What to do with the Wingmaster?


April 4, 2013, 01:16 AM
Hi folks,

I'm new to the forum and to shotgunning. Always wanted a shotgun (I've never owned a gun in my 36 years till now) and after a lot of research, I bought a brand new Remington 870 Wingmaster (12 gauge). It came with a blued 28" vent rib barrel with removable chokes and I also bought a 20" rifle sighted smoothbore barrel (it's an Express barrel, and yes, I already know I'm going to hell for putting it on a Wingmaster) for home defense.

I LOVE shooting this gun. I've entertained ideas of tricking it out with defensive options like a ghost ring rear sight and a mag extension tube. I bought a Vang Comp +2 mag extension but the magazine tube on the gun utilizes the detents in the tube to hold the mag spring retainer in place and as I'm sure you guys are already aware, I will need to remove these in order to get the thing to feed. The mag extension also came with a stainless follower that I definitely wanted in the gun.

I am hard pressed to drill holes in the mag tube to get this to work, and I am asking you guys for advice. Would you do this? I've read Patrick Sweeneys' book "Gunsmithing: Shotguns" and feel like I can pull it off, but should I? Also, if I do this, should I have the receiver drilled and tapped for a ghost ring sight? If I do the job, should I cold blue the exposed bare metal?

I don't hunt, but I plan on passing this gun on to my boy when the time comes. In the meantime, I plan on shooting in as many ranges and competitions as I can.

Also, I do plan on slicking up the action further (using Sweeneys instructions) by polishing the action bars, bolt carrier plate, and mag tube. I have 600 grit sandpaper and 0000 steel wool. Which should I use first, or, which is more abrasive of the two? Or should I use something else entirely?

Thanks you guys for your time and for having such a cool forum.


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Steve C
April 4, 2013, 02:32 AM
I know you are excited about your new purchase but never understood the impulse people have to change and modify a perfectly good product with a bunch of aftermarket additions when they haven't even used it enough to find out if they need or even want these things. The best way to "slick up" an 870 action is to shoot it. It will smooth out with use and the shooter will learn how to shoot it. There are severeal different "games" where shotguns may be used on the range. Go out and try some of them out. There's not a single shotgun that will fill the needs for every game that may be played so know what you want to do with it and then modify the gun or buy a different gun to make you competitive.

You bought a 20" rifle sighted barrel so why in the world do you think you need an additional Ghost Ring sight???? Rifle type sights on a shotgun are for hunting deer and other large game with slugs. Bird hunting, shooting clays, and home defense all that is needed is the bead sight on the end of the barrel. If you put your short barrel on for HD you won't even use the rifle sights unless you live in a 10,000 sq ft mansion or located in a rural area where you may want slugs to shoot large varmints or bears at 50 yd + distance.

On 870's made before the 90's there was no dimples in the mag tube end to "retain" the follower. They where added to make it more difficult to install extended mag tubes. The barrel retention cap held in the mag spring. To allow the mag extension to be used simply grind or file off these dimples allowing the tube to be free of obstruction.

April 4, 2013, 03:58 AM
If I was going to use the gun for wing shooting, i.e. shooting things flying through the air I definitely wouldn't add a ghost ring. As stated above, in as much as you have the rifle sighted barrel there isn't too much need to go with a ghost ring anyways.

I plan on shooting in as many ranges and competitions as I can.

What I might or might not do would depend a lot on what type of competitions you are going to enter. Setting the gun up for one type of shooting often makes it less useful for another. Trying to make one gun do all tasks often results in one gun that doesn't do any of them that well. If you are a more casual competitor it can still work though. What type of shooting do you plan to do? What do you want to do the most.

FWIW, for near the price of putting a decent set of ghost ring sights on it you could buy something like the Hawk 982 picture below. They can often be had for around $200 NIB. It is, in most regards, a clone of the 870. It would give you a bunch of what you are looking for and a cheaper platform to start out gunsmithing on. I also like to work on my guns myself. However, I've certainly learned as I've gone.


Without yet knowing what you intend your range shooting and competitions to consist of, if it were me, I'd buy the Hawk and modify/accessorize it as a home defense/3 gun/slug shooting type gun. I'd also use it as the test bed for developing my gunsmithing skills.

I'd largely leave the 870 alone. I'd shoot both guns a bunch and that would probably help give you a better idea what, if anything you want to do to the 870.

By the way, I have no per se reservations about modifying a wingmaster for a HD gun or for any other task. Heck, I'm looking for an older wingmaster to turn into an SBS. They are simply better guns, and often at a better price, than much of the newer 870 offerings.

April 4, 2013, 06:01 AM
I'm highly biased.... Admittedly. I would not trick out the Wingmaster. Buy a plastic gun for HD if you want.... New mossbergs can be had for mid $200s.

Fred Fuller
April 4, 2013, 10:54 AM
Best advice I can offer is to forget the ghost ring rear sight and use the rifle sights you have (and paid for already).

As to the magazine extension, I basically quit buying 870s with mag tube dimples for this very reason. They're more trouble than they are worth IMHO. Learn to load it on the fly and leave it in original condition, would be my advice. Or drill out the dimples and jury rig a way to keep your mag cap tight when the extension isn't in place, and always use the extension with a barrel clamp to keep it from backing off.

April 4, 2013, 12:45 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys. I suspected Remington added dimples to make it that much harder to increase the capacity of the shotgun, I guess I'm not the only one with that idea.

I bought the 20" barrel for the short length and to more accurately shoot slugs. What do you guys think about sending the barrel to Vang Comp for their backboring/port job? It has a fixed Imp. Cyl. choke, I don't know if that has an impact on what they can do with it. Maybe I can return the extension tube and get a credit. I still want to replace the follower with something stronger, but it would need to be able to pass through the tube with the detents. Any suggestions?

Now that I think about it, ghost rings are excessive if I already own a rifle sighted barrel. I would've had to remove the rear sight to use the ghost ring anyways. Plus, as was stated, it would've decreased some of the guns versatility, which is one of the shotguns greatest strengths.

As for competition, I'd definitely like to try skeet/trap shooting (I also have a 28" bead sighted barrel), but I'm really keen on trying some high volume shooting sports like practical competition. I'm new to shotgunning, so it's difficult to find stuff like this in NE Ohio, for me anyways...I also read about a game where competitors shoot bowling pins for the fastest time knocking them off the table. They all compete simultaneously so it's against the clock and each other. Sounds like a blast.

You guys are right, shooting often will be the best way to smooth the action, and it is consistent practice, which is always good.

So now I have to ask for help from any NE Ohio shotgunners as to where I can go to SHOOT. Thanks for your help.


April 4, 2013, 12:55 PM
I love my WM's too much to alter them. Other than one that I managed to break the front bead off of and replaced with an after market 2 bead set up, I don't modify them at all. I have several versions of 870's, each with it's purpose. I also have a clone that isn't bad either.

As for using sand paper or steel wool to smooth up the rails or receiver, just shoot it, and clean it, and it will quickly become slick as snot. With the action open, all of mine can't be picked up without the action sliding closed. 870's only get smoother with use.

It's your toy, so do what you will. But if it were me, I would just buy another 870, 2, 3, or 4 of them to fill your needs, they don't cost an arm and a leg.


April 4, 2013, 02:11 PM
I personally would buy a case of Federal FliteControl 00 Buckshot instead of spending 255 bucks for the VangComp work. The VangComp mods are great, but you will learn more and become more proficient by shooting ammo through the gun, and it will smooth it up too.

Keep the magazine extension, and make sure your next Remington 870 (They are habit forming) does not have the magazine dimples :).

Just my .02,

April 4, 2013, 05:22 PM
Like others mentioned, regular wear will slick up the action nicely. Before any other mods I'd just buy a case of ammo to run thru it. The new flite-control buckshot patterns very tightly in most people's guns, so I doubt you'll need more mods to improve patterns for HD. For other games buy a variety of loads and see what works best for your gun. Practicing with your own gun will take you farther than any mod you can buy. Have fun with your new gun!

April 4, 2013, 07:38 PM
Are all Wingmasters coming with the dimpled magazine tubes now? I thought that was only on the Express models.

April 4, 2013, 09:14 PM
They all have the green toothed monster magazine cap retention system now. I think some VP's kid must have invented that monstrosity.

April 4, 2013, 09:26 PM
green toothed monster magazine cap retention system

April 5, 2013, 01:41 PM
One of the best things for smoothing out a new shotgun is "work polishing"

Or as our late friend and 870 Guru Dave McCracken told folks: BA/UU/R

Buy Ammo
Use Up

That 870 will soon be slicker than a banana peel on oiled glass

April 6, 2013, 04:44 AM
Here is my idea on the ghost ring. Do not do it. They are for hunting and mall ninja's. I use and qualify on 870P's for my work. I like the rifle sights just fine. Since I shoot under time at the range. I find the rifle sights work great.

For me the ghost ring is harder to use when it is on a shotgun. They are great on a rifle though. JMHO.

April 6, 2013, 09:49 PM
The best thing you can do in my opinion is to take a shotgun class or two from a real professional teacher like Loui Awerbuck or Clint Smith. They know their stuff and after the class you will have a better idea what you need to do. Gunsite in AZ would be another good choice.

CSA 357
April 7, 2013, 04:25 AM
the 870 is a great shotgun, it put the winchester mod 12 out! but alot of that was winchester couldnt build the mod 12 and sell it as cheap as the 870 i have a few 870s and mod 12s i say leave the gun as is dont put alot of stuff on it you dont realy need just makes the gun heavy and bulky

April 7, 2013, 05:03 PM
Clean it and Shoot it.

April 7, 2013, 11:10 PM
Don't use a stainless follower. It will wear on the shell stops. Use a plastic one and let the shell stops wear the FOLLOWER out. Much easier and cheaper to replace. Be aware that some of the plastic followers for sale have a long tail on them that may not allow the last round to fit. It can be trimmed if necessary. The action really does not need any "smoothing". You can polish it up but wont notice any difference. Just run a BUNCH of ammo through it. If you want to polish on the gun wrap some steel wool around a 3/8ths dowel chucked into a drill and polish the chamber and bore. It will need it. For the real lowdown on 870s go to AIP Tactical's website. This guy knows everything about 870s and was trained at the Remington factory.

April 10, 2013, 10:22 PM
Don't do jack squat to that shotgun other than changing barrels, shooting and cleaning it. Unless you want to try and kick your own self in the ass 20 years from now.

April 11, 2013, 09:11 AM
I would really think twice before I ported that shotgun. You're already going to have a lot of muzzle blast/flash if you have to shoot that thing in a night time defense situation....porting will just make it worse.

April 11, 2013, 04:36 PM
Look here (http://www.claytargetsonline.com/index.php) for trap/skeet/sporting clays clubs in your area

April 12, 2013, 03:05 PM
Don't do jack squat to that shotgun other than changing barrels, shooting and cleaning it. Unless you want to try and kick your own self in the ass 20 years from now.

Yep, what he said..

Congrats, sounds like you have a nice shotgun. If it were me I'd resist the temptation to drill any holes in it and I certainly wouldn't take any sand paper to it. It will break in nicely on it's own just by shooting it.

April 12, 2013, 04:15 PM
My advice would be to leave it alone. If you have used the heck out of it in years to come and it looks like hell in 15 years, then tacticalise by using it as a donor gun.

If you want a tactical shotty, buy one. Always room for more guns. (ALso, might be cheaper and certainly less risky than customising something).

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