Remington 870 Dimple Removal

You know ’em, you love ’em…its the Remington 870 shotgun. A fine scattergun that is so widely represented in this country that you’d have to look pretty hard to find a police department that didn’t have them as the ‘standard’ shotgun. Reasonably affordable, well built, and the target of a huge accessory market, pretty much every survivalist has one. (Although, to be fair, Mossberg’s 500 series is probably an extremely close second-place finisher in this.)

A standard accessory that most folks drop onto their 870 is a magazine tube extension. After all, no one ever had a sudden violent emergency and thought ‘man, I wish I had one or two less shells in this thing.’ It used to be that adding a magazine extension was as simple as unscrew magazine endcap, remove old spring and follower, drop in follower and new spring, screw extension onto end of magazine tube…done. Unfortunately, a while back, the guys at Remington, for whatever reason, added two ‘dimples’ in the magazine tube. If you add a magazine extension, the dimples will keep the follower from traveling past those dimples.

Thus, if you want to add an extended magazine to your 870, and your mag tube has those dimples, you’re going to have to remove them. There are two methods for doing this:

  1. ‘Press out’ the dimples. This is often done by shoving a socket (from a socket wrench set) of apprpriate diameter down the magazine tube and using it as an anvil to press out the dimples with a c-clamp or hammer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes you have a hell of a time removing that socket from the magazine tube.
  2. Drill out the dimples. Easy, fast, and usually trouble free.

Today, I went with option #2 . (By the way, you can Google ‘remove 870 dimples’ and get a buncha videos on either process.)

First step, unload shotgun, make sure its unloaded, unload it some more, and then, finally, make sure it’s unloaded.

Next up, remove barrel and forend. Easy peasy.

Behold the offending dimples:

The hated dimple. It’s like some sort of Schumer-Feinstein Speed Bump keeping an otherwise good shotgun from becoming a better shotgun.

The goal is to remove the whole bloody thing. For that, you’ll need a good size drill bit capable of easily and smoothly drilling metal.


In this case, a 5/16″ bit, centered on the dimple, should be wide enough to do the job.

It’s a good bit easier to have someone else hold the gun steady while you get all drilltastic on it, but, if you have no choice, you can do the job solo.

20150117_144931Don’t be an idiot….drill through one dimple, then flip the gun over, and drill the other one. Don’t just drill straight through.

Now, once the drilling is done, you’ve still got some work ahead of you. That magazine follower needs to slide up and down that magazine tube like Sasha Grey on a Vegas stripper pole. So…you’re going to have to polish the inside of the magazine tube where you drilled the holes to make sure there are no rough edges or anything that will snag the magazine follower. There are a couple ways to do this…here’s the easiest. Go grab your Dremel set (aka ‘The Gunsmiths Friend’) and pull out one of those sanding/polishing drums. The holes you drilled aren’t so far down the magazine that you can’t reach them with the Dremel. I already had my drill out so I just chucked the Dremel bit into the drill.

20150117_145123Spin it up, get in there, and start polishing. You want to remove any jagged bit of metal from the drilling process. You want absolutely no jagged edge, lip, or raised metal from where the drill bit passed through the metal. You can’t really overpolish things, so go to far rather than not far enough.

When finished, I ran a 12 ga. BoreSnake through the mag tube a bunch of times to make sure any debris was removed.


12 ga. BoreSnake to make sure debris is removed. Will also snag on any obvious jagged edges you missed.

A word about followers. This is the crappy, lightweight, flimsy, plastic, OEM follower Remington sent this shotgun out into the world with. Let’s not sugarcoat it…its a POS.


Has the overall quality feel of the little plastic patio table that keeps the box lid off your pizza cheese. Doesn’t instill much confidence.

Other than it being a good, bright color it has nothing going for it. Oh, I’m sure it will work but I want something with some ruggedness, some heft, some substance.


From Wilson Combat. Still plastic, but much more solid.

Wilson Combat 870 follower. There are some others out there, including stainless steel ones, but I’m comfortable with this one. Some followers have grooves to accommodate the dimples (so they claim). I don’t trust them. I’m sure there is a way the follower can rotate slightly in the magazine tube and then have the grooves not line up with dimples. You’re welcome to put your faith in them, but I’ll settle for a dimple-less mag tube and the peace of mind it brings.

So, once you have the drilled holes polished and smooth on the inside of the magazine tube it’s time to put the gun back together. I’m not going to tell you how..if you got it apart, you should be able to get it back together….if not, plenty of videos on YouTube to show you how.

The next thing, which I should hope you would find obvious, is to test the thing. Go get some dummy shotgun shells and load up the magazine. Cycle through all the shells. When the gun is empty the follower should be visible to show you that the gun is empty.

20150117_151157If the gun has ejected all the shells and you don’t see the follower, that means it is hung up in the tube. Take everything apart and get back to polishing. Also, check the follower for sharp edges as well. I slightly rounded the edges on mine just make sure it would run smoothly up and down the tube. Don’t neglect this function testing. When you’re done with the function test, do it again. And again. I do it about a dozen times because you really can’t have too much confidence in your firearms. When its done, load up the shotgun with your dummy shells and let it sit for a few days, then do the function check a few times again and make sure everything is fine. Once you’re satisfied, go to the range and shoot a case of cheap shells through it to give it a final function check.


The finished product, exorcised of the dimples. Ready for whatever life throws at it. (Although, realistically, I need to get a rear sling swivel on there.

If you’re buying a used 870, check to see if it has the dimples. There are millions of ’em out there that don’t and if its a choice between two used 870’s, equal in all respects except for the dimples, I’d buy the one without.

Do a pair of holes in the mag tube pose a risk of dirt getting in there? Well, certainly more risk than if the holes weren‘t there. However, the only time the holes are uncovered are when you actually cycle the action of the gun. The rest of the time they are covered by the forend. Honestly, I see it as a non-issue unless I drop the 870 in a sandbox or something.

There you have it – how to remove Remington 870 magazine dimples. Assuming you have a power drill and nothing else, you’ll need:

  • 5/16″ drill bit – about $3.00 for a good one
  • Dremel polishing/sanding drum – probably five bucks
  • 12 ga. BoreSnake – $12 but you should already have one of these anyway

Armed with this knowledge, I urge you to go forth and eliminate the dimples wherever you may find them…until our great nation is again a nation of undimpled Remington 870’s. So say we all.


18 thoughts on “Remington 870 Dimple Removal

  1. “…like Sasha Grey on a Vegas stripper pole”

    (bud light commercial) I love you man…..(/bud light commercial) 🙂

    • I had a half-dozen similar euphemisms lined up but I needed to keep it relatively family-friendly.

  2. I’m one of the Mossberg 500 crowd, but this post was not wasted, as it gave me an excuse to search ‘Sasha Grey’.

  3. Another advantage to snagging an older 870 is the trigger and trigger guard. The new ones are plastic. The old ones are metal. Not sure when they switched exactly, but obviously, the metal is more sturdy.

  4. My (claimed) 870 is old enough to avoid that problem. If I for some reason decide (I need another one like I need another hole in my head) to buy another and it ends up to be a newer one I will keep this in mind. Thanks for the post.

  5. What did you go with for the mag extender and were you using a brace between the two tubes?

    • Remington brand magazine extension. The extension is quite rigid so I don’t really see the need for one of those figure-8 shaped clamps, but I added one anyway since it came with the kit.

  6. The 870 with the plastic ratchet plug sticking out of the magazine tube shows that this is an “Express” model shotgun. In order to make use of barrels (2nds) where the magazine mounting loop/ring have screwed up detents and springs (know how the magazine tube cap tightens down with a clicking sound) and to use these barrels the plastic ratcheting system was developed. First clue is to unscrew the magazine tube cap and see if there is a spring loaded detent in the barrel loop and no plastic plug with ratchets. Second would be to not buy the cheaper 870’s in the first place but look for the tactical models. They will have all the bells and whistles you want on the gun anyway.

  7. Very nice write-up, thank you (though I truly thought you were going in a different direction w/ the Sasha Grey line…)

    I had no idea about the dimples. As a lefty, I’ve stuck with Browning BPS variants over the years: safety on the heel, bottom eject. I’ve got a (now discontinued) Browning BPS Hi-Cap that I really like for an HD choice. Can’t argue with hi-capacity mag tube right from the factory. But, I’ve come into a couple lefty 870s recently and had just chucked them into the safe for rainy day projects. Definitely will have to go check them for those pesky dimples. Thanks for the tip and instructions!

  8. I had really good luck modifying one with dimples for my brother in law by simply Dremel tool grinding the dimples down. The dimples are close enough to the end to do this and the metal on his didn’t grind all the way through. Thus disallowing debris an entrance to the magazine tube and avoiding even the possibility of an obstruction/jam. I also found the original Remington ORM follower to be a POS, I replaced followers in several guns with the Vang-Comp stainless follower, it’s tits. All of my Remington’s are currently sporting Choate Brand extensions, I’m pretty happy with these.

  9. Thanks for the post. I have a pair of Expresses, one that is an older model that was ‘dimple free’. The other, a 20 gauge youth that does have them. That one is for ‘running and gunning’ for south Texas quail, so I’m leaving it as light as possible (I already get a sun tan on my tongue as it is, lol) so no extension there is planned. The others are older Wingmasters (1970’s vintage) – both of them shot extensively in Texas dove hunts. One I converted to a ‘camp defense gun’ – pretty awesome that.

    I’ve been really happy with Choate magazine extensions fwiw. No experience with the Remingtons manufacture.

  10. I know this isn’t the place for this ,but I emailed you at the contact ,and it came back as undeliverable. Midway has cci subsonic in stock now. Just a fyi

  11. Good article …. And great advice to test ,test, test when complete .

    After reading a bunch of articles and watching videos I went with the socket method . First with a loose socket then one that easily but snugly dropped in until it hit the dimples . Oil socket , Tap away , remove , oil repeat .stop repeating when the socket easily goes in and out like it did in beginning in area above the dimples .

    Socket wrench with extension that locks helps as you can twist while pulling to get it out . No lock will work also just slower twist and pull .Finish with some taps on the outside of the dimples with the socket STILL inside mag tube

    Scattergun mag extension, scattergun follower ( aka Wilson follower same as above) flawless function .

  12. I just decided to pick up an 870 parts kit, and a GB 870 Magnum Express receiver ($60). This is just the type of info I have been looking for. I know the post is ancient, but the info you provided is up to date.

    Thanks for posting.

Comments are closed.