Monday, December 26, 2011

Shotgun Customization

Since RCC gave me all of the parts to customize my shotgun, of course we had to stay up on Christmas Eve and put it together.

What I love about the Remington 870 (and though I don't own one, the Mossberg 500) is that is so easily customizable.  Here's the thing - it doesn't take a gunsmith to do most of the modifications.  The exception, for me, is the trigger.  Could I buy a new trigger, read the instructions, and put it in?  Probably.  Would I? Hell no, that's why I have a gunsmith (who is moving away, but we're not talking about that right now).

Here's a picture of the base 870 I started with and the parts that RCC got me.
With all of these add-ons, I can pretty much configure my shotgun any way I want to.
Even though it has been probably five years since I built my last shotgun, I was confident that I could build this one without too much trouble.  It took RCC and me about an hour to do the whole thing.  I only had to glare at him once, for taking away my toys and wanting to build it himself.  He got the hint and let me have the fun - and satisfaction - of doing it myself.

With the exception of the tac rail that mounts to the receiver, there were no special "gunsmithing" tools that were needed.  My Gerber multi-tool and RCC's flathead screwdriver were the only tools we had to provide - all other tools were provided with the parts.

We started with the buttstock - two screws held on the recoil pad and one screw attached the stock to the receiver.  It was off in a matter of a minute or two.  The new stock took just a couple of minutes to screw on. It was really that easy.
Knoxx Blackhawk Special Ops Shotgun Stock
I've never used this kind of stock; it's supposed to reduce felt recoil by 90%.  The diagram didn't explain to me how it was supposed to reduce the recoil, but Boss Man (my gunsmith) did.  Apparently, when fired, the whole receiver moves back, compressing the spring, which absorbs the recoil.  He doesn't seem to like this kind of set-up, but I'm excited to try it.  I want to get video and super slo-mo it to see if I can see the compression happening.

The shot shell and battery carrier were the two most pain-in-the-ass pieces to assemble - not because it was difficult, but because it involved installing several screws in very tight spaces.  If you have big fingers, this would be almost impossible.  RCC did have the bright idea of starting the screws before attaching the shell carrier and battery carrier - that suggestion saved us a lot of aggravation.  This portion of the project took us the longest to complete.
Blackhawk PowerPak modular cheek piece with shell carrier and battery holder.

To install the cheek piece, I had to remove the back portion of the stock.  In theory, it should have been easy.  In reality, it took both of us - one to pull down on the adjuster lever-thingy and the other to stabilize the gun while the back portion was pulled off.  After that, it was as easy as slipping the cheek piece over the back portion of the stock, making sure it clicked into place, and sliding the butt back onto the stock.

Unfortunately, once I had it put back together, and shouldered the shotgun, I realized that I needed to install the high rest cheek piece, so we took it all apart and did it again.  It went much faster the second time.

Taking off the fore-end was a breeze - remove the sling swivel, unscrew the magazine tube (watch out for the BOING! factor), pull off the barrel, release the action bars and slide the fore-end off.  It sounds like a lot of steps if you've never done it before, but it's actually very simple.  Well, it's simple if you remember to push the magic action bar release button inside the receiver.  Otherwise, you'll just yank on the fore-end and curse - a lot - until you remember to push the magic button.

At this point, I had my new fore-end in one hand, and the old one, still attached to the action bars, etc., in the other hand and I drew a blank.  I *know* I've installed new fore-ends before, but couldn't remember the next step.  However, I keep all of the boxes and instructions for pretty much everything, so when the new part didn't have instructions, I pulled out my SureFire box and lo and behold, had not only instructions, but the very important super special fore-end nut removal tool.  After that, it was a matter of removing the nut, taking off the old fore-end, and putting on the new one.  Thirty - forty-five seconds, tops.
Mako Handguard with 3 rails and a Mako Quick Release Ergonomic Vertical Foregrip

To re-install the fore-end with the new handguard, it's simply a matter of reversing the steps.  Unless you're me, in which case you must forget about the super secret action bar releases (there are two for re-assembly; one on the right, which must be pushed first, and one on the left), which will cause more cursing and aggravation.  Oh, and almost breaking your toes several times when the slide block assembly jumps off the action bars and falls to the ground repeatedly.  Eventually, though, if you're me, you'll look at the re-assembly instructions, smack yourself in the forehead for forgetting about the super secret action bar releases, and it will go back together easy-peasy.

The vertical foregrip slips right on the rail.  I'm not completely sold on it, but RCC loves it and I did promise to give it an honest try.  It does look pretty bad-ass in an over-the-top-even-for-a-tacticooled-gun kind of way.

The only thing we couldn't install was the receiver tac rail, because it required a punch to remove the trigger plate pins.  I did put the red dot sight on the tac rail, so that when we went into the gun shop today, all I had to do was punch out the trigger plate pins, slip the rail over the top of the receiver and screw it on.
UTG M87 tactical mount and NcSTAR red dot sight with four different reticles.
There is a problem, though.  Damn it.

Even with the higher cheek piece, the red dot rides too high on the receiver for me to actually use it.  I'm either going to have to build up the cheek piece even more, or lose the tac rail and mount the red dot directly to the receiver.

Meet BAMF, completely assembled and ready to rock 'n roll
Friday is the day we've got planned for taking BAMF to the range to try her out.  RCC is buying the shotgun I built for my brother, so I'll try to do a side-by-side comparison of how they shoot early next week.


deejo3 said...

Totally excited for the comparison! Fancy recoil stock versus Mercury recoil system. Interesting to find out which works better. I'll need to know when it's time to build another shotgun.....

GunDiva said...

I think the decrease in felt recoil between the two stocks is pretty close. The Knoxx is much cheaper than the mercury recoil system I put in yours, but it can bite. I'll get a review of the parts up in the next day or two.