I don't know about you, but whenever I travel to other cities I am always curious about what these other jurisdictions carry in their patrol cars. I can't help but go over to a patrol car sitting at the curb and take a look inside.
What you usually notice first these days when you inspect a police cruiser is an assortment of computers, integrated emergency light and radio controllers, and other high-tech gear. But there's usually one thing you can expect to see in almost every American patrol car that isn't high-tech or even electronic: a Remington 870 tactical shotgun.
The exact model of Remington 870 may vary. Some have 14-inch barrels, others sport the 18-inch barrel; some are even equipped with magazine tube extensions, integral flashlights, slings, and ammunition saddles. But the basic long gun that you'll see locked into most patrol cars is the venerable Remington 870.
And the reason for the 870's popularity with the men and women of American law enforcement is easy to understand. It's a proven weapon that works not only as a long gun but also as a means of intimidating the bad guy into peaceful compliance. No sane person wants to face double-aught buckshot at close range.
When I say "proven," I mean it. The Remington 870 shotgun has been on the market almost a half century now and is the best selling shotgun in the world...ever. More than 6 million have been sold in their various configurations. If you take a look at the recent Remington catalog, you'll see around 35 variants of the 870 available right now.
The 870 started life as a sporting pump shotgun. It was very shortly thereafter that some cop somewhere tweaked one a little here and a little there, thus creating an entirely new market for the Wingmaster. Today, there are more accessories made for the Remington 870 than for all the other shotguns put together.
A Better 870
Hans Vang has taken the 870 platform and transformed it into an even more effective tactical gun. The Vang Comp Systems (VCS) Remington 870 is the pinnacle in the world of the fighting shotgun. It includes the basic gun with an 18.5-inch VCS barrel, LPA rear sight, VCS front sight with tritium insert, a black synthetic stock, the VCS safety, and VCS magazine follower. For the finishing touch, VCS refinishes the whole shebang in tactical black.
All of these modifications sound very complicated on paper, but, in reality, the Vang Comp Systems 870 Police Magnum maintains the critical KISS standard. Of course, you can order this gun with just about any accessory you want, but the basic package gun is simple, fast, smooth, and incredibly accurate. It's not just another black tactical shotgun.
The secret of the VCS 870 Police Magnum is the Hans Vang-designed barrel. Vang has been perfecting that barrel for much of his adult life, and it shows.
Vang left the Navy in 1974 and decided that with his love of firearms he should be a gunsmith. He enrolled in the Colorado School of Trades, one of the finest gunsmith education programs in the world. Then, after graduation and about a year on his own, he went to work for J.J. Jenkins, painstakingly restoring collectible firearms. Leaving Jenkins, he opened his own shop and developed the Vang Comp System.[PAGEBREAK]
How It Works
The Vang Comp System is a set of modifications to a shotgun's barrel. These modifications include back boring the barrel, adding compensating ports, and lengthening the forcing cone.
The back-boring of the barrel is accomplished by boring the barrel from the chamber toward the muzzle end and creating a choke. This is critical to the improved performance of the weapon, but it's not immediately visible.
In contrast, the compensation ports are the most outwardly obvious and signature features of the Vang Comp barrel. However, they are not just decorative. When you fire a Van Comp shotgun, a portion of the gases from the burnt powder exiting the muzzle is vented upward through the ports. The redirected gas flow minimizes muzzle rise as much as 90 percent and felt recoil by at least 15 percent, allowing for both a more rapid recovery time between shots and increased accuracy.
The ports also reduce muzzle flash and help you retain night vision, which is a good thing in a real gunfight. Oh, and less flash also helps keep your location better concealed in low-light conditions, another good thing in a gunfight.
A less obvious but nonetheless important feature of the Vang Comp barrel is the longer forcing cone. Lengthening the forcing cone allows the pellets to have a smooth flow from the chamber to the bore, and it prevents the pellets from bunching up in the barrel so that they cause less turbulence. Additionally, pellets are less deformed and keep a more consistent shape.
Some Nice Features
The Vang Comp Systems Police Magnum also comes with Vang's one- or two-round magazine extension, which features an interchangeable sling attachment point that accommodates both left- and right-handed shooters. Vang machines the tubes out of bar stock aluminum. They are tank tough and guaranteed for life. The magazine extension also comes with an extended and stronger spring. Additionally, Vang includes a high-visibility magazine tube follower. The follower has an extended tail to stop the longer spring from fouling in the magazine and rendering the gun inoperative.
Safety features on the VCS Police Magnum include the VCS dome head safety. Whenever you put your finger into the trigger guard, the crook of the second knuckle on your trigger finger comes in contact with this safety. This design lets you know immediately that the safety may be on, and it allows you to disengage the safety easily and quickly. It will not allow you to inadvertently leave the safety on and miss an important shot. Some more safety-conscious shooters may not like this system, but if you subscribe to the rule that you keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, it doesn't compromise safety and it aids in fast first shots.[PAGEBREAK]
Testing the Police Magnum
The test and evaluation gun that I received from Vang Comp Systems was the company's standard Police Magnum. It should be noted here that Vang Comp also offers the Remington Express version, but I believe the Police Magnum is obviously the best choice for law enforcement work.
As its name implies, the Police Magnum is built to withstand the abuse of our work. It has a 7-pound sear-disconnect spring Vs. the 5.5-pound spring in the Express, a heavier lifter spring, and a 22-inch magazine spring Vs. a 16-inch magazine spring on the other model. The Police Magnum also comes with front and rear sling swivel studs. Even more importantly, the trigger group assembly in the Police Magnum is metal where the Express is plastic.
My Police Magnum was all business, no frills, no shiny high-speed, low-drag electronic sighting widgets, night vision image generators, IR lasers, GPS mapping units, or 7,000-lumen tactical illumination tools were hanging off of it. In other words, it was just my kind of gun.
And it was made to shoot. Its Italian-made LPA sights are silver soldered in place. Vang does not use glue, as some gunsmiths do, ensuring the sights will stay in place, no matter how much banging around they do. The rear ghost ring sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. The tritium front sight is bright and well protected by wings on both sides. The action was smoothed out and slicked up, but lock-up was positive and sure. Finally, the trigger was crisp and broke consistently at 9.5 pounds.
The real question when dealing with a tactical shotgun, or any gun for that matter, is accuracy. Do all of the Vang Comp modifications add up to an accurate and smooth-shooting weapon?
Well the proof is in the pudding and, in this case, it is very tasty pudding indeed. The Vang Comp Systems shotgun significantly reduces the pattern size of practically any 00 buck round fired from it.
At 25 yards, we normally expect a pattern averaging 25 inches. The Vang Comp barrel brings that down to an average of 14 inches. Not only will this cause devastating wounding of your suspect, resulting in a potential immediate stop, but it is also safer for the public. The significantly tighter pattern and increased accuracy of the VCS leaves much less room for an errant pellet to damage property or what we all fear most, harm an innocent person.
While Vang Comp claims a 15-percent reduction in felt recoil, I thought it was closer to 40 percent. My tests proved Vang Comp's claims of tighter groups and faster followups. Cycling the gun was smooth and almost effortless.
A final note: Hans Vang is one of the nicest people I've ever met in the firearms business. He absolutely loves cops. After all, we are probably 80 percent of his business.
When Vang is not building guns for us, he is training officers how to shoot them. His shop is located in Chino Valley, Ariz., just a few miles away from the front gate of the world renowned Gunsite Firearms Academy.
If you are looking for a top-quality Remington 870, take a look at the Vang Comp Systems guns. Vang can even take your department's old 870s, refurbish them, and in the process convert them to the Vang Comp System.
And if you don't have an 870, you still might want to avail yourself of Vang's work. He also builds his systems on Mossberg platforms, Remington 11-87s, Winchester 1300s, and even Benelli and Beretta autoloaders. The stock barrels on Benelli and Beretta guns are too thin and require a custom barrel. You will need to go through GG&G to get one.
Sgt. Dave Douglas is the rangemaster of the San Diego Police Department, a veteran law enforcement officer, and a Police contributing editor.