870 Super Magnum vs. 870 Express


April 5, 2004, 07:23 PM
What is the quality of the 870 Super Magnum models?

I'd like to be able to use 3 1/2 shells in the future, but I've heard the Super Magnum 870s are just normal 870s with a cheap little piece (that can break) that allows them to shoot the bigger shells.

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Fred Fuller
April 5, 2004, 08:06 PM

If I might ask- what do you need to accomplish with a 3.5" 12 ga. that you can't get done with a 3"? Not being snide or derisive here, it's a serious question. Imho if you need to get that much lead (or steel) downrange, it makes more sense for it to come out of a 10 ga., not a 12. YMMV of course.

I don't have any personal experience with the Super Magnum models (hmm- SM... recoil... Could it be...?). There are some first hand reports here on the board describing difficulties, how common it is I don't know.

Good luck, and Stay Safe,

(not too far from you in lower slower southeastern NC)

April 5, 2004, 08:28 PM
I might like to hunt waterfowl in the future and I thought 3.5s were pretty much the standard.

April 5, 2004, 09:42 PM
Yes we've covered it many times. One of the only reasons they made 3.5" guns was to sell more guns. With the new loads of Hevi-shot that perform better than lead, and the bismuth shot that is close enough to the weight of lead that is peforms almost as well most serious shotgunners don't feel the need for the bigger shells. Some don't see the need for 3" shells.... cough.. cough (sm) cough..;)

There is the advantage that it can shoot 3 different sizes of shell, but it makes the receiver that much bigger and sacrifices performance in some cases. If it were only for waterfowl then it may be worthwhile.

Dave McCracken
April 6, 2004, 05:07 AM
A 3" capable 870 can take any game in North America. Those barnburner 3.5 loads oft pattern terribly. trying to squeeze a 10 gauge load down a 12 gauge tube doesn't work all that well. Like everything in Shotgunland, there's exceptions.

Even leaving clays out of it, 99% of my shotgunning takes place with 2 3/4" loads. The 3" loads here are turkey and goose loads.

Some Super Magnums have feeding issues, by common report.

October 16, 2007, 04:38 PM
Could someone please point me to one of the threads where this was covered? I would appreciate it.

I just picked up a 870 SM and would like to learn more.

(I don't like the little slide cover much . . . looks like it would get jammed up pretty easy)


October 16, 2007, 06:06 PM
I picked up a used Super mag express a few years ago to see what all the excitement was about. Have had no problems with the gun but don't see me shooting anymore 3 1/2" shells from it. Recoil is tolerable with steel loads but unbearable with lead turkey loads and I did not feel it gives me any real advantage over 3" ammo.

October 17, 2007, 04:47 PM
So has anyone had any problems with that little slide plate on the bolt? I can just see it getting frozen in place and bent on a slush filled day in the woods . . . It kind of seems out of place on an otherwise tank-like shotgun.

October 17, 2007, 07:34 PM
I own the Express Super Mag 12 gauge that will shoot 3.5 mag shells.

Its a great gun. 870's are pretty much bullet proof. I've got tons and tons of rounds through it and its been used a lot in muddy, sandy, cold, wet, nasty, waterfowl blinds without one issue. In my experience the 870 is like a timex watch. takes a licking and keeps on ticking. And I don't have to worry about scratching up an expensive gun.

That being said, I use the 3.5 mags only rarely for geese. Its way overkill on ducks. I use 2 3/4 #4's for duck and thats all I need.

its nice to be able to have the flexibility knowing that I can bring out the anti aircraft loads when necessary.

Good gun in my opinion. especially for the money.

October 17, 2007, 11:55 PM
3.5" shells hurt like the devil. Had 2 discharge at once (O/U shotgun), and still don't want to shoot them. Definitely worth the extra investment to get the SM receiver, but I don't advise shooting them often.

October 18, 2007, 09:10 AM
Thanks guys :D

October 18, 2007, 09:43 AM
I got rid of mine. no malfuntion what so ever, recoil on 3 1/2 was a bit more noticable, but in the heat of the live shot I never noticed, on skeet shooting for practice was a whole different story. I never had any troubles with the dust cover but I can see where extra parts could cuase issues. I only got rid of mine, besides the fact I RARELY ever shot 3 1/2s unless the ducks were really high, the longer reciever didn't ballance quite right with my short arms ( am 5'5") Nothing wrong with the super mags, just not my cup of tea.

October 18, 2007, 11:35 AM
yup, no problem with the dust cover (easily removeably IIRC), and no need to shoot 3.5" either. I did the same, and am in the process og getting an 870 magnum although I really wanted an old, used 2.75 Wingmaster.

Also, put 374 shells through the Super on a single weekend once and other than issues with an aftermarket barrel, it ran fine.

October 18, 2007, 12:20 PM
Yes, I don't plan on shooting much (if any) 3.5. I just liked the idea of one setup to shoot pretty much any 12 GA. shell I come across..

Thanks again.

October 19, 2007, 02:04 AM
So has anyone had any problems with that little slide plate on the bolt?

I've personally seen it crunch and fall out of two 870 Express SM models.

October 19, 2007, 04:44 PM
I have the 870 SM and have never had any trouble with it. Just to twist your noodle a little more, I also use it for home defense with an 18" magnum barrel on it. :what: The 18" didn't come in the SM chambering to I had to make sure the magnum barrel would work with what I have. After buying the SM I sent a few calls and emails to Remington. They confirmed that their magum barrels work fine with with the SM receiver.

I switch back and forth from defense mode to woods/trap mode often and have never had a function issue with it. It is probably the least expensive firearm I own and is also probably one of my most favorite and most reliable. :D

October 19, 2007, 05:28 PM
I have one i use and it's find,ive made it my tacital shotgun and i had no problems,I only use 2 3/4 shell and slugs in it.At the ranges ive put a lot of rounds threw it's fine would not trade it for anything.I had a question at first about cutting the barrel down but it's ok now.Now im thinking of changing my stock,That's all.But it's a good shotgun.(tacital is good)No i haven't had a problem yet/

October 19, 2007, 05:36 PM
Yes, I think when changing the barrel on an 870 rule of thumb is to use the lesser of what's marked on the barrel vs. what's on the receiver. My SM also did double duty with an 18".:D

October 19, 2007, 06:23 PM
Excellent info guys, thanks a bunch. I'll try and get the new off it this weekend.


October 19, 2007, 07:58 PM
And when you do, let us know,i want to know how that kick is,because mine
(who would have thunk it) Is ok,for now.

October 20, 2007, 06:53 AM
Frankly, I do not like 3.5" shells.

The Pattern board does not lie. From a Browning Gold and SBE, I get better patterns with factory(I,M), Briley(LM,M) and SRM Terror(.675) chokes using 3" (BB's,#2, #3)shot shells.

I never have been able to get 3.5" shot shells to pattern worth hoot.

Now go to a 10ga(BPS) with factory Mod choke, and the patterns are awesome.

I just have no use for the 12ga 3.5.

To answer you question.
I would buy a 3" 870. Then spend time at the pattern board, to see what it likes.

Jeff F
October 21, 2007, 12:51 AM
My buddy has a bps 3.5 12ga that he has had for quite a few years. We have been duck and goose hunting together for many years and he still has 18 shells left from the one and only box of 3.5 in mags that he bought years ago. I shot one of them, talk about self abuse. 2 3/4 and 3 inch mags have always gotten it done for us with a lot more of the 2 3/4 then the 3 inch. Likes been said if you need that much payload on a regular basis you should be using a 10ga.

October 21, 2007, 10:57 PM

I have both the 3" chambered Remington Express 870 and the Express SuperMag version. Both wear synthetic stocks and have the R3 recoil pad installed. There is no difference in receiver dimensions between the two. Either shotgun will accept any 12 gauge 870 barrel. I keep both lubed with Slip 2000 and both function smoothly.

In pattern testing the 3" Dixie Tri-Ball II and 3.5" Tri-Ball III buckshot loads from a standing benchrest, I can tell the difference in loads. Both loads throw 3 hard cast .600 diameter lead balls that weigh in at 315 grains each. The Tri-Ball II has a velocity of 1050 fps and the Tri-Ball III is 100 fps faster with the same 2.25 ounce payload. The use of a relaxed upright position mitigates some of the recoil by letting me ride the recoil. That said, I limit my patterning sessions to 10 or 12 rounds. The best patterns with Tri-Ball III loads have been running in the 3 to 5 inch range at a measured 40 yards with an extended Briley .695 choke tube. Tri-Ball rounds of either length will bust through the shoulder gristle and running gear of a boar hog.

These loads and the popular (in the Deep South) 18 pellet 3.5" 00 buck loads all have significant recoil. In these applications 4 rounds fired at a running buck or feral hog would be a lot of shooting. With a buck turning on the afterburners in the pine thickets, I have yet to notice the recoil!

To answer your question: Buy what you like - I have both.

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