Socket to Me, or How to Remove a Stuck Socket From a Remington 870 Magazine Tube

| June 28, 2017 | 2 Comments

Earlier this month I bought a Remington 870 Tac-14 firearm (please read our initial write-up).

I’ve been very busy with a new job, changes in schedule, out of town guests, and training, so I haven’t had a chance to start my the Tac-14 project in earnest until last weekend.

The first modification was to install a Scattergun Technologies +1 magazine extension tube.

It seemed easy at first (unscrew the old mag tube cap, remove spring and follower, install new spring and follower, screw on new mag tube cap), but like most things there was a catch.

In this case, an actual catch — two dimples in the mag tube prevented the new follower from moving in the tube, which kept me from adding an extra shotshell.

There are four ways people usually remove the Remington 870 dimples:

  1. Use a Dremel / rotary tool to cut the dimples out from the inside of the magazine tube
  2. Use a specialized tool such as this one made by Brownells
  3. Drill the dimples out from the outside of the magazine tube
  4. Use a socket wrench and a mallet to push the dimples to the surface of the magazine tube, finishing off with a punch to take care of the edges

I chose the socket method for a few reasons:

  • I wasn’t keen on grinding the dimples off with a Dremel, and despite guidance on putting paper towels in the mag tube I was worried about metal filings getting into the action of the Tac-14
  • I didn’t want to buy a purpose built tool to do a job I only needed to do once
  • I made my friend a promise not to use my drill press on any of my guns any more without his direct supervision (long story).

There were all sorts of warnings and advice on the Internet.

Warning: do not let the socket go too far into the magazine tube.

Warning: do not use too much force and cause damage to the tube or the receiver.

Warning: do not use too wide of a socket and bell / bend the magazine tube so that you can’t thread the new cap on.

Advice: use lubrication (but not too much!) to help the socket push the dimples, and to help you extract the socket.

Advice: use a long-drive (longer) socket for extra surface area / leverage when pulling the socket back out.

No problem! Let’s get to work.

I started out with a long drive socket as directed, but the one I used was too narrow to completely flatten the dimples. It was noticeable improvement, but not enough to accommodate the follower, nor wide enough to allow for hammering from the other side.

I had other long drive sockets, but they seemed just a little too wide. I was uncomfortable using them.

I used a regular length socket that was just right, and as I proceeded to push the dimples out the (in hindsight) obvious happened:

I got the socket stuck in the magazine tube.

Like, so stuck I got nervous and forgot to take a picture kind of stuck.

A quick search on the Internet revealed that most people failed to extract the socket and wound up purchasing an entirely new receiver. One brave / desperate person continued to hammer in more and more sockets until the bottom one pushed out. After he was finished, he discovered he had a slightly enlarged tube that no longer worked reliably.

I decided to not do anything else stupid, and stepped away for about 24 hours.

Here’s how I bailed myself out of trouble, without causing damage to the 870. Your mileage may vary. I am not a gunsmith. Do this at your own risk. This is not legal advice.

  1. Remove the barrel, if you haven’t done so already
  2. Wear soft, but sturdy-soled shoes
  3. Find the widest, longest bolt you can that will still fit within the drive part of the socket
  4. Put the bolt through two washers, and drop it bottom first into the magazine tube, from the receiver side. Hopefully the bolt will be sticking out of the magazine tube
  5. Put on two more washers and a nut, tightening the nut enough that it won’t shear off during the next steps
  6. Put the butt of the 870 (or in this case, the bird’s head style grip) on the ground, and try to get the magazine tube as straight up as possible
  7. Grip the nut with a pair of vice grips and grab the vice grips with both hands
  8. Put one foot on the receiver
  9. Pull up on the bolt, gently and consistently. Apply just enough pressure on the receiver with your foot to keep it from moving. Do not kick, stomp, or push the receiver. Do not attempt to yank the socket free. Slow and steady. If possible, brace yourself against a wall

This is what you are trying to accomplish with the bolt, washers, and nut.

Afterwards I finished the installation, and cycled a bunch of dummy 12 gauge shells through the Tac-14. No deformation of the tube, no damage to the receiver, no thread wreckage.

So, if you get a socket stuck in your Remington 870 give this a try and let me know if it worked for you.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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2 Comments on "Socket to Me, or How to Remove a Stuck Socket From a Remington 870 Magazine Tube"

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  1. Frank X says:

    Being a hardware folk, I’m super proud of you. Great job

  2. AJ187 says:

    The XS swag tool works great
    Use a one inch scope mount or similar mount over the detents so there is no chance of deformation.

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