It seems that this is the year to “upgrade” my defensive weapons. I’ve detailed my upgrade to my AR-10, my backup AR-15, the new sights on my carry Glock 17 courtesy of Rob Pincus’ group . . . the only thing left really was my Remington 870 Express.
When I purchased it some work had been done. It came with a magazine extension to hold two additional rounds and a Speedfeed stock with pistol grip. Some time back I added a chunk of picatinny rail and a StreamLight TLR-1 flashlight. So when I began this upgrade project, this is what my 870 looked like.
One thing I noticed while working with the PD and their fall qualification shoot was that I was simply not set up to “run the gun” in any smooth fashion at all. Reloads on the move, mixing slugs and buckshot, loading and shooting multiple rounds in a very short period of time . . . I simply was not getting it done. In looking at the differences there were two primary differences. A front sight that was clearly visible in low – VERY low light. And virtually all their patrol shotguns had 6 round sidesaddles mounted on the side opposite the ejection port. Finally, it seems that an adjustable stock al-la an AR-15 seemed to help the officers fit the weapon to their individual mount preference easier than a fixed stock. This became my “shopping list”.
I settled on a XS Express Front Night Sight. It is manufactured by Trijicon and provides a large, clear front sight image whether in bright sunlight or extremely low light.
Mounting is a bit different. On the shotgun the front sight is a bead attached to a front mount welded to be barrel. To mount the XS Express sight there is a 6mm hole in its base and the base is shaped to conform to the shape of the front mount. You then clean the surface of the mount and bead, mix a batch of JB Weld, fill the whole in the XS Express Front Sight and then spread a layer over the rest of the mount.
It is smart to dry fit everything – in my case it all fit fine – to make sure of a proper fit and alignment. Once the JB Weld is applied you have 20-ish minutes to make sure everything is properly mounted and aligned. It takes a full 24 hours for a full cure.
I must say I’m pleased with the final result which can be seen below.
Side Saddle Shell Carrier
Next came the side saddle shell carrier. I decided on the Mesa Tactical Sureshell Saddle Mount. It will hold a total of 6 rounds and also adds a section of picatinny rail to the top of the 870.
Mounting is very simple and quick. Pop out the pins holding in the trigger assembly, set the mount over the top of the 870, line up the holes and use the mounting screws to mount the entire assembly to the 870. 15 minutes work and I was ready to go.
The last upgrade was an adjustable stock. I chose the Magpul Remington Buttstock Combo.
Removing of the old Speedfeed pistol grip stock was quick and simple. Two screws removed the butt pad and a single screw held the stock on to the rear of the frame. The installation of the new Magpul stock was just as simple with a single hex screw mounting the stock to the rear of the frame. The stock itself simply slid over the center shaft of the stock and the upgrade was complete.
I will add a Vickers tactical sling down the road and things will be complete.
So, why the upgrade. Couple reasons. A defensive shotgun is a bit of a grab and go weapon. With the extension and the weapon in “patrol ready” condition (magazine full, chamber empty) you have a total capacity of 6 rounds. With the sidesaddle an additional 6 are also available – 12 rounds in your hand should the need arise. The mix you use – slug, buckshot or bird shot is entirely up to you.
Given that I’ve got a couple days of 50*F weather in the offing, I’ll take a couple hours tomorrow afternoon and see how things go on the range.
I simply do not recommend upgrades for the sake of upgrading a firearm. But, if you look at the purpose it is supposed to fulfill, and you find it lacking – make whatever changes you need to make to allow it to be the best defensive firearm you can afford.
And then as with all your firearms – get solid training and then hit the range. The weapon, the upgrades and frankly the ammunition are worthless if you can’t “run the gun”.