My first introduction to the Remington 870 and 1100 was as a kid learning to shoot clay pigeons. With the help of my Dad, I bought my first one 870 (20ga Wingmaster) when I was 14yoa, retail cost of $124. The Remington 870 is my all around, and to me no other pump shotgun feels like it.
I first got introduced to the Benelli 121 as a SWAT gun in 1989. It was soon replaced with the Benelli M1-90. As a SWAT gun, it was mostly loaded with buckshot, but also sometimes slugs. For gas ferret rounds, bean bags, wood dowel rounds, rubber buck & slug, tail fin rounds, and door breachers, we used the Remington 870, as the rounds were too light in power factor to reliably cycle in semi-automatic actions.
In 1997 we had an armorer car heist in our area (similar to Heat) where the badguys were armed with rifles , that woke up our administration that bad things and bad people are in our back yard. The very next day I was tasked by our Chief to update all Officers on tactics, and to reequip all cars with rifle plates & carriers, kevlar helmets, ballistic shields, along with upgrading our shotguns to coincide with our current carry M16A1's (converted to semi-auto for patrol) and Remington 870's.
Our administration decided to upgrade from 870's to the Benelli M1-90's for patrol, configured in a 14" barrel with tritium ghost ring sights, oversized charging handles & safeties, side saddle shell carrier, Surefire lights, and Wilderness Giles 3pt slings. We went with the tritium ghost ring sights and 3pt slings, as this was the same type set up that we were already running on the patrol rifles.
I was present all range days when we did the 8-hr transition on the Benelli agency wide. We had each shooter go through 150 bird shot, 25 buck, 10 slugs, and everyone did well with no issues. We did a follow up range session 6-weeks later with all staff that was a 4-hour block where they all shot another 100 bird, 20 buck, and 10 slugs, and again everyone did well with no issues.
About 2-months later, we were doing firearms qualifications county wide (about 475 Officers to run through), which is staffed by Firearms Instructors from every agency county wide. We had our second in command and his minion (both day shifters) go to the range and attempt to qualify on the county shotgun course, which consisted of 5-slugs at 25yds, and 5-buck from 10yds (Not my choice of a course of fire), and these two couldn't get the Benelli's from their vehicles to run, they were stove piping (fail to eject), and to note None of my agencies firearms instructors were present on the range at the time.
That very afternoon I got woken up (I was a night shifter where real police work happens) with a phone call to come in to see the Chief, as there was a problem with the Benelli's. When I got to the Chief's office, the second in command and his minion were there, and they were both glaring at me. The Chief explained to me that these two just returned from the county range qualifications, and their issued Benelli's wouldn't run. The second in command spoke up stating that it was my armorers staff fault, as the guns were lacking lubrication and that is why they wouldn't run. I asked to explain to me what he meant. He stated that the guns wouldn't eject the empty shell, causing it to jamb. That he and his minion both had the same issue. He went on to explain that the Firearms Instructor from another agency who was running this section of the range tried to help but knew nothing about the Benelli. This Firearms Instructor had a spray can of silicone lube, of which the second in command sprayed into the ejection port onto the action, and after several repeat sprayings of the magic silicone the shotguns ran reliable enough that he and his minion could qualify.
After listening to this, I stated to all 3 of the people present in the room other than myself that I disagree, that the shotguns had plenty of lube, and that they must have been doing something that was shooter induced. My comments didn't go over well, and this is where I will stand my ground as the guns do run with no issues. Basically it started getting into an argument, as this second in command wasn't going to let some underling such as myself know more about things than his ego does. My Chief was watching this exchange, and he looked up at me stating to schedule some range time, and let's all go to the range and do a test shoot.
The very next afternoon we went to the range, Chief, second in command & his minion, along with one of my other firearms instructor & armorer staff. I had the second in command & his minion get their shotguns from their vehicles. I had them load with buckshot and attempt to shoot, and each of them stove piped every round. My other instructor and I shot their guns and they ran fine. So I handed the guns back to them and neither of them could get them to run, so my instructor and myself shot them again and they ran fine.
I had the second in command grab his magic can of silicone spray and lube the way he did, and try shooting again and neither of them could get the guns to run. I grabbed the can and hosed the guns down so the magic silicone lube was dripping out, and had them try and shoot, and neither of them could get the guns to run.
I then field stripped the guns down, and pulled out a can of carburetor cleaner and sprayed everything down to remove all traces of oil, silicone, grease, etc, to the point that the guns were dryer than a popcorn fart. I then reassembled the guns and both my instructor and I shot 25rds each through them reliably. I handed them to the second in command and his minion who couldn't get them to cycle at all. My instructor and I then ran another 25rds each through them, both guns cycling reliably even though they were dry.
So then I loaded grabbed the magic can of silicone spray and repeated the soaking of the actions so they were dripping again, we repeated having the second in command and his minion try and shoot, but they couldn't get the guns to cycle. I then loaded their guns with dummy rounds, without them knowing, and had them attempt to shoot. When they both tried to shoot on a dummy round, you could see them flinch and anticipate the recoil, which is was the issue of operator induced malfunctions.
My Chief was sitting back watching this entire thing, and finally stepped in stating to me that I see that you proved your point that it was operator induced, and not a problem with lubrication. My Chief also looked at me and said that I probably didn't make any friend points with either of these command staff, and you could see the second in command was very pissed that I showed him that it was his doing.
My Chief asked me to see what I could do to make the Benelli's more reliable if possible. So for the next month I researched. Benelli stated that by putting on the side saddle, over sized charging handles, and Surefire lights, that I have thrown off the intertia of the guns, so to get them to run reliable I would need to remove those aftermarket parts.
So in my research I purchased about every type of bird shot, buck shot, and slugs that I could find at several local guns shops, Cabelas, Gander Mtn, etc. I and a couple of my instructor & armorer staff spent hours on the range trying every ammo that we had acquired. What we concluded is that the Benelli is extremely reliable if run with the right power factor.
What he had been using for duty buck shot and slugs was Federal Reduced Recoil loads. The reduced recoil loads ran reliably for everyone by the second in command & his minion, as they both would anticipate recoil and flinch (like limp wristing a handgun), causing the guns to fail to eject.
What we found is that the Benelli's will run reliably 100% with the reduced recoil loads if the shooter doesn't anticipate the recoil and do any type of body movements that would take away the inertia energy from the cycling of the action.
We also found is that the Benelli's will cycle reliably if you use a heavier loading. We found that if you run a shot weight of 1-1/8-oz or heavier, and a powder weight of 3-3/4 drams, that the guns will run no matter how much the second in command & his minion want to flinch. So I switched all of our buckshot and slugs over to heavier loadings, and for training birdshot we use a heavy field load. With the heavier loads the guns are relaible, no matter what after market accessories we use, and no matter how wet or dry the guns are in all weather conditions.
So if you apply this same knowledge to other semi-auto shotguns like the Remington 1100/1187, which is a gas gun, it also requires a certain power factor to make it run reliably. You will find that trap & skeet type guns are set up for light loads, where Police & Military models are set up for heavier loads, and waterfowl hunting guns are set up for very heavy loads (which won't like lightweight target loads).
Pump guns will run everything, and when looking at semi-auto's you will need to match the gun & ammunition.
Greg Sullivan "Sully"