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The Remington 870: The Workhorse of Law Enforcement

By: Friedrich Seiltgen

The Remington 870 is a very popular pump action shotgun that comes in multiple calibers. \Produced since 1951, the 870 was a replacement for the Remington model 31 (I own one of those, too), and more than 11 million variants of the 870 have been produced since.

The 870 comes in hundreds of variations, finishes, and calibers of 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410 gauges. This recognizable gun has made its way into the armory of thousands of law enforcement agencies and hundreds of foreign countries.

When I worked as a police officer, I had several weapons I was trained to use. In addition to the issued Sig Sauer 226 pistol, we trained on the Colt AR-15, the Heckler & Koch MP-5, and the Remington 870 Police Model. Of all these weapons, my favorite was the good old 870.

As our rangemaster would say, “The 870 packs a lot of horsepower.” When I first began my journey in law enforcement, we were issued plain old Remington police model 870s with wooden stocks and bead sights. About 10 years later, the department decided to upgrade. The department refinished all our old shotguns and bought some new ones for the increasing manpower.

These guns were equipped with a Polymer stock, new sling, a Sidesaddle shell holder that held an additional six rounds on the receiver, ghost ring sights, and a for-end with a flashlight! Now that we were armed with the modernized 870, the rangemaster went about training officers to use slug rounds.

While on patrol, I armed myself with the 870 constantly when sent to dangerous calls. Many of the young officers were fans of the AR-15. While I also enjoy the AR, the 870 provided different options to the user. When used against an automotive windshield, our issued .223 rounds could actually skip off the windshield at certain angles. With its distinctive sound, the mere act of chambering a round in the 870 was always an attention getter.

Many agencies use the 870 as a less lethal weapon during riots by utilizing rubber buckshot or slugs, Ouch! Our issued 00 tactical buckshot could put eight pellets into an evildoer, and when equipped with slug rounds, the 870 could be used to breach doors and gain building entry.

This type of utility would have been useful during the Virginia Tech shootings. Officers were on scene quickly, but slowed in their entry by doors that were padlocked and chained by the perpetrator, Seung-Hui Cho. An 870 with a frangible breach round takes care of that quickly.

After seeing what happened during that particular incident, I went and learned everything I could about the art of shotgun breaching. I had two schools in my district, as well as three more schools in the neighboring district. I was not going to be slowed in my response if some psycho came into my district intent on shooting up a school. I took these incidents personally. I swore to do a job, and I was going to do it.

Whether its hunting, shooting clays, or home defense, the 870 is a formidable weapon. It is rugged and well-built, and with modern upgrades, it looks great for its age! It is the workhorse of law enforcement and my personal favorite.

Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He currently conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. Contact him at polizei22@msn.com.

Photo Credit: Remington.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.