barrel in the mud, I found my old 870! I rinsed it off, worked the action a time or two, threw in a couple of shells and shot the next 3 ducks that came in.

If your buddies 870s' fail miserably as you say, then maybe they should take a little better care of them.

chas08
March 18, 2010, 12:05 AM
I've shot deer, geese, ducks and turkey with my '72 wingmaster that has a 2.75" chamber. Inever got caught up in the 3.5" nonsense. Dead is dead.
Down here, where shots on Snow Geese landing in your 1000 Rag/Shell spread can be 40-60 yds. The 3.5 with a load of T- shot really shines. But a 10ga. outshines it. Other than that, I can't think of much use for them.

SKILCZ
March 18, 2010, 09:54 AM
Dookie, 2 years ago I sunk my duck boat 2 years ago and lost my 870 Wingmaster. I was short on change after replacing all my gear so I got a Mossberg. Well I was hunting this year when a fine Pintail flew over and the gun jammed up and the barrel fell off. While I was trying to find the barrel in the mud, I found my old 870! I rinsed it off, worked the action a time or two, threw in a couple of shells and shot the next 3 ducks that came in.

Wow, you should sell the rights to that story to Remington. If that's not a glowing advertisement in favor of the 870, I don't know what is.

Dookie
March 18, 2010, 04:06 PM
none of my friends 870's can run more than a few rounds without having to perform surgery on them

I have friends with older 870's and they run like butter

I rest my case... Your case being the old ones are a lot better.

Dookie, 2 years ago I sunk my duck boat 2 years ago and lost my 870 Wingmaster. I was short on change after replacing all my gear so I got a Mossberg. Well I was hunting this year when a fine Pintail flew over and the gun jammed up and the barrel fell off. While I was trying to find the barrel in the mud, I found my old 870! I rinsed it off, worked the action a time or two, threw in a couple of shells and shot the next 3 ducks that came in.

If your buddies 870s' fail miserably as you say, then maybe they should take a little better care of them. first, maybe you should tighten the barrel nut, barrel falling off is operator error. Second, the ones that were jamming were brand new or nearly new and are cleaned after every use.
We did shoot it yesterday and had no issues, but we weren't shooting any 3.5's, which is where the problem seems to be, or maybe it is finally starting to break in. Only took a thousand rounds.

natman
March 18, 2010, 05:08 PM
Dookie, 2 years ago I sunk my duck boat 2 years ago and lost my 870 Wingmaster. I was short on change after replacing all my gear so I got a Mossberg. Well I was hunting this year when a fine Pintail flew over and the gun jammed up and the barrel fell off. While I was trying to find the barrel in the mud, I found my old 870! I rinsed it off, worked the action a time or two, threw in a couple of shells and shot the next 3 ducks that came in.


I suspect that the barrel came off because it wasn't tightened properly, which was the cause of the jam.

I firmly believe that 870s are very reliable shotguns, but I never would have guessed than one could sit in the mud for two years without rusting.

Adair
March 18, 2010, 10:08 PM
Basically I just hate when someone swears all of (whatever the item of discussion is) is a piece of junk because they like theirs better. More 870's have been sold than any other shotgun.

oneounceload
March 18, 2010, 10:43 PM
but I never would have guessed than one could sit in the mud for two years without rusting

Water and air are required for rusting, hence the term "oxidation". Items left in water should be fine for a period of time

ishida
March 18, 2010, 11:53 PM
Yeah, because it's OLD. The 870 has been around FOREVER now. People buy them because they are "better", but they are only "better" because of the status quo that "this is what has been used for generations, so of COURSE it is the best!" It's not particularly superior to pretty much every other pump shotgun sold today, but they've worked their arses off gaining a reputation for it. But then again, I didn't see the military order thousands of Remington 590s.

chas08
March 19, 2010, 02:23 AM
Posted by Adair
Dookie, 2 years ago I sunk my duck boat 2 years ago and lost my 870 Wingmaster. I was short on change after replacing all my gear so I got a Mossberg. Well I was hunting this year when a fine Pintail flew over and the gun jammed up and the barrel fell off. While I was trying to find the barrel in the mud, I found my old 870! I rinsed it off, worked the action a time or two, threw in a couple of shells and shot the next 3 ducks that came in.
Pure Bullsh_t
Water and air are required for rusting, hence the term "oxidation". Items left in water should be fine for a period of time
Today 08:08 PM
Adair, C'mon after two years!!!... Your full of Sh_t. In '98 I lost my home to the Guadalupe River's great flood. My guns were underwater for three days in my house. All were so packed with mud trying to cycle them was almost impossible and at that time, there were two 870's and a BPS amongst the collection. You should be ashamed to spread such Bullsh_t in this forum because the less experienced might believe it. I sold 14 shotguns and six rifles because I couldn't stand to look at what the Guadalupe mud did in those few days. I do still own the BPS and the 870 supermag I had them Camo-Clad five years ago because they were so ugly. But Yes, they still function like new.

Dave McCracken
March 19, 2010, 02:16 PM
Play nice, or leave the sandbox.....

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