Without a doubt the most popular police shotgun of all time is the Remington 870 pump shotgun. Its rugged design, good ergonomics, and unerring reliability have made this gun the top pick for agencies and departments. The popularity of this gun has spanned generations of cops and seen sidearms transition from revolvers to semi-autos and beyond, all the while the 870 has remained relatively unchallenged as the all-around cop shotgun.
Bill Wilson, founder of Wilson Combat and owner of Scattergun Technologies, recognized the popularity of the Remington 870 and decided to make a good thing better. Using a combination of Old World craftsmanship and top-grade accessories, Wilson's modifications transform a rather utilitarian shotgun into the ultimate tactical shotgun. Called the Tactical Response TR-870, this shotgun possesses a host of common sense modifications that could keep the shotgun at the top of the police long gun food chain for a while longer.
The TR-870 starts as a brand new Remington 870 Magnum 12-gauge shotgun. Gunsmiths at Scattergun Technologies strip the gun, check the parts for fit, and tune as necessary. For increased reliability the trigger mechanism is torn apart and rebuilt with stronger springs. A heavy-duty magazine spring also replaces the issue part.
Scattergun uses a magazine extension of its own manufacture on the TR-870. This part increases the gun's capacity by two rounds for a total capacity of 6 + 1. The magazine extension is of robust design and negates the need for a bracket to secure the tube to the barrel for support. This is not a big deal, unless you have a problem in the field that requires disassembly. Guns that have the bracket require a screwdriver for disassembly.
Scattergun's smiths also equip the shotgun with the company's neat Trak-Lock ghost ring rear sight. This design features an aperture of generous proportions for quick sight acquisition, even in low light. It's adjustable for windage and elevation by simply loosening a single screw and moving the sight. Machined from a billet of steel, the sight is plenty tough enough to endure the rigors of police work.
A ramp front sight is epoxied and pinned over the standard bead and base on the Remington shotgun barrel. It has a tritium insert for low-light shooting, and it is easily visible through the ghost ring rear sight in total darkness. Scattergun uses an 18-inch barrel chambered for three-inch shells and a choked cylinder for the TR-870.
After the sight installation parts are stripped, they're bead blasted, washed in a solvent, and then the steel parts are parkerized. Scattergun then sprays the parts with the company's Armor-Tuff finish and thermally cures them. The result is a matte, non-reflective finish that is very consistent. Applied over the parkerized texture, Armor-Tuff provides a finish that is corrosion resistant and offers a barrier to acids, solvents, bore cleaners, etc.
The popularity of the Remington 870 shotgun guarantees a good selection of aftermarket accessories. Wilson selected a couple of accessories that make a world of sense for the TR-870's intended mission.
First up is the Knoxx Spec Ops stock. It works like the standard M4 stock in that it can expand and collapse-from a minimum of 11.25 inches to 15.25 inches-making it instantly adjustable for any officer. But what makes the Spec Ops stock really different is that it possesses two different recoil compensation mechanisms.
The receiver recoils rearward when the gun is fired and activates a roller and cam lever that's attached to a strong spring located inside the pistol grip. This heavy-duty spring slows the receiver's movement and absorbs some of the recoil energy. Once the receiver has reached about an inch-and-a -half of travel the spring pulls it back to its original position.
The other recoil compensation mechanism is a heavy spring located in the tube portion of the stock that works like a shock absorber to protect the shoulder. Together these mechanisms protect the shooter from the jarring blows of heavy loads.
To give the gun night-fighting capability Scattergun outfits the TR-870 with a SureFire Tactical forend. Capable of producing 65 lumens of light for up to an hour, the light uses two three-volt lithium batteries for power. On the right side of the forearm is a pressure-sensitive pad that can be used for momentary illumination and on the other side is a rocker switch that can be used for constant light. Like the rest of the gun, the SureFire forend is rugged, well built, and a worthy addition to an already outstanding weapon.
Scattergun also equips the TR-870 with a sidesaddle shell carrier. My sample has a six-shot saddle, but it is also available with a four-shot carrier. The polymer saddle holds the shells securely even when firing heavy, magnum loads. Other accessories include a tactical sling and a magazine tube side sling mount.
For support I lay down in the back of my Suburban and fired groups using a rifle rest to support the SureFire forearm. With my target set out at 50 yards, I fired three shots to a group. My test sample's trigger broke crisply at four pounds, which was extremely helpful in shooting the gun accurately. Also responsible for its precision is the Trak-Lock ghost ring rear sight and ramp front sight.
Using reduced recoil loads from both Remington and Fiocchi, I was able to produce groups that averaged between two and 2.5 inches. I shot with my support hand holding the buttstock against my shoulder, and with each shot the forend, pushed against the rifle rest, slid back, extracting the shell and coming close to actually ejecting the empty. That is how incredibly smooth the pump action is on the TR-870.
Winchester's three-inch, one-ounce slug loads recorded the single best group, measuring just 1.25 inches, but they were vicious to shoot. Using the same shooting technique that I used for the reduced-recoil rounds resulted in a nasty jab to the cheek with each shot fired. While the Knoxx stock did an excellent job of protecting my shoulder, it did nothing to protect my cheek. My jury-rigged shooting platform and awkward position required me to lift my head about 3⁄8-inch off the stock to get a good sight picture. I should note, however, that shooting these loads from the standing position, like when I chronographed them, was much more comfortable.[PAGEBREAK]
To make the shotgun as accurate as possible with slugs, Scattergun chokes the 18-inch barrel with a cylinder choke. While this will guarantee the best accuracy with slugs, it also causes the buckshot patterns to be open more quickly. Using Federal Tactical Buckshot loads, I fired groups at 15, 25, and 50 yards to see what kinds of patterns the TR-870 is capable of. At 15 yards the round produced a gaping hole just an inch-and-a-half wide. But at 25 yards the nine-pellet load opened quickly to around seven inches in diameter. Out at 50 yards the same load printed a 20-inch pattern. Given its intended purpose and range limitations, the gun, when used properly, is capable of doing everything that could be reasonably asked of it.
My friend Ed Chavez is an instructor at the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center and is very familiar with the Remington 870 shotgun-a gun that was issued when he was a police recruit 21 years ago and is still issued by the Tucson Police Department. I thought it would make sense for him to put the TR-870 through its paces. The former Recon Marine was impressed with the fit and finish of the gun and how smoothly its action worked.
I was interested in seeing just how quickly he could work the action of the TR-870. I brought along a box of light birdshot loads and I used a PACT timer to measure the time between shots. Chavez was able to cycle that shotgun faster than I would have guessed. His time between shots averaged around 30⁄100ths of a second. His fastest split, or time between shots, was a blazing 25⁄100ths of a second. On a good day, that's about how fast I can doubletap a close target with a semiautomatic 1911. The fact that Chavez could do this with a manually operated shotgun earned him my respect.
Scattergun Technologies TR-870, as sold by Wilson Combat, possesses worthwhile refinements and accessories that make it an ideal choice for tactical applications. It also has the accuracy and reliability that is needed for dangerous endeavors.
Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.
Scattergun Technologies Tactical Response
Model: TR-870 Standard Model with optional Knoxx Spec Ops stock
Capacity: 6 + 1
Barrel: 12-gauge, three-inch 870 Magnum with an 18-inch barrel (cylinder bore choke)
Rear: Adjustable Trak-Lock ghost ring
Front: Ramp-type with tritium self-luminous insert
Stocks: Knoxx Spec Ops buttstock, SureFire tactical foregrip
Finish: Armor-Tuff black matte
Overall Length: 37 inches (stock collapsed)
Weight: 8 pounds
Accessories: 4- or 6-shot side saddle carrier, tactical sling, 2-shot mag extension, high-visibility follower
Price: $1,150 with standard stock, $1,209 as tested
Next-Generation Shotgun Ammo
It was while Ed Chavez was giving me a tour of the state-of-the-art shooting facility at the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center that I ran into old friend Kevin Florey. Florey is a department armorer and also a sniper on the SWAT team. He was admiring the TR-870 when he asked if I had used any of the new Polyshok Impact Reactive Projectile rounds.
I had to admit that I wasn't familiar with Polyshok, and he was kind enough to give me a quick and enthusiastic education on the new "smart" round shotgun shell.
The round uses 472 grains of powdered lead in what looks like a conventional shotgun wad/shot cup with a high-density polymer compound actuator located at the nose of the projectile. The actuator is what causes the payload to disrupt, and transfer its energy, on impact. Even though the Polyshok is not an explosive projectile, it is designed to mimic a shaped charge and concentrates its energy within or in tight proximity to the target.
When the Polyshok round hits the target, it releases a controlled radial energy discharge, creating a highly disruptive focused pressure wave that is responsible for the transfer of energy. Any remaining energy dissipates rapidly and becomes non-lethal just beyond the target. Remember, we're talking about a powdered lead projectile, so danger of over-penetration with the Polyshok rounds is less than any conventional shotgun slugs, or pistol or rifle rounds.
That means the Polyshok round can penetrate an auto windshield and be completely lethal to the front seat occupant that the round is aimed at, but chances of collateral injury to someone in the backseat are relatively small.
Used on denim-clad 10-percent ordinance gelatin, Polyshok rounds create a permanent wound cavity up to eight inches deep and five inches in diameter. This test is consistent with what I've heard about actual shootings. Polyshok's Website also documents one-shot kills on a bear and moose by wildlife officers.
Besides their obvious anti-personnel use, the Polyshok rounds can also be used for taking out car tires and breeching doors. Their accuracy matches or surpasses that of conventional slugs, and the recoil is less than that of a skeet load. It will even function in semi-auto shotguns. Now that's a "Smart" round!