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When I was a kid, my step-father bought me a Remington 870 Express Magnum 20 gauge for Christmas. Unfortionately, we never had a chance to go hunting, and so it sat in the gun safe for a good decade or so. While visiting him over the holidays, I remembered it and he went ahead and gave it to me.

So now I have a 20 gauge shotgun and I'm not a hunter.

I figured it'd work as a home defense shotgun since it was free...

Your input? I know a 12 gauge would obviously be better, but that would require money. (Plus I'm sure the female(s) of the house would be able to handle a 20 gauge a bit easier...)

Questions: What modifications, if any, would you recommend? Parts should I change out? What kind of shells should I put in it? I'm quite new to shotgun ammunition.
 

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Congrats! There is nothing wrong with a 20 gauge for HD. The recoil is manageable and the gun is very good! I would look into a shorter barrel (Remington and Mossberg both make a shorter barrel for the 870 -I bought mine at cheaperthandirt.com). I load my 12 gauge with #4 buck, but have a lot of 00 buck handy.

The barrel I got from the website is a bona-fide Remington, complete with stamp & trademark. CTD does sell some real cheap stuff, but this is brand.
 

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Personally, leave it like it is, don't use it around corners unless you have a clear sight beyond them (due to it's length), think safety especially if you have kids in the house.

Modifications, I would make any right now until you get use to it, no sense actually, but that's just my view, I'm not big on modifications to weapons if they don't need them.

I use #4 Buck in mine and I have some Double OO also. Everyone has their personal favorite I guess. I use the 2 3/4 shells mostly.
 

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Personally, leave it like it is, don't use it around corners unless you have a clear sight beyond them (due to it's length), think safety especially if you have kids in the house.

Modifications, I would make any right now until you get use to it, no sense actually, but that's just my view, I'm not big on modifications to weapons if they don't need them.

I use #4 Buck in mine and I have some Double OO also. Everyone has their personal favorite I guess. I use the 2 3/4 shells mostly.
Cheaperthendirt has good prices if you do go that route, that's for sure.
 

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The 20 gauge will serve well for HD. There are some who will tell you that you need all these different bells and whistles to make it tacticool. Forget it. The only real change I would make is the barrel. I would buy a second barrel of 18 to 20 inches (sights are a personal preference). Then you may want to consider adding a high intensity flashlight mounted to the gun. Surefire has one mounted in the fore end for the 870P (Police). I'm not sure if it will work on a 20 gauge but give them a call, it just might. Beyond this some of the stuff that can be put on gets way out there. BTW I have an 870 Wingmaster with 20 barrel and rifle sights at home for HD with Federal 00 Buck Low Recoil. As far as Cheaper Than Dirt goes I have ordered from them and while the price was cheap so was the quality. When HD is in question spend good money for good to excellent quality accessories. Cheap stuff normally has a way of failing when needed most.
 

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Black Knight has it right. Don't mess with a gun that's already good to go.

I lucked into an 18-inch, rifle-sighted barrel in the "miscellaneous-cheep" barrel at my old favorite gun store some years ago, and that's what my 870 wears when we're not chasing waterfowl.

For the 20 gauge, I would recommend any available buckshot from #4 up to 00 for home defense. And go out and practice with this gun at across-the-room distances! See if you can make good hits from the hip as well as the shoulder.

A butt cuff holding a few extra rounds is about the only real extra you need to invest in.
 

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I have an old 870 Wingmaster that has a 20 inch barrel and a TacStar Side Saddle Shell Carrier. The shell carrier is the only modification I have made to this shottie. I like it plenty. I am not sure a 12 ga shell carrier will work with your particular application, and am unaware if there is a 20 ga specific carrier available.
 

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Remington 870 20ga. With an 18" barrel and a stock that fits, it can be a good-handling unit.

For the stock, consider the Hogue OverMolded, or SpeedFeed. Either of these makers supply youth-length stocks, for people with shorter arms.

20ga with an 18" bbl and good-fitting stock can be a formidable defensive weapon. Not as hard hitting as 12ga, obviously, but enough to put down an intruder with a couple of shots.
 

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As others have stated...nothing wrong with the 20ga and HD. A bit lighter. I would get the stock barrel cut to 18 1/2", re-blue the cut end and install a new front bead. #2 or #4 buckshot in 2 3/4" in the 20ga is nice.
 
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