870 Light Contour Wingmaster

Dear Bruce:

I want to buy a Wingmaster 870 12 gauge to keep my Brownings company. I do a lot of clays (5 stand, wobble trap, skrap, skeet, some sporting clays) and love upland hunting. I also like to waterfowling. Enter the Wingmaster. A buddy let me shoot his older 870 at the skeet range last week and it was a joy to have a pump back in my arms again after a very long time.

I understand that a couple of years ago Remington introduced their Wingmaster LC (light contour) to replace the Wingmaster. They shaved off about 1/2 lb from the barrel and introduced powder metal for the trigger group. I have two Citori lightnings (12 ga and 20ga) and a Browning 3 1/2 Gold. I plan to sell the Gold … I just do not need a 3 1/2 chamber. Since I prefer to use the Citori’s on clays, I thought I should go for a rugged field gun that I could also fool around with at the clay course. I am interested in fit and durability and would prefer to purchase new.

Here comes the questions: Should I try to find an older Wingmaster or will the LC serve me just as well? What did Remington sacrifice by shaving off 0.5 lb? Is powdered metal as durable as steel? What is powdered metal? Thank you (again) for maintaining this site and for being available.

Best regards,

Harvey from Chicago

Dear Harvey,

Ah, the Wingmaster! I just love them. Well, some of them. My first two guns were Wingmasters and I’ll bet I’m not alone in that.

Through the years Remington has altered it’s barrel weights from the original light and lively Wingmasters to some real sewer pipes and back to the Light Contour Wingmaster. For a while I got the impression that Remington installed screw chokes by just increasing the entire outside diameter of the barrel so that they had enough wall thickness to thread chokes without the extra step of jugging the barrels. Some of the 870s certainly felt as though they had a ton of weight up front.

The Light Contour barrel on the Wingmaster does it right in theory. They have nice thin walls for a proper light feel. They just jug out the muzzles to make room for the screw chokes. It’s not a bad job at all. It’s very similar to what Stan Baker did in the early ’80s when he started to install custom screw chokes.

I have heard some problems with Remington’s choke concentricity. I don’t know if the problems were with the chokes or with the alignment of the threads, but there was some talk of it. It hasn’t been a problem in any of the Remingtons I’ve seen, but I don’t see all that many of them. Just make sure to test for point of impact with all the chokes.

So, if you like pumps as much as I do, I simply can’t think of a better fun clays gun or serious duck gun than an 870 Wingmaster. They might be OK in 26″, but the LC barrels shine in 28″.

As to adjusting fit, any pump or auto is a piece of cake to adjust. I don’t believe that Remington has caught up to the rest of the world by using shim adjustments in the 870 (like Beretta/Benelli), but any gunsmith can do it for you in jig time.

Powdered metal? Nothing wrong with the concept at all. Remington’s new 11-87 rings are made from powdered metal technology and they hold up just fine. Don’t give it a second thought. It sounds chintzy, but it’s really just another good way of accurately molding certain parts.

Not to disparage the Remington Wingmaster in any way, but you might also take a look at the new Ithaca Model 37. I don’t like their feel quite as much as the 870, and the bottom loading procedure is a real pain in clay target shooting. But- they are very well made all steel guns from a small company that really cares. They have no trigger interrupter and are slicker out of the box than the 870.

The 870 Light Contour is no longer listed in the Remington catalog, so you’ll have to buy used or add a Remington factory Light Contour barrel that appear to be still available from parts dealers, to a current 870 receiver.

Still, if it were me I’d take the used 870 Wingmaster with a 28″ Light Contour screw choke barrel and a nice old conventional trap stock in place of that dinky factory field stock. That would be some pump gun.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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