A new member recently posted on the Rem870.com
forums, looking for assistance with a problem I hadn’t seen before.
Apparently he had had a bit of a fall while hunting, and in the process, slammed his 870
against a rock. The next time he tried to cycle the gun, which
has this type of long fore-end, the rear of the fore-end slipped under the tip of the
shell carrier, bending the carrier and preventing the slide from being operated.
Now, a bent shell carrier is not particularly difficult or expensive to replace, but this
got me thinking; unlikely as it may be, what if a shell carrier breaks and locks up the
gun in a survival situation or during a hunt, where you can’t just hop on the internet
and wait for replacement parts to be delivered? Is there an easy way one could keep an 870
at least somewhat operational in that scenario? Well, it occurred to me that an 870 should
be able to function just fine as a single-shot without its carrier.
See, in an 870, the shell carrier is an entirely independent system; and if you remove it,
the gun will still cycle, lock, fire, and eject normally.
And with typical sporting or survival 870s, taking out the carrier assembly is a pretty
simple procedure that requires no tools apart from something to push out the trigger plate
pins. With the trigger plate assembly out of the
gun (see my take-down video if you need details on that), push down on the carrier dog to
relieve spring pressure, slide the carrier pivot tube out, and gently let up on the carrier
dog. Then, simply lift off the carrier assembly, and remove the carrier dog follower and follower
spring. Put those parts where they won’t get lost,
then replace the carrier pivot tube, make sure it still has a detent spring in one end,
and reinstall the trigger plate assembly. Now normally, when you use an 870 as a single-shot,
you just drop the shells through the ejection port onto the carrier and close the action.
But without a carrier to lift and align the shell, things obviously have to be done a
little differently. One way to affect proper feeding is to manually
place the shell in the chamber before closing the action. This works fine, but it’s not
terribly fast or stress-proof, especially with heavy gloves or cold fingers.
Another option is to simply drop the shell into the ejection port while tilting the gun
over so that the shell sits against the top of the receiver where the bolt can chamber
it. This method requires some practice to get the movements down, but doesn’t depend
as much on fine motor control, and can actually allow for a pretty decent rate of fire.
A nice thing about both of these techniques is that you can practice them without actually
pulling the carrier assembly out of your gun. So if you want to be prepared, you can just
work these moves into your normal practice sessions.
Now, you might be thinking “if we can align the shell by tilting the gun, why not just
let the shell feed from the magazine normally and fall into place? Couldn’t this allow
the gun to keep functioning as a repeater?” Well, there are some problems with this idea
in practice. Without the carrier in place to accept it,
shells will tend to snag on the tip of the action bar lock, or wedge against it further
back when they’re released from the magazine. And if that doesn’t happen, the shell can
bounce around and fail to align itself before you close the bolt. Or if you’re in a rush
and get your gun-twisting wrong, the shell can simply fall out of the gun.
I’d also be concerned that repeated impacts from shells could damage something in the
trigger plate assembly that’s normally shielded by the carrier. Nothing here seems particularly
sensitive, but it’s hard to say for sure based on the little testing I’ve performed
thus far. On top of all that, this probably won’t
speed things up much since you still have to turn the gun over and wait for gravity
between shots. As a short-term trick to let you finish a
trap session or keep a survival weapon shoot-able, single-shot operation will probably get the
job done while being more reliable, so I’d stick with that.
Another thing I’ll mention is that removing the carrier opens up a gap through which foreign
material can make its way into the trigger’s workings. If you’re using this trick out
in the field, you should be careful around dirt or mud.
If you have some handy, you can help protect your trigger mechanism by placing a piece
of duct tape over the now-unused loading port. But unless you’re in some kind of post-apocalyptic
scenario where spare parts just aren’t available, your best bet is to simply replace the carrier
as soon as possible. See this video for information on parts resources.
Once you have a new carrier assembly ready to install, take out your trigger plate assembly,
pull out the carrier pivot tube, and replace your carrier dog follower spring and follower.
Set the carrier assembly in place with the carrier dog over the carrier dog follower,
apply a little pressure to line the carrier and carrier washer up with the hole in the
trigger plate, and re-insert the carrier pivot tube.
Check to make sure the carrier system functions properly, then reinstall the trigger plate
assembly in the receiver, and you’re done. Gun back to one hundred percent.
As usual, I’ll be happy to answer questions, and hear comments or topic suggestions for
future videos. Until next time, I wish you all safe shooting and happy holidays.