March 2011

SuperMag Follow Up: We Retest Remington’s M887 Nitro Mag

In 2009, we gave the initial release of this then-new model a ‘D’ grade, saying its rough operation, muzzle-heavy feel, and noisy operation should be fixed under warranty. Here’s an update.

Gun Tests reader Cecil Elmore emailed us in December 2010 with this in the subject line: "Remington 887." In his note, he said, "I am a subscriber, and I saw your 2009 evaluation of the Remington 887 shotgun, which was not pretty. I am considering buying an 887, but look to you folks for expert guidance. Can you give me an update on where that 887 stands? Thanks!"

Why, yes we can. The September 2009 comparison that included the new-for-2009 Remington M887 Nitro Mag No. 82500 12 Gauge, $399, pitted it against a Benelli SuperNova No. 20115 MAX-4 HD Camo 12 Gauge Pump, $599. The Benelli was the hands-down winner, with our recommendation being, "It’s built right, shoots right, and does everything we could hope for from a shotgun of this type. We don’t think the 8-pound weight is excessive for a heavy-duty duck gun; the extra weight pays dividends in its smoother swing and softer shooting." Accordingly, we awarded it an A grade.

On the other side was the Remington Model 887. We recorded a litany of problems with the gun:

  • The supplied Remington magazine plug, which was supposed to limit the 887’s capacity to two shells in the magazine (plus one in the chamber, for a total of three), was the wrong one—it allowed us to load three shells in the magazine (plus one in the chamber) for a total of four shells. Ack: Too many shells is a violation of state and federal waterfowl regulations.

  • The Nitro Mag had an annoying rattle coming from the action, which we traced to the sliding bolt shroud, a thin piece of metal that slid back and forth on the side of the breechblock.

  • The barrel guide for the action bars and the side of the barrel that is bare steel were roughly machined, and when the barrel was slid into the receiver, there was noticeable slop. Our testers said the Nitro887’s action was rougher to operate than the SuperNova’s.

  • The safety button at the rear of the trigger guard wasn’t easy to work with cold or gloved hands.

  • The 887 weighed 7.25 pounds—3⁄4 pound less than the Supernova. However, the 887 was muzzle heavy, our testers said.

  • Fitted with a Remchoke Modified choke tube, the gun’s patterns were about 5 inches low at 20 yards.

  • The company said this 887 is "our softest shooting pump gun ever," and it produces "54% less recoil." When we shot the 10% lighter 887 alongside the SuperNova, we thought the 7.25-pound Remington kicks just like any other 7.25-pound pump-gun with a decent recoil pad.

We noted that the problems we detailed should be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, and that we planned to return the gun to the factory. We recognize that in high-volume manufacturing, mistakes can occur, but if Remington resolved the test gun’s problems under warranty—a replacement gun was the right answer, we thought—then we’d look at it again.

We returned the gun to Remington and got a new serial-numbered gun in less than two weeks. We also got access to additional 887s in Houston and shot three of them over the last 18 months. We looked at the specific issues our initial test gun displayed and sum up our findings here:

In every gun we examined, Remington supplied the appropriate magazine plug. In the guns we examined, the rattle coming from the Nitro Mag’s action had been eliminated, replaced with what we deemed was normal slide-action shuck-shuck noise. Internally, the rough spots were fixed, replaced with normal polymer finish marks. Also, the action didn’t show what our testers thought was unusual amounts of looseness, and the Nitro887’s action was substantially easier to operate in the replacement gun. Of course, the guns shot to various points of aim, but mounting differences could certainly account for the variations.

Elsewhere, we liked the feel of the ArmorLokt synthetic covering, and wiping the gun down after use was fast and easy. On the company’s website, we found a metaphorical description of the gun’s recoil reduction, that it "makes a 3-inch mag 12 gauge feel like a light field load." We don’t know about that, but we did like the SuperCell recoil pad. We previously hadn’t noted that the sling swivel studs are built-in, a nice feature for a working gun.

Still, the Benelli has some advantages that the Remington can’t overcome, in our view. On the SuperNova, we noted that the stock was shim-adjustable for cast and drop—the only pumpgun we know of with that feature. Our testers also said the Benelli’s buttery-smooth action was still better than the Remington’s, and the Nova’s balance was better. Also, having adjustable stock dimensions means better stock fit, which means reduced felt recoil.

Our Team Said: We’ve adjusted the Remington Model 887’s grade to a B-, because most, if not all, of the major issues with our first gun were resolved satisfactorily by the company. But in the opinion of our testers, we still unanimously prefer the Nova, even when it sells at a $200 MSRP premium.

Remington M887 Nitro Mag No. 82500 31⁄2-inch 12 Gauge

Benelli SuperNova No. 20115 MAX-4 HD Camo 31⁄2-inch 12 Gauge Pump

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