870 fail

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Buddy of mine has a property of his setup with an alarm. If the alarm goes off, the system calls him. If he’s unavailable, it calls person #2. If #2 is out, it calls person #3. I am person #3. So I was minding my own business the other day and I get a call on my cellphone. It’s the automated alarm telling me something is up. I grab a loaded 870 from the closet and hop in the truck. I get to the property and chamber a round in the 870 and start looking around for broken windows and that sort of thing. Nothing. I let myself into the house, check things, and everything seems fine. False alarm. Not the first time, but you gotta treat each one like the real deal, y’know?

So I press the bolt release on the shotgun and figure I’ll cycle the ammo out of the gun and reload it. (I prefer a particular order of shotgun shells in my magazine tube.) First round pops out and -fail- the next round stays in the magazine. WTF? The magazine follower or spring had bound up somewhere in the tube and was not providing force to feed the rounds down the tube. (This wasnt as failtacular as it could have been. In addition to the 870 I also had my holstered G19 at the time.)

The follower in the tube was this one from Wilson. I’d replaced the factory follower years ago. I went to the range yesterday to test out the shotgun and it kept doing the same thing. I pulled the follower and it had scuff marks all around its circumference. I pulled the spring, removed the barrel, and ran a boresnake (12 ga. size, naturally) down the tube a few times in case the problem was some accumulated grit or something. Nope…same problem after reassembly. Near as I can figure, the follower is snagging or catching at the junction between the magazine tube and the tube extension. (I tried beveling and filing the edges of the Wilson follower in case there were some sharp edges catching….no joy.)

Remington, for some incredibly stupid reason, ran off a batch of their 870s with dimples in the magazine tube that precluded adding a magazine extension. The fix was to simply drill out those dimples. This shotgun isnt one of those 870s. The mag extension is a quality one, not some cheap Chinese crap. I’m fairly confident the problem is the follower. I ordered a stainless steel one (’cause, baby, nothing kills like overkill) from Brownells today and when it gets here I’m hoping it will make the difference. I also need to carefully investigate the junction of the mag tube extension with the mag tube and see if theres any obvious problem there. The nice thing is that I have enough 870s sitting around here that I can swap out parts through process of elimination to narrow down the culprit. I’m 90% its the follower, though.

I’ve another 870 thats been sitting in the bedroom for a few years and hasnt been shot in quite a while. Guess I better check that one out as well.

Moral of the story: it isnt enough to leave loaded guns laying about, you gotta test ‘em preiodically.