U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)-It’s always fun when you buy a new firearm, but we get more enjoyment out of building our own or creating a project out of an old fixer-upper. Recently we picked up a short-barreled Remington 870 and replaced the black plastic furniture with an old school walnut “corncob” forend and a “Law Enforcement Only” factory folding stock that was on our old truck gun.
As much as we loved the new (to us) short-barreled Remington 870, we needed to do something with our old one that still ran great despite its looks.
Our old 870 had an 18.5” barrel with a Remchoke installed, we wanted to preserve this, but we wanted to give up the bead sight for something better. We also had a Wilson Combat +2 magazine extension and decided to keep that as well.
We reached out to Spitfire Armory for one of their sight systems which provides front an rear irons like a rifle as well as a scope mount in case you want to run an optic.
As this was an older shotgun, the receiver needed to be drilled and tapped. We did not want to take this part on ourselves, so we turned to Tyler Norona at Reno Guns and Range to do the heavy lifting on this job. He turned it around for us in a day and we had it done in this order for a good reason.
The coating we had in mind would eat up drill bits otherwise.
The blue on this 870 came off years ago and our answer was to hit it with Krylon over the years. However, we think we have outgrown that with all the custom coating options available today.
We wanted to refinish it ourselves in a traditional blue color and reached out to Lauer Custom Weaponry for their new Dura Blue aerosol kit. This is a “can within a can” type of technology that keeps the two components of Duracoat (color and hardener) in the same can like a binary agent so they mix while spraying.
There are no toxic chemicals like a traditional bluing job and the glossy finish looks as good as something that came from the factory. The process takes a few hours of spraying and over spraying until it looks just right. We let it harden overnight before we installed the front sight which fits over the existing bead and clamps to the barrel and magazine extension.
In hindsight we think we would have been better off with their traditional spray kits applied via airbrush and air compressor as it provides a more even coating than the aerosol.
Just like the magazine extension, we decided we wanted to keep more ammunition on the shotgun. ATI sent us one of their side saddle ammo carriers that allows you to remove the rings holding the shotgun rounds in case you need to store the shotgun without ammunition attached.
We have run just about every type of stock and forend imaginable on our shotguns over the years: walnut, Magpul, factory synthetic and realized that we had never tried a laminate wood on a scattergun. After a few recent rifle builds using Boyds stocks we thought that we would give them a try.
It just so happened that Boyds was getting ready to bring the At-One design to various platforms, so we had to put our plans on hold until they had one ready for us.
In case you are not familiar with the At-One stocks from Boyds, they allow adjustments to length of pull and cheek piece height. Down the road, we may want to put a low magnification fixed power scope or an electronic red dot sight on this shotgun and may need the flexibility of an adjustable cheekpiece. The length of pull changes most often when you loan your shotgun out to someone taller or shorter or if you go from wearing no jacket on the range and maybe a parka on your hunt.
Our biggest dilemma with Boyds Stocks is trying to pick out a color. For this shotgun, we wanted something different and went with the Applejack color scheme.
Installation of the Boyds At-One hardwood laminate stock is a bit different than a typical shotgun stock replacement. The wrist of the stock is polymer which attaches to the metal receiver and once it is installed the stock bolts into the wrist. So, it takes a few minutes longer.
The forend attaches like any other Remington 870 forend in a matter of minutes. When our project was done, we took her to the range and fed her slugs for a few sessions. The Boyds At-One stock actually helped mitigate the recoil this was a pleasant surprise and makes shooting the shotgun that much more enjoyable!
We did not attach a scope at this time, but are considering one in the future. Instead, we relied on the ghost ring sights from Spitfire Armory and found them to be superior in every way to the factory ghost ring sights found on our Mossberg 590A1 shotguns. We think the fiber optics make this much better than black irons with an orange insert.
In the end, we actually have a suitable hunting slug gun that is not a tactical home defense truck gun!
Upgrading a shotgun like the Remington 870 is not particularly difficult. The trickiest part (at least on this particular shotgun) was getting the bolt back into place with the slots on the forend rails. It is only a problem on this particular shotgun, it seems other Remington 870s do not share this issue.
Sight installation did prove to be a challenge with regard to drilling and tapping the receiver, but that's why we have friends with skills.
Where to get them
Spitfire Armory makes a variety of shotgun sighting solutions. You can learn more about specific models here.
Boyds Gun Stocks makes some of our favorite hardwood stocks including the AtOne. Find wood for your next project here.
If you want to try your hand at refinishing you can find DuraCoat or DuraBlue here.
About Mike Searson:
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.