As police departments around the country update their armories, many will sell or trade their old firearms. These law enforcement trade-ins offer a great value, typically at a significantly lower cost than new. Over the past few years I’ve purchased trade-in shotguns, rifles and pistols. In addition to a healthy amount of trunk or holster rash, they’ve all had one thing in common- potential.
Rebuilding and customizing a shotgun is always a great project. Shotguns serve a wide range of purposes, are fun to use, and can be customized with basic tools. Often you can find Remington 870s for a fraction of the cost of a new gun. These are among my favorite projects. I recently purchased four trade-in Remington 870 Magnums from Summit Gun Broker. (Summit Gun Broker and The Camp-Site Sport Shop are my two favorite sources for used firearms.)
Police trade-in Remington 870s normally come in one of three different models; 870 Wingmasters are 2 3/4″ chambered guns with a polished blue finish, 870 Magnums are typically 3″ chambered guns with a matte blue, polished blue or parkerized finish (these guns predate the 870 Police Magnums but are essentially the same gun), and 870 Police Magnums are the newest of the guns, often found with a parkerized finish and 3″ chamber (some are blued despite what the internet tells you). Normally the Wingmasters are the least expensive, followed by the 870 Magnums, with the Police Magnums demanding a premium. Barrels are typically 18″ or 20″ long with bead or rifle sights. Stocks will vary between wood and synthetic, sometimes you’ll end up with a combination of the two.
When I opened the box my four shotguns came in, this is what I found. Warning: if you are the type of guy who cleans his shoes with a tooth brush, covers you car in the driveway and leaves his guns in the safe, these definitely aren’t the shotguns for you.
All four of the guns are 870 Magnums. All have 20″ barrels, three have rifle sights, and one has a bead sight. I personally prefer 18″ barrels, however the 20″ barrels can be cut down. Removal of the factory rifle sights is a little tricky if you want to switch to another sighting system. The solder Remington uses at the factory has a high melting point and the front and rear ramps each have two indexing pins that are blind drilled into the barrel. I’ve have better luck grinding down the front and rear bases than trying to heat them off.
Closer inspection shows what I’ve found to be typical finishes on police trade-in guns. Well worn parts on one of the four guns indicated it was shot a lot (I am guessing it was a pool gun at the range), the other three were pristine internally. Note the badge numbers engraved into the bottoms of the trigger guards.
These guns all have the Flexitab parts installed. See Remington 870 Flexitab system and parts identification for more information about this.
Bore condition was excellent on all four.
The ejector and bolt face on this gun were in excellent shape.
Stocks are always the luck of the draw. These are typical, the bottom wood stock is chipped near the trigger guard. With a little bit of time and patience, these could be restored.
The fore-ends are a mixed bag as well. The top and bottom fore-ends are long, sporter style. The two in the middle, are the shorter law enforcement corn cob version.
I’m unsure what department sold these to Summit, however, this gun was assigned to whomever had badger number 63422. Marks like these are common on former LE guns and can be removed with a little bit of work (see Remington 870 Receiver Scratch Removal for more information).
This shotgun was engraved with a shield number on the bottom, in front of the ejection port, as well.
Since these guns were used by a police department prior to sale, they were most likely inspected and maintained by an armorer- so while they make look rough, they should be functionally sound. One of the guns had a brand new trigger plate (above) installed on it- a nice surprise!
While the market for used shotguns in this condition fluctuates, they can normally be purchased for less than half of what a new gun would cost. The four guns shown here, cost about 20% more than one new 870 Police Magnum.
If you’d like to see some of the projects I’ve built on trade-in and used guns, take a look at Rifleshooter.com’s Project Guns Page.