The usual bear defense craziness - Pistolsmith

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Old 01-17-2005, 10:32 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 49
The usual bear defense craziness

Off I go to Alaska for 6 or 8 weeks. Going in May. If you want to see a lively forum thread just ask what you should carry for close range defense against irate Brown bears. Truthfully, I hope I don't have to find out. I have been around Brown bears in Montana for years. After a while I got pretty comfortable. Alaska Browns have more of a "woo-woo factor" for me. So I'll pack. I don't have a Remington .416 Mag and truthfully I don't think I can manipulate a bolt effectively in a crisis situation. I do have a .458 Lott and I ain't carrying that 6 hours a day. It weighs in at 10lbs plus. People have said, "you should carry a handgun. That way you'll always have it with you" Sorry, but I figured, not enough gun. So, I'm leaning toward my 870 Express with a rifled slug barrel and Dixie slugs or some similar hard lead slug. Remington makes one with hammer in it's name. I can't recall it's full title, but you get the idea.

I will take off my magazine extension and choose a lighter stock in order to save weight.

My question is, what can I do to optomize the reliability of the Express? I'm thinking powerful magazine spring and a stainless follower, either a Vang or Brownells. What else should I be looking at and is there a good shotgun smith that can go through it a make it as reliable as a mechanical device can be? Would it be possible to take and additional 2 inches off the slug barrel (to 18') and move the front sight back?

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Old 01-18-2005, 12:41 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
The best "reliability" option for an Express is a Wingmaster/Police milled extractor.
The Express uses a MIM (Metal Injection Moulded) extractor, and there have been a few cases of broken extractors.

I've never seen a case of a Remington factory magazine follower causing a problem or failing. but if a stainless makes you feel better, go for it.

Careful with TOO powerful magazine springs.
Problems caused by weak springs are not very common, but what IS is a condition called "Shot shell Bulge".
Plastic shot shells left in magazines long term, or under too much spring tension, develop bulges in the case between the steel shell head and the shot or slug column.

These bulges can and will cause feed problems.

The barrel could be cut down and the sight re-mounted, but this will be expensive since the front sight is brazed on, and to make sure a new one stays PUT it needs to be silver brazed too.

This means a refinish for the barrel, and a bore polish job.
Old 01-20-2005, 05:15 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 102
I haven't seen any problems with the MIM extractor, but that being said, the milled one is stronger and as dfariswheel stated to change it. Take the MIM part with you as a spare (in a small pill container).

But I have seen the factory follower break, the said shotty was a year old, swap it out with a Vang. I've found these to be the best.

As for the mag spring. Without the extension, use the 22", factory spring for the Police Magnums.

One other item not touch on is, if there is the j-lock safety on it, swap it out, because they can be turned on without the key.


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