Remington 870 Wingmaster: Great First Shotgun Choice
Whether you’re looking to bust clays, bag upland birds, or take a shot at waterfowl, the Remington 870 Wingmaster might just be the perfect addition to your gun collection. Yes, Remington has had some woes over the last few years (more on that later), but the smooth lines, balance, and reliability of the 870 Wingmaster make it a joy to shoot.
I’ll happily confess that I’m new to shotgunning as a sport, but I’m officially hooked. Like many new shooters, I started by chasing after semi-auto shotguns to get some trigger time on as many as I could get my hands on. I enjoyed them, but then I took four shotguns to the range for testing and put my first box of target loads through an 870 Wingmaster.
In fact, the Wingmaster was the first pump shotgun I tried on clays. The gun is hardly new, with the 870-shotgun line dating all the way back to 1950. Yet, much to my surprise, I was shooting it better than anything else by the end of my first 25-round box of target loads. I found it to be a great fit as a new shooter, and I dare say it would make an excellent first choice for anyone looking to get into sporting shotguns.
My current personal hunting pump is a Benelli Nova. It’s a great, affordable shotgun that has proven effective and nothing short of a tank in the field. But, then again, it also feels a bit like a tank. At 8.25 pounds and 51.25 inches long with my favorite choke, it actually feels longer with a front-heavy balance.
Picking up the Wingmaster for a round of clays feels like slipping on nice running shoes after a day in work boots. The balance of the gun is right where the barrel meets the receiver and well behind the shotgun’s forearm and my support hand.
The resulting swing is quick and smooth. I’ve now shot it in the heat of summer and on cold winter days with gloves. There’s nice checkering on the semi-pistol grip and forestock, which both lend themselves to gloved or naked-hand shooting. The rubber recoil-absorbing butt pad is comfortable, though unnecessary for target loads.
In my first box of 25 shells, I was busting doubles with little effort and thoroughly enjoying the breeze-like swing of the Wingmaster. On my first range visit, I tested this gun alongside Tristar semi-auto shotguns, my personal Benelli Nova, as well as a Mossberg 500 and 940 Pro. The Wingmaster was by far the most enjoyable to shoot. We even had a few over-unders on the range that day for Sporting Clays, and the Wingmaster kept pace just fine.
Sights on my sample Wingmaster are minimalist, and I like it. The front sight bead is a low, flat black affair with a silver mid-bead. It’s basic, but it’s also beneficial. There are few distractions, and the sighting system encourages you to aim small, miss small, and shoot fast. You can find Wingmasters with fixed chokes, but this one is adjustable, which is also to my liking.
There’s only one thing that a really don’t fancy on the Wingmasters, and that is the safety located behind the trigger. It proved fine even when shooting on unannounced – launched without warning – targets at the range. Still, I dislike safeties that require me to either adjust my grip or move my trigger finger behind the trigger itself. I have gotten burned on a duck hunt and missed a fast flier while trying to push a front safety that didn’t exist. That, however, is a training issue, and this style of safety is very common regardless of my meager opinions on it.
This 12-gauge 870 Wingmaster boasts hi-gloss finish on the wood and blued metal parts. Others can be had in satin with chamberings ranging from 12, 20, and 28 gauge to .410 bore. Current production barrel lengths range from 25 inches to 28 inches. The barrel on this example can accept 3 1/2-inch shells, but only with a Super Mag receiver. I found 2 2/3 and 3 inch to be perfectly acceptable for my uses. Wingmasters also host two twin action bars for strength and positive chambering and ejection.
At 6 pounds 15 ounces on my scales, with the preponderance of that weight well behind the support hand, this gun actually feels lighter. The center of gravity lines up almost exactly where the receiver meets the barrel, offering a nice balance for transitioning between targets. I’ve included some additional specs on this sample gun below:
There’s an awkward pink elephant in the room whenever you talk about Remington firearms these days, especially late production guns. Reputation means a lot when it comes to guns you can trust in the field, and the years leading up to the Remington bankruptcy cast doubt in some consumers’ minds.
For what it’s worth, the serial number on the receiver of this shotgun is RS marked, which has made dating it a bit of a challenge. To the best I was able to dig into the serial number for this 870, it may well be a post-2007 manufacture date after Cerberus Capital Management acquired Remington.
That would make it a newer manufacture gun, and fans of the 870 line will no doubt recall the general feelings that quality in the 870s declined in the final years of the Remington Outdoor Company. Still, without blowing any smoke up certain orifices, I will say this gun is no lemon. If it is new, the quality is good enough to fool me into thinking otherwise.
Regardless, the Wingmaster line is also generally known for higher quality, and this shotgun has been nothing but smooth and a joy to shoot. However, I would still recommend occasional oiling – especially to protect the ventilated rib and anti-glare texturing – and caution against storing a blued shotgun in a soft case for extended periods of time. Those cases almost always hold moisture. Blued or not, moister and exposure to the elements are threats best mitigated through reasonable maintenance and storage practices.
After initially getting this gun, I simply field stripped it and applied gun oil. A quick external once-over after a few range trips has sufficed for most maintenance. If you so choose, there are also plenty of older 870 Wingmasters in great condition on the used market to choose from. Personally, I like a bit of heritage in the guns I shoot anyway.
As for the future of the Wingmaster line, the restructured Remington Arms is once again producing 870s under new ownership. So I have strong hopes that the legacy and reputation of the 870 Wingmasters will endure. Sadly, I will have to send this one back to the Guns.com Vault, but I’ll have my eyes open for one to add to my collection when the time is right.