Prepper Guns: Firearms, Ammo, Tools, and Techniques You Will Need to Survive the Coming Collapse (2016)


America’s Number One
Pump-Action Shotgun

The Remington 870 has been kicking ass for sixty-five years.


Remington 870 Tactical.

The year was 1950. President Truman sent our first troops into North Korea, North Korea invaded South Korea, and Americans were watching the Texaco Star Theater on television. Movie theaters were showing King Solomon’s Mines and radios were playing “Mona Lisa” by Nat King Cole. The first credit cards were introduced and Remington brought out a pump-action shotgun that would make history.

As we are constantly reminded in the media, it was a simpler time. World War II was over and we won, the Depression was fading from memory, and the average annual salary was a whopping $3,210. People were feeling good about the country and the future. Gas was eighteen cents a gallon, inflation was 1 percent, a new car cost $1,500, and this new shotgun would set you back $80. Shooters recognized the value and with anticipation of nothing but better times ahead, the Remington Model 870 sold well.

With the idea to use parts from the Remington Model 11–40 autoloader, the design team of L. Ray Crittendon, Phillip Haskell, Ellis Hailston, and G. E. Pinckney developed a new pump-action shotgun. Introduced in 1950, this shotgun was called the Model 870 Wingmaster. It became the single bestselling firearm ever produced by Remington and the best-selling pump-action shotgun in firearms history.

The Model 870 breechblock locked into the hardened barrel extension for a strong lock-up. The dual slide bars made for a smooth, bind-free operation. This five-shot gun was easy to take down for cleaning and was offered with replaceable barrels, so it was extremely versatile.

It would be all but impossible to list every variation that has been offered in the Model 870 over the years, but it has been configured for every use possible with a shotgun and just about every finish. Stocks have been wood, very good wood, synthetic and even folding wires. The finish has run from deep, high-polish blue to camouflage. Hunting, self-defense, military, law enforcement, and every single form of competition that uses shotguns has seen an 870. Hunters even have a rifled-barrel Model 870 shotgun for shooting sabot slugs.

The Remington Model 870 was the first pump-action shotgun ever to be offered in all five popular shotgun chamberings. Starting with the .410 (not actually a “gauge”) through the 28, 20, 16, and 12 gauge. It’s even offered in 3 ½-inch 12-gauge magnum. (I have one; it’s my “go-to” turkey gun.)

Sales of the Remington Model 870 reached a million guns in 1966 and two million guns by 1973 (ten times the number of Model 31 shotguns it replaced). In 1978 it passed three million. In 1984, four million, five million was in 1990. By 1993 it reached six million. Seven million were sold by 1999. On April 13, 2009, the ten millionth Model 870 was produced. Today Remington has sold more than eleven million Model 870 Pump Action Shotguns.

The 870 has dominated every single shotgun shooting sport or discipline at some time. Trap, skeet, sporting clays, action shotgun, or 3-gun, it doesn’t matter. If a competitor is shooting a pump shotgun then odds are high that it’s a Remington Model 870.

In 1950, Remington field rep Rudy Etchen took one of the first twelve production Model 870 shotguns to the Grand American Trap Championships. He became the first shooter to ever break a registered one hundred straight targets with a pump-action shotgun. The 870 became his gun of choice after that and he competed with it so much his nickname became “Mr. 870.”

Rudy made it into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame while shooting an 870. In 1982 he pulled that original thirty-two-year-old 870 out of storage for a “little practice” and shot another one hundred straight. In fact, Rudy shot so many one hundred straights over the years with an 870 that he lost count.

The Model 870 is still one of the favorite shotguns of hunters for upland, turkeys, waterfowl, and even deer, as this gun is a no-compromise choice for those who love pump-action shotguns.

The pump-action shotgun remains the top shotgun for defensive use, both with law enforcement and civilians. The low price, rugged dependability, and the ability to shoot just about any type of ammo from less-than-lethal to full-blown, magnum buckshot make it the top choice. Of the pump-action shotguns that are used by gun-savvy people putting their lives on the line, the Remington Model 870 is by far the front-runner. More shooters trust this gun to protect their lives and the lives of others than any other shotgun on the market.

That alone is a testament to the trust this American classic shotgun has earned over the past sixty-five years.

The Remington Model 870 is the gun to which all other pump-action shotguns are compared. While there are a lot of good pump-action defensive shotguns on the market, no prepper can go wrong with an 870.

While the vast majority of these shotguns have been sold to wing shooters and the guns used for blasting flying targets, both feathered and clay, the 870 has always had a fighting side. Even back in the simpler times of that first year of production in 1950 there was a Model 870R Riot Grade with a 20-inch barrel. Actually, what we now call a “tactical shotgun” went by “riot gun” until the Rodney King mess. That’s when it was realized that we no longer try to stop riots for fear of offending somebody, so the name had to be changed. No matter, the design is pretty much the same: a short-barrel, full-length extended magazine and a color scheme designed to make it look menacing.

For decades this style of shotgun was sold primarily to law enforcement and military. It was assumed that the civilian market either wasn’t interested or couldn’t be trusted. But then, simpler times are long past and times now are complicated, uncertain, and a bit scary. The concept of a civilian fighting shotgun, while maybe still not completely embraced by some manufacturers, has definitely taken hold with the gun-owning masses. The Model 870 Remington has emerged as the premiere shotgun for this use.

Right or wrong, many believe that pump-action shotguns are more dependable than semiautos. Many have also been convinced that the sound of a slide-action being worked will release the bowels of anybody intending to do us harm and send them squirming away, never to darken our doors again. But perhaps the most important reason is that the 870 is tough, dependable, and very affordable.

An entire industry has sprung up around converting these shotguns into fighting tools. Magazine extenders, pistol grips, tactical stocks, and forends, along with sighting systems, oversized safeties, and attached ammo carriers ensure the Model 870 does not suffer from a lack of bolt-on accessories designed to make it a better fighting shotgun.

Remington offers a wide range of configurations suitable for survival situations, but for a do-it-yourself kind of shooter the door is wide open with aftermarket accessories for the Model 870. There is no other shotgun with as many options for bolt-on changes. You can easily configure the gun to exactly what you want in a defensive shotgun.

Any prepper should have a shotgun or two and dollar for dollar, it’s pretty hard to find one better than the Remington Model 870.


The Remington Model 870 is a great defensive shotgun.