The semi-automatic cousin of the 870, the Remington 1100, is at the same time probably the best shotgun for youth shooters and one of the worst. They have been made for years. What makes them so great is that they are reasonably priced, hold their value, and have low recoil. What makes them a problem is that they can be heavy, can have a long stock that is difficult to shorten, and are a pain to clean.
I have had one for years. I love it and wouldn’t swap it for another semi-automatic if you gave it to me. But you have to understand them. The 1100 is a temperamental shotgun that likes to be treated well, but you have to try hard to hurt one.
If someone is having problems with an 1100 cycling correctly, ask them three questions. When did you clean it last? Did you put everything back together correctly? Did you really clean it? Most problems stem from the fact that 1100s get dirty really easy and should be cleaned thoroughly after every use. Next, people will not put the ring, piston, and o-ring back on in the right order. Lastly they didn’t clean it. Use Remington Shotgun Cleaner to clean the tube. It needs to be as smooth as possible. Then lightly coat it with Rem Oil so the parts glide smoothly.
Despite their quirkiness, the 1100 is one of the simplest semi-automatic shotguns. There are no special buttons that you can’t find or don’t know what they are for. And another thing that makes them great is that you can always find some crazy old codger at a gun club that has worked with them for years and can fix one in seconds. You have a problem with a Beretta 391 and you are on your own.
By Andrew Peercy, TNSCTP manager