Review: Remington 11-87 Special Purpose

My first automatic shotgun was the then new Remington 11-87. Introduced in 1987, no surprise there, the 11-87 isn’t a cut down Remington 1100, but a shotgun designed to be more reliable than the original 1100. The 11-87 was designed to get the measure of steel shot. The 1100 is among the most reliable shotguns in the world, proven in many field tests. The 11-87 just may be a tic better.

The 11-87, like myself, looks its age. It is just a little older than my two boys. The 11-87 has never failed and had fired several thousand shells in training, and a few in the field. The 11-87 has not been abused but it certainly has not been babied. The gas system has been cleaned and the bore swabbed out and the chamber given attention. That’s about the scope of maintenance. 

The 11-87 features a self regulating gas operation. You may use field grade birdshot, turkey loads, full power and reduced power buckshot, and other loads without changing the gas setting or installing a different gas ring. It just always works. Only the lightest loads, such as the RWS frangible may not operate the action. There is a gas cylinder mounted on the barrel. The gas collar is separate, there is a gas piston and barrel seal with the Remington 0 ring. These ride on the magazine tube.

The 11-87 features checkered American walnut stocks and a matte finish. The 21 inch barrel feature rifle type sights in this Special Purpose version.

The barrel, interesting enough, isn’t a buck special or a slug barrel. The barrel features choke tubes. This is a handy outfit. I have a choke tube that is rifled for slug use, a neat trick, and the standard full choke tube for buckshot. The majority of 11-87 shotguns are sporting guns with twin beads and ventilated ribs and the like. 

The only maintenance required is the occasional scrubbing of the gas cylinder collar and seal assembly. The shotgun weighs about eight pounds, a bit more than the Remington 870 pump on hand for comparison. Coupled with the gas action, this weight results in a light recoiling combination.

The magazine holds four shells. The trigger is clean and crisp, breaking at 4.4 pounds even. The 21 inch Special Purpose barrel is heavy enough for the strongest loads and patterns as well as any other with the choke tubes installed. Handling is fast. It swings quickly on targets and offers a stable platform. The hands line up one behind the other when using this shotgun. Natural feel and point are far faster than with the AR or AK type shotguns. For me that is what a shotgun is about, fast work and getting hits on a moving target.

I have fired the 11-87 quite a bit over the years with whatever load was available. Among the most useful loads have been Hornady’s buckshot loads. The Critical Defense load is ideal for home defense. This #00 buckshot load produces a tight pattern to 20 yards. An interesting load is the Hornady Varmint Express. Using #4 buckshot this load features a wide cloud of 27 pellets. With a full choke tube in place this loading should be murder on coyotes.

I have been interested in slug accuracy and fired the 11-87 with a number of loads. The Hornady American Whitetail slug breaks 1522 fps in the 11-87. That is a lot of power with a 438 grain slug. Accuracy averages a 3.9 inch group for five shots at 50 yards. For woods hunting at close range that is acceptable. Deer sized animals hit by slugs crumple and expire quickly. The 11-87 makes for a versatile, reliable and useful shotgun for all around hunting and defense use. It is a long serving and trusted shotgun.