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Difference between Remington 870, 870 Express, and 870 Express Magnum?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by leadcounsel, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    So, what are the differences?
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    On anything made in the last 20-25 years they are essentially the same. On the older 870 Wingmasters they offered mostly 2 3/4" chambers and a few with 3" chambers. Everything made for the last 20+ years have had 3" chambers and are usually refered to as magnums. They will easily shoot both 2 3/4" and 3" shells.

    The Wingmasters are better finished and have walnut stocks. The Express versions have a matte finish on the metal and either stained hardwood stocks or synthetic stocks.

    All of the Express shotguns I have ever seen would chamber 3" magnums and all are considered magnums. It is possible that some of the early Express ahotguns had only 2 3/4" chambers, but I've never seen one.

    Remington also makes a 3.5" version called the SuperMagnum.

    If the SN on the receiver ends with an "M". it will take the 3" shells. Make sure the barrel also says 3" shells bacause it is not uncommon for the barrels to have been changed
  3. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Yes it does say 3" and the serial ends with "M". It's a very new shotgun, with a newer style stock and rounded forearm with vertical grooves (reminds me of the old Mossberg wood forearms, which I've always liked).
  4. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Anyone else have information on how the 870 is different than the 870 "Express"?
  5. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    Judging by Remington's website, there is no such thing as a plain "870" nor an "870 Express Magnum".

    There is an 870 Express. It's Remington's bottom of the line, with a matte finish, hardwood / synthetic stock, a few cheaper parts, etc.

    There's an 870 Super Magnum, which is an Express with the capability to handle 3.5" shells.

    There are a few 870 SPS specialty models.

    Finally there is the 870 Wingmaster. This is the blued steel, glossy Walnut stocked gun that the 870 reputation was built on. Still made as nicely as it ever was, it just costs $800 now.
  6. RickMD

    RickMD Well-Known Member

    Basically, the 870 Express is a cheapened version of the original 870 Wingmaster. It was designed to compete with the Mossberg and other low end pump guns. Take a look at an Express next to a Wingmaster and you'll immediately see the vast difference in quality and smoothness.
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    Remington has been making the 870 for over 50 years. Terminology changes with the times. Originally all 870's were simply 870's. As time has progressed Remington has made dozens of slightly different variations with different names. The guts of all 870's are essentially the same. At some point Remington named their top of the line 870 the Wingmaster. If you look at Remingtons website you will find many current variations http://remington.com/product-families/firearms/shotgun-families/pump-action-model-870.aspx.

    This does not include many variations that are no longer produced.

    The Express line is just Remingtons budget version with cheap wood or plastic stocks and a dull finish on the metal. When the Express first was introduced they offered 2 different versions, standard which fired only 2 3/4" shells and the Express Magnum which fired 2 3/4" as well as 3" shells. Remington no longer offers the standard version. All current 870 Express shotguns are Magnum versions.

    Don't confuse this with the Express Super Magnum which will also shoot the 3 1/2" shells as well as both 2 3/4" and 3" shells.
  8. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Well, I have all three versions. On some it says "Remington 870 Express Magnum" and on some it says "Remington 870" and one some it says "Remington 870 Express".

    I just bought a brand new one, with the new synthetic hardware and forearm design, with the extended mag tube design, and it says simply "Remington 870."

    So there must be some significance, but I just don't know what it is...
  9. RickMD

    RickMD Well-Known Member

    It's an Express. Remington doesn't build Wingmasters with those features.
  10. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    Remington has stamped the 870 series with a good number of differing stamps over the years, which can get confusing.
    It's sometimes easier to go by the features than the receiver stamps.

    Currently, there are four major models of the 870:
    The Express.
    The Tactical.
    The Wingmaster.
    The Police.

    All these guns use the same forged steel receiver and most of the same heavy-duty internal parts.

    The Express is the "budget version made to sell at a low enough cost that it can compete with the cheaper to make guns like the Mossberg.
    The Express has a rougher finish with some burrs left internally and machine marks externally.
    Standard metal finish is a bead blasted blue.
    The standard four shot magazine versions all use the new style magazine spring and barrel retention system and won't accept a magazine extension unless the magazine tube is modified.
    Stocks are hardwood, laminated hardwood, or synthetic.
    Some parts like the extractor are made of MIM steel, and the trigger guard is polymer.
    Front sight beads are pressed in, checkering is impressed, and wood finishes are lower quality coatings.

    The Tactical models are dressed up Express guns.
    These have various coatings on the metal like the nickel plating of the Marine Magnum or "paint" type coatings in camouflage.
    The guns with a magazine extension use the old style magazine and barrel retention system.
    Most everything else is straight Express.

    The Wingmaster is the top of the line sporting version.
    It has a finer polished and deburred finish with a polished blue job, and a chrome plated bolt.
    Trigger guards are compressed, powdered aluminum.
    It uses the old style magazine and barrel retention system.
    It has a fine walnut stock with the famous DuPont "Bowling pin" epoxy finish in satin or gloss.
    Bead sights are screwed in.
    Parts like the extractor are machined steel.
    The inside of the barrels have a better polish.
    The guns are smoother operating out of the box due to the more care taken in metal preparation.

    The Police models are essentially dull finish Wingmaster's.
    These have a deburred and polished finish inside and out with a parkerized finish.
    Operation is smoother than the Express and Tactical.
    The Police models have a heavier carrier dog (lifter) spring, and a heavier trigger spring to increase trigger pull weight.
    Four shot versions have a stronger magazine spring to insure reliable feeding with buck shot loads under recoil.
    Wood is walnut with an oil finish or various types of synthetic stocks, some with internal magazines to hold four extra shells.
    A variety of sights are offered from bead, to standard rifle, to ghost ring, with options like luminous beads.
    Police models have fixed Improved Cylinder chokes.
    Options like magazine extensions and lights are offered.
  11. RugerMcMarlin

    RugerMcMarlin Well-Known Member

    Expresses are green, Wingmasters are blue. and all mine say right on the side what shell it takes. I have heard some pretty discouraging words on this site about the Expresses. I really like them. I seldom shoot 3" in anything. so if i was to say, the best possible 870 is a Wingmaster with no finish left, so you can bushwhack with it guiltfree.
  12. JohnBT

    JohnBT Well-Known Member

    "When the Express first was introduced they offered 2 different versions, standard which fired only 2 3/4" shells and the Express Magnum which fired 2 3/4" as well as 3" shells."

    I don't think so. My uncle has one he acquired in a fire department raffle the first year of production and it is marked "Express" and it's a 3" gun. I have a 1993 "Express Magnum" and it's just like his except for the extra word - magnum.
  13. RugerMcMarlin

    RugerMcMarlin Well-Known Member

    JohnBT, thats the way I remember it too. I liked the stocks (Birch) a little better on the early expresses My 12 and 20 have laminated stocks. My 410 is still birch though.
  14. kb0zos

    kb0zos Active Member


    Sent with my Samsung Intercept using Tapatalk
  15. Virginian

    Virginian Well-Known Member

    The very first 870s were called Wingmasters. They stopped making 2-3/4" chambered models before the Express was introduced, and all Expresses have been 3" guns until the 3-1/2" SuperMag was added. Just before the Express came along was a Sportsman model that was essentially a Wingmaster as far as metal finish, with a hardwood stock to reduce prices. The rollmarking on the receivers has been all over the place. I have seen a 70's Wingmaster and an early Express with absolutely nothing on the receiver but the serial number.
  16. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    Feel free to disagree with what I write, but I would appreciate the basic courtesy of being correctly quoted. Here's what I wrote in full:

    I think it has been established that there is only a loose association between the official model names and what Remington chooses to stamp on the receivers.
  17. RickMD

    RickMD Well-Known Member

    For forty years after its introduction the Remington 870 was what is now called a "Wingmaster". I came from the factory with polished blue metal and walnut stocks. When most folks spoke of an "870" this is the gun that they were referring to. It earned an enviable reputation for smoothness and reliability.

    Around 1990 Remington 870 sales were tanking because the buying public was going for the more cheaply made and finished budget, Wal-Mart style pump guns. They came out with a cheapened version of the 870 and called it an "Express". Why the marketing gurus at Remington kept the 870 moniker God only knows. To further confuse the issue, Remington came out with 3 1/2" chambered guns due to the steel shot requirements and named them "magnums". All guns were chambered for 3" shells about the same time. They found that the Wal-Mart crowd was particularly enamored with the term "magnum" and commenced to stamp "magnum" on their 3" chambered guns as well. I personally own a circa 1991 20 gauge Wingmaster that's stamped "Magnum"even though it's just a lightweight, 3" chambered 20 gauge.

    The best comparison that I can give you between a Wingmaster and an Express of any type is akin to dating an ugly woman versus the homecoming queen. The ugly gal functions fairly well but you don't want your friends to see you walking around with her.
  18. kb0zos

    kb0zos Active Member

    I truncated your quote only to avoid wasting space on this thread. Obviously going back and forth is negating my intent. I was merely trying to show that there is such a gun with photo documentation. I did not mean to offend anyone so please relax already.

    Sent with my Samsung Intercept using Tapatalk
  19. JohnBT

    JohnBT Well-Known Member

    "I personally own a circa 1991 20 gauge Wingmaster that's stamped "Magnum"even though it's just a lightweight, 3" chambered 20 gauge."

    A 3" 20 ga. shell is a magnum shell.

    The Winchester Model 21 introduced the three inch 20 gauge shell in 1954 and called it the "Western Super-X Magnum."
  20. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    My entire quote as I wrote it took up one line. Your changed version took up one line. Saving space - please.

    People make mistakes. When you do it, give a straight forward apology that takes responsibility for your mistake instead of some weasely explanation that tries to turn the fault back on the person you've wronged.

    For example:

    Sorry that I truncated your quote. I see that it did alter your meaning, although that was not my intent. I was merely trying to show that there is such a gun with photo documentation. I did not mean to offend anyone.

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