Déjà vu took a funky twist that warm March morning in Texas. With my back wedged against a broad live oak and a camo shotgun resting on my left knee, my eyes cut left and right, nervously searching for the approaching red-and-white head of a Rio Grande longbeard. The setting was familiar, as the Lone Star State has long been one of my favorite turkey hunting destinations. The Remington Model DM Predator on my knee, however, represented a new experience—my first hunt with a box-magazine-fed shotgun and an introduction to a surprisingly versatile platform.
I’d joined several other writers, folks from Remington and our hosts at Wildlife Systems Inc. at the Chaparrosa Ranch near La Pryor, Texas, to test-drive the DM Predator on turkeys, javelinas and feral hogs. With a full gun range and abundant game, the ranch would be the perfect proving grounds for the shotgun. And the 870 DM Predator, with its specialized features and proven 870 pump action, was more than up to the task.
Using an 870 for turkey hunting—or any hunting—is nothing new. Like tens of thousands of people, I’ve carried one in the spring woods or autumn pheasant fields for 30-plus years. It’s unquestionably one of the most enduring and dependable American firearm designs.
So when Remington introduced several 870 DM models, which feature box magazines instead of the 870’s traditional magazine tube, at the 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show, many folks raised their eyebrows, wondering why the company had tweaked such a proven product. The answer, according to Remington designers, lies in functionality.
“Pump-action shotguns are far and away the most versatile platform there is, and the most prolific pump is the 870,” said Daniel Cox, senior product manager of shotguns for Remington. “But as a manufacturer looking to innovate and modernize, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve on anything out there to try to offer a solution to the market. How do you improve something like a pump-action shotgun? You really only have one commonly accepted shortfall when it comes to pump-action shotguns, and that’s loading or reloading. It takes a bit of practice and muscle memory to load rounds up into the tube of the gun and into the chamber. That’s the one Achilles heel anyone would agree on.”
Remington 870 DM Predator
Enter the idea of a box-magazine-fed 870 variant. The idea seems perfect for home-defense shotguns, as you can keep a full magazine separate from your gun and then load it almost instantly, without grasping for loose rounds and fumbling to fit shells into the chamber and magazine tube. And of course, the concept is ideal for shooting competitions that require competitors to reload quickly. Andy Haskin, director of research and development for long-gun programs at Remington, said those attributes also translate well to the hunting market.
“Just for instance, when I’m turkey hunting, it’s not at all uncommon to see coyotes or call in coyotes, so I would always keep a box of No. 5 buckshot in my chest pocket,” he said. “You’re sitting there calling turkeys, and the next thing you know, you have a coyote right on top of you. I would try to drop the gun and eject all my turkey loads out and then load in buckshot, and I’m thinking, wow, if I could just carry a mag in my pocket, and all I have to do is hit that release and drop that mag in, I could be ready to shoot a coyote without all the commotion of emptying the mag tube and loading a new one.”
Likewise, Haskin said, waterfowl hunters will likely find similar value in the box-magazine-fed pump because it lets them reload fast for follow-up shots, or change shells in a flash when needed, like when a flock of geese approaches a duck spread. Further, the design promotes safe gun handling in the field, as you can easily pop the magazine out, pull the pump back and travel with an unloaded gun.
That makes sense, but a great concept doesn’t always translate to public acceptance. Designers watched closely as shooters first tried the 870 DMs. Cox said many people immediately recognized the gun’s far-reaching practical applications. He mentioned a 35-plus-year law enforcement instructor who had very set, prescribed opinions about handling fighting shotguns.
“Even he came back and said, ‘Honestly, it’s different for me, because I have five decades of muscle memory, but there are people running guns on this range just as effectively as me right now who have never touched this thing,’” he said. “The last thing we wanted was another gimmick. We wanted to put a meaningful option on the market.”
At the SHOT Show’s Industry Day at the Range, Haskin said, Remington set up a two-person competition in which shooters cycled a round, dropped the magazine, loaded another magazine and then cycled another round while being timed. That seemed to spark awareness.
“When they first picked the gun up, they all knew the 870 and about cycling the action, but when they cycled the action, hit the release, dropped that mag and put the next one in, it was almost instantaneous for them,” he said. “You’d see their faces light up. That was kind of their ah-ha moment. They were all used to an 870 and having to stuff the rounds in the mag tube, and when they could just pop that mag in, they would turn to their friends and say, ‘“That’s awesome.’”
Our first job in Texas was to become familiar with the 870 DM. The Remington DM Predator model we used features Kryptek Highlander camo, an 18.5-inch barrel, a SuperCell recoil pad, a ShurShot stock and tactical forend, extended extra-full predator and turkey chokes, and detachable 3- and 6-round magazines. The receiver has a rail, and our guns carried low-profile HWS optics for turkeys and hogs.
First-evening range sessions went well. The extra-full turkey chokes centered thick, consistent patterns of Remington No. 5 shot on turkey targets at 25 to 50 yards, and recoil with the relatively light guns was easily manageable. With smiles and high expectations, we looked forward to the next morning, when the real tests would arrive.
Our guide, Ted, dropped me off at a pasture road in the dark the first day. I watched the truck taillights fade into the distance, popped a full three-shot magazine into the DM and set about locating a turkey. The gun’s light weight and relatively short overall length made it easy to carry while walking, though I wished I had brought a sling. (The gun has sling attachments. I’d just neglected to think ahead.)
After an action-packed but unsuccessful early morning, I called Ted and met him at the road. Fellow hunter Travis Ryan, then of Barnes Bullets, had scored a dandy gobbler with his DM, and we relived the story of his hunt. But Ted reminded me that the morning wasn’t finished, and suggested relocating to another area.
Remington 870 DM Predator On the Hunt
He pulled the truck into a nearby pasture and showed me a winding trail that led through some pretty timber to two large water holes. Turkeys typically frequented the area at midmorning, he said, so he suggested I slip toward the water and attempt to strike a gobbler.
My first calls received no responses, so I tiptoed slowly along the trail, glassing ahead to be safe. Finally, figuring I was getting close to the water, I found a good-looking bend in the road and set up to call for a bit.
Soft yelps and clucks on a slate were met with silence, so I pulled out an aluminum pot call, figuring its louder, high-pitched sounds would cut through the wind better. A gobble interrupted my first series, and two more quickly followed. The birds were about 120 yards away, on the other side of the nearest water hole.
Remington 870 DM Predator Success Afield
I continued calling, and the turkeys gobbled at about every other series, moving steadily from left to right. Then, after about five minutes, they went quiet. Figuring they had probably reached the road and were likely approaching, I set down the pot and readied the DM Predator.
Moments later, two gorgeous Rio longbeards popped into view, and the lead bird raised his head on cue. I centered the sight above his wattles and fired, ending the hunt. The encounter had transpired just as seamlessly as if I’d been using my own woods-worn 870 turkey gun. And although the 25-yard shot didn’t test the DM’s capabilities, the gun proved deadly effective.
That afternoon, our turkeys in the cooler, Travis and I switched out our three-round mags for six-round boxes loaded with hog medicine. And although we never saw any pigs, the DM’s versatility was apparent.
Writers probably overuse the term “do-everything gun,” but the Remington DM Predator sure fits the bill. From turkeys to larger game, or competition and home defense, the box-magazine-fed pump seems like a multiple-use champion.
For more information, visit remington.com.
Remington 870 DM Predator Specs
- Gauge: 12, 3-inch chamber
- Barrel: 18.5 inches
- Overall Length: 38.5 inches
- Overall Weight: 7.5 pounds
- Stock: Synthetic thumbhole
- Sights: XS Ghost Ring sights, tactical rail
- Action: Pump
- Finish: Kryptek Highlander camo
- Capacity: 3+1/6+1
- MSRP: $799
This article is from the 2019 Modern Guns issue of Tactical-Life magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
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