Remington 870 Wingmaster American Classic 20 Gauge:
Screaming with Quality

By Randy Wakeman

Remington 870 Wingmaster American Classic Shotgun.
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

No great introduction is needed for the Remington Model 870 Wingmaster. It is one of the most popular shotguns (and firearms) ever made, blowing past 10,000,000 units sold back in 2009.

The 870 American Classic is a beautiful, American-made answer to quality that is sorely lacking in most firearms made today. it makes many modern shotguns look like they aren't completely finished.


  • Model: 870 American Classic
  • Order No.: 82085
  • Gauge: 20
  • Action Type: Pump
  • Average Weight: 6.125 lbs.
  • Barrel Length: 26 inch
  • Butt: Ventilated Recoil Pad
  • Chamber: 3 inch
  • Chokes: Remchoke (Full, Mod, IC supplied)
  • Drop at Comb: 1.5 inches
  • Drop at Heel: 2.5 inches
  • Length of Pull: 14 inches
  • Magazine Cappacity: 4
  • Overall Length: 46.5 inches
  • Receiver Finish: High Gloss Blued
  • Rib: Ventilated
  • Sights Twin Bead
  • Stock Finish: High Gloss
  • Stock Material: B-Grade Walnut
  • Barrel Type: Vent Rib
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • 2015 MSRP: $1249

The 20 gauge 870 American Classic that is the subject of this review weighs 6-1/2 pounds. It is a very attractive repeater. The steel receiver and ventilated rib barrel are polished and deeply blued. There is a small center bead on the rib, something I personally find worthless, but at least it is small enough that it doesn't get in the way.

At the time of its introduction in 1951, the Remington 870 had special features, such as a fast (for a shotgun) seven millisecond lock time. This remains faster than many repeating shotguns produced today. The superb trigger breaks between 3-3/4 and 4 pounds right out of the box. It is one of the best triggers I have used on a repeating field gun in several years.

The action is exceedingly smooth right of out of the box. it almost shucks itself, with no noticeable stick-slip and no break-in required. Unlike alloy receiver shotguns, the action closes with a satisfying, steel on steel "thunk."

Compared to many pump and autoloading shotguns, the safety button at the rear of the trigger guard is nicely oversized, as is the aluminum trigger guard. It is an obvious step up from the many plastic trigger guards with ugly mold lines. The slide release is also a bit longer than found on many slide actions, making it easy to use with cold or gloved hands.

The walnut stock is gloss finished, complementing the barrel and receiver. What Remington calls their B-grade walnut is a lighter shade of walnut, with the forearm and the buttstock perfectly matched in color, hue and tone with distinct mineral streaks throughout.

In an effort to reduce the manufacturing cost of the gun, many shotguns do not have no properly finished pistol grips, meaning no grip cap at all. In direct contrast to this, the 870 American Classic has a very nicely done white diamond grip cap set off by a white line spacer. The ventilated recoil pad also has a white line spacer, a feature not seen for a while.

The cut checkering is clean, deep and sticks to your hands. It is a clear upgrade from the more common laser cut checkering.

The machine engraving is also tastefully done, with a gold inlay of a dog on the left side of the receiver and a small gold "American Classic" banner on the right side of the receiver. It is tasteful elegance, a significant dose of sparkle without being ostentatious. It is enough to show the manufacturer cares about details and that you care as well, without being overpowering.

This 870 carries, shoulders and swings beautifully. The included Full, Modified and Improved Cylinder Remchokes throw decent patterns. I used it to harvest the pheasant seen in the photo at the top of this page, so you can see it works in the field.

It is hard to find fault with this shotgun. It looks great, carries great, works great, is essentially jam-proof, doesn't rattle and needs no aftermarket massaging to try to make it right. It is the type of shotgun anyone would be quite satisfied to enjoy today and to keep in the family for generations. It is everything that a quality repeating firearm should be. The ghost of Rudy Etchen is no doubt smiling.

Back to Shotgun Information

Copyright 2015 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.