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Remington has been manufacturing tactical versions of its classic 870 for some time. Their latest product is very close to the products of custom gun makers who take Remington’s guns and upgrade them with custom features such as SpeedFeed stocks, pistol grips and so forth.

Let’s make one thing clear from the get-go… I really like shotguns. They are the best and most versatile close quarters battle (CQB) weapon available. They can be used from CQB distances out to 50 yards and beyond with the right ammunition, making it a very versatile tool in the police officer’s or self reliant citizen’s armory.

rem-870-recon-4.jpgAmmunition for the fighting or tactical shotguns run the gamut from less-lethal beanbags filled with dust to high explosive projected grenades. At the low end of the lethality spectrum is rubber buckshot, or the beanbags and other lightweight rubber or plastic shot, usually the same diameter as 00 buckshot, which is approximately a .36 caliber.

There are also less-lethal baton rounds, both wood and rubber. At the higher end of the lethality scale are law enforcement buckshot and slugs that are actually no more than reduced recoil versions of standard sporting rounds.

We should note that Remington manufactures the “Tac 8” round that is loaded with eight rather than the usual nine pellets. This ammo typically delivers a pattern that is approximately 25 percent smaller in diameter than the standard nine-pellet buckshot. Buckshot aside, most agencies also use 1-ounce slugs with reduced recoil. In truth, at typical law enforcement engagement distances, there is no real need for high velocity rounds. Police officers are also far more likely to fire their shotguns repeatedly than sporting users.

For civilians, reduced recoil ammo is also available and identical to the law enforcement marked shells. Other 12 gauge ammunition available to law enforcement includes armor piercing, breaching, dye marking and incendiary. For military use, the high explosive fragmentation round that launches a small high explosive fin stabilized grenade, is available in both fragmentation and armor piercing versions.

Remington’s classic 870 has been in production since 1950 and remains to be one of the most rugged and reliable pump-action shotguns. Over the years, the 870 have been widely used by our military and law enforcement, and show no signs of aging. It remains a state-of-the-art manually operated tactical shotgun. For general duty use, a pump-action shotgun like 870 is preferred because it functions reliably with the full spectrum of law enforcement ammunition. Most semi-automatic shotguns will not function with the lightweight less-lethal rounds like rubber buckshot and bean bags, so many agencies stick with pump action shotguns. 

In the unlikely but possible event that the shotgun doesn’t go “bang,” all that needs to be done is to rack the slide to eject the bad round and chamber a new one.  The potential buyer of a tactical shotgun should be aware that semi-auto shotgun would not function reliably with most less-lethal ammunition because it simply doesn’t generate sufficient gases or recoil to do so. Thus, for law enforcement, the pump-action shotgun still rules.

Gun Details
Remington’s latest entry into the tactical shotgun arena is its 870 TAC Desert Recon. There are two versions of the TAC Desert Recon. One has a pistol grip SpeedFeed IV stock, and the other has a standard SpeedFeed stock that carries four extra shells in tubes on either side. Both versions are striking in appearance with what appears to be Marine Corps Desert Digital camouflage applied by Tiger Stripe Products on stock and fore-end. 

The camouflage is called Desert Tiger, but we have samples of Marine Corps desert camouflage. In fact, the Tiger Stripe Desert Tiger is so close to the Marine Corps pattern that is difficult to tell the difference even when the shotgun is laid on a piece of Marine Corps Desert camouflage. The reason the Desert Tiger isn’t an exact replica is probably that when the Marines went to digital camouflage a few years ago they copyrighted their pattern so wannabes wouldn’t be duplicating it. 

If you have ever seen photos of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially Special Forces personnel, you’ll note that their weapons are painted in a camouflage pattern or just plain tan or flat dark earth in military speak. The troops also wear camouflage uniforms. Nothing in nature is black and nature abhors a straight line, so troops not only camouflage themselves, but their weapons as well. Remington’s TAC 870 Desert Recon comes pre-camouflaged. 

All metal parts are powder coated with the barrels and receivers in olive drab (OD) and magazine tube, muzzle device and trigger housing in black. The overall appearance is striking. The magazine itself is extended to hold 5 plus 2 or 3 rounds depending on barrel length. The 18-inch barreled guns hold 7 rounds while 20-inch guns like ours carry 8 rounds in the magazine plus four on the stock.

Another unique and functional feature of the TAC Desert Recon is the combination muzzle brake, standoff and impact weapon tactical choke tube that replaces standard choke tubes. Presumably, the muzzle brake could be attached to any 870 threaded for choke tubes. The ported muzzle device reduces felt recoil and serves as a standoff for breaching or dynamic entry. 

Breachers use frangible slugs to destroy hinges and locks but the shotgun’s muzzle cannot be placed flush against the door’s surface because increased pressure might damage the gun, so standoff devices that diffuse the back blast and dust from the frangible slug to the sides are necessary. Although not mentioned in Remington ad copy, the jagged edge of the muzzle device can be used as an impact weapon and glass breaker.

Our Test Accessories
One of the best features of any Remington 870 is the huge number of accessories available from sources like Brownells. The Brownells 500-page catalog has a vast array of parts and accessories available for almost any firearm imaginable is a treat in itself.  Potential accessories such as a Sidesaddle for extra ammo, barrel shroud and other items to tailor the gun to each individuals taste and operational requirements are there for the ordering.  

Another common option is a SureFire CombatLight for low light operations and building clearing where ambient light limits vision. It offers the advantage of illuminating the area covered by the muzzle while being bright enough at 80 lumens to momentarily flash blind anyone unfortunate enough to have the beam projected directly into their eyes. The gun just looked so great as it came from the factory that the only accessory we added was a Button Sling because no long gun is complete without a sling. 

This single point sling has the advantage of being capable of being moved from one long gun to another or removed if desired because it attaches to a “button” adapter that is fixed to the firearm. With the 870, the adapter is simply a pin that replaces the rear receiver pin. The Button Sling is elastic and can be used to stabilize the firearm while shooting. To transition from the shotgun to a handgun, the shotgun is simply dropped.  This is especially useful for breachers on entry teams who may transition to a handgun when the team goes in. 

When the shotgun is dropped, the Button Sling positions it vertically in the center of the shooter’s chest so that his or her hands are free and unobstructed for transitioning to a handgun or for other tasks. Button Slings and adapters are available for most law enforcement and military long guns.

Range Time
On the range, the Remington TAC Desert Recon lived up to our expectations.  The action of the 870 was extremely smooth and the two-stage trigger broke at 4.5 pounds with a bit of creep. The muzzle device was effective in reducing felt recoil and that, in combination with the reduced recoil ammo, made the gun easy to control. We shot another 870 for a side-by-side comparison and the BlackHawk Knoxx stock made an amazing difference. 

We evaluated the TAC Desert Recon with Remington Law Enforcement, Winchester Law Enforcement and Wolf 00 buckshot and slug ammunition. The Remington buckshot was the company’s TAC-8 round that is claimed to reduce pattern size with only 0.5 to 0.75 of an inch spread per yard distance from the target. Our testing bore out that claim with TAC-8 delivering the smallest pattern of ammunition tested at 25 yards. Remington’s new TAC-8 is not a reduced recoil load and has a nominal velocity of 1325 feet per second (fps). 

We fired three rounds at each target with both 00 buckshot and slugs. All ammunition performed very well, keeping all shots within a 30-inch circle at 25 yards.  Winchester slugs had the best three round group of the day at 2.75 inches with the other slugs delivering almost identical group sizes. 

Final Notes
Remington’s new TAC Desert Recon tactical shotgun is an excellent choice for any team or individual seeking a good reliable tactical shotgun. We plan on purchasing our 870 TAC after we are finished with it and will probably add a black handguard/heat shield that between the OD and Desert Tiger camouflage, will match the black magazine tube and fire control. Why a handguard? If any gun has a number of rounds fired through it in a hurry, the barrel will heat up and possibly burn one’s hands, especially near the chamber area.  Don’t laugh, it happens.  

In the final analysis, Remington’s new 870 TAC Desert Recon is striking and comes with standard features usually found only on custom shotguns. If you’re looking for a rock solid totally reliable shotgun with camouflage to match a desert environment, the TAC 870 Desert Recon is an excellent choice.

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