GUN EXPERT: Mike George
USEFUL BUY: Remington Semi-Autos
SECONDHAND COST: £450
The story really begins in 1960, when Remington realised they needed a modern replacement for a rather ungainly family of semi-autos.
There were the gas-operated Sportsman 58 which had been on the go since 1956, and the more recent Model 878.
Both had gas systems which were quirky in that the pistons were inside the magazine tubes, and this made them difficult to clean.
Then there was the recoil-operated Model 11-48, which worked a bit like the Browning Model 11.
Remington’s research department, headed by Wayne Leek, set themselves a target with the criteria of reliability, strength, good balance, appearance, and low recoil.
The gun that went on the market in ’63 fulfilled all of these conditions – and it is still hard to find a semi-auto which handles as well as an 1100.
The first guns were 12-bore field and wildfowling models, but 16 and 20-bore models followed a year later, plus a 12-bore deer gun for the US market.
Competition models for trap and skeet soon followed, and the first .410 came on the market in 1979.
In the era Remington was owned by the US paint and chemicals giant DuPont, so it was natural they would go to the parent company for the stock finish.
They chose a super-tough varnish called RKW, which had been developed for finishing bowling alley floors.
They persisted with this finish until well into the 1980s.
POINTS TO WATCH
Very old 1100s on the UK market have German proof marks, and may be best avoided. Guns which have fired many thousands of cartridges might have fatigue cracks in the receivers at the rear of the bolt handle.
Extractor claws and link between the bolt and its spring were traditional weak points, but can be easily replaced.
And be careful if you take an old gun to pieces – the bolt tracks in the bottom of the receiver eventually wear until they are as sharp as razors.
THE MODEL 1187
This model was introduced in the USA in 1987, although it didn’t reach the UK until 1988. The idea behind it was to eliminate the weak points in the 1100, and in this aspect it succeeded.
But early versions were barrel-heavy and clumsy compared to an 1100 – probably because the manufacturers were frightened of the pressures generated by steel shot.
Lighter barrels soon came on the scene, which improved the handling no end, and the Sporting Clays version pointed and swung very well.
THE ONE FAILURE
In 2007 a brand new Remington semi-auto came on the market. The 105CTi had a turningbolt lock up, a carbon fibre-titanium receiver, and an oil-filled shock absorber inside the butt.
Most importantly, however, was the fact that it was loaded, and ejected fired cases, from the bottom of the receiver.
This feature obviated the need for a mirror-image left-hand version, and made it appeal to trap shooters as they wouldn’t bombard competitors on adjacent pegs with empty cases.
Not long after its introduction the gun started to get a bad press in the USA.
Although Sporting Gun tested one and found no problems, many guns failed to load the second shot, and tweaks by Remington were to no avail.
It was withdrawn from the market after two years.
WHAT’S AVAILABLE NOW?
There are various new 1100 models currently available, including the Competition Carbon model with a spring-loaded anti-recoil stock, and the 1100 Sporting in 12,20 and 28-bores and .410.
There’s also an 11-87 Sportsman and, if you really want to spend your money, the recently-introduced Versa Max with 3.1/2in chambers. All modern guns are multichokes.
When buying second hand, particularly in a private sale, do be sure the magazine tube is limited to two cartridges.
Any more than that and you will need to hold the gun on a Firearms Certificate.
WHAT TO PAY
You may pay well over £1,100 for any new gun, and up to £1,800 for a Versa Max.
Good second-hand 1100s are generally £450+, and an absolutely spotless 11-87 Premier can be up to £850.
UK importers are Edgar Brothers of Macclesfield, Cheshire, on 01625-613177, or at www.edgarbrothers.com
There’s also the main USA website at www.remington.com
A good source of historical information is the US-based Remington Society at www.remingtonsociety.com