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Ohio National Guard Remington M870 Shotgun

By Luis Valdes from www.newwavefirearms.com

The Remington 870 is one of the best, most popular pump action shotguns ever designed. With over 11 million of them built since 1950, this shotgun has seen service across the globe as a personal defense weapon, backwoods hunting gun, clay buster, law enforcement tool, and even as a war machine. While military-configured model 870s are some of the most sought-after versions, sadly, very few have ever been surplussed.

According to Bruce N. Canfield’s fantastic book, Complete Guide to U.S. Military Combat Shotguns, the Remington 870 started its career as a military combat weapon in the 1960s. The U.S. Marine Corps was looking for a new shotgun to replace their WWII-era Winchester Model 1897s and 1912s. In 1969, Remington Arms answered the call with the 870 Mark 1.

Remington 870 Mark 1 courtesy of The World’s Fighting Shotguns by Thomas F. Swearengen

The Mark 1 is a Remington Model 870 Wingmaster with a 21-inch barrel fitted with a special bayonet adapter for the M16’s M7 bayonet, and rifle-style front and rear sight combo. It came with an extended magazine tube with an 8-round capacity and sling swivels to use the then standard OD Green Cotton Canvas M14 sling. A total of 3,230 Mark 1 shotguns were delivered and saw combat towards the end of the Vietnam War in May 1975 during the Mayaguez crisis.

Additionally, a “riot” configuration of the 870 Mark 1 was developed by Remington for additional sales and sold as the M870. The 21-inch barrel was replaced with a standard 20-inch cylinder bore tube and the iron sights were replaced by the classic bead sight.

A shorter handguard on the police contract guns was used instead of the longer one on the Mark 1. The iconic bayonet adapter of course was used. Various branches of the services purchased these guns, most notably the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and a number of state National Guards.

U.S. Navy marked 870

USAFR SSGT Westlake, 39th Operations Support Squadron with 870 12ga loaded with pyrotechnical shells as part of the Bird and Strike Hazard (BASH) program at Incirlik AB, Turkey, June 2002.

Few if any of these shotguns have ever been released on the civilian market as surplus and parts to build reproductions are hard to find and expensive.

Until now that is. A total of 1,286 Remington 870 shotguns originally ordered by the Ohio National Guard were sold as surplus by Sportsman’s Outdoors Superstore.

The sale was possible because these shotguns were purchased by the state of Ohio for issuance to the Ohio National Guard rather than the Department of Defense. These shotguns were state property and the deal was negotiated because the ONG transferred them to the Ohio Department of Corrections which acted as the agency surplussing these shotguns to the vendor.

These shotguns were ordered by Ohio National Guard in 1971 and used for state service until just recently. Most of the time, they were used for training and weapons qualification.

Cpl. Perry Cossey, teaches soldiers how to properly load during the Shotgun Qualification Range at Camp Perry, Ohio. May 2006

Spc. Brian Johnson, loads his 870 on the shotgun qualification range at Camp Perry, Ohio. May 2006

There are two famous incidents where these 870s were put to use.

The first is the 1993 Lucasville Prison Riot. For 11 days, starting on April 11 (Easter Sunday), 450 prisoners formed an unlikely alliance between prison gangs like the Gangster Disciples, Muslims, and Aryan Brotherhood. They rioted and took over the facility.

A total of nine inmates and one correctional officer were killed. Ohio Governor George Voinovich ordered the National Guard to assist the State Police in securing the prison perimeter to prevent escapes and take direct action if needed.

Summer 1993 issue of Buckeye GUARD

You can read the entire report from the Ohio National Guard’s magazine by clicking here.

The other famous incident in which these shotguns saw deployment was 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The Ohio National Guard was deployed under state orders by Ohio Governor Bob Taft and to Louisiana to take part in recovery efforts. As such, the Ohio National Guard took part in restoring law and order and wasn’t restrained by the Posse Comitatus Act, even though they were outside of their state’s borders.

Robert Faulcon, New Orleans Police stands next to Sgt. Jacob Tracey, a Scout from Bellfontaine, Ohio with Headquarters Company, 1st of the 148th Infantry Regiment, Ohio Army National Guard. Soldiers and Officers were working to restore law and order with integrated patrols.

Soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st of the 148th Infantry were the first out-of-state Soldiers to assist in the evacuation of the Louisiana Superdome.

Soldiers of Company D, 1st of the 148th Infantry Regiment, Ohio Army National Guard make their way around one of the many washed out areas in a North Eastern portions of New Orleans. The Soldiers were performing search and rescue operations as part of Operation Katrina.

Ohio Army National Guard on patrol in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

If you’d like to read the direct recounting of events that the ONG took during Hurricane Katrina., click here for the December 2005 issue of Buckeye GUARD.

These guns played a small, but important role in the Ohio National Guard’s history and are one of the few legit military contract Remington 870s ever released to the civilian market. Combat shotguns are a hugely popular subculture in collector circles, but actually have a smaller pool of guns due to smaller orders placed during government procurement since combat shotguns aren’t primary combat weapons. Original Winchester 1897s and 1912s from WWI and WWII are hard enough to find and Vietnam era Ithaca M37s are even more scarce.

As mentioned earlier, to my knowledge, no Remington 870 Mark 1 has ever been sold surplus and very few M870 shotguns have been.

The Mossberg 500/590 series of shotguns is the most commonly encountered shotgun in military service at the moment. And when everyone thinks of the Mossberg combat shotgun, they of course think of this:

The classic Mossberg 590A1. But to put this in perspective, the original procurement specifications called for three types of shotguns.

The Type 1 called for the classic trench gun configuration. That meant a heat shield and the ability to mount a bayonet. Only about 1,000 were ever ordered in that configuration and the majority of them were went to U.S. Marine Embassy Security detachments.

The majority of Mossbergs in service are the Type II. These are either 18-inch or 20-inch barrel length 500s or 590s. A few were made for the Navy with 17-inch barrels, but none of these have the ability to take a bayonet.

The Type IIIs were another specific design request that has never been ordered. So right now the majority of shotguns in service are basic commercial configurations that are no different than you can find in Walmart or Bass Pro Shops. Luckily, even though the Type I-configured Mossbergs might be small in number in official military service, Mossberg provides them commercially to this day. Remington never did that with the Remington M870.

So one of the last specific military designed combat shotguns with an actual history of military use has been released to the market and I was lucky enough to get my hands one on.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 when we’ll go over in detail the Ohio National Guard M870 Combat Shotgun.

Ky Squirrel Hunting 2020

Season started this past Saturday and it’s already turning out to be a big year for squirrel. Saturday evening I wasn’t even in the hills for 20 minutes before I shot two. The “new” Model 31 in 12 gauge proving to be just as good as my sweet 16 Model 31. Above you can see a hickory tree just to the left with the O shape in the trunk. It’s always a reliable place for getting at least 1 sqwack a day from it.

A major storm rained me out Saturday so I called it an evening after a couple of hours.

Sunday I was back in the same area and got 2 more.

The Winchester Model 1300: The Forgotten Shotgun

By Luis Valdes

The Model 1300 Shotgun, the final Winchester shotgun from the fabled gun valley of Connecticut.

In the the 1950s, Winchester was doing fairly well with the post war economic boom. American Suburbia was growing and men and boys now had leisure time. Hunting went from a necessity to sport and the company’s flagship, the Model 12 was selling like hotcakes.

Except Remington entered the field with the incredible Model 870 Shotgun and undercutted the Winchester in production costs while still maintaining quality.

By the 1960s, with the rising cost of skilled labor was making it increasingly unprofitable to produce Winchester’s classic designs, as they required considerable hand-work to finish involving machined forgings. Winchester could no longer compete in price with Remington’s cast-and-stamped Model 870 . So in the early 1960s; S. K. Janson had a new Winchester design group be formed to to advance the use of “modern” engineering design methods and manufacturing principles in gun design.

The result was a new line of guns which replaced most of the older products in 1964. The immediate reaction of the shooting press and public was overwhelmingly negative: the popular verdict was that Winchester had sacrificed quality to the “cheapness experts,” and Winchester was no longer considered to be a prestige brand, causing a marked loss of market share.

But all was not lost in 1964. One of the new designs to replace the classic Model 12 was the Model 1200 introduced in 1965.

The Model 1200 was doing well and became popular as a field and police shotgun. While not achieving the sales figures of the Remington Model 870. The Model 1200 was popular as a “2nd Place” shotgun and was known for it’s quality and lightweight handling due to its aluminium receiver.

But by 1979-1980, labor costs continued to rise and there was a prolonged strike that ultimately convinced Olin that firearms could no longer be produced profitably in New Haven, Connecticut. On December 1980, the New Haven plant was sold to its employees, incorporated as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, and granted a license to make Winchester arms. The Winchester ammunition side of the business was retained by Olin. In 1989, U.S. Repeating Arms itself went bankrupt and it was acquired by a French holding company who then sold to Belgian gun company; Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (parent company of FN and Browning Arms Company).

With the new ownership and reorganization; FN allowed U.S. Repeating Arms Company to continue to produce firearms under license at the New Haven Plant and during this time. The Model 1300 was born. An updated design of the Model 1200. One of the biggest differences you might ask? The chamber was lengthened to accommodate 3″ shells.

Winchester always claimed that the 1300, which they nicknamed the “Speed Pump” was a faster design than what Remington and Mossberg offered in their designs, and I can actually agree. According to the manual; after the shotgun is fired, the locking lugs of the rotary bolt begin disengaging from the barrel extension and the recoil forces assist the slide in moving rearward. You can actually see this when you hold up a empty unloaded Model 1300 muzzle up. The shotgun unlock itself.

A Mossberg needs 6lbs and a Remington requires 2lbsof force to begin moving the slide rearward. While cycling forward a Model 1300 needs 7lbs of force, while a Mossberg needs 9lbs and a Remington needs 6lbs.

Winchester made a ton of different variants of the Model 1300 from fancy Marine Coated guns for boats to basic hunting guns and capable defensive police shotguns. I personally have an 8 Shot Speed Pump Defender variant (SKU number 512104308).

Yup, that’s an actual screen capture from Winchester website back in 2005.

In my opinion, my Model 1300 handles well. The length of pull if fantastic with the factory stock, the gun is light in weight, and the gun lives up to the “Speed Pump” name. It

While I carried a Remington Model 870 as my “police shotgun” for the vast majority of my career. That was mostly due to two reasons. One, my former agencies only allowed personally owned shotguns to be Remingtons. And two, I didn’t own a Winchester yet.

I purchased my Model 1300 used from a pawn shop in Arizona selling it on Gunbroker for $289 back in 2014. It came with a Tac-Star brand side saddle and was in great condition.

It has served as a home defense gun and spent many a day in the truck and tent when camping in Tate’s Hell State Forest and it is a hoot to shoot with mini-shells.

Mine fits 11+1 and needs no modifications to work, unlike the adapter needed for the Mossberg 500/590.

Alas, while mine has had a well loved life while under my roof. For Winchester itself, as the years wore on. Winchester lost market share while Mossberg continued to gain. By January 16, 2006, the U.S. Repeating Arms announced it was closing its New Haven plant where Winchester rifles and shotguns had been produced for 140 years. Along with the closing of the plant, production of the Model 94 rifle, Model 70 rifle and of course the Model 1300 shotgun were discontinued.

The official press release sent out by U.S. Repeating Arms concerning the closure was released January 17, 2006.

U.S. Repeating Arms Company To Close New Haven, CT Facility U.S. Repeating Arms Company, maker of Winchester brand rifles and shotguns will close its New Haven, Connecticut manufacturing facility. Many efforts were made to improve profitability at the manufacturing facility in New Haven, and the decision was made after exhausting all available options.

Effective March 31, 2006, the New Haven manufacturing facility will stop manufacturing the Winchester Model 70, Model 94 and Model 1300.

Winchester Firearms will continue to sell and grow its current line of Select Over and Under shotguns, the new Super X3 autoloading shotgun, the new Super X autoloading rifle and Limited Edition rifles. The company also plans to introduce new models in the future. There will be no change in Customer Service.

This action is a realignment of resources to make Winchester Firearms a stronger, more viable organization. Winchester Firearms plans to continue the great Winchester legacy and is very excited about the future.

While FN kept the Winchester name in and guns like the Model 70 and Model 94 production. The New Haven Plant did shutdown and the Model 1300 did see an end of production. A bastard variant has been released, the Model SXP. Which is made in Turkey and a number of parts from the Model 1300 don’t interchange.

In the end, I’m glad I have a legit US made Model 1300 in my stable of shotguns and that it is as reliable as my Remington 870, Browning BPS, and Mossberg 590 along with the others in the collection.

The Winchester Model 1300 was and is in my opinion a capable shotgun and while they aren’t made anymore and they don’t and didn’t have as big of a market share. They’re damn good shotguns and if you run across one in good condition for a good price. Don’t let it go.

Upgrading the military shotgun – Part 4 – Stock and Sling mount

Part 1 HERE.
Part 2 HERE.
Part 3 HERE.

We started with the old M500M, pretty much a 6 shot Mossberg 590 shotgun.

Your generic riot gun. We made a few changes, but it is time to make the most often made change in military shotguns. A pistol grip.

Pistol grip only shotguns sell fairly well in the civilian world. All manner or cheap M500s, Maverick 88 Persuaders, and the like are sold to ignorant novices looking for a home defense gun. Experts and experienced gun owners tend to scoff at this as people tend to shoot pistol grip only shotguns very poorly.

USMC Breacher with pistol grip shotgun

In the above picture of a “SEAL Armory” you see two military M500 shotguns that have been retrofitted with pistol grips. They don’t even have the same model pistol grip on them. It makes me think these were retrofitted at different times.

So why would the miltiary be retrofitting these shotguns to pistol grip only if pistol grip only is considered so terrible in the civilian world?

Simple answer, these are now a breaching tool, not an offensive weapon system.

The full sized shotgun was intended by the military to be a proper weapon system. But our modern combat now often requires breaching locks. Shotguns excel at that, so the military pump shotgun has primarly become a breaching tool.

There was another picture I wanted to share but for the life of me I can’t find it. It clearly showed an individual with a carbine, shotgun, and pistol. The shotgun was clearly just an additional piece of equipment for breaching, not intended as a combat weapon as he already had a rifle and pistol.

Breaching with a full size standard shotgun sucks. So going to the pistol grip makes it a great deal handier.

With the M500A2 MEK, the military went with the Mossberg FLEX system. I am told that the Flex system was developed at the request of the miltiary. Previous systems required tools to change stocks and/or had issues breaking.

Direct from Mossberg you can buy a Flex stock adapter, or a kit that includes the pistol grip. I opted to get the kit with the grip as it is cheaper than buying it seperately.

Inside you would find the adapter that attaches to the receiver, and a grip that slides on to it.

The miltiary also adds a sling mount plate. In this case an Ergo sling mount. This took me a long time to get as everywhere was out of stock. I ordered from Optics Planet that said they would ship it in a week and after a month I cancelled my order with them. I found one for sale by an individual online, bought it, and USPS decided to give it a tour of the US. But I finally got it.

The Ergo sling mount is machined from aluminum and has loops on each side allowing for ambidextrous use.

I had expected this sling mount to be thin stamped steel. I was rather surprised that it was a 1/4 inch thick aluminum.

When I went to assemble everything. I found that the bolt included with the Flex adaptor had greatly reduced thread engagement due to the 1/4 inch thick sling plate. While it likely would have been fine, I was worried about it pulling out under recoil and damaging my receiver. So I bought a longer bolt from the hardware store. (With my luck, it will probably be this replacement bolt that snaps in half and screws me over).

A quarter inch longer socket head screw from the local hardware store.

The Flex adapter bolts on to the receiver, and uses a belleville washer. You torque it to about 12.5 lbs/ft. Which isn’t really that much.

Then the locking mechanism is slid in from the top and a split pin holds that in place. It is fast and easy to install.

A tapered splined interface connects the Flex adapter on the receiver and the stocks or grips. I found this was very tight and secure. So tight I had to use a mallet or screwdriver to install or pry-apart the stock from the receiver. I would not call this quick change. I don’t know if it will loosen up with use, I just hope it doesn’t become sloppy and loose.

The end result

One thing I don’t like is how thick that Ergo sling plate is. It moves the grip 1/4 inch farther back from the trigger. I found I had to stretch my trigger finger to reach that trigger. But shooting was just fine. I also don’t like how much harder it is to hit the slide release on the left side of the gun while a pistol grip is installed.

I had to use a mallet to switch between a stock and the pistol grip.

By pulling up on the latch on the Flex adapter, turning it 90 degrees, then spending 5 minutes hitting things with a rubber mallet, I could switch between a collapsible stock and the grip.

The Flex stock is purchased by it self, not including the adapter that needs to be mounted on the receiver.

Now Mossberg offered a similar unit that attaches directly to the receiver. I just happened to have one around(not that I wanted it, I sold it after taking these pictures).

Flex left, direct attach right
Direct attach left, flex right.

The older style direct attach unit that screws to the receiver does not let you removed the trigger group on the Mossberg when it is installed. To completely disassemble the gun, you would have to unscrew a set screw, remove the AR15 style stock, unbolt the adapter, then you could fieldstrip the shotgun. That is terrible in my opinion. It has a longer length of pull. It appears to use a commercial spec receiver extension but I did not double check that. Neither stock could interchange on these two.

The direct attach model also was blockier in profile up near the top of the grip. I wonder if that would make it less pleasant against the webbing of your hand while shooting. But I didn’t try using it. I’ve also read that with these units if you removed the stock and attempt to use them pistol grip only they would sometimes break the attachment bolt. I don’t know if they mean the bolt attaching it to the receiver, or the bolt attaching the grip to the adapter.

I only fired a handful of shots with the pistol grip only, then with the collapsing stock. I had expected the pistol grip to be uncomfortable as it is hard plastic. Surprisingly (to me) it wasn’t unpleasent, but it wasn’t something I would want to shoot a great deal.

The collapsing stock with pistol grip also makes the slide release harder to hit. I was expecting to notice a great deal of difference while shooting it at different lengths, but I didn’t really notice much.

Personally, I’ll likely end up picking up the Flex quick detach standard stock for this someday and mainly use that.

The work and modifications are complete. I’ll talk a little about the history and though process of the “Military Enhancement Kit” in the upcoming last part.