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870 CLEARANCE/LOADING DRILLS, by Dave McCracken

I got an email from a member of TheFiringLine forum about the Flextab his 870 didn't have and it led into some other stuff, as things oft do. Here's a coupla things everyone should know about their 870s, and some applies to other brands also.

First, the Flextab is a few small modifications that eliminate one kind of malfunction that locks up the weapon big time. Your 870 has one if there's a slot in the shell carrier. Until I started instructing, I knew little about it, despite thousands of rounds fired through 870s. The Flextab is a nice thing to have, but proper loading technique makes it not a must have.

EXCEPTION:
It's close to a must-have for agency weapons, that may have to be employed by lackadaisical, half trained, unmotivated personnel under stressful conditions. And my "Social" Shotguns have them, since I'm really cautious.

The problem:
If, in a pre-Flextab 870, one fails to insert a shell far enough to get past the shell stop,it can come back behind the carrier and jam the action. For your information, I never had this happen, until I induced it a couple of times on purpose.

Solution:
Train so that one inserts the shells firmly. The method we taught was to turn the shotgun over so the loading port was up, while controlling the weapon with the support hand. Place the butt on your thigh, and place the shell on the first two fingers of your firing hand, with the thumb on the brass controlling the round. Insert firmly and push it as far as you can reach. You should hear/feel a small click as it goes past the shell stop.

Solution II:
Get it changed to a Flextab, and STILL use the above method to load. This part's optional.

OF COURSE, you're practicing this with snap caps, safety on, muzzle controlled and pointing in a safe direction.

Loading while shooting:
In a Serious Scenario, when shooting, this is a good way to reload, so it's a great way in practice. Keeping the weapon at the shoulder and pushed into the cup with the firing hand, use the support hand to load back up to full,while keeping the muzzle covering the area.

Is holding up a 7-10 lb shotgun with one hand fatiguing? Yup, do it anyway.

Loading after running dry:
Despite your best efforts and a mag extension, you've shot it empty and the area still has an unacceptable threat level. Keep the weapon at the shoulder as above, rack it open, and use the support hand to load a shell through the EJECTION port. Rack it forward. As long as the brass end is towards the butt, it WILL chamber and fire just fine.Then, with a round up the spout if needed, top it off as above.

Clearance drills and techniques:
Despite your best efforts, there's a round behind the carrier. What happens next depends on the threat level and situation.

If training, and no threat exists in the area, make the weapon safe, unscrew the mag cap, and take everything out of the mag tube, including the follower and ammo. Gravity should get the stuck round out, and it can be urged by lightly tapping the butt. Reassemble and continue.

If it's a real crisis, safe the weapon, GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF THE TRIGGERGUARD, and depress the slide release and keep it depressed. Swing the weapon and hit the butt on a hard surface, goodnhard. This should clear it immediately. If not transit to your backup, or retreat. I've busted pieces of stock off doing this, so be warned it's rough on the weapon.

Dave McCracken has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.





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