Shortening a shotgun stock and fitting a recoil pad

Fitting a new recoil pad and shortening the stock on a Remington 870 shotgun

This "custom painted" Remington 870 Express will have its stock shortened and a new recoil pad fitted.

A shortened stock is one of the more common firearm modifications encountered.  Often a shooter will need a shorter length-of-pull because he or she has a smaller frame, is younger, or wants a faster handling firearm.  In some applications, such as law enforcement, where officers wear thick protective vests, a short stock allows the firearm to be shouldered quickly.

I decided to reduce the length-of-pull on this Remington 870 Express 20-gauge shotgun.  The length-of-pull was too long for quick handling so I decided to shorten the stock by 1″ and install a Limbsaver recoil pad.

As always, I start by verifying the shotgun is safe and empty.

I ordered the following supplies from Brownells:

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This "custom painted" Remington 870 Express will  have it stock shortened and a new recoil pad fitted.

This “custom painted” Remington 870 Express will have its stock shortened and a new recoil pad fitted.  The shotgun is safe and empty.

This special Magna-tip bit allows removal of the recoil pad screws without damaging the pad.

This special Magna-tip bit allows removal of the recoil pad screws without damaging the pad.

A large flat blade screw driver is used to remove the stock bolt.

A large, flat-blade screw driver is used to remove the stock bolt.

The stock on this gun is on the long side, especially for a defensive gun.  I decided to cut off an inch.

I decided to cut off an inch.

I use a scribe to mark the new length all the way around the stock.

I use a scribe to mark the new length all the way around the stock.  My scribe has a razor edge, which will help prevent splintering; alternatively, the stock can be wrapped with tape prior to cutting.

The stock is then aligned in the miter saw.  This particular saw is equipped with a laser, which makes following the scribed line easy.  Shims are placed underneath the stock to make sure the cut is square.  Note the square on the right side, this ensures my pad isn't canted.

The stock is then aligned in the miter saw. This particular saw is equipped with a laser, which makes following the scribed line easy. Shims are placed underneath the stock to make sure the cut is square. Note the square on the right side, this ensures my pad won’t be canted.

A Limbsaver recoil pad will be installed.  The manufacturer provides a template to aid in installation.  I tape it to the rear of the stock.

A Limbsaver recoil pad will be installed. The manufacturer provides a template to aid in installation. I tape it to the rear of the stock.

I use a center punch to mark both screw holes.

I use a center punch to mark both screw holes.

An 1/8" drill bit is used to drill two pilot holes 3/4" deep.  The tape tells me when the holes are deep enough.

A 1/8″ drill bit is used to drill two pilot holes 3/4″ deep. The tape tells me when the holes are deep enough.

The screws are inserted into the recoil pad and coated in wax.  The recoil pad screws are tightened.

The screws are inserted into the recoil pad and coated in wax. The recoil pad screws are tightened.

I use a scribe to carefully trace the profile of the stock onto the recoil pad.

I use a scribe to carefully trace the profile of the stock onto the recoil pad.

I use a file to spread a light coat of chalk over the recoil pad.

I use a file to spread a light coat of chalk over the recoil pad.

I rub the chalk into the recoil pad.  The scribed line is now highlighted.

I rub the chalk into the recoil pad. The scribed line is now highlighted.

I'm using a B&R recoil pad fitting fixture to shape the recoil pad.  I adjust the bottom of the fixture to match the shape of the stock.  The recoil pad is attached to the fixture with machine  screws.

I’m using a B&R recoil pad fitting fixture to shape the recoil pad. I adjust the bottom of the fixture to match the shape of the stock. The recoil pad is attached to the fixture with machine screws.

Here is the B&R recoil pad fitting fixture installed on my 12" disk sander.  A belt grinder would work as well.

Here is the B&R recoil pad fitting fixture installed on my 12″ disk sander. A belt grinder would work as well. Some smiths will freeze their recoil pads prior to working on them or spray WD40 on the disk or belt.

I start with an 80 grit disk and grind away the bulk of the recoil pad.

I start with an 80 grit disk and grind away the bulk of the recoil pad.

I follow up with a 120 grit disk.  The recoil pad has a fine finish on it.

I follow up with a 120 grit disk. The recoil pad has a fine finish on it.

I rounded off the top edge of the recoil pad.  This allows the shotgun to be quickly shouldered without snagging on clothing.  Note how well the lines of the recoil pad match the stock.

I rounded off the top edge of the recoil pad. This allows the shotgun to be quickly shouldered without snagging on clothing. Note how well the lines of the recoil pad match the stock.

Having the right tools makes this a quick and professional looking project.