Best Remington 870 Ammo (2022) – Reviewed

Best Remington 870 Ammo
The Remington 870 pump-action shotgun is mostly used by the public for sport shooting, bird hunting and home defense. This model is known for its versatility and reliability, however having the right shotgun ammo would make all the difference in close-range target situations.

There are different types and variations of shotgun ammunition or in this specific case, different types of Remington 870 ammo designed for specific cases. In this article we will go through all the aspects of shotgun ammo that you will need to consider before selecting the type of shotgun shell or the best ammo that is best suited for your purposes.

AmmoNameEditor’s CommentRatingGet The Deal
Remington Nitro 12 Gauge 1 ⅜ oz 2.75”

Most Recommended Option

1. 1,300 FPS; Great penetration power
2. Tight shooting group
3. Feed easily through tube; Stable pattern

Winchester Super X Buckshot 12 Gauge #1 3”

Premium Option

1. 1,040 FPS; Perfect for predator hunting or personal protection
2. Buffered shot ensures tighter patterns
3. 24 lead pellets of .30 caliber; More chances to strike a vital area

9.5/10SHOP NOW
Hevi Shot Hevi Steel Shotgun Ammunition1. 1,500 FPS; Custom blended powders to deliver maximum velocity
2. Innovative Custom wad cup to ensure maximum pellets striking targets
3. Reliable for waterfowl hunting
9.0/10SHOP NOW
Federal – Vital Shok Ammo 12 Gauge 3” #4 Shot1. 1,100 FPS; For predator hunting or personal defense
2. 41 pellets in the spiral stacking order
3. Copper-plated shot for deeper penetration
8.5/10SHOP NOW

The Criteria – How To Identify The Best Remington 870 Ammo

Shotgun Gauge

The first aspect you want to look out for when shopping for shotgun shells is to find the right gauge size or caliber.

Unlike other rifles or handguns that use caliber as a measurement of dimension, shotguns do not utilize this linear dimension, but the diameter of their bore, is expressed as a “Gauge” which is in fact their weight.

Shotguns typically come in different size gauges with the most well known one being the 12 gauge, although fun fact, the 12 gauge actually refers to the 12 solid spherical balls made out of one pound lead with the same diameter as inside of the bore.

This means that for a 20 gauge, 20 lead balls can be made from one pound of lead. (The higher the number the smaller the diameter of the shotgun gauge)

In the case of the Remington 870, this model comes with 12,16,20 or 28 gauge and also a .410 Bore. Although the .410 is an odd exception with its size being the equivalent to a 68 gauge. So when you are selecting your shotgun ammo, you will need to check what gauge size it will fit into.

Chamber Length

When talking about chamber lengths, the Remington 870 comes with a standard chamber length which is 2 ¾ (70mm) and 3inch (76mm), also kown as a 12-gauge Magnum, while the Model 870 Express Super Magnum is designed for a 3 1/2 “(89MM) shotshell (shotgun cartridge) chamber.

The technique to measure the length of a shotgun ammo is to measure the length of the empty shotgun case, and what that means is that a Model 870, is able to fire shells shorter than its chamber but not longer.

Although technically, a bigger shell is able to physically fit within the shotgun itself, it could be dangerous to fire the larger shell since the weapon itself may not be able to handle the higher pressure exerted from the fired weapon. This could lead to damage to the firearm or, even worse, to you or any bystanders nearby.

From the viewpoint of the average shooter, ammo with 2 ¾ inch shell lengths are more affordable and easier to find on the market. This type of ammo doesn’t apply as much pressure and wear on your gun as well as less recoil, making it easier to control.

High/Low Brass

Moreover, Remington 870 ammo is available in either high-brass or low-brass iterations. Earlier in the days, high brass (high base) meant better protection for the paper shell, in modern times, high base offers enhanced reliability with auto-loading shotguns and are about a third more pricier than low base ammunition.


The distinct characteristic of shotguns over any other type of firearm is that they possess a choke, a design that is placed at the end of the shotgun barrel, placed in the bore that slightly constricts the diameter of the muzzle.

What the choke does is that they are used to tighten the shot pattern.


Classic olden day break-barrel shotguns usually come with a fixed choke barrel, but modern day shotguns use the interchangeable, screw-in choke tubes for more versatility.

A portion of shotgun barrels are rifled for modern sabot slugs, which are metallic projectiles that if supported properly by a plastic sabot, could potentially give the shooter rifle-like accuracy of about 200 yards and beyond.

Shotgun Ammunition Application – Loading Remington 870

Now that we have all the technicalities out of the way, it is time to dive into how the facts mentioned above should help you choose the best remington 870 ammo.

Traditionally, shotshells with small shot, let’s say birdshot #9 until #4, are the best for small targets like birds or rabbits. Birdshot would also be one of the best ammo for self defense scenarios since the confined spaces of residential homes can be very lethal against soft targets.

For larger targets and shooting out in the open, it is better to use buckshot shotgun shells with somewhat larger BBs than what we mentioned.

These buckshot ammo range from BB size (0.18*/ 4.5mm) to No.000 (.36*9. 14mm). However, the most popular type of buckshot round would be the 00 buck, also known as the “00 buck double aught buck”. This type of ammunition has nine pellets, each with roughly a dimension of a .33” (8.4mm) diameter.

FBI Testing procedures on the 00 buckshot shows that it is a pretty standard load for 12-gauge shotguns offering an average penetration of 20”. As opposed to public opinion, they should not be considered as a magical death machine as handling a shotgun with a buckshot requires pretty good aim since this type of ammunition is not substantial at less than 30 yards.

Other than smaller sizes of buckshot and the aforementioned birdshot, there are also a type of ammo called slugs, which are the largest type of remington 870 ammo available in a shotgun shell.

The slug is a bulky, solid ballistic projectile intended for large animals with ranges of within 100 yards. Besides the solid lead slugs, there are also specialized combat shotgun ammunition such as high explosive rounds, armor-piercing, lock busting and riot plastic shots or rubber bullets.

As with all weapons the remington 870 would possess some form of limitations but with the proper choice of ammo, you will be able to maximise the use of this gun. You will need to select different loads based on the plan you are going to use for your remington 870, be it bird hunting, home defense or anything else in between.

So our verdict for this section? Birdshot makes the most sense for home defense. A sportsman with a 12 gauge loaded with two #4 birdshot rounds is much less likely to penetrate thin interior walls and kill innocent people on the other side. The lower recoil compared to the remington express buckshot also allows for faster follow-up shots.

However if you live in a solid house with a lot of land around, we would recommend to go with this kind of ammunition instead, however the stopping power of a birdshot round should not be under-estimated: att rangers out to thirty feet or so, this is virtually a solid column of deadly lead. You can opt to go for any #4 or BB high base lead hunting load. For hunting purposes, opt for #6 or larger

The Best Remington 870 Ammo – Our Suggestions

1. Remington Nitro 12 Gauge 1 ⅜ oz 2.75”


Why you would want this type of Remington 870 shell

If you are a bird hunter, you would want to go for the Remington Nitro 12 gauge. A lot of good things are to be said about these shots, especially with shooting groups that are pretty tight. You could land down tough birds with just one or two shots.

These shots come with 25 rounds per box and are pretty much a textbook example of how shotgun ammunition should be. These pellets allow for tighter shooting groups and allow for better impact and kill shots.

Why it stands out

These Remington 870 ammo fit in a 12-gauge perfectly and feed through the mag tube as smooth as butter, so you will not need to worry about any jamming or reliability issues. So all in all, they are reliable and accurate if used properly. With this lineup of ammunition from Remington Nitro Pheasant, the muzzle velocity is about 1,300 feet per second with a centerfire primer location.

Unlike birdshot from other manufacturers, Remington Nitro Pheasant presents very stable and good results. As with almost all Remington ammunition you will get a tight and predictable pattern. The cause of such stable patterns are because the ammunition features a heavy cushioning wad as well as granulated polymer buffering.


However, there are some downsides that we should highlight with this line of remington 870 ammo. The hulls are difficult to reload, due to the crimp being melted in the center. Also, due the slightly tighter pattern and higher penetration, this ammo is not suitable for home defense.

Bottom Line

This line of ammunition would be ideal for bird hunters, but could also be used for hunting certain medium targets (larger birds). Either way, these shots are definitely worth the investment if you are a sportsman looking for the best remington 870 ammo, and additionally they have one of the most affordable price on the market, so it is a great choice if you are on a budget, so this makes them affordable enough to be used as a practice load.



2. Winchester Super X Buckshot 12 Gauge #1 3”


Why you would want this type of Remington 870 shell

Deer hunters would love this type of remington 870 ammo and for good reason, this line of buckshot is best designed for hunting deer and they will be quite happy to know that they will not have to deal with any malfunctioning issues. If that is not enough, the shooting groups are pretty close and consistently tight so the ammo will be great for improved feeding and shooting.

These buckshots are one of the best remington 870 ammo that you could find on the market and plus, are a bit longer than some of the other shots you would find.

This brand of WInchester remington 870 ammo is proven to be more reliable than most buckshot currently on the market so if you are searching for shells that are susceptible to jamming and malfunctioning, you will be sorely disappointed.Firing these shells will be straightforward and simple, a whitetail deer won’t know what hit it once you take advantage of using this brand of remington 870 ammo.

Why it stands out

This Buckshot bullet-style originated from Winchester Super-X Ammo, which has existed for almost 100 years. They come with high-brass and quality three-inch hulls, housing 24 unplated pellets of .30 (7.62mm) caliber.

Utilizing tested Winchester 209 primers and clean-burning powders, it fires lead buckshot at 1,040 feet per second making this an excellent round of ordnance for medium sized game such as coyote, fox, bobcat or even two legged predators.

Although currently in the buckshot scene, there is a crazy demand for 00 (.33 cal.) and #4 (.24 cal.) and is taking the gun industry by storm, you should not leave the Winchester #1 buckshot out of the running just yet.

This line of remington 870 ammo keeps a total of 19 pellets in the kill zone (thoracic area) of a man-sized target at about 15 yards and could also make a typical group with 8 out of 24 pellets in a 12”circle at up to 50 yards.

The Super-X Buckshot comes packed in a poly-buffering compound with a one-piece hinged wad in order to keep deformation at a minimum to achieve consistent and tight patterns.

Although this line of remington 870 ammo is available in several different loads, #1 can be found in 2 ¾” shells with 16 pellets and also reduced felt-recoil for easier follow up shots.

These specifications are best for hunting whitetail deer. Although that may be the case, these shots will not be limited to such hunting. If you are a shooter who enjoys hunting in general, you will require some reliable shots that make for accurate and precise shooting no matter what the target is. If reliability and accuracy are what you are looking for your best remington 870 ammo, then look no further


The downside to this remington 870 line of ammo is that the pallet pattern density is not ideal for long-range encounters. Also, if you are to compare to a normal 2 ¾ inch shell, the recoil is more substantial.

Bottom Line

The Winchester Super-X Buckshot Ammo is perhaps the best remington 870 ammo for your medium-game hunting needs for a decent price These shells will make kill shots a lot more possible so don’t be surprised if down the road they suddenly end up replacing your old hunting ammo after giving them a try.

Although the Super-X Buckshot in 3” Magnum variant will let you know it’s there, this hard-hitting load provides unparalleled stopping power for both varmint hunters as well as home defense.



3. Hevi Shot Hevi Steel Shotgun Ammunition


Why you would want this type of Remington 870 Shell

The Hevi Steel Remington ammunition is best if you are a waterfowler looking to hunt pheasants and turkey.

For some time since it has been out on the market, Hevi-Steel for some time has been a rather tough nut to crack in terms of evaluating its performance as the matter of the fact is that a #4 pellet in steel shot (which is the case for a Hevi-Steel), has a short envelope of effectiveness.

Why it stands out

Hevi-Steel uses an innovative custom wad cup that keeps patterns tight to ensure maximum pellets strike your target. This remington 870 ammo’s custom blended powders drive pellets at maximum speed to penetrate deep into those tough birds for quick kills. In order to ensure ignition is reliable tinder adverse waterfowl hunting conditions, HEVI-Steel shotgun shells have all-weather primers, and they deliver tight patterns at speeds that penetrate the thickest late season feathers and can function under any weather conditions. This line of ammunition also includes custom blended powders to deliver maximum velocity.

It also boasts the highest feet per second at 1,500 on this list.


Some users report feeding issues on the HEVI-Steel shells feeding into a semi-auto, but you probably won’t face the problem with your Remington 870. Others have also reported that when being used against South Dakota Ringnecks, the #4 pellet size just did not possess enough punch required when taking on tough old rick neck pheasants.

Bottom Line

Although there are some more notable problems reported by users on the Hevi-Steel it is still considered the best remington 870 ammo out there that will suit your needs very well for its price.



4. Federal – Vital Shok Ammo 12 Gauge 3” #4 Shot


Why you would want this type of Remington 870 Shell

These shells are considered among best remington 870 ammo used among new users who were both small and large game hunters.Among their targets of choice were waterfowl, varmint and also even whitetail deer just to name a few. They managed to shoot some pretty accurate kill shots thanks to the Vital Shok Ammo’s tight shooting groups.One user mentioned that the shells he previously used during hunting trips didn’t do a good enough of a job, but when he tried these out, he knew what would be replacing his old shells.

So, if you like to hunt, these shells are perfect. While they may not be as effective when hunting bigger game like elk or moose, they are among the best shells you could use when hunting small game or whitetail deer. If you are looking for a shell that will certainly get the job done and give you a quick, clean, one shot kill, these shells might just be what you are looking for.

Why it stands out

The package comes with four shells, and although this small amount may not be enough for some hunters, they may just be enough depending on where exactly you are able to land your shot. One shot would do the job just right if you;re out hunting – as long as you hit your target. If you want the best Remington 870 shells, these are the type that you can work with the next time you are up and about hunting for your next target.

The Federal Cartridge Company has been manufacturing all kinds of ammunition since 1922 and its Vital-Shok line features a special spiral shot stacking process that is designed to deliver to its users peak performance required for hunting applications.

This tried-and-true load, the 3” 12 gauge, #4 buckshot is the best lead shotshell for hunting most predators. However, it is good to point out that Federal Vital-Shok with copper-plated shot resulting in deeper 14.5” penetration will also still be sufficient for medium game hunts or even home defense.

You can expect to get about 1,100 feet per second at the muzzle with these cartridges. You could also browse Federal’s 2 ¾” versions of these shells filled with one row less than 3” shells(34 pellets) at 1,250 feet per second of muzzle velocity.

If you are looking for coyote hunting, we would suggest the Federal Premium Vital-Shok Buckshot shells, with a plastic shot cup and buffering. This line would be effective up to 50 yards.


Compared to 34 pellet loads, this line of Remington 870 ammo pack a lot more punch so expect more recoil with every shot. On top of that, the 3” federal shells are actually slightly shorter than other 3” shells.

Bottom Line

The Federal 12-Gauge Vital-Shok Shotshells will definitely suit your needs if you have a decent idea of what you plan on hunting for with your Remington 870. Do not be surprised if your targets fall with just one shot with these shells.

The Vital-Shok 3” #4 Buck round also works just as well at close range, making them the perfect shells for sports shooting, hunting and home defense although compared to the more standard Vital-Shok 2.75 inch loads, they have a little bit more recoil due to the additional velocity.




Overall, regarding personal and home protection, the rule of thumb is to use #4 buckshot for close self-defense and under 20 yards. Keep in mind most buckshot packs a punch so you would not want to be shooting them in close quarters, as they pierce thin materials very easily, endangering anyone behind a wall. Pick birdshot if you are afraid of endangering innocents

Use #1 or #.0 buckshot for ranges under 40 yards as they might be more effective than 900 buckshot. Most people think that shotguns are based on thinking that a larger number of slightly smaller pellets hitting a target is more effective than fewer larger pellets, however, smaller shots provide maximum damage and minimal wall penetration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are The Different Shotgun Ammo Type And Their Purposes?

Essentially, there’re broadly two types of Remington 870 ammo which is single solid lead or steel bullets which have “slugs” that are grooves located at the side. Then, the shot is further divided into 2 categories which are dependent on the size of pellets.

A useful tip to avid bird hunter is that experienced bird hunters usually would use the utilize the smallest size of pellets, better known as bird shot to ensure continuous bird shot rounds. Besides that, there’s also another type of Remington 870 ammo which is known as buckshot that is alike to the birdshot shells but of course, the difference lies within the larger lead or steel balls. Nevertheless, both of these pellets are using the gauge system of measurement. In simpler terms, a higher number would indicate smaller size of pellets and vice versa. For ease of illustration, birdshot #1 (.16″/4.0mm) is much bigger than #7 (.10″/2.5mm) shot birdshot 

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