by Adam Heggenstaller - Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Some waterfowl hunters I know take better care of their decoys than their shotguns. I once hunted with a guy who spent most of an hour meticulously wiping down, un-staking and organizing a couple hundred goose silhouettes, only to totally ignore the mud clumps and wheat chaff clinging to his gun. Guess it all comes down to priorities.
Remington realizes that gun care may not be the first thing on waterfowlers’ minds when they’re afield, and the company has a new 12-gauge, slide-action shotgun designed to withstand all the abuse a day in the duck blind can dish out. No, the gun is not another version of the Model 870, nor is it intended to replace the Model 870. Instead, the Model 887 Nitro Mag takes pump shotguns in a completely different direction, using a hi-tech shell of polymer to ward off the elements and other things that can shorten a gun’s field life.
The entire receiver and barrel of the 887 is covered in a sheath of overmolded, glass-filled nylon material that Remington refers to as ArmorLokt. Of course, steel is present beneath the polymer. The relationship is beneficial to both materials, with the steel lending strength while the polymer protects it from corrosion, dents and other hazards.The receiver starts in Remington’s Ilion, N.Y., factory as a stamped-and-welded steel frame. It is placed into a mold, which is then injected with the ArmorLokt polymer material. Perforations in the frame, along with the mold design, allow the ArmorLokt to completely encase both the exterior and interior steel surfaces and form the finished component.
Manufacturers have come up with a host of treatments to protect a gun’s metal surfaces, but overmolding the barrel with polymer is a unique concept. Remington first cold-hammer forges the 887’s barrel blank from 4140 steel, and then, in a process similar to the receiver construction, fuses the ArmorLokt to the blank’s exterior via injection-molding. The polymer envelops the blank in a .041-inch-thick shell, with the integral barrel rib and rectangular design impressions also being formed in the mold. A green HiViz LitePipe front bead and red polymer mid bead ride atop the barrel rib.
Remington calls ArmorLokt impermeable and has test results to back it up. Company engineers subjected 887 barrels to salt-corrosion and submersion tests, cross-sectioning each test barrel after the trials to ensure the ArmorLokt had not leaked or separated from the steel. They also fired more than 10,000 rounds through a single 887 barrel, again testing for separation. In all the tests, ArmorLokt held up to the abuse, making the 887 an ideal shotgun for less-than-ideal conditions—like lying in a muddy cornfield during a sleet storm or hunting honkers on the Chesapeake Bay.
But there’s more going on here than just a plastic coating. For starters, the 887 utilizes a rotary breech bolt that locks up with dual recesses in the barrel extension, as opposed to the single-lugged locking block of the 870. A stout claw extractor, coupled with a blade-type ejector along the left receiver wall, expels empty hulls from the action port.
The slide release and trigger guard are integral to the 887’s trigger plate assembly, which corrects another problem often associated with the 870. Molded from the same ArmorLokt polymer as the receiver and barrel, the trigger plate assembly houses the fire-control components, along with the carrier and both shell latches. Drifting out two cross-pins frees the trigger plate assembly from the receiver with the shell latches intact. No more fumbling with loose shell latches, as is prone to eventually happen if you tear down your 870 enough times. Disassembling the rest of the 887 is even easier, because it requires nary a tool. Remington is offering two variations of the 887 this year: an all-black version and one covered in Realtree Advantage Max-4 HD camo. Both have a barrel length of 28 inches and a 31/2-inch chamber, along with a composite fore-end and buttstock ending in a SuperCell recoil pad. The barrel of each version is threaded to accept Rem Chokes.
It pays to have a gun that can take punishment in stride; worrying about its finish is no way to spend a day in the field. The Model 887 Nitro Mag will be right at home in the bottom of a duck boat amongst the wet and dirty decoys. Just try to take some time to clean it every now and then.
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