The Remington 870 debuted in 1950, and today’s gun is an early 870, dating back to the time the gun was offered in two grades—the AP with its ringed forearm and the more decorated ADL. This gun is a well-used AP. Production of AP models ceased in 1963.
As I have mentioned before, the 870 was actually built on a 16-gauge 11-48 frame, making the early guns quite light, especially since they had plain barrels. Therefore all 12 gauges in the early days came with a Vari-Weight steel plug that fit into the magazine tube and added 13 ounces to the gun and increased its weight-forward balance. The Vari-Weight was discontinued in the early ’60s.
Dewman’s 870 AP
This gun came to me recently from my longtime neighbors, Harold and Sarah. Harold was in his late 80s or maybe 90 when he passed in February. This old 1957 Wingmaster was the only gun he ever owned. He hunted turkeys, for which he made all his own calls; squirrels of course (this is south central Missouri); and for years quail—even with a Full choke. “You just gotta shoot them out yonder,” he would say. He cut the barrel back and threaded it for a Colonial Full choke and added a decelerator pad after joining NWTF and being, as he put it, “Brainwashed by their magazine.” He loved quail first. He talked often of jumping 50 birds in a day, more if you were “shooting wide,” as he would say. He couldn’t believe it when the quail went away. When he found out I had a slug barrel that would fit an 870, he started borrowing it a couple days before the season opened and would return it after the first couple days in. Sometimes he took a deer, sometimes not. We would sit on each other’s porches and talk hunting for hours. Both of his sons died of cancer in their 40s, so I was his ear and occasional squirrel-hunting partner. He preferred hunting turkeys alone. Sarah brought me his 870 at the end of March as she didn’t want it left around. I wish I would’ve asked Harold how he knocked a chunk out of the stock right behind the safety.
RELATED: Blast from the Past: Remington 11-48
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