Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 (For new and experienced buyers)

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by dak0ta, Jun 13, 2012.

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  1. dak0ta

    dak0ta Member

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    *I found this post and thought I'd share it. I learned some things about these models that I didn't know about previously, and I had studied them a lot, and have owned both. Credit goes to DOHCTR.* (Admins, feel free to sticky this and refer to it when an 870 vs 500 question arises)

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    Seems to be at least one of these threads floating across the web at any given time. They always start out the same, somebody looking to get a pump action shotgun and asking the what of the two would be a better choice.

    They usually also end the same. More often then not the thread boils down to people arguing various pros and cons of each one.

    In an attempt to put this argument to rest, here's an unbiased thread showing the pros, cons and part by part comparison of each one side by side.



    First is the 870, arguably the most famous pump action in the world.

    -The trigger group is shared in 90% of all Remington pump and self-loading weapons and uses a connector/disconector

    -Single Sako style extractor.

    -Ribbon Ejector permanently attached to the inside of the receiver.

    -Slide release located on front of trigger guard

    -Button safety on rear of trigger guard.

    -Pivoting shell lift attached to trigger guard.

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    Next, the 500. It is the flagship pump action shotgun from mossberg. The 590 being a beefed up version of the 500 with a few upgrades.

    -Twin claw extractors.

    -Ejector attached inside receiver with screw.

    -Slide release located rear of trigger guard.

    -Tang safety on top of receiver. (Added by dak0ta: Mossberg refers to the safety as an ''Ambidextrous thumb-operated safety'', not tang)

    -Shell lift attached to receiver and rests under bolt carrier.

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    The primary flaw of the 870 is the ribbon ejector that is attached to the inside of the chamber. It works very well, but is quite fragile (more so in newer models)

    If it breaks (like this one) your only option is drilling out the rivets and through the receiver. Then you have to rivet in a new one, file down the rivets and re-blue the receiver.

    About 300$ in total.

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    Here is the other side of the gun showing the rivets needing to be drilled out.

    All 870's have these, they are just very hard to see on some models.

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    The ejector on the 500 can be replaced in a matter of seconds with only an Allen wrench if broken.

    About 15$

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    Better yet, a screwdriver. Got mixed up with a different part.

    Both the 870 and 500 have a tilting locking block in the bolt the attach to the barrel extension. Meaning the entire barrel needs to be replaced if this wears out.

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    Base of the 870 showing control locations and the pivoting shell lift.

    That 'U" cut was added in intermediate models so a knife or screwdriver can be pressed through it to dislodge jammed shells.

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    500 bottom.

    Becuase the shell lift rides under the bolt, it is more easy to load then the 870. The lift system is also much more simple then the 870.

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    870's offer more choices in terms of barrels and magazine extensions due to the way the magazine tube is designed.

    If you want a 18" barrel for HD and 28" for hunting, the 500 and 870 are good choices. However only the 870 can take magazine extensions.

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  2. dak0ta

    dak0ta Member

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    Part II

    500's cannot accept extensions because the end of the magazine tube is threaded for the barrel.

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    Both barrels are removed the same way, with the action half open.

    However the 500 has a slot on the inner side of the extension to incorporate the second extractor.

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    870 bolt can be removed once the barrel is off.

    Here it is with the single extractor.

    A note about this, people think the 500 extracts better because it has two of them. In truth, they function about the same.

    -The 870 extractor works VERY well alone, however in the off chance it breaks you must physically hand fit a new one into the bolt. All 870's need custom fit extractors because they no longer come from the factory with a small "bump" in them that allows the shell to slide under it when cambering.

    TL;DR Good extractor, a pain to replace.

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    The 500 bolt can only be removed with the trigger guard out because of the shell lift. The bolt has two small claw extractors, and they two have pros and cons.

    -Because the bolt has twin extractors, it is possible to have a perfectly working gun if one breaks. This makes it very reliable. HOWEVER, they are very thin and can break easily. No fitting needed when replacing.

    TL;DR Can function fine with one broken but they are prone to break.

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    FUN FACT

    The 870 bolt carrier doubles as a tool to remove the forend furniture. You don't need that "special tool" sold to do this.

    The 500 forend can be taken off by hand.

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    500 bolt taken apart.

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    870 bolt.

    Both are basically the exact same.

    Both have the same interlock that blocks the firing pin from contacting the primer unless the action is fully closed and locked up.

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  3. dak0ta

    dak0ta Member

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    Part III

    870 trigger group out of the gun. Held in with two cross pins.

    Those two bars do not come out of 870's, they are permanently attached to the inside of the receiver. I tore the ones out of this gun so you can see them.

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    500 trigger group, held in with one cross pin.

    The bars on the 500 can be removed with ease.

    If one of these bars break on the 870 or 500, it's pretty obvious what would be more easy to fix.

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    Yes.

    Closer view of the Remington Connector/Disconnector system. They MUST be oriented like this to work!

    You won't believe the number of people who get this messed up when putting an 870 together themselves and come in because it wont work anymore.

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    The 500 trigger group is simple and has the same sized pins making it more easy to put together.

    However, putting it back together for the first time can be very hard, there are a lot of springs and parts that need proper orientation.

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    The 870 trigger group is even more simple and can be taken apart and put back together with no effort at all.

    But... The hammer is permanently attached.

    So, that makes the hammer, ejector, shell stop, interrupter and extractor all parts that need to be replaced by gunsmiths. All these can be done at home on a 500.

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    Better look at the part orientation in the 500 group.

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    500 parts

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    870 parts

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  4. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    This is a bit confusing and one of the Mossberg's biggest problem. They advertise the safety as a "tang safety". It is in fact not a tang safety, it is on the top of the receiver where it is equally difficult for either left or right handed shooters to use. It is also in a positon to easily be broken or bumped into the fire position unintentionally.
     
  5. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Member

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    I did NOT know that. Cool! Does the extractor fit in one of the slots, or is it another part of the bolt? Don't feel like getting mine out and taking it down to check... :p

    Great writeup, by the way!

    Also, the 500 looks like a clone of an old J.C. Higgins pump that I have. Think it's a Model 20, also a High Standard 200 or something like that.
     
  6. dak0ta

    dak0ta Member

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    Hi jmr40, I have noticed it referred to as a tang-safety on the forums. However, Mossberg refers to it as a ''Ambidextrous thumb-operated safety''. I just looked it up on the 'Features' section of the 500's webpage, and there is no word 'tang'. Small technicality, but I think we as the gun-owners can only blame ourselves for referring it as 'tang safety'.

    http://www.mossberg.com/products/default.asp?id=3&display=feat (4th bullet under features)
     
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    This is a bit confusing and one of the Mossberg's biggest problem. They advertise the safety as a "tang safety". It is in fact not a tang safety, it is on the top of the receiver where it is equally difficult for either left or right handed shooters to use. It is also in a positon to easily be broken or bumped into the fire position unintentionally.

    Wish I had known that before I replaced my forend.
     
  8. heeler

    heeler Member

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    Great comparison.
    Glad I own both.
     
  9. kcshooter

    kcshooter Member

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    Great writeup.

    (That's backward, btw. The Higgins is the clone. Actually, just a rebranded Mossberg.)



    I like the Ambi safety on the Mossberg more than the rear of the trigger guard safety on the Remington. (I like the front of the trigger guard safety on the Maverick even more.) But the 500 safety makes it great for people who teach others since you have a gun that works just as well for lefties or righties. However, if you like pistol grip equipped stocks, the Mossberg safety requires you to remove your firing hand to deactivate, which I don't like.

    I don't find the ejectors, bolts, triggers, rails, etc. to be a gain one over the other. They are both workhorses with very little breakage issues, and I don't find one to break more often or less often than the other.

    I do MUCH prefer the lift on the Mossbergs, however, to the Remington. It is actually the single biggest reason I own 4 500/88's to 1 870.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  10. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Member

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    I'm pretty sure the Higgins has been around longer. When was the 500 introduced? I think my Higgins is 1949, at least that's what the seller told me. I gotta look it up.
     
  11. kcshooter

    kcshooter Member

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    I think you might very well be right about that, didn't think about the ages of them. Higgins were sold at Sears, IIRC, and mostly in the 50's or prior. I think they mostly (or only) rebadged other manufacturers guns. The shotguns should have been High standards, they also used Marlins and H&R's, but I think you're right about it not being able to be a Mossberg, I think Mossbergs started in the 60's sometime.
    Too far before my time, so I can't really be sure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  12. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    I never thought of this when I got my 930, but I didn't get the pistol grip stock. Of course, my shotties are HD guns, and I keep them cruiser ready, so the safety is somewhat of a moot point. Either way, I like the ambi safety, since I can only shoot a long gun left-handed. It would be very awkward for me to manipulate the safety on my SuperNova, for example, which is mounted in the front of the trigger guard.
     
  13. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Member

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    Yeah, almost all the Sears guns are just rebadged guns from other mfgs, mostly High Standard.
     
  14. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    You know I'm not 'new' but I've never looked at the innards of a Mossberg.. that was very informative.
     
  15. brnmuenchow

    brnmuenchow Member

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    IMO, I do not like the Mossberg Safety: "Tang safety on top of receiver. (Added by dak0ta: Mossberg refers to the safety as an ''Ambidextrous thumb-operated safety'', not tang)" Quote from previous post. A couple of them I have shot the safety likes to slip back into the safe position after a couple of shots keeping it from reliably being able to fire when I am expecting it to, so I sigh in frustration then take the safety back off before I can fire it again. Very frustrating, and it's happened on more than one model so I am not a big fan of that Mossberg design.:banghead:
     
  16. kcshooter

    kcshooter Member

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    I've heard that before, never experienced it.

    My thumb sits along side the rear of the safety, pointing forward, so I've never had that happen to me.

    Sounds like a worn check ball spring. I've seen a couple missing the spring or ball before.

    I've even got over 5k rounds thru one of mine and it still clicks positively.
     
  17. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Great post and pics. I'd be interested in a video/pictorial how-to on mossberg trigger group dis/reassembly.
     
  18. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    Brm, I haven't had that happen on my 930, but I can see how that would be frustrating.
     
  19. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    The gun has no "tang" as do my doubles, but I find the tang safety or "ambidextrous" safety easy to use. I'm not sure why someone would not. I'm a left hand shooter and must reach UNDER the 870 to take it off and it's at the rear of the trigger guard, unlike my Winchester, so I can actually kick it ON unintentionally. One can install a lefty safety, but I'd much a cheap cross bolt safety be at the front like on my Winchester. Mossberg puts a crossbolt safety on the Maverick line, cheaper for a lower price point gun than putting in on the tang, okay on the top, where a safety should be. I've hunted ducks for 20 years with my 500 and have not had a problem with breaking the safety and I've shown no love to the gun in the marsh. It's been dumped in the muck more'n once, salt muck. It's fallen on the ground. You'd be amazed how hard it is to walk through salt grass without tripping or in mud with clusters of cow tracks everywhere tripping and twisting one's ankle in waders that keep trying to come off when stuck in the muck. It's a tough place to hunt, but the birds are there. :D I've not done ONE THING to that 500 other than strip and clean it in 20 years. It does require ammo it likes. Even those twin extractor don't seem to like Winchester Hi Speed 3" 3 steel loads. Weird thing, 2 3/4" stuff, same brand, works fine. Weird. But, I know a woman with an 870 that has problems with that ammo, so it ain't just my gun I guess.

    The 870 is a fine gun, the older ones anyway. Remington's QC seems to be in a state of flux lately, but lots of good 870s are out there on the used shelves for those that like them. They're popular. I found a Mossberg 535 the other day I couldn't resist at 170 bucks, tested it at the range the other day, ready for duck/goose season. It has the 3.5" chamber and I just couldn't turn it down in the like new condition it appeared to be in.

    One thing I didn't see mentioned is the fact that the Express attracts rust like honey attracts flies. Most folks I know that use 'em in the salt marsh paint 'em and just retouch the paint now and then. Crude, but effective if you like the gun and don't like rust. I can wax a blued Mossberg and keep the rust at bay. My 500 has a camo finish which is pretty tough. If I got an 870, probably like to have a camo one for that reason.

    Why I like the Mossberg other than it's a good gun for the money centers around the fact that it has far superior ergonomics, especially for the southpaw shooter like me. I shoot doubles a lot in dove season and the tang safety is a natural for me on the Mossy. I much prefer its location to ANY crossbolt safety and especially one at the BACK of the trigger guard. Also, I've had to dig stuck shells out from under a Wingmaster's shell elevator more'n once when my thumb was numb from the cold and I didn't get a round up in there far enough. My old Wingmaster didn't have that slot in the elevator and I had to dig at the round from the side with a pocket knife to get it cleared, a major pain when standing in water and muck, not something I like doing. That shell elevator hurts my thumb when it's cold. One way around this is to hold the off hand while loading, but I don't always think of this when the birds are flying. I like my Winchester 1400 for its soft recoil with heavy steel loads, but this is one thing about THAT gun I don't like, the shell elevator, similar to the 870.

    It's a Ford vs Chevy thing, I reckon, but for the southpaw duck hunter, the Mossberg really does have some good advantages in ergos. The 870 just wasn't well thought out in that regard, IMHO. But, to each his own. I've owned and hunted with both and can't say either one shoots any better than the other. It's simply ergos that swing me toward Mossberg.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Oh, BTW, I had a Mossy 500 I traded for when steel shot got mandated because my double was older and not steel compatible. That gun was badged "Revelation M310" and had only one action bar on the pump, but was a smooth gun never-the-less. I also started life with a .410 "JC Higgins I traded off in my teens after my grandpa gave me his 870 Wingmaster in 20 gauge. I THINK that one was a High Standard or Stevens or something because it didn't have the Mossberg shell elevator. It was so long ago, I don't really know for sure, though, as my memory of it is foggy.

    Great write up, btw. I enjoyed the read....:D
     
  21. heeler

    heeler Member

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    I too agree that the ergonomics of the Mossberg's safety and slide release is better than a lot of other pump shotguns out there.
    It is just so natural to use your thumb on that safety.
     
  22. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    As I said on the other forum, I disagree that the 870 ejector and ejector spring is fragile or as difficult to replace as you have asserted. While i am sure some have broken in use, the only ones I have seen break were those damaged in assembly/disassembly. I have replaced quite a few in making 3" conversions without replacing the rivets or having to refinish the receiver.
     
  23. Whacked

    Whacked Member

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    Excellent post and write up
    Very sticky worthy
     
  24. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    Having re-read while not in a hurry, I think it is a bit slanted. Factual sounding statements don't make them facts. I have replaced every single part on an 870, and I make no claim to being a gunsmith.
    Remington knew the 870 wasn't the most lefty friendly design around. That's why they have made runs of truly left handed 870s.
    There are probably more of these two models out there than any other 5 combined. get whichever one you like best. Hard to go wrong.
     
  25. Gun Geezer

    Gun Geezer Member

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    I've never owned a 500. But have had my 870 12 gauge since about 1971.

    After a great many cases of shells including heavy goose loads and dainty skeet poppers, "Old Trusty" has never ever failed me. Nothing ever broken. No jams, no FTF, no nothing. But I have just about worn the blue off of the receiver with my sweaty grip! Awesome beast of a shotgun.

    Course, there may be some 500 shooters out there that can make the same boast.
     
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