Remington Debuts 870 Shotgun with Box Magazine: Full Review and Range Test
The M870 pump gun has gotten a substantial update with a new version that feeds from a quick-change detachable magazine. A full line is coming in 2018, including a TAC-14 variant.
Memo to the firearms industry: Yes, Cerakoting is cool, but when you take a shotgun (or a pistol or rifle for that matter) you’ve been making since the radio was invented and dress it up in some ultra-cool Dung Beetle Camo finish, you haven’t invented a new firearm “system.” All you’ve done is taken great-grandpa’s scattergun and dipped it in Dung Beetle. Literally.
Like most of the big gun makers, Remington Arms has been as guilty of this “new and improved” maneuver as anyone. But give some credit where it’s due: Remington has accomplished something quite new with its brand new Model 870 DM Magpul 12-gauge shotgun.
Yes, this new shotgun is built on the decades-old 870 workhorse pump-action platform, but Remington has removed the tubular magazine under the barrel. The DM stands for “detachable magazine,” which, in this case, is a six-round box magazine that fits in a magwell under the receiver where you’d normally feed shells into a tubular magazine.
There is still a short tube under the barrel, but it’s only long enough for mounting the slide.
The shotgun is part of an entire new line of DM 870 shotguns coming in 2018 that will gradually be released.
The first version to hit gun stores is the 12-gauge 870 DM Magpul pictured above: a tactical shotgun for the home defense, law enforcement, and military markets fitted with Magpul furniture.
I first shot the 870 DM Magpul at the end of August at the Gunsite firearms training facility near Paulden, Arizona, while attending a new tactical products seminar put on by Remington Arms. More recently, I received a new-in-the-box Magpul model, and put it through its paces at the range over several sessions.
First Up, Looks
The way a gun looks, and the related assumptions, can be deceiving. When I first saw the 870 DM, I thought it looked awkward and clunky. Why, I asked myself, would anyone take the svelte pump-action design of the proven 870 shotgun and jam a large magazine under the receiver?
And then I handled the 870 DM Magpul. True, you have to get used to that hefty magazine loaded with six shells. But, actually, the 870 DM Magpul is a nifty and maneuverable shotgun.
Of course, the obvious advantage of the magazine feed system is that, with an extra 6-round magazine (purchased separately), you can perform a much, much faster reload with the shotgun than you ever could accomplish on the original, tube-fed version. Just pull out the empty mag, slap in a new one, rack the slide and keep shooting.
For law enforcement applications, the ability to switch the type of shells being used is as simple as swapping magazine, combined with the reliability and ruggedness of a pump gun, will likely be a big benefit.
When the field models of the 870 DM comes out, I’m sure many hunters will find the ability to easily and quickly swap out loads in the field very attractive, especially duck hunters.
Controls and Features
The sights on the 870 DM Magpul consist of a XS brand steel front sight post and a low-profile XS ghost-ring rear sight mounted on a Picatinny rail section on the receiver. It’s a nice combo: front sight gets on the target fast, while the rear ghost ring let you center quickly.
The trigger is standard for a shotgun—by that I mean it breaks decently, isn’t gritty, but by no means is a match-quality trigger. It gets the job done.
The 870 DM’s magazine is a proprietary design made by Remington with a polymer body and a top portion, including the feed lips, made of steel that holds six 12 gauge shells.
The magazine is released via a lever located at the front of the magwell.
At a glance, it may look like a shooter could inadvertently hit the lever when moving the slide backwards, releasing the magazine. But, over the course of a couple hundred rounds, I never had that happen once. Your hand would have to completely come off the forend to even touch the mag release.
However, if the gun were being used by someone with a smaller frame and shorter arms, their support hand would be positioned farther back on the slide, so it might be something to watch out for in some cases. Additionally, the Magpul MOE M-Lok forend includes front and rear hand-stops, which make it even harder for your hand to slip off when operating the slide. It also includes several M-Lok slots for attaching rails and accessories like a weapon light or laser sight.
The polymer magazine fits in the magwell rather tightly, and it’s a two-handed operation to remove it, but this may loosen up with use.
Additional mags will be available from Remington as soon as the 870 DM begins shipping at a cost of $34.95 each. Remington will also make a three-round magazine for hunters.
Loading the Mag
Loading the magazine is a little tricky at first. You need to start the process by pushing the brass end of the shell into the rear of the magazine and down at the same time. It sounds awkward, but after a few reloads, the procedure become second nature and smooth.
At The Range
So, with home defense uses in mind, I tried out the 870 DM with birdshot loads, buckshot and slugs, at distances from 10 to 50 yards, using a variety of ammunition brands. For a shotgun with a fairly short barrel (18.5-inches), I thought the 870 DM Magpul was very accurate.
For self-defense loads, I used two types of buckshot shells, both 2 ¾-inches long: Federal Premium’s Law Enforcement #00 Buck, with 9 pellets per shell; and Remington’s #1 Buck, holding 16 pellets.
At 10 yards, loads of #6 slammed a good 70-percent of the pellets within a six-inch circle. Both defensive loads tore up their targets, with pellets nearly touching. In a word, the results were devastating.
At 20 yards, I was more interested in the number of pellets that hit my 12-inch diameter. The winner here was the Federal 00 Buck, with an average of seven of each shell’s nine pellets smacking the target. That’s seven pellets, each approximately .33 caliber in diameter, hitting the proverbial “bad guy.”
The Remington #1 Buck averaged a rather disappointing 6 to 7 pellets on target per shot. Not that anyone wants to get drilled with a half-dozen of these .30 caliber pellets, but less than 50-percent of the load impacting the target at 20 yards? Not my first choice for a self defense load, at least not in this particular shotgun.
For slugs, I tried Remington’s 3-inch Magnum Sluggers (using the same magazine) launching a one-ounce rifled slug, and Federal’s 2 ¾-inch Truball one-ounce rifled slug. At 25 yards standing and shooting offhand, both loads pegged three-inch groups. For close range self-defense? More than accurate enough.
At 50 yards, though, I had trouble getting my slugs on the bullseye. My first shot, with both loads, was within an inch of the bullseye. Shots two and three, though, were either high or to the right about four inches.
But I take the blame for that shooting. It was at the end of two hours of shotgunning, and I wasn’t the sharpest. That point was driven home when my girlfriend took the exact same shotgun and fired a three-shot cloverleaf clustered around the bullseye.
The Super Cell recoil pad on the Magpul stock does a good job of taming the gun’s kick, and the ported choke helps, too. But this is, after all, a pump-action shotgun, not a semi-auto model where the escaping gasses can be diverted to minimize recoil.
From recoil pad to muzzle, it’s a simple shotgun that has stood the test of time and proven its versatility and adaptability over more than half a century.
It kicks, as you would expect, and the 3-inch Sluggers gave my shoulder a pretty stout beating, but, the other loads weren’t uncomfortable at all, especially with managed-recoil loads. The 870 DM Magpul shouldn’t be too much for even a smaller-statured shooter to handle.
Remington will offer a couple hunting version DM 870s in 2018, including a DM version of the shorty TAC-14 model that debuted earlier this year, and a more-or-less no-frills standard model.
Remington hasn’t said so, but I suspect 20-gauge models will be available sometime in 2018-2019, as well.
So, no, the 870 DM Magpul isn’t 100-percent brand new. But it’s not just dipped in Dung Beetle, either. This fast-loading and accurate shotgun should make some significant inroads into the tactical shotgun market.
|Remington 870 DM Magpul Specs|
|Action:||Pump / slide action|
|Magazine:||Ships with one 6-round polymer and steel box magazine|
|Barrel:||18.5” Rem Choke barrel, with extended, ported tactical choke|
|Sights:||XS steel front sight, and XS Tactical rail / ghost ring rear sight|
|Stock:||Magpul SGA Stock with Super Cell™ recoil pad|
|Forend:||Magpul MOE M-Lok|