by Chad Adams - Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I, as much as anyone, can appreciate a good hunting gun. Few things are more enjoyable to me than a hot duck blind. However, from the gun's launch to my first shots with the new pump gun, two things jumped to my mind: First, I couldn't believe Remington was building something to compete with the 870. Second, I wanted to see a tactical version.
Discussing the new pump gun with Remington personnel, I've come to understand the 887 is not meant to replace or compete against the seminal 870. Sure, any 887 purchase is potentially robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, but after walking through the factory, seeing the production and gaining more understanding of the immense customer base the 870 enjoys, it's very clear the 870 isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
The 887 has its own merits. It's a different animal, if you will—a new idea in shotgun making. Its lines are contemporary and its construction is a bit radical, a perfect concept for the utilitarian defensive shotgun.
Remington answered that call this year with the 887 Nitro Mag Tactical, making several key changes to the field version that result in a very solid out-of-the-box entry gun in the tactical shotgun market. With a shorter barrel, magazine extension and sections of Picatinny rail atop the receiver as well as along the barrel clamp, the 887 Nitro Mag Tactical offers considerable value at $498.
However, the heart of the 887 is still very much what caught the industry by storm last year: Remington's proprietary ArmorLokt coating. The 887 starts with a steel receiver and a hammer-forged barrel of 4140 steel reminiscent of the 1100 and 870 platforms. However, that's where the similarities end, as the 887's metal components are fully encased in a 0.041-inch glass-filled nylon overmold the company claims is impenetrable by water and fully protects the gun's metal surfaces from corrosion.
To back that claim, Remington's engineers cross-sectioned barrels after submersion and salt-corrosion testing, and also endurance-tested the gun to more than 10,000 rounds. In all the tests, ArmorLokt held up to the abuse and it did not separate, making the 887 an ideal shotgun for less-than-ideal conditions. Duty use will prove how indestructible the 887 Tactical truly is, but after a few weeks' use, I like its chances under the harshest conditions.
Manufacturers have come up with a host of treatments to protect a gun's metal surfaces, but overmolding the barrel and receiver with polymer is a unique concept. Remington first cold-hammer forges the 887's barrel blank from 4140 steel and then, in a process similar to the receiver construction, fuses the ArmorLokt to the blank's exterior via injection molding. The polymer envelops the blank in a protective shell, with the integral barrel rib and rectangular design impressions also formed in the mold. A green HiViz LitePipe front bead tops the shotgun's rib, which is plenty adequate for close-range defensive work.
Internally, the 887 Tactical utilizes a robust rotary breechbolt with dual lugs locking into the barrel extension. A massive claw extractor and blade ejector ensure reliable cycling. Dual action bars actuate the bolt when the fore-end is manipulated.
Like the field model, the 887 Tactical's modular trigger-plate assembly completely drops out of the gun via two push pins. This unit contains all fire controls, the carrier and the shell latches. The left latch, similar to the 870, allows manual unloading of the shotgun. Instead of cycling the pump, one can depress the latch to unload. The shells are under spring tension, so maintain control of the shotshell while unloading.
I found the 887 Tactical extremely intuitive in operation. Running through a variety of loading, handling and shooting drills, I found several key advantages to this platform.
First, the bolt-release button, both in location and size, is the best I've seen on a tactical pump gun. Instead of the traditional tiny, metal lever poking out from the bottom of the receiver, the 887 uses a large, polymer button located on the front of the trigger guard. With training, this button should excel in promoting better gun handling through the manual-of-arms typical during defensive use.
In law enforcement, pump guns are commonly staged "patrol ready." Whether in a keeper on the dash or in the trunk of a squad car, officers typically load the magazine full with the bolt closed on an empty chamber. In theory, this method gives ample firepower, yet locks the gun for safe storage and transport during their patrol. This means when it's time to employ the pump gun, the bolt release must first be depressed before the fore-end can manipulated to work a round into the chamber.
Obviously, training is required to automatically perform this task under duress. However, the bigger button, located in what I feel is a more obvious location, should only complement that training. During testing, I ran through drills loading the gun patrol ready, then laying it on a staging table, forcing me to acquire the gun and depress the bolt release before engaging targets. The drill further reinforced that the button's design is well suited for the scenario.
Once the firing began, I also appreciated the contour of the fore-end. While it delivered ample purchase, it also gave the added advantage of leverage. Larger in circumference toward the receiver, then sculpting down in width toward the muzzle, this "fatness" on the receiver end provided leverage on the rearward stroke. This is important, because it requires more force to unlock the bolt, cock the mechanism and extract the round than it does on the forward stroke.
During firing and loading, the loading gate would often remain in the upward position after the first shell was loaded into the magazine tube. I appreciated that, as it makes loading subsequent rounds much easier. However, it didn't do so every single time, and I was never sure if it was my technique or the design that made the difference. Like all new shotguns, some material could be removed to smooth the edges around the loading port, a task easily accomplished by a gunsmith.
The rail attachments on the 887 Tactical are both contemporary and well done. The obvious addition of the receiver-mounted Picatinny rail has become almost standard for defensive/practical shotguns, with tiny reflex or red-dot sights becoming more rugged and affordable in recent years. The additional Picatinny strip affixed to the barrel clamp was a welcome addition, one usually found only as an aftermarket accessory. Since a weaponlight is the single best addition to your home-defense toolkit, this rail is well-suited for a SureFire M300A Mini Scout or similar high-energy, high-output light source.
In function, the gun handled well, and perceived recoil seemed very mild. I even mixed in 3 1⁄2-inch turkey loads to see how the gun ran; it digested the mix well, with no failures to feed or extract. Perceived recoil was also surprisingly mild, a tribute to the effectiveness of the SuperCell recoil pad.
Using Remington's new Home Defense loads, a No. 2/No. 4 duplex load, the pattern densities were absolutely devastating at 21 feet, a common self-defense distance. Fired offhand, in high wind that surely blew my point-of-impact off center, the combo averaged more than 80 pellets in a 21-inch circle on the pattern board. At 25 yards, under less-than-ideal wind conditions, I still managed nearly half the pattern density achieved at close range, with pellet counts ranging from the high-30s to high-40s, depending on the wind gusts.
It may look radical in approach, but the ArmorLokt technology is really just keeping in step with Remington's well-known tradition of experimentation with unique material. From the Nylon 66, to the short-lived 105 CTi and the 887, Remington has never been shy about experimenting with new materials and approaches—or bringing them to market when they will provide an advantage for the shooter.
Able to digest any load and operate in any environment, the 887 Nitro Mag Tactical is a solid, high-tech pump gun worthy of consideration by any self-defense shooter. With the addition of aftermarket components, the gun is ready right out of the box as a mid-level pump for duty, home defense or practical competition.
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