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The Model 31 Remington

When I was young. all of my shotgun use was with the M870 and the M1100/11-87. Always in 12ga. When I was 23 and was working for Brady ( famous already to long time readers) I walked in one morning and Brady had a shotgun apart and was carefully polishing some internal parts and cleaning. I asked what it was and as he was wont to do, he spent the next 3 hours lecturing me on the finest factory pump action shotgun made, how it worked and converted me to a true believer to the 16ga for sporting/hunting use. Once the gun as together, he handed it to me, told me to point the muzzle straight up and hit the bolt release. I did as he said and the action slide open on its own from the weight. The action of the 31 is so slick it almost operates itself. You could say this made an impression on me. After that Day I didn’t rest until I was able to have my own. After a long hunt for a 31 in 16guage with a full choke barrel, Brady himself came through for me. When a relative died and Brady was entrusted with selling off his gun collection for the widow, Brady came across just want I wanted and called me up. I have had it since.


The Remington Model 31 was brought out by Remington to replace the model 17 and a few other older models in 1931. During this time it competed with the much more well known, ( famous) Winchester model 12.

The model 31 suffered from being introduce at one of the lowest points of the great depression. Bad timing for a gun that was a high quality forearms with high production costs. At the time, the 31 cost $48.95. It’s amazing any sold at all during those years.

” Remington discontinued the M31 in 1949 after a total production of 189,243 units of which 21.3 percent were in 16-gauge and 16.5 percent in 20-gauge. During the same period Winchester produced 588,000 M12s. Interestingly, the M31 pulled within 12,000 units of annual production versus the Model 12 in the year it was discontinued.

The M31 was discontinued for the same reason the Winchester M12 was dropped 14 years later — production cost was too high and profit margins too low. The two guns, which represented the pump-action’s pinnacle of design, craftsmanship, function and beauty, were dropped in favor of more easily manufactured and more profitable designs. Remington’s status as a dark horse was to change in 1950 with the introduction of the successor to the M31. The Remington Model 870 would soon leave Winchester and the M12 in the dust. “
– Billy Marable

You can’t argue with the success of the M870. I doubt there is any other shotgun that has had the numbers produced as the 870. I still recommend the 870 to people wanting to buy a do everything working gun. If you have a need for a shotgun, the 870 will make a version for you. But it’s no Model 31 in craftsmanship, quality and smoothness.

The Model 31 is just slick. Slick as snot on the pumphouse door. It’s shorter travel and single action bar makes it feel like it doesn’t have to move 1 inch and when it is moving it feels like its on greased ball bearings. ” It has a lighter stroke than Winchester’s M12 or the Remington’s M870, which replaced it. The stroke on the M31 is the shortest of the three at 3-1/2″ inches compared to 3-3/4″ for the M12 and 3-7/8″ for the M870. “

My Model 31 in 16 Ga. with 2 victims

The action of the Model 31 was used for the basis for the Ithaca Model 37 and the Mossberg 500, Bother cheaper more simplified versions of the 31 action. You can see the family resemblance to the 500 series when looking at the bolt of the Model 31. The Mossberg is simplified and cheaper to produce. Notable differences are the use of a two-piece bolt with separate locking piece as well as a significantly simplified barrel mounting system. Further, the bolt locks into a barrel extension rather than directly to the receiver. Resemblance aside, neither has the smooth action of the Model 31. If only Remington still made them like that…

As you can see mine is well worn and used but still works perfectly. It’s honestly the only shotgun I care to use. I am a fan of the Winchester Model 97 and there are a couple here and there i think are fine, But for actual use int he woods for hunting, All I want is the Model 31, If you had one you’d agree. The 16ga model in particular. Using the same receiver as the 20ga, it is very light and handy. The 26inch barrel is just right and its balance is perfect. The 16 ga. gives me nearly the same performance of the 12 but with none of the recoil. You can shoot it and carry it all day over the mountains and not get tired or beat up. If you run across one in working shape I can’t recommend it enough.

5 thoughts on “The Model 31 Remington”

  1. As much as I love Model 12’s, I really like the ruggedness of the Model 31. It’s a hell-for-stout design, and they were nicely finished.

    Sometime, we ought do an article on the Remington Model 32 – I would love to tell the tale of how Remington let that one get away, and the lesson it serves for American gun makers.

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  2. I’ll keep my eyes open for a model 31, 16 gauge isn’t popular In California which might help with the price.
    It might amuse you to know that I bought a Clark “Squirrel Special” a little more than 20 years ago and I have never used it to kill a squirrel, many species are protected here in CA so they are off limits.
    I have killed 5 deer with it, a good friend had a vineyard for years and when he couldn’t chase them out he’d get a depredation permit and give me a call.
    Four one shot kills, one took two shots.
    It’s the most accurate rifle I own, from a rest it will put 10 rounds of federal bulk in a hole you can cover with a dime at 50 yards.

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  3. My love for the Model 12 is well documented. But I’d very much like a Model 31. I love all the pre war/inter war American sporting shotguns. I shoot long guns left handed, so I use an Ithaca 37 Featherweight for most things.

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  4. Does anyone know a lot about barrel changeability on a 20 guage model 31??
    Just had some questions as to why they may or may not interchange, head space issues if they do & so forth…… thanks for any information…….

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  5. When I was 16 or 17, one of my dad’s friends came over and had a Remington M31. Asked me if I wanted it. I picked it up, worked the action, and asked how much. Bought it for $160.00 cash. My son just shot it at clay pigeons, and loves that gun. For me, I like it as something I purchased with my own hard earned money. A piece of history, of the gun, myself, and my Dad.
    I didn’t know anything about the gun, except it was 2 3/4 inch, it went bang, and doves fell. Haven’tt shot it all that much, lately, and I won’t sell it. I tell people I don’t sell guns, I buy them. I don’t collect them either, I use them all once in a while. Mayne I’ll pass it down to my boy, since he loves it so much. Maybe I’ll sell it to him for $160.00. He can spend his his hard earned cash can get him a piece of history, and something he loves as well. Heck, maybe he will even think of me when i’m gone. Anyway, it was a good purchase for me.

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