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Old 09-18-2010, 11:50 AM   #1
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Shotgun springs

Ever get into a phase where you rediscover a past interest - like you go from rifles to handguns for a while - and then, back to rifles - then hey! I still have shotguns?!
Well, I've had a Remington 870 Express - and read about upgrades - like magazine and sear springs - and extractors. There seems to be a universal opinion the Express factory springs are "weak" - and the "police" springs should be substituted - and frankly, the cost is minimal and replacement not a hassle. The extractor may be another story - I haven't tried to replace one in an 870 - and again, it's the common argument of MIM parts vs. a tool steel after market or factory "police/Wingmaster" extractor.
I'm wondering if Remington Express springs are REALLY THAT BAD - or is most of the criticism originating from law enforcement agencies or individuals who leave the shotguns with their magazines stuffed to the gills and springs fully compressed for extended periods of time - like months or even a year? And, are the shotguns left cocked for that period of time and armorers find the springs are in question? It seemed to be a logical result of moderate "neglect" I've personally seen (dust and dead gnats in the barrel - and light rust). For some reason, shotguns don't always get the respect they deserve from certain LE agencies when it comes to bare bones maintenance. It's the brute officers often grab when things get lethal - so you'd think the scattergun would be treated like a prom date - or at least as well as the sidearm.
Also, is the Express MIM extractor THAT fragile - like peanut brittle - or are the forged steel extractors rarely if ever replaced for the life of the weapon?
All the above items are fairly inexpensive to replace - no argument there. I'm just trying to get the real story on the quality of factory Express parts. Thanks for any input!
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:59 AM   #2
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Re: Shotgun springs

First thing I'd do to answer your questions is go on the Numrich website and see if the factory part numbers for the Express, Police, and Wingmaster springs are the same or different. I'm guessing they'll be the same.
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Old 09-18-2010, 07:32 PM   #3
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Re: Shotgun springs

Remington uses the same 4 shot magazine spring in all guns except the Police model.
The Police model uses a heavy-duty spring both to prevent failures to feed under fast shooting and to prevent any issues with weak springs in guns that are cycled a lot.

What wears springs out is not leaving them loaded long term. What wears a spring is the constant cycling of the spring.
A materials engineer will tell you that leaving a spring under stress long term causes no failure of the spring. Constantly stressing and un-stressing a spring causes metal fatigue and weakening of the spring.
People often "rest" magazines by unloading them and using another magazine for a while.
They don't know that they're actually causing the springs in magazines to weaken from the constant stressing and un-stressing of the spring.
Many police departments mandate each watch unload a shotgun, inspect it, then reload it.
Each day, the gun's spring gets stressed and un-stressed three times. That wears the spring, and the Police model heavier spring lasts longer.

In the 870, if you operate the gun fast enough, you can get a situation where you're operating the slide while the gun is under stiff recoil of buckshot. In this situation, it's possible for the action to be attempting to feed a shell while inertia has pushed the shells forward in the magazine. With the shells forward, the gun fails to feed a round into the action before the bolt closes.
The heavier Police model magazine spring puts more tension on the shells and helps prevent this type of stoppage.

The only other Police model parts that are different are the heavier carrier dog (shell lifter) spring.
Again, under fast shooting, it's possible to "out run" the shell lifter and close the bolt before the lifter has time to raise the next shell into the feed position.
The heavier spring gives the lifter more "snap" so as to insure a clean feed.

The Police and the Wingmaster also have the machined extractor, while the Express has the MIM part.
I HAVE seen a couple of broken or chipped MIM Express extractors. These usually turn up soon after the gun is bought (factory defect) or in guns that have seen heavy use. Broken MIM Remington 870 extractors are actually rare, and more an internet legend.

The Police sear spring is heavier than the Express or Wingmaster spring. This is to give a heavier trigger pull and help reduce the chance of a nervous trigger finger blowing someone away by accident.
Unless you WANT a heavier trigger pull, this is not something you'd want or need to replace.

So, just on general principles you may want to replace the extractor, carrier dog spring, and the magazine spring on the standard 4 shot magazine models, but only if you intend to practice with the gun until you can literally out-run the magazine spring.
Extractor replacement is easy and requires only a small pocket size type screwdriver to pull the extractor plunger back so the extractor can be slipped out.,
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:28 AM   #4
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Re: Shotgun springs

Thank you Snake45 and dfariswheel!!! That info helps clarify things. I wonder how many guys can competently operate their 870 shotguns so fast they experience a failure to chamber due to the recoil cycle - and are still able to keep the buckshot and slugs on target?
So, the more times you compress the springs and release tension is the real culprit that weakens springs. (like bedsprings - but that's another subject from another era!)
I wondered if MIM extractors were decent. I know MIM parts get bad press - I just had never seen one fail as yet. And call me naive, but I couldn't see Remington putting out junk parts on a large scale - the occasional faulty part still being tthe exception rather than the rule.
Anyway, good information!
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:12 AM   #5
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Re: Shotgun springs

Quote:
I know MIM parts get bad press - I just had never seen one fail as yet. And call me naive, but I couldn't see Remington putting out junk parts on a large scale - the occasional faulty part still being tthe exception rather than the rule
Actually Remington was one of the pioneers of MIM and have been doing it since the 1940s.

I think a lot of the bad press is an example of the resistance to change seen so much in the gun business. And perhaps an unwillingness to learn by people who believe rumor and bad press.

I have seen a couple of MIM parts fail and there may be a little voodoo in the process, but when they are made well my guess is that the failure rate is about the same as for a machined part.
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