The “Truth” about the Remington 870 DM


This is a response article to a blog post on Gabe Suarez Blog where the author concludes that the 870 DM solves “no problems at all, but they certainly create more drama for the user.”

While we respect the writer’s opinion on the 870 DM (and by extension, we are assuming all other magazine fed pump action shotguns), there are some points of disagreement. In fact, I believe there are three major areas where the 870 DM creates major improvements over the traditional tube fed shotgun.

These three improvements include: making it easier to carry more ammo, faster to reload from empty, and more consistent reloading patterns.

Shooting a Shotgun Empty?

The original writer, Gabe, mentions that “the use of the shotgun does not require shooting it empty and then racing to load it.” No, this is because magazine fed pump action shotguns weren’t a thing back then. Traditional use does not constitute practical use.

It seems the writer expect the user to immediately replace the rounds after they were shot, therefore keeping the shotgun always fully loaded.

Of course this makes sense when your ONLY option is the internal magazine; naturally you would want to top it off whenever you can because going from empty to full in a tube system is the longest drag in the system.

However, I believe the writer is applying an unrealistic standard for the average user who wants a shotgun for sport or defensive purposes.

Street Fights

The writer claims that during firefights, “the shotgun is fired once or twice…perhaps three times, and then it is reloaded with single rounds.” The writer did not make it clear what kind of “street fights” these are, but let’s assume they are talking about police type encounters.

Yes, I agree, based on footage and videos I have seen of police encounters, there are lines of cop cars, tons of handgun rounds going off and a few blasts from the shotgun / rifle when necessary. I don’t disagree with the writer about this point.

However, I think the writer misses the point completely that most of us are average citizens. We don’t have access to a blockade of bullet proof engine blocks and an army of backup offers standing by our side. The average citizen is more likely to engage in a defensive situation by themselves, not an offensive situation with backup!

The average citizen is more likely to engage in a defensive situation by themselves, not an offensive situation with backup!

In regular firefights, we usually don’t have the luxury of choosing to only fire “once or twice” and reloading, especially if its one person defending themselves against an unknown amount of threats.

This is a fantasy, movie like scenario for a home defense or self defense situation. It’s not a professionally executed firefight such as one police may try to perform and spend countless training hours for. I’ve seen a fair share of self defense security footage, and in my opinion, when people are in panic mode, they usually fire off a ton of rounds until the threat is without a doubt, neutralized.

Very rarely is there any “controlled” fire in these situations unless it turns out the defender is an off duty cop or otherwise had some sort of special training.

What is More Likely For The Average Citizen?

Scenario 1: You hear someone break into your house at night. Your 870 DM (which is already loaded) and a spare magazine are next to your bed. You neutralize the threat and save the day. If required, you load the spare magazine, pump, and get back into the fight with 6 more rounds almost instantly.

Scenario 2: The same as above, except this time you have your tube loaded shotgun. You just happen to have a box full of shells by your side and your pajamas totally have pockets for those. Also you don’t make any noise fumbling those shells in the dark. You fire one or two controlled shots and reload the tube one by one in the darkness of your home with absolute precision and dexterity because you are totally calm and controlled.

If you were in a spur of the moment defensive situation, would you rather deal with 1 or 2 spare mags or a pocket full of shells (6 – 12 shells equivalent). Not to mention the perfect dexterity and concentration required to load a tube fed shotgun in the middle of a potential firefight in your own home.

To be completely fair, in my opinion most firefights end in a few shots or whenever the gun is empty, so reloading the shotgun may not even be necessary in either situation. However, if I had a choice, I would definitely go with the mag fed shotgun over tube fed!

I would hope that my choice does not seen as illogical or stupid because I feel that the alternative is definitely not ideal.

Loading Magazines is more Convenient

There should be absolutely no dispute that the 870 DM brings a huge benefit in convenience for most shooters when it comes to reloading. Whether its a revolver or a shotgun, no one in their right mind would argue that magazines give more “drama” to the user.

Not everyone is trained to do super fast competition shotgun reloading. The average shooter is probably already used to AR platforms, so the 870 DM does not add any new drama or dynamics to typical gun mechanics.

Magazines are Better for Carrying Rounds

The writer of the original article makes a completely illogical claim that tube fed shotguns make carrying additional ammo “easier” with the use of side saddles, ammo sleeves, or a pocket full of shotgun shells. These options need to be used in combination as a standard side saddle usually holds 6 rounds. I can fit 4 fully loaded 6 round magazines in my jacket or pants pockets, that’s 24 12 gauge rounds that won’t slip or tumble out of my pockets unlike a pocket ./ sling / saddle full of shells.

Option 1: 4 magazines (24 rounds in total) – can fit in 4 different pockets, or I can fit all 4 magazines in my jacket pockets.

Option 2: 24 loose rounds – 6 fit on the side saddle, 15 rounds on the sling, and 3 spare rounds in the pocket. Keep track of where you need to pull the rounds from, which direction you need to pull the rounds from, and make sure you can actually pull the rounds from the sling tensionwhen needed.

Between the two options, which seems faster and more convenient? I sure hope you would say the magazines because it seems much more reasonable to me!

It is certainly easier to toss empty magazines in a dump pouch or jacket pocket than it is to train to always pull the shells in a specific order from all your shell holding accessories.

The Downside to Magazines

The downside to carrying magazines of course is that whether they are empty or full, they will take up the same amount of space. However, the difference between hand loading 6 – 7 shells inside a shotgun tube vs. simply swapping out magazines more than makes up for the space difference. From a space and storage perspective, carrying around shells is more space efficient (but this should have been pretty obvious), the reason people like the 870 DM is for those fast reloads and convenience of carrying so many rounds.

Another point the writer brings up is “keeping the shogun loaded” or what they probably meant was keeping it fully loaded. Again, this is a problem which is uniquely brought on by the system of an internal magazine that needs to be loaded 1 by 1. If you want to keep your 870 DM fully loaded you can put in a fully loaded magazine. If you have a partner or if you have some down time, you can top off the other magazines, no different than topping off the tube in your down time?

Tube Fed is Simpler?

From a simplicity perspective, the tube fed shotgun may seem more easy as you only have 1 tube to keep track of vs. multiple magazines and their levels of being loaded or not. However you also have to consider the pockets, side saddles, and various other inventions that were created just so people could mount single shotgun shells all over their bodies. In considering everything: having a few magazines is definitely superior in terms of keeping thing simple.

Now when it comes to some real action where you don’t have the luxury of controlling your fire and reloading after every round, the 870 DM wins hands down as you can throw in a fresh mag when its out.

Keeping Examples Realistic

Even at the range, the difference is pretty obvious; When friends take turns shooting their guns, after a tube fed shotgun is empty, it’s out of the action until the user (or owner) fully reloads the tube for the next person. On the contrary, when the 870 DM is empty, a fresh magazine can be loaded for the next person immediately! Empty magazines can be reloaded while another person is shooting which creates a fun and seamless cycle for everyone at the range.

These are everyday situations and scenarios the average person is more likely to encounter.  Professionally executed “street fights” are not a regular occurrence for the average user and therefore should not be used as major reasons to consider or not consider a gun. I suggest gun writers think more realistically and rationally about these situations and take an objective approach instead of vaguely shielding their obvious bias or letting their love for the “old ways” corrupt logical thinking.

The 870 DM provides major improvements over the tube fed shotgun, is it superior in all situations? No. If you loose your magazines you have a single shot shotgun!

In Conclusion

Gabe wrote, “I have no interest in the DM models for the 870 and believe they solve no problems at all.” 

However, we have already established 3 key areas where the DM is preferable to a tube fed shotgun: easier to carry more ammo, faster to reload from empty, and more consistent reloading patterns.

The writer clearly has an unreasonable bias against the 870 DM and hasn’t fully thought through all the scenarios in which a magazine fed shotgun could benefit the average user.

Those who are suck in the ways of the past or already have invested in shell holding equipment probably will disagree with me. I am used to AR’s and other magazine fed type weapons, why would I want my workflow to be drastically different from gun to gun?

When we train with our weapons and weapon systems, consistency and predictability is key. That is exactly what the 870 DM brings to the shotgun world. No longer does the user need to have some special training or system to manage the shotgun. The 870 DM (and other mag fed shotguns) brings predictability and consistency into the shotgun realm!

Disclaimer: This article and any claims, statements, or thoughts are merely my opinion. Direct quotes were taken from Gabe’s article and were interpreted as we had understood them. The writer’s original intention, thoughts, or opinions may be different from what we interpreted.  

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John C