Analysis: Why the Classic Remington Model 1100 Shotgun Performs so Well

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by Richard Douglas

The Remington Model 1100 has been the quintessential shotgun for homestead defenders, pro skeet shooters, and hunters of all experience levels for more than fifty years.

An extremely successful design of simplicity in the best ways has made this Remington one of the most popular autoloading all-purpose shotguns. With so many productions and guns out there, some older than the Ford Mustang, the temptation to purchase used is something that many buyers consider.

Accuracy

There is no question that the Remington is lethal. Regardless of barrel, load, or caliber, this baby was made to demolish any well-aimed target within 30 yards. Longer barrels, up to a whopping 30”, are best for long-range trap shoots or hunting.

The Remington has proven synonymous with waterfowl hunting since its inception. Any time I’m out on a hunt with my bird dogs and buddies, I’m not the only one with my Remington at my side. Field-load performs with the same accuracy seen with target-load thanks to brilliant design. The consistency in popularity among my fellow hunters speaks volumes for reliable accuracy on target. 

Also a regular in competitions and skeet shooting, the deadly accuracy of the Remington 1100 is legendary.

Reliability

Introduced in 1963, the Remington has a venerable reputation of reliability and toughness.

The clean design and ease of tear down for regular maintenance, make for easy long term care as well as easy access to the bits and pieces that can indicate if the Remington you are considering is up to snuff with its peers. A simple check of the O-ring for wear and tear can be a great clue to the upkeep from previous owners. 

Regular cleaning will keep this champion of temerity free from failure for decades. I’ve always paid close attention to the gas system where the gas ports meet the tube and watch to keep the crud that can collect there at bay.

As long as you stick to cleaning your Remington regularly, with a full break down after each day of shooting, this weapon will reward you with unwavering reliability. 

Handling

The feel of the Remington 1100 shotgun is quite simply put, the way a shotgun should feel.

Perhaps this is due to the comfort of such a regular presence on the hunt dating back to my primary years, but Remington has evolved with the times and continues to maintain excellence in feel and handling. 

Now you can find everything from the classic black with engraved walnut forend and stock, options that are fully wrapped in camo covering, all the way to a more futuristic tactical black and synthetic line. No matter which generation you choose, they will all have that same high-quality solid feel, without any rattle or wiggle.

Now I prefer the classic wood and black Remington, but that may be simply because that’s what I grew up with, out in the fields. It feels good in the hand. Better, I think, than the synthetic 30” barrelled options, designed for skeet. The slick skeet options have a clean silver nickel finish, which is a smooth and mean look. Call me nostalgic though, because I still prefer my engraved stock and warm walnut any day.

Trigger

Most of the Remingtons, any that have gone through the years without being modified anyway, will have a solid and smooth nickel trigger that trips with just over 4 lbs. of pressure.

The trigger on used weapons needs attention to ensure good wear. A worn or loose carrier dog can prevent the trigger from engaging as it’s supposed to. Failure to identify this with some testing on a range can result in weapon jams.

The safety tends to be a bit clicky, and could potentially scare small game off if you aren’t careful, but overall the mechanisms are tried and true. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting comfortable with your trigger pull on this steady horse.

Magazine and Reloading

The Remington 1100 carries four shots in the tube and one in the chamber and is a semi-auto shotgun designed to be used in any situation.

For my hunting, the muscle memory of loading has become so second nature that I have little issue with getting reloaded. You can modify it to a standard loading gate or an easy loader if you need to reload quickly. Especially for competition shooters, the modification may be what best suits.

There is also an ambidextrous bolt release, aka carrier release, to allow anyone the comfort of a quick reload.

Length and Weight

The length and weight of the Remington 1100 can be just as varied as the engraving and check patterns that you’ll find. This is a shotgun that comes in all shapes and sizes. 

The evolution of the shotgun ranges from field guns, longer barrels for skeet and trap, to engraved keepsakes. Barrel lengths vary from the shortest 18” barrels to 30” for long-range accuracy. Those longest of barrels will put the overall length to a whopping 50” gun. 

Averaging in weight between 8 to 9lbs, this solid weapon is a good carry that is balanced well. There just isn’t anything much better than early morning, with my Remington settled perfectly in the crook of my arm, barrel down to the ground like my setters nose as we stalk along. 

The barrels can be changed out for different uses. So, if you find the perfect Remington that may not be the appropriate length, it’s quite simple to adjust to what best suits.

Recoil Management

Recoil management is what makes the Remington 1100 shine. 

The design, with its heft and balance, combined with the gas-operated action, makes this soft shooter a stand-out performer with significantly lower recoil. If you are testing used, a heavy kick may be a clue that something isn’t quite right. 

Remington technology continues to improve as the years go by. Simply modifications can be made to older weapons, or to those in need of some TLC, to improve the recoil management on any Remington. Shock absorbers or recoil pads are easy to install and can make the smooth fire even better. 

Price

The price of the Remington, like so many other features, is as varied as the weapon itself. 

You can easily find new Remington models priced well into $1,300 to $1,500 MSRP, and conversely, you will find an array of used models at an extremely modest $400 to $600. 

This good news means that it is incredibly easy to find a reasonably affordable choice to start competing, as a first hunting shotgun or a wise choice for home defense. Attention to details in the used market, like a check for rust in the extractor-plunger hole, missing small pieces like the mag spring retainer or worn seals, can save incredible amounts of money. 

My Verdict?

There’s a reason they’ve been making this shotgun since 1963. Consistency in performance and a stellar reputation are well earned in the Remington 1100. Simple sleuthing in the used market may be worth your while. Investing in the latest technology for a weapon that will last your lifetime will be a good buy. No question here. No matter what look, caliber, barrel, or configuration you decide on, this is the perfect shotgun. Four million and counting... 

-- This Story First appeared in The National Interest --

Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared in large publications like The Armory Life, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal*, and more. In his free time, he reviews optics on his* Scopes Field blog.

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