September 30, 2010

Remington 11-87 Sportsman No. 29825 3-inch 20 Gauge

One of the major reasons hunters choose a 20 gauge over a 12 gauge is the former’s smaller frame, weight, and recoil. Though they may already own a 12, many field sportsmen wind up reaching for their 20s because the smaller gun is just easier to handle, and there are just a few hunting situations—layback goose hunting and spring turkey hunting, to name two—in which the bigger payload might make a difference.

The Remington Sportsman line has two 12s and three 20s. The 12s come in 26- and 28-inch barrels and weigh 8.1 pounds and 8.25 pounds respectively, compared to the weight of our test 28-inch-barrel gun, about a full pound lighter.

The Remington’s numbers are just as basic as its finish. This gas-operated shotgun measured 48.0 inches in length and weighed 6.6 pounds. It’s heavier than the other two guns, a pound-and-a-quarter more than the Mossberg and three-quarters of a pound more than the Silver.

Remington 11-87 Sportsman

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The Remington’s strength was that it didn’t do anything big wrong. It loaded fast and easily. We didn’t notice any problems mounting it. Yes, it was heavier than the other two, which might be disqualifying for some shooters. Basically, its cosmetics are a metaphor for its performance—low key, but very competent.

It handled 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells and had a four-round capacity. Its LOP was a standard 14 inches, with a ho-hum drop at comb of 1.5 inches and drop at heel of 2.5 inches, and a downward pitch of 2.5 inches. It had a synthetic stock and forearm, a stiff black-rubber buttplate, all-black finish on the trigger, bolt handle, and bolt-in contrast to the Mossberg, which has shiny spots in those places.

It comes with only one choke, a Modified tube, and like the other guns, needs to be drilled and tapped to accept scope mounts.

Remington 11-87 Sportsman

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Like the Mossberg, the Remington balanced at the front of the action. Unlike the Mossberg, Remington chose a basic black non-color scheme that placed a premium on non-reflective surfaces. Can a shiny bolt handle or trigger scare off a dove? You never know, and the bigger issue is that you’ll never know.

But it just shot so well. The added weight did make the gun slower than the Mossberg, but we can’t think of a target we missed because of that. Its patterning was biased low, with 68% of its shot charge hitting below the point of aim, but we still managed to hit targets with it. The sighting plane was clear and wide, and the trigger was a reasonable 6.6 pounds. It was easier to load than the Mossberg by using a shell to activate a tab on the elevator.

Its buttpad was stiffer than the others, but with these guns shooting 2.75-inch shells, it wasn’t an issue.

Comments (10)

yes the 12 is great for most but at 70 a 20 will do fine

Posted by: sherm | February 24, 2011 11:06 PM    Report this comment


If I had to commit to just one gauge, the 12 gauge would be it. It is no doubt, the most versatile gauge of all from .410 (not really a gauge) to 10 gauge. With the 3 inch chambering, you have a tough time beating it.

Having both 20 and 12 gauges in the gunrack, I most often choose the 20; but there are times when the 12 is the better choice.

Happy shooting!

Posted by: RICHARD H | October 9, 2010 1:14 AM    Report this comment

The 20 is a nice light gun but that said, the 12 in the 11-87 config is a sure bet for all around hunting. I have the camo-version and pretty its not but for getting the job done on ducks geese & upland hunting it is super. 2 bbl's 26"&28" + 6 choke tubes. For pure hunting it is hard to beat !!!

Posted by: jocor | October 4, 2010 8:34 PM    Report this comment

Thanks to Richard H comments on 00 or 000 for 20 guage. Never used anything heavier in my Belgium-made Browning A-5 in 20 Guage than bird shot. I do keep a couple of 12's around for heavy work. thanks

Posted by: Marine56 | October 1, 2010 9:28 PM    Report this comment

I like my minimally reflective finish and weather resistant stock. I am proud of what I have and do not intend to sell it.

Now, if you like a fancy shmancy, gold inlaid shotgun that you have to pamper to keep it from showing that it has been used, good. You just spend all the money that you want on something that looks good but doesn't perform any better than mine.

The idea of this article is that the 20 gauge is lighter in weight and recoil, easier to handle and carry. It is the one that true professionals reach for instead of the 12 gauge, unless the 12 gauge is what is needed.

I have been shotgunning for 56 years.

Posted by: RICHARD H | October 1, 2010 9:04 PM    Report this comment

Anything less than a .12ga really does not make much sense since there are so many different loadings for the .12 ga.

A shotgun that is too light will not have enough follow through and will result in many misses because you will always be shooting behind the moving object.

When I buy a shotgun I want a nice quality wood stock not a junk plastic stock and a junk dull blue finish but a high polished blue finish. Why not spend a few dollars more and buy something you can be proud to own instead of pinching pennies and ending up with a low resale piece of ugly trash.

Posted by: wild romanian | October 1, 2010 7:53 PM    Report this comment

20 gauge is not available with anything heavier than #3 buckshot. You'll have to step up to a 12 gauge for OO or OOO buckshot. There is, however, a nice slug available in 20 gauge.

Posted by: RICHARD H | September 30, 2010 11:44 PM    Report this comment

Why not 000 buckshot?

Posted by: Marine56 | September 30, 2010 11:16 PM    Report this comment

Looking forward to the comments

Posted by: wahootie | September 30, 2010 5:00 PM    Report this comment

I recently purchased an 11-87 Compact (formerly referred to as a "Youth" model). A 21" vent-ribbed barrel, 13" LOP and a lighter weight makes it real handy to carry and shoot. It easily doubles as a home security shotgun when loaded with #3 (not 000) buckshot.

Posted by: RICHARD H | August 27, 2009 11:39 AM    Report this comment

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