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View Full Version : The Remington 870 youth 20g as a home defense shotgun


gunplumber
September 15, 2013, 17:28
This started as a thread seeking to identify a really nicely made 20g 870 tube extension. I still haven't identified it, but I have played around with these 20g shotgun and thought I'd post my observations.

Personally, I don't have much use for a shotgun in a "tactical" role. Other than shooting rabbits and birds, there is nothing a shotgun can't do at close range that a rifle can't, and there is plenty the shotgun cannot do at medium to long range that a rifle can.

One thing that does come up from time to time in the discussion is penetration, and a desire for minimal penetration. I submit that the shotgun has a lot more penetration in dry wall structures than many would hope, but I'll float that idea for a while.

Within the context of a home-defense weapon, particularly in the hands of a youth or small statured person (not exclusively women), the 20g is simply much more pleasant to shoot. And the more one shoots, the more confident one becomes with it.

I got girl-child a .410 Remington pump when she was around 8, and had her shooting clays set on the ground. That lasted all of a day. At the end of the day, she was shooting gently thrown clays out of the air with the 20g and the .410 got traded for another 20g. As girl-child got better, I bought for her a very nice Beretta over under, but she preferred the 20g. I even got her an 1100 in 20g, which has distinctly less recoil than the pump, but she stills prefers the pump. Why?

"Shick-Shick"! Dad, that sound is just so cool! Alrighty then, that reason is as good as any other. Neither of us is really good at clays, but it is really fun, and she can usually get 16-18 out of 25, while I'm struggling to do as well. The point is, we can shoot 200+ rounds of bird shot in an afternoon without it hurting. 12 gauge is much less pleasant.

A note here - the old (pre '84?) 20g Remington was a 12gauge frame with a barrel tapering down to 20g. Later models are what they sometimes call the Light Weight 20, and is on its own dedicated, smaller frame.

The 20g comes in two lengths. A 21" choked barrel with vent rib and a 26" (?) vent rib. This left me with a little bit of a quandary. Sure, I could buy an aftermarket barrel for it, but with the shotguns selling for around $250 used, paying $150 for a barrel seemed pointless. For a little more I could have a second shotgun. The 21" barrel is interesting. I really like it. It is longer than I prefer for a tactical shotgun, and not as long as I like for shooting clays, but it is a pretty good compromise, especially with the Rem Choke. A 3 rd Choate extension fits the 21" just fine. Choate is the only one I found making a 2 and 3 round extension. I don't really like the Choate, because of the plastic end plug. It also isn't of the same quality as the Wilson/Scattergun. But I am only finding a Vang 1 rd extension, which would work on a 14" SBS, but that's about it.

Anyway, Remington's newest forearm comes all the way back to the trigger guard and precludes the use of a 4 round Side Saddle. Speedfeed makes a stock and fore end in camo and black, but I'm having trouble finding it anywhere in 20g (Midway and Brownells do not have). I may end up laminating/modifying with epoxy some wood handguards as I did back in the day before synthetics.

Trijicon sells the Scattergun front and rear for less than Wilson, but they are made for the 12g. Kissing the underside of the front sight with a 3/4" end mill will change the contour to that of a 20g barrel. The rear is good as-is. I cut the barrel at 18-1/8" and notched the front sight to .300 to slide around the rib pedestal. I prefer to solder the fronts - but can't do that with tritium tubes. I'm going to see if either Wilson or Trijicon will sell them without tritium. The 3M epoxy they use hasn't failed me in hundreds of uses, but I did discover that the expiration date on the package is important - several packages from 2006 were unserviceable.

I swaged the stupid dents out of the tube that Remington puts there to prevent the use of an extended tube, and used an oversize safety of (I don't recall) manufacturer. I have used the round-head Vang unit in the past, but have evolved my tastes a bit - it is too oversize. I prefer the ones I have that use only a slightly oversize head.

Brownells aluminum follower. I got "orange" but if I do it again I will get red, as the orange anodizing is more bronze and not as visible as the red. It does have a nice nipple on it (shut up Shlomo) which makes feeling for an empty tube easy.

I'll probably get some slightly longer springs from Wolf, as I am not confident using the original 4 round spring with 6. Probably fine with 5.

So this was a proof-of-concept project. Is the time and effort to make it 18" worth it, over keeping the factory 21? For most people, I'd say no. But I don't have to pay myself for the labor and had a lot of the stuff in inventory anyway.

Back to the 20g as a home-defense. What's the longest distance for inside the house? 30 feet maybe? I believe #4. Buck at 30 feet will be quite lethal, and modest in recoil. A 2 or three round extension gives one 7-8 rounds. Illumination is still an issue. As is the Hollywood myth that a shotgun magically kills anything in the room. You do have to aim. I will have to print the cylinder bore, but I suspect a spread of only 6" max. I would not be surprised to see the shot cup make a hole in a paper target at these indoor distances.

Oh - so many things I'm pondering on this. I will eventually buy the reamers to install RemChoke on 18" barrels. Now it is just Cylinder Bore. But it would take a dedicated shooter to pay for the labor.

I'm also looking at the Ashley Express sights - they have a rear peep with a short rail that might be good for a micro red dot, But I hate their front sight.

Conclusion: for those favoring a shotgun for home defense, and anticipate it may be used by someone intimidated by the 12g, the 20g has a lot going for it. It is economical, mild recoil, lightweight, and within the narrow parameters of an inside-the-house weapon, I think it is ideal.

Girl-child's 21"

http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020g-01.jpg

Proof of concept 18"

http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020g-02.jpg


Mystery tube:

http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020gext.jpg

RG Coburn
September 15, 2013, 17:44
Sure looks like a Wilson..
http://shopwilsoncombat.com/Extension-Tube-Right-Hand-2-Shot-12-Gauge/productinfo/SGET-RH-2/

They claim a two round capacity gain.

Ever had jamming problems with the .410 870? I had one,jammed like a sumbitch.Like my 20 gauge much better.

gunplumber
September 15, 2013, 18:01
yes, but they don't list a 20g.

And yes, the .410 jammed a lot. I attributed it to the paper shells I was using. Got a thousand of them with the gun.

Texgunner
September 15, 2013, 18:47
I submit that the shotgun has a lot more penetration in dry wall structures than many would hope, but I'll float that idea for a while.



You are right about that. I witnessed a round of 12 ga. number 8 shot go through a piece of glass, a piece of 5/8" wood, 1/2" drywall, insulation blanket, 3/4'' plywood and vinyl siding and then out into a yard. The muzzle was maybe six feet from the wall. It left a neat little "window". No buckshot involved, birdshot only. I would not have wanted to be on the other side of the wall. I didn't like being on the inside too much either though.

Mebsuta
September 15, 2013, 19:01
I was thinking about either trying 20 ga, or setting up to load 12 ga. If you load your own, I think you can make 12 ga with about the same recoil as the common 20 ga rounds you see in Walmart and Academy.

When it's time to try 20, I will probably get the next 870 in 20 ga I see in the neighborhood place, or go to Walmart and a Maverick 88 in 20 ga.

gunplumber
September 15, 2013, 19:03
While I have no complaints about a Mossberg 500, the Maverick is significantly lower quality construction.

Mebsuta
September 15, 2013, 19:04
While I have no complaints about a Mossberg 500, the Maverick is significantly lower quality construction.

^ Okay thanks. They have 500s at Walmart in 20, so I'll think about that.

K. Funk
September 15, 2013, 19:36
I picked up a 20 Ga 870 with a short 18-1/2" barrel. I thought it would be pretty handy in the house and more manageable for use by my wife or 12 yr old son. I really like it. I found some 00 buck and some #4 for it, I still need to see how it patterns with the 00.

krf

kotengu
September 15, 2013, 22:23
I like it! I recently tried a 20ga 870 for a similar reason - my wife and daughter were scared of my 18 1/2" choke tubed 870 (that I love), but wanted to learn a shotgun.

My 15 year old daughter and I didn't notice much difference in perceived recoil between the 12 and the 20, but admittedly we only tried one type of birdshot.

Guy-epic
September 15, 2013, 22:46
Great info, I am in process of getting ready to build one for a friend as part of a trade. He is new to the gun world and his GF will use it as well. Thanks for the great review.

Timber Wolf
September 16, 2013, 08:07
Very interesting. I have an 870 Youth 20 guage laid back for the cub she-wolf, currently 10 years old and still just shooting .22. She is recoil and/or muzzle blast sensitive and although she is getting better she has not moved beyond .22 LR yet. I also traded into a sweet, sweet 1100 LW 20 Guage that is also laid back (along with a S&W 3913, S&W 14, Ruger MKII, Marlin 336 30-30, & SAR-2 with lots of ammo & mags) for her. I traded an older Ruger 7mm Mag on a brand new SP101 .22 at the show this past weekend supposedly for her, but she can't hardly even cock the dang stiff thing, let alone shoot it DA. Guess Dad will just have to shoot it for a while.:wink:

gunplumber
September 18, 2013, 09:16
Patterned it yesterday with Remington 20g #3 20 pellet buck shot. No particular reason for the choice, other than I had a bunch of it.

Started at 75 feet with slugs just to zero the track-lock sights.

http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020g-06.jpg
75 feet 7/20
http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020g-05.jpg
30 feet 18/20
http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020g-04.jpg
20 feet 19/20
http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/wp/rem87020g-03.jpg

Conclusion - cylinder bore 20 g #3 buck will put a world of hurt on anyone in the house. Past 25 yards, not so much.

Will test again next time with the choked 21"

Itchingforaninchpattern
September 19, 2013, 18:20
Gunplumber:
In regard to the mystery mag extension, did you get in contact with former Scattergun Tech. owner Roger Small to ask if he had any 20 gauge magazine extension tubes manufactured when he owned the business?
Did you try contacting Vang Comp as well?

DJ60
September 20, 2013, 10:52
I'm interested to see what the 870/20 with #4 will do with a Rem choke, as that is my wife's home defense gun (with a slug to bat cleanup). I've been wanting to experiment with penetration, too, ie. stacking up layers of drywall to see how many the shot will go through.

gunplumber
September 20, 2013, 11:01
I don't have any #4, but I'm retesting with #6.

I beginning think that the whole buckshot thing for indoors is overkill.

There is a relationship between cross section and penetration that differs from kenetic energy. If you consider the entire 7/8 oz payload as the determinant of kenetic energy, I wonder if a smaller pellet would penetrate an elastic media more so than a larger cross-section.

ppo84
September 20, 2013, 20:15
Got two of them. one with the short bbl and one with the 26". the shorty is my favorite. handy and still plenty of firepower. 3" #5 turkey loads will give good range and devastate soft stuff. never tried them on doors or walls. Turkey loads recoil heavier though.

zgunbear
September 20, 2013, 20:31
Gunplumber:
In regard to the mystery mag extension, did you get in contact with former Scattergun Tech. owner Roger Small to ask if he had any 20 gauge magazine extension tubes manufactured when he owned the business?
Did you try contacting Vang Comp as well?

I worked for Roger Small he only made 12 gauge extensions when I was there.

bulletslap
September 22, 2013, 11:19
IMO a 20 Gauge makes a fine "House Gun".

I picked up an old Remington Model 17 awhile back that was in good mechanical shape but needed a stock refinish and a re bluing. The Barrel had also been cut back to 20 Inches. I located a 26 inch Modified barrel for it, and another stock.

I am having it made up into a Hunting/Defense Package for my 13 year old Grandson. It is getting refinished, recheckered, and engraved with his name on the side of the receiver. The extra stock is being cut to a 13" LOP for use now for wingshooting; later on I can install the longer stock.

It should last him a lifetime as a Hunting and Defense Shotgun.

Itchingforaninchpattern
September 22, 2013, 16:26
zgunbear:
Do you remember the trench gun adapters that Scattergun Tech offered for sale in the late 1990's? They allowed an M7 or M9 bayonet to be mounted on the end of an extended magazine tube.
There was a trench gun model of the 870 (I think it was called the "Military", but don't remember) offered as well. I was always curious if Scattergun Tech manufactured the adapters, hired out for them, or if they got a bunch of them from Remington Arms.
I also wish I knew if there was any excess inventory of the adapters and where they went when they were discontinued.

Powderfinger
September 29, 2013, 23:36
I don't have any #4, but I'm retesting with #6.

I beginning think that the whole buckshot thing for indoors is overkill.

There is a relationship between cross section and penetration that differs from kenetic energy. If you consider the entire 7/8 oz payload as the determinant of kenetic energy, I wonder if a smaller pellet would penetrate an elastic media more so than a larger cross-section.

Please! save the bird shot for birds. At 15 feet, 20 Ga bird shot will penetrate a layer of denim and produce a nasty shallow wound of about 3" penetration in flesh. It comes no where near the 12" FBI recommended 12" minimum. and is not a man stopper.
Same with 12 Ga bird shot.
No LE agency or military unit uses bird shot for stopping bad guys because penetration stops bad guys, not kinetic energy.
The 20 Ga #3 buck will penetrate 12", (barely). It's in no way over kill for in the home defense.

The man at this link is highly respected for his findings. Check his 20 Ga test for the "truth."
http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot22.htm

He posts as Old_Painless in this thread.
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_1_5/1475603__ARCHIVED_THREAD____Does_Gunsite_still_tea ch_birdshot_for_home_defense_.html&page=1

Bottom line, no bird shot load meets the FBI minimum penetration in ballistic gelatin.
Can #7 birdshot kill you? Yes, in a small percentage of shootings. So can a .25 ACP. Neither is the best, most consistently reliable choice for a defensive load for immediately stopping a threat.

gunplumber
September 30, 2013, 09:57
I received a note from a police officer that asked me not to mention names or locations about this true event.

Which is a fancy way of saying it is a completely fabricated bullshit story. Cop killed makes the newspaper, it's not a double-secret probation.

Test was ok, for penetration - despite not testing like items. But I think the guy missed the point - nobody is disputing that 12g packs more punch than 20. The question is, is 20g sufficient for inside the house. His own testing proved it so.

W.E.G.
September 30, 2013, 11:26
An indoor weapon which requires two hands to operate is always a poor choice for person who is "intimidated by 12 gauge."

Guarantee they are out of the fight after they discharge it once indoors.

The .38 special is special for a reason.
It's the upper limit for most occupants of residential structures.

In the context of this 20 gauge idea, I'm not sure how "less-ineffective" can be construed as a positive.

gunplumber
September 30, 2013, 11:30
An indoor weapon which requires two hands to operate is always a poor choice for person who is "intimidated by 12 gauge."

Guarantee they are out of the fight after they discharge it once indoors.

The .38 special is special for a reason.
It's the upper limit for most occupants of residential structures.

In the context of this 20 gauge idea, I'm not sure how "less-ineffective" can be construed as a positive.

Your musings suggest that you believe it is easier for novice to hit a close target with a one-handed grip on a .38 revolver, than with a 2-handed grip on a 20g shotgun. If this is your belief, it contradicts a hundred years of firearms training. Long guns have always been easier to train than handguns.

Powderfinger
September 30, 2013, 22:42
I received a note from a police officer that asked me not to mention names or locations about this true event.

Which is a fancy way of saying it is a completely fabricated bullshit story. Cop killed makes the newspaper, it's not a double-secret probation.

Test was ok, for penetration - despite not testing like items. But I think the guy missed the point - nobody is disputing that 12g packs more punch than 20. The question is, is 20g sufficient for inside the house. His own testing proved it so.

That could be bullshit.
Regardless, no birdshot load (including 12 ga magnum turkey loads) meets minimum penetration in ballistic gel that the FBI recommends to incapacitate a deadly threat. The link to the Arfcom thread denounced birdshot as many other of those threads do when the subject comes up with regularity, with input from many knowlegeable members who denounce the idea with facts (and a link to a defensive shotgun ammo sticky that answers your questions also.)
http://www.ar15.com/content/page.html?id=176
The 20 Ga. #3 buck in your girl-child's shotgun will do the job.
20 Ga bird shot that penetrates only one gallon jug of water covered with 2 layers of cloth at 15' was a real world test that convinces me it lacks 12" penetation. Even the 12 Ga. bird shot failed, but that's an aside. I was mainly addressing your belief that 20 ga #3 buck was over kill and bird shot could be sufficient for home defense for a child's weapon.

I find it curious you used your famous critical reasoning and logic to cherry pick the "bullshit" story for comment and then chose to ignore good evidence and widely accepted truths that answered your questions about birdshot for defensive use.

Stoke her 20 with bird shot for home defense if you want to. I'd use #3 buck, though, if she truly would need to use deadly force.

"Test was ok, for penetration"
How so with bird shot? Water jug penetration is approx. double of ballistic gel, so the 20 ga. birdshot would penetrate about 3-4" in flesh.

There's a ton of google images of birdshot in gel out there too. Add a shirt and coat, a breastbone or ribs, and the penetration would be even less likely to hit vitals and quickly stop an intruder.

From the Box 0' Truth
Lessons learned:
1. As we have shown time and time again, birdshot is for little birds, not for bad guys. It makes a nasty, shallow wound, but is not a good "Stopper".

2. I was surprised by the penetration of the #3 Buckshot in the 20 gauge. It performed much better than I would have expected. I would not be too quick to discount Buckshot in a 20 Gauge for home defense.

gunplumber
October 01, 2013, 11:31
The 20 Ga. #3 buck in your girl-child's shotgun will do the job.
20 Ga bird shot that penetrates only one gallon jug of water covered with 2 layers of cloth at 15' was a real world test that convinces me it lacks 12" penetation. Even the 12 Ga. bird shot failed, but that's an aside. I was mainly addressing your belief that 20 ga #3 buck was over kill and bird shot could be sufficient for home defense for a child's weapon.

It is not a belief, it was a hypothesis for further testing, evaluating mass and velocity at ranges where the "payload" is still relatively dense.

I find it curious you used your famous critical reasoning and logic to cherry pick the "bullshit" story for comment and then chose to ignore good evidence and widely accepted truths that answered your questions about birdshot for defensive use.

I find it curious that your reading comprehension is so poor as to lead you to such conclusions. Not that I put "widely accepted" and "truth" in the same sentence - truth is truth regardless of its acceptance.


"Test was ok, for penetration"
How so with bird shot? Water jug penetration is approx. double of ballistic gel, so the 20 ga. birdshot would penetrate about 3-4" in flesh.

Now you're complaining that I accepted his penetration data as valid? I was only pointing out that he's commingling two tests. Caliber and gauge.

Powderfinger
October 01, 2013, 14:26
Mark,
I wasn't complaining. I read that as the test was valid to prove enough penetration in your view. My mistake.

I also said I was mainly addressing your thought that 3 buck was over kill and that 20 ga bird shot may be adequate. Any co-mingling of tests didn't affect what I specifically tried to address; your thoughts on the adequecy or 20 ga birdshot vs. buckshot for your daughter's home defense weapon.

Since you accepted his penetration data as valid, do you believe that 20 ga birdshot is a better choice over 20 ga #3 buck for stopping a lethal threat?

I don't and would be surprised if you do.

I have a single shot 20 ga. that the missus can handle quite well for a novice. #3 buck is what the butt stock shell holder contains for use on any coyotes that come calling. 2 legged or 4 legged varity.
I bought her a Saiga 20 for home defense some years back, but she never warmed up to it, so I applied the KISS principle.

She prefered the simplicity of the single shot that I have had for many years before over the mag fed semi-auto and has practiced quick follow up shots. Not recently though. Time to get her to the range again.

Ultimately, I would like to get her a youth 870 20 ga.

gunplumber
October 01, 2013, 15:44
Since you accepted his penetration data as valid, do you believe that 20 ga birdshot is a better choice over 20 ga #3 buck for stopping a lethal threat?

Yes, but the "penetration" issue is two-fold. There are some who favor the shotgun indoors because they believe that it has less penetration in building material, and therefore is safer for bystanders on the other side of a wall.

I suspect that #3 buck, while performing nice penetration in flesh, may be more than is needed. I was planning on testing #6 next - simply because I have a lot of it.

My first goal is to determine spread at distance with a cylinder bore 18". If spread is too great, then that suggests one needs either to keep the 21" with choke, or choose a different size shot.

I really don't care what 12g does. I don't own any, although I have about a dozen 20g right now. I've never disputed that 12g is more lethal than 20g. My goal is to determine the optimal set up for a Rem 870 20g youth for home defense - to see how much is enough.

I think I may duplicate his setup with the water jugs. I'd like to see the correlation between distance and penetration - my suspicion is that it will be something like 2x the distance = 1/4 of the penetration.

I am also pondering the terminal effect of a given mass at a given velocity, at a distance where the mass has not dissipated. That is, at point blank range, compare 1 oz of lead at 1000 fps (slug) to to 1 oz of lead (#3 buck) at 1000 fps, to 1 oz of lead (#7 shot) at 1000 fps.

It's all good - I have no pre-made conclusions to justify.

Mebsuta
October 02, 2013, 05:54
Are you talking about no. 6 bird for defense?

The military used to test cartridges on hogs to see if they would work. Maybe they still do, but don't say anything about it to the public.

I saw video of turkey hunter who didn't shoot any turkeys but ended up shooting a hog. I think he was using #6 bird and I think a turkey shotgun has a full choke. He killed the hog but it ran a little ways.

Not a hunter and don't know about fighting, but if you were close and shot someone in the face or throat with birdshot, it might take the fight out of them. Maybe in the knees would work too, although I guess they could drag themselves or roll after you or still shoot you if they were armed.

0302
October 03, 2013, 05:14
I have used a Remington model 17 20 gage, full choke barrel, for hunting small game as my favorite over the 12 gage since my youth. Out to about 10 yd it will tear up a jackrabbit or small game with any shot size so I wait until 20 yd or so to avoid ruining meat. At 3 yd and closer the wound to a jack or any critter is a bloody mess. My female cousin just bought an 870 20 gage youth model because she said it is very comfortable in her hands. Anyone who receives a 20 gage wound at typical room distance will be badly injured or killed. A while ago I had a kid shoot a dead jack at 10 ft to demo the effects of a 20 gage shotgun wound, blew guts all over the desert, kid about puked, it is not a sanitary kill like kids see on video games.

Timber Wolf
October 03, 2013, 07:56
I saw video of turkey hunter who didn't shoot any turkeys but ended up shooting a hog. I think he was using #6 bird and I think a turkey shotgun has a full choke. He killed the hog but it ran a little ways.

Cut shell?:wink: