Rem 870 "ghost loading" problem: manufacturing tolorances, mods?


September 22, 2013, 11:48 PM
I just discovered shotgun ghost loading or carrier loading last week. For those that don't know, it involves putting an extra shell between the bolt and and shell carrier/lifter. It turns an N+1 tube magazine shotgun into an N+2.

I found it super easy to do in my Mossberg 930 with either 2.75" or 3" shells. On the Rem 870 it is slightly different than other guns. The carrier is not straight but has a hump that helps direct the rear of the shell up as it ejects from the magazine. Because of this, the "ghosted" shell has to have its nose slightly inside the tube magazine when the bolt closes above it. You need push the shell off the bolt face and use the front edge of the slide assembly to help push it back into the magazine. It helps to lift the carrier slightly with one finger to create the correct alignment.

On my 870, I can ghost a 2.75" shell easilly if my magazine is one less than full but i cannot do so on a full magazine. I found that the clearance between the slide assembly and carrier is so tight that the shell needs to go most of the way into the magazine before it clears the bottom front edge of the slide assembly before it goes back to it's final ghosted position which is barely in the magazine.

Since forums and even YouTube are full of successful examples of ghosting, I suspect I have an issue with part tolerances.

Have other people encountered this issue and how did you get the extra round? I have a SBR that fits only 4 in the tube so that extra round is significant and worth a little work to me.

Has anyone bent there carrier? Has anyone radiused the underside of their slide assembly. In normal operation from the magazine, the shell comes nowhere near this part so it would not ham operation but I wonder if you need some edge there to facilitate the ghost load.

Slide Assembly, so you know what i'm talking about.


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September 23, 2013, 12:01 AM
How it is supposed to work:


September 23, 2013, 02:39 AM
I can now ghost load 6 2.75" shells by hand and 3 3" + 3 2.75" shells with the help of a little stick or screwdriver.

The problem was the heavier than stock spring that I had made by cutting down a 7rd tactical spring until 4 3" rounds barely fit in the magazine. Taking another 5 coils off (one by one) solved the problem. I still think it might be slighty more powerful than stock but it now works.

While a 2.75" shell only needs to occupy about 0.84" of the magazine when ghost loaded, it needs to go 1.40" into the mag before the rim of the shell slips below the front of the slide assembly. Slightly rounding the front of the slide assembly will help make it easier to do the 3+3 but it does not look like 4+2 is possible due to there only being a small fraction of an inch between where the shell head would have to release and the stop on the carrier. Remington added that stop on the carrier some years back to prevent a round that jumped the release from getting so far back in the action that it got behind the bolt and caused a jam.

With the barrel off, I could see exactly what was happening and it is the magazine and slide assembly that is determining when the shell slips under the bolt. The carrier does not enter into it.

By replacing the magazine spring with a dowel, I was able to measure what was happening as well as prove to my satisfaction that it is impossible to jam a modern 870 with the shell stop cutout in the carrier by ghost loading. I even pounded on the dowel a bit and could not get the shell to pass the stop on the carrier.

So I now have the choice between 6 2.75" shells, 5 3" shells or a combination of 6 shells with as many a half of them 3". To ghost load a 3" shell, I do need to poke the shell down when the bolt is almost closed using a tool narrower than my finger for the time being but that is not a problem as ghost loading is by definition something you do ahead off time.


September 23, 2013, 10:36 AM
The part you're showing is the bolt slide. The carrier is the elevator which carries the shell to the bolt so it can be shoved in the chamber. :) I have seen people ghost loading shotguns before, but I have too much respect for my guns to ask them to do things they were not designed to do.

AI&P Tactical
September 23, 2013, 12:25 PM
It my humble but professional opinion if you are modifying the weapon to do something it is not designed to do then you risk damage or a malfunction of the weapon. I don't not understand why this is important and why risking damage to the weapon is worth an extra round.

September 23, 2013, 12:47 PM
^^^ Agreed. Why not just practice tatics to keeping it fed rather than monkeying around with the magazine tube just for an extra shot. Sounds like a bad plan. I never heard of it before dont sound good

September 23, 2013, 01:33 PM
Plenty of people have modified shotguns to ghost load. It's very common in the world of 3 gun competition, and, in fact, I was able to modify my Benelli M2 to allow ghost loading by milling a slot into the bottom of the bolt.

Shotguns like the 870 are very common and I see no reason to avoid modifying the gun if it enhances functionality.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk 4

September 23, 2013, 02:57 PM
Some of these responses are very predictable. I'm not sure how taking a class (a good thing) is the same as increasing magazine capacity (also a good thing).. I loved the "I never heard of it so it must be bad" :) Ghost loading the M4 is part of the Marine Corps manual and I'm pretty sure they respect their guns too.

Right now nothing has been modified. It's closer to stock then when I started with an extra long mag spring.

Rem calls the part the slide assembly (part #57). I misread the diagram on my phone last night. I will edit it when I am in front of a real computer.


September 23, 2013, 03:01 PM
Oops! Posted in wrong thread.


September 23, 2013, 10:38 PM
I relied on my shotgun (and preferred an 870 whenever I had a choice) for many years on the street where it counts. I wouldn't consider anything other than standard, ordinary loading and usage under any circumstances. I see quite a few things in competition that I would never teach any young officer.... I know that many here are never likely to need their shotgun when things have just gone to hell and you're scared to death... On the street, keeping things simple and direct is far preferable in my opinion... of course I'm a guy who will never be allowed to serve on any jury - and some of the things I taught my officers to do would have given any chief of police heart failure if he/she knew about them....

I can't think of anything more reliable and quick pointing than that basic "riot configuration" shotgun with nothing but a bead sight and five shots. You still have to line them up and put them down and putting all your pellets in the chest cavity will generally end whatever the problem is.... if not, then you should at least be able to outrun them...

Fred Fuller
September 23, 2013, 10:50 PM
I have to confess, I've never understood the urge to cram just one more shell into a tube magazine shotgun. Makes no sense to me. But I've always been kind of a stick in the mud, so... if it floats your boat, go for it.

The paraphrase Clint Smith - No matter how many they hold, we still gotta practice reloadin' 'em.

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