WILSON COMBAT 870 12GA

Born-again Remington pumpgun is ready for patrol!

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“You can put lipstick on a pig,” said a candidate for political office, “but it’s still a pig!” We’ve tried to put lipstick on the proverbial pig, the police shotgun, for many years. But the military did it before we did so we stole the idea from them.

sheriff.gifWe’re responsible for each and every projectile that is fired from the muzzle of the fighting shotgun over which we exert control. Precision is required. At the same time, the gun has to work in confined space engagements. The gun has to fit the biggest shooter on the squad as well as the smallest, whether the shooter is wearing no armor, wearing concealable body armor or wearing a “rifle vest.” Current makers and re-makers of combat shotguns work on the concept and continue to refine it.

In the 1990s, a company called Scattergun Technologies advertised themselves as an outfit that would take in your used and battered Remington 870 and render it good as new, actually reconditioned. I had one such shotgun done. It was subject of an article. The department armorer at my department saw the work and sent one of the company shotguns off to Nashville for their “Remington Steal.” It came back just like new. Since then, Wilson Combat purchased Scattergun Technologies (now Wilson Combat & Scattergun Technologies). I sent my previously reconditioned 870 to Berryville for an exam and a refinish in O.D. Armor-Tuff. That was the subject of another article.

The original Scattergun Technologies advertised a number of models of customized Remington shotguns for law enforcement and for action shooting sports, but the emphasis was law enforcement. Since then, the Arkansas rendition of Scattergun Technologies also makes a number of different versions of the combat shotgun based on their Standard Model, Border Patrol Model, Professional Model and the Remington Steal.

Standard Scattergun Technologies 870 shotguns had adjustable rear sights in the ghost-ring style. Called the TRAK-LOCK II, they feature a large, thin-rimmed aperture. A neat thing about the current version of the TRAK-LOCK II aperture is a small tritium vial at 3 o’clock and another at 9 o’clock. Center the front tritium vial (the front sight is a blade) with tritium atop a ramp between the two rear glowing dots and you have a good low-light sight picture. 

Many or most have magazine extensions, letting you carry more rounds in the gun. They are often equipped with receiver-side polymer shell loops. They tend to work well in carrying spare ammo, assuming the unit is properly installed. Some of the guns have the SureFire Fore-end. White light is a good thing on a long gun; it helps identify potential targets and prevent tragedies. A large-head safety button is usually present as is a high-visibility magazine follower. 

Typically, Wilson Combat will coat the finished product with their Armor-Tuff finish. Having had lots of experience with Armor-Tuff, I find that it keeps the gun protected and rust-free. What else would anyone need? Wilson’s sales manager, John May, left the topic open. If you could try anything on a fighting shotgun, where would you go?

Add-On Extras
The first change was something that’s been going around. An accessory rail, the MIL-STD-1913, was installed along the receiver top ahead of the TRAK-LOCK II rear sight. Most often, long gun tops are graced with optics. May wasn’t initially interested in glass on a fighting shotgun until he tried the Aimpoint Micro T-1. 

The Micro T-1 has been around for some time, but it’s still a front burner optic. Battery life is extensive. The dot can be intensified to the point it flares and backed off to the invisible. The sight is about the size of a “D” cell battery.

The T-1 runs on a single 3-volt lithium battery, the CR2032. This cell is broadly available. The battery lasts for more than five years of continuous use at position 8 of 12 possible settings. Weighing in at 3.7 ounces including the mount, it’s a non-magnifying optic. The dot is 4-MOA. This optic is also submersible to 80 feet. 

Protective caps cover the windage and elevation screws. These caps have projections that fit into holes on the adjustment screws. Turn the screw with the cap, reverse it and replace it in its protective position. It’s quite a scope. I’ve used one for around a year and I like it a great deal.

Compact and powerful, it’s clear and durable as well. We can’t fall back to the iron sights if the optic fails, the receiver’s high and the rail can only be so thin. As far as the Micro T-1 failing, I’m putting my money on Aimpoint. It can be removed quickly, or if the threat is extremely close just center the ring of the optic onto the threat and press the trigger. If the optic fails and the distance is longer, pull the glass off.

An AR-style six-position collapsible butt stock, by TAPCO, is on board. A rubber M4 buttpad from ArmsTech LLC cushions the blow. I imagine that the adapter that allows the collapsible stock on a shotgun is also from ArmsTech.

A two-point tactical sling was provided and is from Scattergun Technologies. There is a side loop on the butt stock and another at the magazine extension. The SureFire WeaponLight Fore-end is the 6-volt unit.

The pistol grip part is ERGO’s fine AR pistol grip. The receiver-side spare ammo carrier is the new unit by Mesa Tactical. Made from aluminum with positive shell stops (a rubbery-feeling pad about midway down inside each shell loop) and an open space to allow you to see the gun’s serial number without removing the SureShell, the Mesa unit is an interesting alternative. I’ll be doing more work with them soon. 

The gun looks weird. How does it shoot? 

Range Time
In a word, my rebuilt 870 shoots just like a Wilson Combat gun should shoot. Three slugs from CCI, the Lawman line, thumps into a small group from 50 yards. Buckshot stays easily in the center of a full-size police silhouette target from 15 yards. Nine times out of 10, every pellet is inside the silhouette at 25 yards. 

Response Team member, Watch Commander and Firearms Instructor, Chuck Haggard, gave the Wilson Combat 870 a workout. He shook his head when he saw the Micro T-1 atop the 870. He’s a fan of that particular optic but saw that it blocks the TRAK-LOCK II rear sight. 

Loading up with birdshot, he hammered out some speed drills on steel targets. Soon he was nodding his head. “Fast,” he noted. “Very fast.” He worked with feeding the gun from the Mesa Tactical SureShell unit. “That works well.”

It took a few evolutions before he short-stroked the action. Looking over, he said, “It’s smooth. I’m used to pump guns with some grit, resistance. When I didn’t feel the slow-down, I stopped.”

Haggard worked with some buckshot. He noted that the ring at the front of the adjusting slide part of the 6-position collapsible stock busted him in the jaw when shooting buckshot and slugs. I took the gun and worked with it.

With the optic in place, Haggard targeted parts of the silhouette target since this was an IALEFI-Q (International Association Of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors) target that had an anatomical photo of a man with a gun, also he could select the upper leg, a hand, etc. “We do lots of force-on-force simulations and find that, when people make poor use of cover, opponents shoot what they can see. We get lots of hits on the guns, in the hands.”

So it’s precision shooting at just what you can see and the Wilson Combat/Scattergun Technologies 870 is capable of taking those shots. “Nine pellets of 00 buckshot hitting someone’s hand when they’re shooting at you from around cover,” Haggard started and then shook his head. 

Final Notes
Between us, we shot quite a few rounds out of the new 870 shotgun. I didn’t shoot it off the bench with slugs, but shooting off-hand from 50 yards easily kept all the big slugs in the center of the silhouette target I was using. At 25 yards, it was no chore to make headshots with slugs.

With the right loads, 00 buck stayed in the silhouette at 25 yards. With others, only one or two pellets would fly astray, an ammunition issue. The action was slick and smooth. The trigger was at least as clean and crisp as any I’ve ever tried on a shotgun.

As a concept gun, it’s very interesting. I’d like to find a way to have back-up iron sights instantly available. It’s what I’ve come to expect from Wilson Combat. It’s high quality, reliable and innovative.