Featured Image: A Remington 870 Police Magnum with Vang Comp’s Stainless Steel follower.
Most shotguns use a tubular magazine to hold and feed shells into their breech. Tubular magazines are typically underneath the shotgun’s barrel and have a capped end, a very long and thin coil spring, and a follower. When fully assembled, the coil spring provides enough tension to push shells towards the breech via the follower. The follower’s job consists of sliding up and down the magazine tube under the coil spring’s tension is simple but vital. Critical wear or damage to the follower can put the entire shotgun’s reliability in jeopardy.
Most OEM followers found in shotguns are simple inexpensive metal or plastic parts. While these may work fine, it is a good idea to periodically keep an eye on them to ensure that they have not cracked or lost their shape as they are subjected to tension and pressure between the coil spring and shotshell column. In some cases, followers can be victims of cost-cutting and some shotguns may ship with less than adequate followers as well. The last thing anyone needs in a defensive shotgun is a compromised follower that will not feed shells properly or create some other type of blockage.
Fortunately there are many aftermarket follower options that cater to shotgun shooters for both the tactical/duty space and the competition world. For the most part, these aftermarket followers have a few things in common such a robust and thicker construction. Some are engineered with less bearing surface so they can easily travel through the magazine tube without grinding and binding with dust or debris. These followers will also have some type of texturing or void, as texturing allows shooters to tactilely feel something uniquely different than the back of a shotshell. Naturally, any well thought out follower will also be made of a different material and color to make it distinguishable from shotshells. Though shotgun followers are simple parts, the fact of the matter is that when a defensive shotgun is needed, nothing can be left up to chance. (This is why it is also a good idea to periodically replace the magazine tube coil spring as well).