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

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by SKILCZ, Mar 16, 2010.

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  1. SKILCZ

    SKILCZ Member

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    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.
     
  2. EHCRain10

    EHCRain10 Member

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    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.
     
  3. chas08

    chas08 Member

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    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.
     
  4. SKILCZ

    SKILCZ Member

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    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?
     
  5. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    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.
     
  6. memphisjim

    memphisjim Member

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    2 3/4 are cheapest and most plentiful
     
  7. natman

    natman Member

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    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.
     
  8. Dookie

    Dookie Member

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    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.
     
  9. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    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
     
  10. batex

    batex Member

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    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.
     
  11. SKILCZ

    SKILCZ Member

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    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?
     
  12. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

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    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!
     
  13. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    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.
     
  14. natman

    natman Member

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    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.
     
  15. Dookie

    Dookie Member

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    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.
    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.
     
  16. Hunterdad

    Hunterdad Member

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    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.
     
  17. philpost

    philpost Member

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    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?
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010
  18. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    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
     
  19. Adair

    Adair Member

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    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.
     
  20. chas08

    chas08 Member

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    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.
     
  21. SKILCZ

    SKILCZ Member

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    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.
     
  22. Dookie

    Dookie Member

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    Your case being the old ones are a lot better.

    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.
     
  23. natman

    natman Member

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    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.
     
  24. Adair

    Adair Member

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    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.
     
  25. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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