Crimson Trace shoot (Part 2 of 4): Remington 870 pump shotgun

As I navigate through a new industry and career, I have been meeting a lot of fantastic people. Many of the folks I’ve met are humble, caring, and excited to help their fellow shooters. An example of this humility- while I was waiting my turn on a stage, a gentleman approached me and addressed me by name to ask me how I was enjoying the shoot. I told him how much I was enjoying it, and over the course of a few minutes I learned that he worked for Crimson Trace. When I asked him what he did for them, he said “Oh, strategy and product development” in a nonchalant manner. So I asked him “Oh, are you a product manager?” and he said “No, I have this CEO title and try to keep the company running.” I had no idea who Crimson Trace CEO Lew Danielson was until I met him, and I loved his low-key style.

So, let’s get to the guns! The Crimson Trace 3-gun shoot had one class: Open. What shotgun did I use? A Remington 870 Tactical pump shotgun with an 18.5” barrel. I was totally outgunned.

My sponsor, Bass Pro Shops, is helping me upgrade my equipment, but of course these things take time. I am planning to get a Benelli M2 and look forward to getting a review up once it’s all ready.

My 870 has an extension tube bringing my capacity to 6+1. I’ve got a Tactical Mesa side saddle, a Speedfeed IV-S pistol grip, and a Surefire 318LMG forend WeaponLight. I love my 870 which is designed for fun and home-defense in mind, but its heavy weight and pump-action in Open class (where semi-auto is standard) put me at a distinct disadvantage. Some folks had 23-round XRAIL systems to truly leverage the creativity Open class allows.

A closer look at the SureFire WeaponLight and Mesa Tactical Side Saddle. The SureFire was perfect for a night time shoot.

The brutal part was a few stages had 8 shotgun targets lined up in a row, and so even if I made 7 perfect shots with my max capacity, I’d still have to burn a few seconds reloading a single round. Here’s one stage example (note that clays C1-C8 have to be engaged with a shotgun). But as I mentioned in an earlier post, even though there wasn’t a ton of pressure to win, there’s something inside of me that just hates losing, and I at least wanted to put on a decent showing.

In the third post in this series, coming soon, I’ll talk about the night vision and IR gear plus the two fully automatic machine guns we fired.

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career. He shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community.

Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.


  • gunslinger

    man, i’d love to do a 3gun. too bad my gear wouldn’t work. i can dream, right?

  • Other Steve

    You know…. While using completely practical and real world guns with full power ammo against people using raceguns with underpowered reloads. I’d be rather happy ranking last.

    BECASUE RACEGUNN¡í! == Because I have Forgotten What Shooting Is Really About

    Don’t beat yourself up over losing out with your 870 to some people running M2s with the bolt lightened so much buckshot isn’t really an option anymore or 4′ long mag tubes, or anyone using a Saiga12 really (selling mine). Optics on handguns and 6lb ARs with just barely functioning gas port sizes and lightened carriers. For the most part things that don’t fly in the real world.

    I’d love to see competition get more in line with what is most practical for hunting/defense/military. Get the gamers right out of there!

    • Tinkerer

      Such hatred towards what other people decide to do with their own time and money. That can’t be healthy.

      • gunslinger

        I think was OS was getting at was that some 3Gun competitions are to “simulate” real world tactics and such, but 3Gun competitors use guns/loads that are tweaked against “real life” products. i.e. a tuned shotgun with less recoil due to using “weaker” loads, so they won’t recoil as much.

        so, what point does it mean to have a “RL” competion, using “non RL” equipment? I would think it be like saying because you got a head shot in CoD4, you are now a marine sniper.

        I am guessing OS would like to see 3GC using equipment you’d keep in your home/work that would actually be used in true defense secenarios.

        I could be putting words in OS’s mouth, but i’m hoping i got the point of his post.

      • Other Steve

        Yep, pretty much gunslinger.

        Gaming != Defensive shooting practice. It’s only equal to gaming. IMO, if you go out with a decked out double stack 1911 with red dot, compensator, action job on top of action job, a charging handle, a magwell that has a width of 3″, and bare minimum .38 super reloads (.38 Stupid) etc, you might as well be using an air pistol because that’s going to have just as much or more in common than a 9mm edc gun with factory ammo.

        There is nothing wrong with gaming if you’re into that, but the rules favor the gamer not someone interested in realistic defensive practice. So, point being…

        Don’t compare yourself to those people. Shoot the 870 in a match and be happy if you run it well, it’ll be infinitely more desirable in a defensive situation than a gamer’s shotgun would be.

    • Thanks Other Steve, from what I’ve seen so far, the “realistic” shooting discipline is IDPA. 3-gun seems to be more like USPSA with crazy fun stages, but 3-gun is relatively new and so we’ll see how it continues to mature.

      If Crimson Trace does another 3-gun shoot next year and it’s still Open class, I hope to be more prepared!!

      • Greg B


        IDPA is “realistic” …. because I always have to charge into burning building shooting terrorists as I go.

        Don’t even get me started on how stupid magazine retention is for for most in the real world… or the many different ways that the whole “cover” concept in IDPA could get you killed, if you translated it into most real world situations. Unless there is a brick wall between you and an assailant your best bet is to keep moving….

        They are both games…. both have a few bad wabbits that could get you killed. Doing either is infinitely better than doing nothing, with regards to training.

        The only difference between IDPA and USPSA is this.
        The IDPA shooters think they training…
        The USPSA shooter know they are gaming

      • Other Steve

        “Don’t even get me started on how stupid magazine retention is for for most in the real world…”

        THIS. Both Uspsa and idpa have some goofy rules that make it easy for gamers, and hard for more defensive minded shooters to take seriously. It’s best to keep in mind that you are only competing against yourself.

        Agree, that either/any are better than nothing. I am fine knowing I will never will a uspsa match because I use my carry gun with range ammo from concealment, and not a long slide glock in 40 with way under powered reloads out of an open racegun holster.

      • IDPA definitely has some silly rules, the retention and cover procedurals being two great examples. Supposedly, the IDPA rules are up for review, and so we’ll see what comes out of that process.

    • Tinkerer

      Oranges and apples, guys. Let the gamers game, let the operators operate. There’s no need to hate one because it’s not the other. Now, if some gamer starts to boasts that he’s operator, then you have all the right to get pissed. But if so, hate the player, not the game.

  • Adam

    So it seems like there is a demand (at least in this limited, anecdotal example) for a “real world” 3-gun competition?

    Does no one do one?

    “thefirearmblog comment community presents: ‘real-world’ 3-gun invitational” anyone?

  • lolinski

    You are lucky here in Norway we dont have 3-gun since any interesting shotgun is pretty much illegal here.

    Shotgun laws in Norway:

    No more capacity than 5

    No detachable magazines

    Has to have a onepiece stock(no separate grip and buttstock)

    So I wish you the best of luck in what can only be described as a dream job.

  • Brandon

    Outgunned or not, that is a nice looking 870.

  • abprosper

    What matters is you had a good time. I am glad you did.

    However a contest requiring actual fighting arms would be a bit more interesting than the race guns IMO.

    Require say “service” loads and measure point scores based on kinetic energy delivered in a time frame multiplied by hit location and diameter in mm say for handguns, requiring buck (000, 00, #3 or #4) or slug with factory style loads and so on with realistic scenarios and you’d have a different and I think more compelling sport.

  • Ian

    Where did you get your receiver rail? Did you install it

  • Seamus

    Great read Steve